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Ask the Wellness Educator

The Thyroid-Adrenal Connection

Q: Many years ago, I had thyroid cancer and had to have my thyroid removed. I have been taking thyroid hormone medication ever since then and my lab tests are all normal, but I still feel fatigued in the morning. I tend to go to bed very late (12:30 – 1 am) and get up at 10:30 – 11 am. Is there something I can take to help with my energy levels and that might help me get up earlier in the morning?
~Mrs. F.


A:
Dear Mrs. F. :
I'm sorry to hear you had thyroid cancer, but am happy to hear you are recovering well! It's not uncommon to still feel fatigued even when taking thyroid medication. The reason is because thyroid dysfunction often affects the adrenals, the two small endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys. The adrenals produce cortisol, which in a normal state is secreted in the morning to wake us up. It makes us feel alert and energized. When the endocrine system is out of balance, the adrenals may secrete too much cortisol, not enough, or may secrete cortisol at the wrong times. The best way to help restore balance is to support the adrenals with herbs and nutrients.

Adaptogenic herbs can support your adrenal glands while they recover. Adaptogenic herbs, such as Holy Basil, Rhodiola, licorice, Ashwagandha, Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng), Astragalus, and others have a long and safe history of use for supporting energy and calm focus. Adaptogenic herbs don't push the adrenals to make more or less cortisol; they only help restore balance. Adaptogens have been shown to increase energy, enhance stamina, and reduce occasional fatigue. Adaptogens also help to support the immune system and the endocrine system (such as the thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands). These herbs are found in a product called Adaptogen, made by WTSmed. Most of the herbs in this formula are certified-organic and have substantial doses, which will truly make a difference in your recovery.

Make sure you get enough vitamin D, as it helps to normalize your immune response. A good middle-range blood level to shoot for is about 50 ng/ml. Most people need supplements of 2,000 – 10,000 IUs a day to achieve this level.

B vitamins are also important to increase energy. Pantothenic acid is specifically known to activate the adrenals, and a deficiency will lead to adrenal imbalance. Natur-Tyme's B Healthy contains a complete B-complex with activated B vitamins and pantothenic acid for great adrenal support.

Keep up what you're doing; get plenty of rest, and with the help of the right nutrients and herbs, you should be getting back your lost energy!


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