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Stress Resilience & Your Thyroid: Test It Right Here

Post Published: 17 February 2011
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Category: Guest Bloggers, Stress Resilience & Your Thyroid: Test It Right Here
This post currently has one response. Leave a comment

You’ve already heard me bemoan the badness to your thyroid of having your cortisol out of whack. I usually take a “functional medicine” approach which is a comprehensive analysis of how all components of human biology interact together and with the environment, blah blah blah – that is, how does your thyroid interact with your other endocrine glands such as your adrenals, and how is your thyroid influenced by both the environment and genetics?

Let’s get more specific and perhaps even track yours.

Say you are a high cortisol person. I have a lot of them in my integrative medicine practice, probably because I am one myself! Today’s post is devoted to my friends with high cortisol, which usually is in response to either chronic stress or the perception of chronic stress.

You know a high cortisol person when you see one: tired but wired, trigger-finger with stress (what!? OMG! Are you kidding me? I have to do what?) and a muffin-top (sad but true: high cortisol makes you pack on the fat at your mid-section).

Ultimately, here’s your thyroid world if cortisol is high.

  • Your liver and kidney have a much harder time making active thyroid hormone (T3) out of the inactive T4.
  • High cortisol can block your T3 receptors
  • Your thyroid control system, lead by TRH (Thyroid Releasing Hormone) keeps shouting but your pituitary hears it less and less. Put another way: your TSH has a blunted response to TRH
  • Even if your bod is making enough thyroid hormone, you may develop deficiency symptoms as a result of high cortisol.
  • If you have a bit of a needle phobia, like I do (how did I make it through medical training? Meditation), the anxiety of getting your blood drawn may temporarily raise your free thyroid hormones. Anxiety activates the stress response and this, at least in the short term, drop kicks your free thyroid hormone into circulation.

One way to track your stress resilience is to measure your cortisol to DHEA ratio. Typically it increases as we age, but ideal is a level that is normal in our 20s, which is about 0.6. In the general population, DHEA declines with age beginning at age 20, and cortisol increases.

You may also check your cortisol level in your saliva or blood to see if you are a member of the high cortisol tribe. My fave: http://www.canaryclub.org/

Best ways of managing high cortisol? Yoga, meditation, tai chi, heartmath, and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

Written by, Dr. Sara Gottfried

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One Response to “Stress Resilience & Your Thyroid: Test It Right Here”

  1. yallolorry says:

    I really like that the recommendation here is neither a drug or some “miracle supplement” – I have found that meditation, yoga, tai chi, general mindfulness can be incredibly powerful.

    We can start a practicing mindfulness just by observing what is going on for us, without judging it or trying to resist. Sitting still and being quite for a few minutes each day. Sustained results may be slow to materialise but along the way there can be glimpses of pure gold.

    A new way of being can generate a wholly different experience of life. The path may not be easy, but hey, if it was everyone would want to be on it!

    My blood tests are now all normal but I still have hypothyroid symptoms. The suggestion that taking a mindful approach to life will help really makes sense to me.

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