I know from first hand experience how it feels to have thyroid and adrenal problems. While I was in nutrition school (and working at the same time), I began noticing that I was putting on weight around my stomach, even though I was not eating more food. In fact, I was eating healthier than ever ironically. I began to suspect that my cortisol levels were too high.
I always felt really cold too, even when the temperature was 22+ degrees! I began having terrible dizzy spells when I stood up after sitting or lying down, which made me feel like I was going to pass out. My hair began falling out too, and my muscle tone seemed to be disappearing into thin air. It was all very frustrating and began taking a toll on my self-confidence. What the heck was going on!???
I went to a doctor and he did some blood work. He confirmed that my thyroid and adrenals were indeed struggling. After years of high stress, both emotionally (normal life stuff) and physically (from food allergies and other digestive, absorption and elimination issues), my body finally said no more! My hormones were officially out of whack and despite working out and eating well, my mid-section had continued to increase in size.
So, I was put on dessicated thyroid to artificially raise my TSH levels and balance out my high levels of T4. The dessicated type can be a better option for most people, as it is not as difficult to wean off of, like a lot of synthetic thyroid medications are. I was also put on DHEA and hydrocortisone for my adrenal glands.
The doctor also noticed that I had extremely low levels of sodium in my body, which can be dangerous. Salt is needed to provide energy within the body, through something called the sodium potassium pump. It is also needed for things related to bodily functions, like regulating blood pressure and keeping your heart pumping.1
For years, before I went to nutrition school, I had been on a low fat, low sodium, high-carb eating style. I had believed all the media hype about the “healthy-ness” of this diet. I wish I knew then what I know now! Oops.
I had always been a bit sensitive to salt, so was happy to omit it from my diet for the longest time, but I was also just using regular iodized table salt (not what you want). Over the years I had switched to using sea salt, but because I now almost never ate out, or ate refined and processed foods, I had almost no sodium in my diet. My doctor advised me to eat more high-quality sea salt, right away! This was hard for me at first, but soon I grew to crave salt on everyday foods.
Within a few months I began noticing that my dizzy spells were going away, so I slowly weaned myself off of the medication for my adrenals (please consult your doctor before doing this!). I then learned that salt actually decreases your cortisol levels, and thus helps you fight stress by decreasing your stress response. Who knew!
Magnesium, vitamin B5 and other vitamins and minerals also help to combat the stress response, but are quickly depleted in the body under periods of high stress2. Note, it is best to take a B complex instead of just supplementing with one kind of B vitamin however, as that can cause a depletion of the other B vitamins in your body.
These days I am working on getting my thyroid medication dosage down, and dealing with balancing my other hormones too. It’s an inside job, and a tough one at that. As anyone who has dealt with a hormonal imbalance can tell you, it can make you feel cray-cray sometimes.
So do yourself a favour and get some professional health from someone who specializes in hormonal balancing, and get your life back on track. For an excellent starting place to learn more about Hormonal Imbalances, check out Dr. Sara Gottfried’s work at http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/.