Thyroid hormone affects every cell in the body. Many things affect the thyroid and its hormones. Achieving thyroid balance involves consideration of ovarian and adrenal hormones, stress levels, possible antibody attacks, and inheritance of enzymes with reduced levels of efficiency. The thyroid hormones themselves affect body temperature, energy, thinking, metabolic rate, weight, bowel function, menstrual cycles, fertility, hair growth and appearance. The possible symptoms from mild thyroid imbalance are so varied that they can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed, especially if the blood work-up is incomplete. Because of the loss of Progesterone production, as women enter the menopausal transition, they are especially susceptible to low thyroid symptoms. In many patients, very small amounts of thyroid supplementation can make a huge difference in achieving thyroid balance and health.
Many individuals and their families have low thyroid levels simply because the gland does not produce enough hormone. This is quite common in Northern Europeans. Occasionally, a thyroid cancer may cause thyroid symptoms.
Constant stress can cause the Adrenal gland to produce excessive amounts of the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenalin. Although the exact mechanism is not clear, an excess level of these hormones stimulates the production of Reverse T3, an inactive form of thyroid hormone. Instead of increasing energy in these times of stress, this actually results in a relatively low thyroid level. Elevated stress hormones also cause cravings for fat and carbohydrate. Excessive cortisol plus low thyroid, results in a feeling of fatigue, hunger and weight gain. Watching calorie intake, exercise and other stress reduction activities such as Yoga, meditation, breathing techniques and changing to a less stressful life style can all be of help. Antidepressant medications may also help.