High cortisol levels affect many parts of your body, but one area of special interest is your thyroid function. When you encounter stress, the adrenal glands, two walnut sized organs that sit just above your kidneys, release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is known as the hormone involved in the fight or flight response. Cortisol is the bodies primary stress hormone, and in times of stress, it will increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose, increase the bodies heart rate and breathing rate and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Cortisol also slows down digestion and intestinal motility. But what happens if you have a thyroid problem and you have too much cortisol? Well…. Now you are in trouble.
In this article Ill share with you what high cortisol does to your thyroid, why you wont want to overlook this incredible important piece of your health puzzle, the best way to test for cortisol levels. If you can relate to the symptoms you see below. Keep reading……
Stress and Your Thyroid
Your thyroid works hand in hand with your adrenal glands and if you have been struggling with hypothyroidism or with a TSH level that goes from being high to low or vice versa, it might be time to look at the relationship between high cortisol levels and the health of your adrenal glands.
If you looked at the symptoms of high cortisol above and you checked the box on many of them AND you currently take Synthroid, Levothyroxine, Armour or Cytomel, My suspicion is that something is going on with them.
Regardless of what may have been told, chronic stress caused by adrenal fatigue will have a series of negative consequences on your Cortisol levels, Thyroid Gland, and your sex hormones.
High Cortisol Levels Cause Poor Thyroid Conversion and Low T3
Stress turns on the fight or flight response. If this this inner turmoil gets the best of you and your body does not adapt properly- over time you will develop high cortisol levels.
Cortisol Affects Your Thyroid in Several Ways.
- Elevated cortisol can reduce or suppress the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Axis (HPA) reducing levels of TSH.
- It Can lower your TSH Levels
- It can reduce T4 and T3 production.
- Thyroid Receptor Downregulation- Thyroid receptors become dull
- Chronic elevations of cortisol can reduce the conversion of T4 to T3 and increase the conversion of T4 to rT3.
Do you Take Thyroid Medication and Still Feel Lousy?
If you take Armour(T4 and T3 combination) or Cytomel (synthetic T3) and you feel better, I will guarantee that you have a problem with your adrenal glands and your cortisol levels.
You see If you feel better when you take T3, this tells us that then your body is not properly making T3 or converting T4 into T3. At common reason for this…. thats right……High cortisol levels!
Another problem with high cortisol is that is dull your thyroid receptors. When Thyroid receptors can’t take up thyroid hormones into the cell because the receptors become dulled or down regulated, you end up with many hypothyroid symptoms you are so familiar with.
Your Hypothyroidism- May Have Less To do with the Thyroid- And More To Do With Your High Cortisol Levels and Poor Adrenal function
If you suspect you have high cortisol levels start by taking my adrenal quiz. This quiz will go through a series of questions and within a few minutes you will find out how bad your adrenals might be. If you have already taken my adrenal quiz, and you didn’t do so well, then I suggest you start with adrenal test and consult with me.
What To Remember About High Cortisol and Thyroid
#1 Elevated cortisol can reduce or suppress the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Axis (HPA) reducing levels of TSH. Lowered TSH can reduce T4 and T3 production. Chronic elevations of cortisol can reduce the conversion of T4 to T3 and increase the conversion of T4 to rT3.
#2 If you continue to struggle with thyroid symptoms despite taking thyroid medication- something is missing and that “something missing” might be your cortisol levels.- I recommend testing with a 4x- Cortisol Adrenals hormone test
#3 You can test your cortisol levels through blood, but cortisol testing through saliva is more sensitive and I find it more accurate for people with thyroid problems. Blood work often misses the subtle deficiencies that only cortisol saliva testing can pick up.