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The Cortisol-Thyroid Connection – Why You Feel Anxious and Sick – And How to Get Your Health Back
Too much cortisol, your primary stress hormone, can wreak havoc on a sensitive thyroid. Here are five proven ways to protect your thyroid and get your health back on track.
We are all very familiar with stress, but what we often don’t know is that cortisol – a hormone in the body – drives this stress response. Cortisol is vital for a healthy immune system, blood pressure regulation, and crisis response.
Problems arise, however, when our cortisol levels remain high for too long. Excess cortisol can cause thyroid chaos, so balancing your cortisol levels are key to improving your health.
Why Your Thyroid Problems Aren’t Getting Better?
If you discover that you have low thyroid function – either as hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – it’s assumed that you need to increase your thyroid function with medication.
This is partially true for many people, though simply throwing medication at the problem won’t help you understand how the issue started in the first place. While there are many underlying triggers of low thyroid, there is one common factor: stress, or high cortisol.
Stress is a huge problem for those with thyroid issues in particular, because cortisol actively suppresses thyroid hormone output. In essence, stress decreases thyroid activity in an effort to conserve energy for the “fight or flight” task at hand.
High levels of cortisol can also lead to blood pressure changes, weight gain, poor digestion, blood sugar instability, and even anxiety and depression. These issues can all contribute to exacerbated thyroid symptoms.
The good news is that there are things you can do to decrease cortisol levels. If you’ve been feeling the pressure from work, personal life, parenting, health, or other challenges, odds are your cortisol levels are out of whack.
5 Herbs and Supplements to Decrease Cortisol
Cortisol is a natural response in the body when stressful situations arise. However, when your body is always on the alert, cortisol gets out of control.
The following five tips can help restore your natural hormone balance. Just remember to always check with your doctor before taking new herbs or supplements.
Fish oil is one of those supplements that are popular for improving heart health and fighting inflammation. The good news is that it’s also helpful in reducing cortisol levels.
When choosing a fish oil supplement, make sure it is sourced from wild-caught fish and contains no fillers, like this one. Follow the recommended dosage.
L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea and matcha, is helpful for dealing with anxiety because it helps to reduce cortisol levels during and after stress.
Keep in mind that l-theanine can make you feel very relaxed, so it’s best taken right before bed. For optimal results, take it regularly to reap the benefits of lowered cortisol levels the next day. Try a product like this and follow the recommended dosage from your practitioner.
Valerian root is an herbal sleep aid that works by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain, reducing stress-related issues like anxiety and insomnia. Valerian is not habit-forming and can help address many types of sleep issues, like poor sleep quality. Try a product like this.
Tip: Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking, as sleep aids have a higher chance of interacting with them.
Do you take a daily multivitamin? Not everyone does, but if you’re dealing with chronic stress and cortisol problems, it might be a good idea.
Be sure to choose a multivitamin that has higher amounts of B vitamins, like this one.
More B vitamins help to reduce stress levels, even for people with certain genetic mutations (like MTHFR) that make it hard to convert and activate B vitamins.
Do you find the smell of lavender calming? Research shows that the scent of lavender can lower cortisol levels in new mothers who are sleep deprived, as well as stress in infants. The best part about lavender aromatherapy is that it’s safe and easy, with no medication or other supplemental interactions.
Diffuse lavender in your room while you sleep, at your desk while you work, in your bath or shower, or mix it with a carrier oil, like jojoba, for a stress-busting facial oil.
Watch this video – How Stress Causes Hypothyroidism | Thyroid & Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome | Samyuktha Diaries
The Bottom Line
Cortisol can be a good thing when it’s in balance. A certain level of stress helps our bodies get things done, like boost adrenaline to get through a marathon or a big work presentation.
But when stress levels become chronic, the negative effects outweigh the good. Lowering cortisol back into balance is vital for overall health as well as a balanced thyroid.
These five supplemental options help to calm elevated cortisol levels. Still, don’t underestimate the value of gentle exercise, deep breathing, and any other activities that you find stress-relieving.
Written by Aimee McNew
Aimee McNew is a Certified Nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.
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