Are you feeling sluggish, easily fatigued? Are you stressed and tired, or stressed and wired?
The thyroid and adrenal hormone systems are critical players in the hormone symphony. These hormones are important in regulating metabolism, the stress response, and immune system function. Problems with weight control, low energy, impaired sleeping habits, and poor immunity are commonly seen in patients with imbalanced thyroid or adrenal hormones,
At Integrative Rheumatology of Westchester, we will comprehensively assess both thyroid and adrenal function and devise a program of treatment to normalize and optimize your hormone function.
Thyroid hormones are the primary regulators of metabolism. Abnormal thyroid function is an extremely common hormonal abnormality. When thyroid hormone levels are low, people feel fatigued, sluggish, gain weight and note changes in their skin and hair. Constipation and bloating are common, along with swelling of the extremities and puffiness in the face. Excess levels of thyroid hormone often result in the opposite set of symptoms: feeling nervous, insomnia, palpitations, diarrhea and weight loss are typical, but many of the symptoms overlap.
Assessment of thyroid function can be complex: several hormones are involved and must be measured, and the results carefully interpreted. Some people will be told by their physicians that their thyroid function is “normal”, despite reporting symptoms suggestive of low thyroid function. This is a common problem: clinical hypothyroidism with “normal” blood tests. Sometimes, this occurs because insufficient thyroid hormone testing was performed. In addition, the range of “normal” is wide, so many individuals who are clinically low thyroid (“hypothyroid”) will often be told that their levels fall in the normal range. But that level may not be normal for them—some persons function best when their levels fall in the upper quartile of the normal range.
Many people with thyroid problems suffer from autoimmune thyroiditis, or “Hashimoto’s Disease” in which one’s own immune system attacks the thyroid gland, resulting in dysfunction. In Grave’s Disease, antibodies directed at the thyroid gland actually stimulate an increase in thyroid hormone production and cause hyperthyroidism.
The treatment of thyroid hormone deficiency involves hormone replacement in most cases, although sometimes nutritional supplements can support thyroid function in persons who do not require hormone administration. At Integrative Rheumatology of Westchester, we use biologically derived thyroid hormone products, rather than synthetic thyroxine (T4), because our bodies naturally produce quantities of both T3 and T4 and we like to mimic nature, whenever possible.
The Adrenal Glands produce a number of essential hormones. Adrenal balance is vital to the hormone symphony. Cortisol is the “stress” hormone and may be the most important backbone player in human physiology. It is produced in the adrenal gland, under the control of hormones produced from the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain. This system of brain-adrenal interaction is often referred to as the “HPA axis” (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) and illustrates the important interplay between the nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems.
But adrenal gland function is often overlooked, mostly because traditional medical teaching only recognizes “adrenal insufficiency” when a serious depletion of cortisol is identified, despite the fact that many persons who are chronically stressed have abnormal levels of cortisol—either high or low. This condition is often referred to as “adrenal fatigue” or hypoadrenalism.
Low adrenal function is often a consequence of chronic stress and leads to a constellation of symptoms that often overlap with thyroid dysfunction and include fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, and depression.
At Integrative Rheumatology of Westchester, we use salivary and urinary hormone tests to assess your adrenal function. Hormone balance and optimization is our goal. Whether adrenal gland function is low or high, we use adaptogenic herbal supplements, sometimes adrenal extracts, and a program of stress management to help achieve harmony. A number of techniques, including meditation, yoga, and exercise programs can help with personal stress reduction, leading to happier, healthier, and longer lives.