Exhaustion. How Adrenal Stress Can Affect Thyroid Function and The Methylation Balance

Clear Glass Bowl Beside Yellow Flower

The pandemic with all its explosion and consequences has made the most of us more stressed out and exhausted besides “scared” “worried” “demoralized” “sad” “incredulous” etc.….

There are no more words to comment and to describe all of this, we all perfectly know  what is happening, and we all are hoping in miraculous solutions as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, is still taking lives and making sick hundred of thousand of people around the world as much as different therapies and solutions have been experimented and are coming up or being revaluated day by day.

In some country the curve has reached the plateau and the epidemy has been decreasing with hopes of reopening and going back to a sort of regular life, and many are, but till what point can be normal, we don’t know; it’s not safe and many of us are wondering how we are going to do unless we do test for antibodies in serum and discover that we have IgG to the virus, the immunoglobulins of the chronic infections, those that show that an infection took place and the immune system developed antibodies and so immunity against it.

In the meantime we wait and we continue this atypical life that we are living from few months now; for many of us it has been not so difficult to stay home, but for the most has been tough, and especially in those places where regulations have been much more drastic.

The problem is not to stay home as long as we can go out for a sunshine walk and a fresh air of brief, the problem is not to find things to do, there are always plenty of things to do at home, the problem is for how long! Here is where people have started to become impatient and humanly this has been and still is a big challenge, but more than everything is to hear everyday about new cases and death, unbelievable and unacceptable in a modern society like this.

We all struggle to hear about this tragic reality and think about the people involved and we all would like to do something to help and support, and we all are trying to do our way of possibilities, but it is never enough compared to the heroes of the situation, those who are fighting on the first lines from months to help the poor victims to fight against this horrible virus, we can only pray for them and for all those involved.

This is the major stress that all of us are living and most of the people can handle stress well, and so even if there are difficult moments and more challenges, they take a pause and try to slow down and then they keep going, but unfortunately as much as they do and believe they do, the stress hit without they even realize.

With thyroid stress is pretty much involved, people get stressed easily if the thyroid function is not balanced, otherwise they are pretty regular.

The cycle is a vicious cycle, if one gets stress then go out of balance, and if not in balance become more stressed out; of course, in situations like this pandemic there are variety of reasons for being stressed out.

The problem is when stress turns in exhaustion, here is when it becomes more serious and remedies are necessary.

So, what is adrenal stress and what are remedies for exhaustion.

Adrenal stress for my interpretation, and the experts forgive me if I am wrong, is a type of stress caused by the imbalance in the cycle of normal stress. With regular stress the fight neurotransmitters or catecholamines like epinephrine or adrenaline and norepinephrine are activated; when under stress the involuntary nervous system, the sympathetic, stimulates the productions of  these neurotransmitters which activate the adrenal gland with the variety of body functions and put the systems in alert; in normal situations things go back to normality thanks to the action of the parasympathetic system which is the one that controls the relaxation of body functions and provides calm and serenity.

When stress becomes chronic, or during period of intense and drastic stress due to situations like catastrophes, or accidents and death the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic is lost and the emotional status influence the activation of the Hypothalamus-Hypophysis, or Pituitary Gland Axis, the HPA or HTPA Axis. The Hypothalamus produce CRH, Corticotropin Releasing Hormones, this stimulates the Adenohypophysis or anterior lobe of the Hypophysis to produce ACTH, or Adrenocorticotropic hormone that activate the Adrenal cortex to produce Glucocorticoids hormones like Cortisol.

There is a negative feedback in this cycle of neuroendocrine hormones and neurotransmitters so as with the thyroid hormones and which under normal circumstances inhibits the production of CRH by the Hypothalamus to interrupt the activation, but if the system is under constant activation as during these times also due to the immune system activation, there will be not inhibition and mainly the adrenal glands will continue producing cortisol activating all the body functions and disrupting the sleeping cycle. Normally cortisol is high in the morning and low at evening when melatonin instead raises, in these periods cortisol is constantly high keeping people tense and not capable to sleep unless they take remedies.

Remedies are various and besides the deep briefing, relaxing music and techniques like, massages, meditation, and yoga, or a walk by the sun, and by nature, the most important for everything, there are variety of herbs and supplements for the occasion and of course diet.

As with all diets, it is necessary a diet that eliminates all foods that may cause anxiety and replacing with plenty of antioxidants and relaxing foods.

Oatmeal as a complex fiber helps with healthy intestinal functions and microbial flora so as yogurts and therefore with replacement of good bacteria that also regulate brain functions; in addition oat as a carb is precursor of serotonin, the neurotransmitter of calm and happiness.

Berries, dark chocolate and teas are good for mood thanks to the presence of elements similar to mood regulators, spinach and nuts for their content in magnesium for its relaxing properties and more, and spinach of folates too, important for the methylation cycle and for lowering depression, dark chocolate for its properties in lowering cortisol and for stimulating the production of serotonin, all foods rich in omega’s 3 fatty acids antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, just to give some examples; proteins are important as well especially if crashed.

The most of supplements for stress are based on adaptogens. Adaptogens, as of the Wikipedia definition are: “substances that can increase resistance to stress”, herbs  that promotes healing like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Bacopa Manneri, Panax Ginseng, Holy Basil, Licorice, Ginger, Rosemary, Sage, Peppermint, Astragalus, Schisandra, Cordyceps, and more.

Of course, relaxing elements and herbs that can promote calm and serenity and restoring sleep as GABA, L-Theanine and Melatonin, or also 5-HTP, normally in complex for sleep aid or for relax, together magnesium and calcium for their muscle relaxing properties in low doses. Magnesium is also well used itself for its calming effects mainly in form of glycinate or oxide, so as the Epsom salts and lavender massage oils in addition to relaxing and calming herbs like, Chamomile, Valerian, Passionflower, Lemon Balm, Lavender.

Vitamins that are usually included in complexes for adrenal stress are vitamin C and Bs as, B2 or riboflavin, B3 or niacin, B6 or pyridoxine and B5 or pantothenic acid, or pantetheine, B-complexes are also highly effective for stress in general, especially when there is crash and it is necessary energy boost, and vitamin D as well for its properties on mood.

The specialist of Adrenal Stress is with no doubt Dr. Alan Christianson; I have been talking about his program and book in previous blogs and of course of his diet, “The Adrenal Reset Diet” based mainly on shakes and light meals arranged for eating carbs (restricted carbs) mainly at evening time while proteins during the day.

He does have variety of complexes for the different stage of stress, he defines three stages of adrenal stress, the stressed out, the wired and tired, and the crashed, each of this stage requires certain elements and herbs and amino acids.

Dr. Ben Lynch’s suggestions for adrenal stress are mainly based on regular and restoring sleep cycle and avoidance of stressors of all type, detoxification and support of methylations and mood functions. One of the herbs suggested from his company is the Ashwagandha or Withania Somnifera, as from the name we can understand its properties, but this herb has much more benefits, it is sold as single complex and included in multi-complex with more elements in formula for adrenal stress but also in a formula for sleep aid, so important to relax the body function and to detoxify, but his complexes include other herbs as well.

With stress thyroid can either hypo function than hyper function with the relative consequences, in the first case the metabolism is very low with fatigue, including brain and eyes fatigue, joints and muscles are painful, and so on, with hyper function, there is hyperactivity with all the body functions and anxiety and the worse are heart palpitations and tremors.

But when people get exhausted it’s more than hypo or hyper function, it’s almost matter of both and results are pretty serious, there is extreme fatigue and mental exhaustion simple for little things, but in the same time it can be anxiety too with all its consequences.

This change in thyroid function are also correlated with methylations mutations, and the MTHFR gene for these mutations.

If thyroid is hypo-functioning there is deficit of methylations, for the body needs more support, as methyl donors like methyl-folates, and methyl vitamin B12, vitamin B2 and B6 and Magnesium and phosphatidylcholine, these among the most important but more elements are within this cycle.

If instead hyper– functioning there is overmethylation and so more anxiety and high level of homocysteine eventually, the methyl groups gets in trap because the receptors are blocked by folic acid from diet and accumulate in the system causing variety of reactions and disturbs like high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, anxiety and more.

Methylation is a complex and vital process and there are many factors that contribute to that and mainly life style, stress and environment for the most as more times mentioned; these are the same factors for a proper thyroid function and not simply this, this is why all is connected and related. My simple assumptions, the last ones in regard of hypo and hyper function and methylation correlation, something that can be affecting many people at these times.

Thanks for reading.

Mariarosaria M.

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