Stress & Thyroid Function
What is the Thyroid Gland?
The largest endocrine gland in the body is located in the throat under the thyroid cartilage, which forms a protrusion in the larynx known as "Adam's apple".
It is the body's most important gland because it controls how effectively the human body produces and uses energy while affecting almost every tissue and organ of the body.
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones, the main ones being triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which are composed of iodine and tyrosine. It also produces calcitonin, which is produced by paraplatinous cells known as C-cells and plays an important role in calcium homeostasis.
What is Hypothyroidism and how is it caused?
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the abovementioned thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Worldwide, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. However, symptoms of hypothyroidism may be manifested by certain medications, after an inflammation or even after a childbirth.
Finally, congenital abnormalities and stress are included in the factors that enhance the onset of the disease.
Stress and hypothyroidism
In fact, anxiety greatly affects thyroid function. Every time stress is increased, adrenal glands produce cortisol. This is a protective mechanism, originally developed in response to various physical threats.
This natural response is known as "fight or flight". Indeed, only after the natural threat expires, cortisol levels fall to their normal levels.
Increasing levels of cortisol in substance is only for short-term stressful events.
It is the duration and the accumulation of stress rather than the type of stress that causes high levels of cortisol.
Each cell in the body has receptors for thyroid hormones, but also for cortisol, which acts synergistically with thyroid hormones at an epigenetic level.
It is necessary that cortisol be in normal levels (ie not too much or too little) to be able to bind to the receptors in order to optimize the functioning of not only the thyroid gland but also all body tissues.
Excessive levels of cortisol stimulate the tissues to respond in addition to the thyroid hormone signal. In addition, a sustained rise in cortisol is able to increase TSH levels, while T4 and T3 may range within the normal range!
Excess cortisol has a direct negative effect on thyroid function and the conversion of T4 to T3 in the body tissues, leading to an increased risk of Hashimoto's thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid disease).
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the result of elevated levels of cortisol that cause an abnormal proportion of T1 and T2 lymphocytes.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
Symptoms of hypothyroidism vary, depending on the severity of hormone deficiency. In most cases, symptoms tend to evolve slowly, often over a number of years.
They usually include some or all of the following:
⇝ chronic fatigue
⇝ weight gain
⇝ low blood pressure
⇝ sensitivity to temperature and cold
⇝ elevated LDL cholesterol
⇝ reactive hypoglycemia
⇝ muscle weakness
⇝ stiffness of the joints
⇝ facial swelling
Menorrhagia (heavy and prolonged menstruation)
⇝ memory loss
⇝ sterility and hair loss
Selenium (Se) is also an essential ingredient for those proteins and enzymes required in a variety of biological functions, such as:
➭ antioxidant defense
➭ shaping the inflammatory response
➭ the production of thyroid hormones