High Cortisol: Hi, my cortisol is a bit higher... - Thyroid UK

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High Cortisol

Hi, my cortisol is a bit higher than last time it was tested a year ago and outside the range. I am not diagnosed with hypothyroid or hyperthyroid though I am diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. All my other bloods have improved in the right direction eg Vit D, Iron, Vit B12, prolactin. My GP did say to get it retested in a 3 months time. I have read about Cushing's Disease but just wonder what else could be causing high cortisol. My blood pressure is fine. I am very tired. I don't feel hyper like I used to but lacking in energy.


23 Replies

Hi there FM - how high is high ? I too have recently been diagnosed with raised Cortisol and yesterday evening went to my Physio/Accupuncturist to discuss my results !! ( I live in Crete ) He just smiled and said - they are normal for you ! Cortisol is often raised when there is inflammation in the body - and I do have Crohns/Hashimotos and inflamed spinal nerves. Cortisol dampens down inflammation as one of its many roles in the body. Also Thyroid sufferers are more prone to have adrenals issues - so it is part of the jig-saw.

Think it is important the Adrenals do not become exhausted due to over-production of cortisol - so may be it is good to support them with herbs - like Ashwagandha. Just be mindful that for some people supporting the Adrenals can raise the cortisol more - so tread with care. It is the route I will be taking.

Also taking time out for you - with relaxation....yoga, massages or whatever is good for you....

Did you see the post yesterday about Fibro and LDN ? Again a route I have considered but my Physio didn't think it the right one for me at present....Am trying to reduce thyroid anti-bodies.

Am sure you will have more energy when your B12 - Ferritin - Folate - VitD etc are OPTIMAL....hope so :-)


Thanks for your reply, Marz. Alas, I don't have any more energy with the improved B12, Ferritin and Vit D. I guess they've moved in the right direction but aren't optimal yet!

Best wishes to you :)


Fibromyalgia is poorly treated under active thyroid.


Fibromyalgia is the lazy doctor diagnosis. In fact, it isn't a diagnosis at all, because it isn't a disease, it's a syndrome. A syndrome is a bunch of symptoms which have to be caused by something. But there are no tests for Fibro, it's just the doctors opinion. And if he can't be bothered to do tests - as he rarely can when there's a woman involved! - he just says oh, it's fibro. You must not accept this so-called 'diagnosis'. You must find out what's causing it and get it treated, otherwise, it's just going to get worse? Have you had your thyroid tested? What did they test?

Cortisol often gets high before it goes low in fatigued adrenals. As if the adrenals are making one last push before giving up. What time was it tested? Or was it a 24 hr saliva test? Is it high all the day, or just at night? And what is making the adrenals struggle? Could it be... oh, no! It's unthinkable! Not the... thyroid?!? Well, more than likely, yes.

If you've had your thyroid tested, let us see the results so that we can better help you.

Hugs, Grey


Actually Grey Goose, I worked out I had fibro myself, not the GP. She is a woman so nothing to do with male/female thing either. I wish people wouldn't dismiss Fibro and ME. It does irk me, sorry. I feel I've pursued the thyroid route and given my results on here more than once. The GP I saw last (male) also didn't dismiss my high cortisol out of hand and did suggest looking at in three months time and if still high suggested he would then refer me to an endocrinologist. There seems to be a sweeping dismissal of all GPs and fibromyalgia on these boards instead of looking case by case. I've also seen dismissals of MS on here too.

When you say have you had your thyroid tested, as well as the usual TSH which I know from these boards isn't enough, I had antibodies tested (negative) and my T3 and T4 tested privately. My T3 was low, just outside the range and T4 low, just within range. That wasn't taken that seriously, I have to admit (female GP). If I have anything I think it would be consistent with pituitary problems and again the male doctor didn't rule this out. So I am happy for people to comment on levels without this anti-fibro stance which is unhelpful.

My cortisol was tested at around midday which for me is quite early because I am tired with fibro fatigue.




I think you have answered your own questions on how you feel by telling us about the low T3 and T4. The FT4 result should be in the upper quarter of the range and the FT3 in the upper third - so from your results it would appear the thyroid is tired and slowing down for whatever reason. Have you considered self-treating with Natural Dessicated Thyroid..... ? Many on this forum do. You could post a relevant question and people will answer you either on the forum or by PM....

I was that girl that slept from lunch time until supper time daily - and had to retire from work early as a result. Then I was diagnosed and now rarely even have forty winks in the day.... :-) It can be life changing....

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Thanks Marz. My worries about NDT (which I had considered self-medicating with) is made from pig's glands or some such thing, isn't it? As a non-meat-eater, I would struggle with this :(


I read this morning that a caste in India which is vegetarian allow their women to eat meat whilst trying to get pregnant....which apparently works. Not saying you are wanting to do that :-) So even the strictest relent in the name of health. Why not try T3 then ? Did you manage to red the link I gave you ?


Yes I did thanks! But isn't it dangerous to just start taking T3 and where would I get it? Also, strange as it may be to say, as much as I hate being fatigued so much what I hated more was being over-stimulated and wired all the time as I used to be years ago.


I don't know how old you are FoggyMoggy - but often when you are very active/wired when younger - it does suggest you may have been Hyper. As we age everyones thyroid begins to slow down - in the same way our ovaries do and for men their testosterone lowers with age. Losing full thyroid function of the thyroid is part of the aging process if not treated. T3 was given as an anti-depressant in the 50's and apparently it worked well. Also T3 is needed in just about every cell of the body so as yours is so low - you do not have enough T3 to go around.

There are lots of people on this forum self medicating with T3 - myself included. You just need to be sensible and take it slowly. You could put up a post asking for advice where to buy it abroad and people will send you a PM - personal message. It is against the rules of the forum to publish that sort of information on the open forum. I live in Crete and buy it OTC.

Have you read Paul Robinsons website - rwt3.com

About how he recovered his health with T3.


Thanks Marz, very helpful. I am 55 and not quite menopausal yet but perimenopausal. I am on antidepressants for anxiety, do you know of they can affect your thyroid function? I've certainly put on a lot of weight and become more sluggish but that could equally or partially down to imminent menopause


Please do not blame the menopause - it is a natural process of one part of the endocrine system running down as nature intended. So less progesterone and oestrogen in the body and so the thyroid often works harder to try and balance things out. If your weight again is around the middle then this can be in part linked to the raised cortisol....

Your anxiety can/could be linked to your low performing thyroid as most of the T3 receptors are in the brain and the second highest amount are in the gut. Yes your AD's can have an effect on your thyroid function as they often contain fluoride - which in turn suppresses thyroid function. Flouride was used in the past to suppress the thyroid .

Reading your response to GG about others having been tested for thyroid when they received a Fibro diagnosis - I would like to say that when I was on the Fibro Action Forum I found that - yes you are right - people were tested for the Thyroid - BUT ONLY the TSH - Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. If in range then other tests are rarely if ever done. TSH as you comes from the Pituitary Gland and tells the Thyroid to produce T4 and that then converts into the ACTIVE thyroid hormone T3 - so without the last two tests I am afraid the people who say they do not have a thyroid problem only know part of the story. Even on this forum we have to explain this on a daily basis to hundreds if not thousands of people - and I have been here for over 3 years. So have seen it for myself.

Also the other problem is that once the results come into the hands of the GP - the results are only as good as the person reading them :-( I went to the Thyroid Conference in the UK where Dr Midgeley - who invented the improved TSH test - and the T3 one - explained so much to us. The comment about the interpretation was his ! Six people can read the same book and understand it differently :-)

If you click onto my name you can read my edited ? profile and perhaps it will help you understand how at the age of 68 I am well....and that is following the advice here - reading all the websites and books that are relevant....and of course listening to my body and following the advice of others. May I ask what books you have read and which are your favourite websites ? I may be able to point you in the right direction as others have done for me.... It is important to keep an open mind and not let certain conditions define us.

holtorfmed.com/dr-pdf/Diagn... Treatment CFS FM.pdf


Lots of reading - don't take my word for it - but if your FT3 is below range then it is time to act whilst you are still young.

Happy reading !

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Thanks for your reply, Marz. Not having a good day, very fatigued and headachy so apologies in advance if my reply doesn't hang together well. Re menopause, although natural people do report changes eg one of my family swore by hormone patches so just one example. Hormone patches were the answer! Other people have had their migraines stop and others have had weight gain only to lose it when they are through the menopause so all I was saying is that the menopause is another variable and when one tries to do things scientifically you need to hold the other things constant if you can.

I think the ADs have affected my prolactin as it was up the time before last and I was going to come off them but because of awful sweats (another menopausal symptom!) I have kept on them as they are 'supposed' to help with this.

When I said re thyroid testing I am referring to people who've had all the thyroid tests not just TSH, at least this is what they reported. I totally accept that there are many people with undiagnosed thyroid problems but what I'm disputing is that all fibro is undiagnosed thyroid problems. Plus re ME, like thyroid function, a lot of people confuse CFS (because this was the term the US insurers used to discredit ME and as a result there is a lot of misinformation) but there is a wealth of research on it and a lot of it has been suppressed. I notice you have put up a link about CFS in fact but people with ME would jump on that, those who know all the facts which I don't pretend to! But thanks for the links, I will have a look when I'm feeling better. I'm certainly open-minded and trying to pursue this while at the same time recognising that illnesses are much more complex than having one cause. Take care and thanks :)


Foggy, absoluely no-one is 'dismissing' fibro. Saying what it is, isn't 'dismissing' it. How can you think that. We all know the pain is real. The fatigue is real. But that doesn't make it a seperate disease. It is a symptom, and symptoms are caused by something. How can you possibly think that saying that is 'dismissing' it? If we say that, it's because we want you to find out the cause and get better.

As to femal GPs, they are educated in the same way, and a lot of the sexism rubs off, I find. It's ingrained in the industry. I have seen many, many doctors in my 70 years, and I often find the females are worse than the males. I waited round 50 years for my diagnosis, all the time being told 'eat less, exercise more', 'see a psychiatrist' and 'learn to live with your symptoms'. At school I was branded stupid, greedy and lazy. I do think I know a little bit about the subject. :)

As Marz says, your frees are way too low for you to be well, so no Wonder you've been told you have fibro. As you said yourself, the TSH doesn't mean you are well - even though you didn't say what it was. Your cortisol was tested too late to be of any value.

I'm really, really upset that you took what I said as being 'anti-fibro'. I just Don't understand. In future, I'll shut up. Oh, and no-one has ever 'dismissed' MS! That's an entirley different thing. Perhaps you meant ME?

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Hi Grey Goose

I am sorry for upsetting you and that wasn't my intention. I have just had some really dismissive comments on this board before. You may well be right and I believe you know a lot more than I do on the matter. I've not read Dr Lowe's book in depth which many people see as the thyroid bible and I may be a convert after reading it. At the same time, I know people with fibro and ME who have had all the thyroids done and yet still have the 'symptoms' so what i'm saying is, I think there is an association between the thyroid and Fibro but I don't believe that everyone who has fibro has an undiagnosed thyroid problem necessarily so therefore it's hard to say it is causative. Another example, Vit D levels are very often deficient in people with thyroid problems, MS, ME and Fibro but which comes first? It may be that the low levels are a result of these conditions and being able to process it but increasing the Vit D levels does not necessarily make one feel better. What I'm driving at here is the causal relationship.

My female GP is very empathic to female issues which is why she always has long waiting lists to see her but I do agree that it's more a case of her being not sympathetic (or knowledgeable) about thyroid issues. But she never alerted me to the fibromyalgia diagnosis, I alerted her from things I'd found out myself!

No, I am not confusing MS or ME. A member of my family has MS and I do think there are very similar overlaps between MS, ME, Fibro and Thyroid problems, while recognising that each is a condition in its own right. For instance, people with ME get very angry when people use ME and CFS interchangeably as CFS was invented by the US health insurance to downgrade the reality of ME so as to reduce pay-outs. It is well-documented. Fibromyalgia is equally dismissed by companies so they didn't have to pay out health benefits in the US either (and that thinking has now come to the UK). But in one exchange on these boards someone did suggest that MS was down to thyroid problems but it was a passing comment and not saying it definitely was. The thing is, MS doesn't have a test either (as Fibro doesn't), but that doesn't make it any less of a condition in its own right.


Except that Fibro, ME/CFS are called 'syndromes'. 'Syndromes' aren't diseases, they're symptoms. Symptoms are caused by something.

I didn't say that all people with fibro have low thyroid - although the way thyroid is tested these days, a lot of people remain undiagnosed. The trouble is, doctors love to hand out a diagnosis of fibro without properly eliminating all other possibilites. Of course they're made up 'diseases'. They were made up when doctors started using synthetic hormone instead of NDT and people had lingering symptoms, although the TSH was in range, therefore - according to the medical community - it was 'nothing to do with your thyroid'.

Well, in your case, given your results, Don't you think it's more than likely that your 'fibro' is more to do with your thyroid than anything else? Try getting on a decent dose of thyroid replacement hormone, getting all your vits and mins optimal and then come and tell us you have fibro.

Of course, you are entitled to your opinions, but what I objected to was you telling me I'd 'dismissed' fibro when I did no such thing. End of.


What i was objecting was the dismissal of the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. As I say, my GP didn't hand out the diagnosis, it was me who pursued that and it made perfect sense. Suddenly all the symptoms I'd been having for three decades had a name and a diagnosis.

I'm sorry but I don't buy that Fibro is a made-up disease. It's also dangerous in that it makes the general public who already know very little about it then dismiss it. It's just had a name change and used to be known as Fibrositis. Are we to dismiss schizophrenia, bipolar and MS on the same grounds that they used to be known by different names? That would be absurd.

"Don't you think it's more than likely that your 'fibro' is more to do with your thyroid than anything else? Try getting on a decent dose of thyroid replacement hormone, getting all your vits and mins optimal and then come and tell us you have fibro." You see, this is what I mean about a dismissive tone. I've already stated that I know many people with Fibro who have done just that and there's been no change, nada. Of course there'll be people who've been wrongly diagnosed, I'm not denying that but to go from there to 'everyone has an undiagnosed thyroid problem' is a bit of a leap. And as you can see I am pursuing the thyroid route as well, otherwise I wouldn't be on these boards would I? How do get those thyroid meds and self-medicating is another matter. Helpful advice yes, that is welcome, but leave out the 'fibromyalgia is just a made up disease' please. It doesn't serve any useful purpose. There's enough anti-fibromyalgia policy out there as it is. Such comments alienate myself and many others from coming to these boards.



Maybe this article is helpful....


Thanks - I will have a look.


Foggy, May be an idea to have another thyroid test if you haven't had one recently. Peri/menopause can trigger hypothyroidism but I think yours may be secondary hypothyroidism. Do try to persuade your GP to include FT3 because as I've said to you previously, low-normal TSH, low FT4 and low FT3 indicate secondary hypothyroidism which is caused by pituitary or hypothalmic dysfunction which means the thyroid gland doesn't receive sufficient TSH to produce hormone.


Thanks Clutter. I'm due to have the Cortisol one done in May so could try and get another T3 one then but it would have to be private again, I think. And last year when I had it done, although my T3 came back just below range my GP said it was so borderline she wouldn't take any action :( She just made the comment about some people being short and some people being tall!! Not very helpful. Yes I have been trying to pursue the secondary hypothyroidism and the other GP I saw didn't rule this out but I feel that if my values are within range they won't pursue it. What do I do to get them to?!


Foggy, I don't get this borderline below range nonsense. Below range is deficient and needs treating. They're quick enough to reduce meds if you are just above range.

I don't know how you get them to take notice and act. I lost patience with my endo after 15 months of increasing pain and illness that had me 90% bedbound and self medicated with T3 in addition to Levothyroxine. Fixed myself and was much improved in the six months until the next consultation when he then agreed to prescribe.


Thanks Clutter. I've not even got as far as an endo, though I've heard they can be useless too. The last GP did mention an endo which was an improvement!


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