Stress and thyroid - any connection?

I've been looking into whether stress might play any part in thyroid conditions but have been unable to find anything other than old studies from the fifties and sixties where they tortured poor rabbits. Does anyone know, off-hand, if stress is recognised as playing a part in thyroid malfunction, or can you recommend a book or article where this is discussed? I would prefer a legitimate scientific book/article rather than an 'alternative health' one, but at this stage would be grateful for any good leads. Many thanks!

43 Replies

  • Chancery,

    And check out Mary Shomon's site

  • Hi Clutter, thanks for the inks, but I can't get the first link to work. It just keeps trying to take me to a cached version, but it won't load. Not sure if it's your link or their site's playing up. Could you check your link in case it's faulty and let me know?

    And the Mary Shomon link - are you trying to tell me something? It's an article about crazed loons who do their own research, and bitter victims who believe everything they read on the internet! I HOPE it's because you thought there might be something elsewhere on the site rather than a subtle way of telling me something my friends are afraid to say....

  • Chancery, the link worked for me. I've c&p the link from the open page see if it works If it doesn't work try and look for the are-you-having-a-hypothyroid-freak-out-10-ways-to-push-the-reset-button article.

    Lol, about the Mary Shomon link. If the cap fits... but I did just grab the first link I saw :-D

  • Ah great, thanks, it's working now. And actually the Mary Shomon article was both funny and enlightening so, truth to tell, I was actually glad you sent me to it, but, of course, it doesn't fit ME. Oh no.

  • Chancery, not even Proactive Learner? I've left the partner bit off because that requires co-operation of patient and doctor :o

  • Oh absolutely, proactive learner, Clutter. In fact, anything even mildly indicating I have great intellect and possibly charm. I took that as read.

    P.S. Modest too.

  • Chancery, the self effacing modesty shines through :-D

  • As we know stress comes in many forms ! Internal stress from inflammation in the body stimulates the adrenals to secrete extra cortisol in order to dampen the inflammation down. So gut inflammation can be an early cause of stress within the body....or the thyroid. So as the Adrenals are part of the Endocrine system they have important connections with the Hypothalmus and the Pituitary Gland. The HPA axis - should you be needing to research it :-) Hence the thyroid is involved....

    With all due respect if I tried to work out what caused this and that in my body and wanted scientific proof - I think I would be left wanting. Meanwhile I have been successfully treating my thyroid and along with it many of the other debilitating conditions I had previously endured. There are over 300 c0nditions connected to mal-functioning thyroids.

    Remember much of the scientific research is flawed - did you read the latest post on Dr Kendricks website about how they had to jump through hoops to fit in with the Establishment in order to have some excellent research published. Unless it is financed by Big Pharma and the peer reviewers likewise - then there is little chance of us ever getting to read it. There is no money for Big Pharma with thyroid conditions.

    The above link is one of many you may wish to consider....and I believe someone suggested you also use Google Scholar for more research....

    :-) :-)

  • With respect, I would say, there's not money for Big Pharma in successfully treating thyroid conditions. On the other hand, they're making a fortune out of keeping us sick but selling us pills and potions to 'treat' the symptoms - statins, blood pressure meds, slimming pills, heart medication, allergy medication, sleeping pills, et al.

  • I agree with you greygoose, they want to keep us ill on synthetics etc. Let's face it the more of us that self treat through our own research the more of us will (I hope) get better, which in turn will mean the less they can poison and keep ill.

  • Absolutely right, Greygoose. Unfortunately alternative health practitioners also make money out of people's sickness, and often in less useful ways. It's a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

  • :)

  • Yes, thanks, Marz, I've been using Google Scholar and do already use PubMed - although I haven't tasked it with this one yet because Google Scholar made it plain that looking up stress with thyroid was not going to yield good results - hence all the poor tortured rabbits.

    Thank you for tipping me off to the HPA axis. I haven't heard of that, so I might try Google again with that one and see what that throws up.

    I hear you when it comes to being able to trust scientific research. But 'alternative health' is even worse for taking things and running with them, frequently right off a cliff. Many's the time I've read something promising on a 'health' website only to discover far down a line of research it's inspired that some fundamental I've been working with is complete nonsense and was refuted forty years ago. It's amazing how long some old wives' remedies persist in the face of knowledge.

    I'm wary of the adrenal failure thing because I know it's much beloved of alternative practitioners and that mainstream medicine doesn't really believe in it, although I have NO idea why. I know so little about it that I'm frightened of going off down a rabbit hole. I do need to do some basic reading, but I like to get an idea of whether there actually is a connection in something I'm looking at before I invest all that time in reading. I have such poor concentration and even worse memory on these drugs it's like I've become super-demanding about what I'll spend time on. I used to read everything and anything; I was a human sponge. Not nowadays. But I shall get stuck into the HPA axis and see what that throws up - thanks again!

  • :-)


    Quote :- For many current scientific fields claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias....


  • Great quote, Marz. I didn't see it in the article - also great, by the way - did I miss it or are you quoting someone else?

    I'd heard of Ionnadis (is that right?), but I'd never read him before. Exceptionally interesting, and very cheering that there are people making an effort to make science more honest and reliable. I liked this bit: "the "evidence-based medicine" movement, which is the push for doctors to start applying the best-available science to medical practice instead of just going by what they learned in medical schools or the opinions of authority figures".

    Oh, how I wish that would come to pass...


    The quote from Ioannidis was in Kendricks last book - but it could also be in the link above - not sure. Anyway it's an article I think is interesting for you :-)

  • That's another good article, thanks, Marz. Kind of put Kresser up in my estimation; I just wish he wouldn't promote so heavily on his site - it makes him look like a snake oil salesman. But very reassuring to see him be so rigorous in his research - providing he's telling the truth, that is!

    ETA: I had just called you Marre again on another post then realised I'd done it on this one too and had to go back and find it and change it. I don't know what the hell is wrong with me. If I do it again, please, PLEASE forgive me and blame Western medicine screwing with my brain. It isn't me, it's Big Pharma. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it....

  • ...a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.... :-) Call me anything but don't call me late for supper :-)

  • Kresser seems well respected. OK he sells stuff - but it is the right does Brownstein - Perlmutter and other people I follow. You can ignore that bit - you don't have to buy. :-(

  • Very true, Marz. Unfortunately as soon as they start selling, I stop listening. I do appreciate they are in a very difficult position; they have to make money somehow, and they're not NHS funded, but I just find a man who is trying to sell me 'the seven secrets of getting truly well' suspect. What can I say? Fifty times bitten, twice shy.

  • to keep an open mind....most are Functional Medical Practitioners in the US and do at least look at the WHOLE body rather than treat bits and pieces....

  • On that, you will hear no disagreement from me. I really, REALLY wish we could get them in the UK. Can you imagine a functional or integrative doctor on the NHS? I reckon he'd last two weeks before they had him up in front of the GMC.


    The Newsletter from Chris Kresser has just landed in my Inbox and guess what - the discussion is Adrenals and the HPA axis ! Maybe you can ask for official research by joining in the conversation at the end of the article....

    Synchronicity at work !

    Hope it helps.... :-)

  • Hah, synchronicity indeed, Marz. I've read it and it's at least given me an idea what the HPA axis is, thus saving me embarrassment at cocktail parties - so thank you again.

    I can see why doctors don't believe in it though, with its vague could-be-anything symptom list, plus most people's lives conform to that pattern. But I am wondering about the cortisol thing. They can measure that in blood tests. Is it worth asking to have that tested? Is it something that low thyroid might reasonably flag to be measured? Do hypothyroid routinely sufferers HAVE it measured?

    Just wondered if that might give me useful information....

  • The blood test is not as good as the 24 hour saliva test - which is not recognised by the NHS. So it is a private one. Many people have sluggish adrenals when Hypo. I have raised cortisol due to various things going on with inflammation :-(

    Usually people have their adrenals looked at when they do not respond well to treatment of T4. There is a good amount of information on - you can click onto Adrenals at the top of the page and have a read. Also there are some home tests you can do for a guide !

  • Thanks, Marz. I've been to the site but I didn't know that info was there so I'll go check it out. Ta!

    E.T.A. Just had a look at it and I see I was right, the NHS isn't likely to take it seriously or treat it. To be honest, that puts me off even knowing if I have a problem or not. One more thing to fight over. I haven't got the stamina!

  • It wouldn`t surprise me if stress played a part in thyroid disorders. My early life was very difficult through no fault of my own.

  • Hi Hairyfairy. Yep, stress is a known disruptor of just about everything, particularly hormones. But one of the troubles is how do you medicate for that? They always suggest yoga and/or meditation. Yoga costs, and finding the money for that AND food is a stressor in itself. And please don't start with the meditation. Every time I try to do it my mind races and I want to scream. Relaxing, my a*se.

  • I'm just reading a book called Your Thyroid and how to Keep it Healthy. Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield. I dk how well regarded he is but he spoke about monitoring and looking after the adrenal glands and then looking at thyroid. Seemed interesting but I am new to this subject...

  • A wonderful book. I have read it twice and thinking of reading it again.

  • What did you particularly like about it, Marmaris? If you've read other thyroid books why do you feel this one is special - if you do?

  • Hi Bluedragon, yes I've seen Dr Peatfield's book recommended lots of places, but my library doesn't have a copy. It's pricey to buy and my money is very tight with a lot of demands on it. I wish I could be sure it wasn't too 'alternative' or crank zealot before I paid out for it!

  • It is very simplistic and it puts it quite simply into layman's terms. Lots of good information, he tells it how it is. Have you tried to ask at other libraries? That is where I got mine from.

  • Layman's terms is good - thanks for that. Edinburgh libraries does pull them in from all over Edinburgh, but that's it, so if no-one in Edinburgh has it, you've had it. I've had the Thyroid UK library recommended to me, so I'll have a bash there, if it's cheaper than buying it.

    Ah, it used to be great when libraries used to swap books all over the country. Those days are gone forever...

  • It is easy to read. Mine is on the Kindle- not the best format for a text book as such but meant it was obtained immediately and was only £3.59 as opposed to £11.99!

  • Really? I didn't even think to check the Kindle price. I have Kindle on my computer. It's not the ideal way to read it but it's better than nothing. Thanks!

  • Hi Chancery

    I have Graves and am one year post-RAI. My first bout of Graves disease was diagnosed following the birth of my son, very premature and with severe breathing difficulties. He's nearly 19 now! All the doctors I have seen, bar one, have said that there is a strong correlation between Graves and stress, and have been supportive of the fact that I try to eat reasonably well and do things like yoga. I know that this is anecdotal but I hope it might be helpful anyway.

    Take care

  • Hi Lizmag, thanks for the info - anecdotal is good; it's all relevant. But I'm sorry, I don't know what RAI is? And also, do you find the improved nutrition and yoga helps?

  • Hi Chancery

    RAI is radio-active iodine. After various scans and tests as a hospital out-patient I was given a radio-active pill which destroys, at least partially, the thyroid. It took me years to get to this stage having eventually failed to control the Graves disease with anti-thyroid drugs.

    As for yoga, that has been helpful for me in calming me down and once I’d learnt some of the breathing techniques it slowed the heartrate slightly. I have a very laid back yoga teacher who believes you should do what you can without forcing things along. She was also knowledgeable about what positions to avoid if you suffer from an over-active thyroid, as I did.

    Nutrition-wise, I try to eat very “clean”, if you know what I mean! Loads of veg and fruit, sometimes organic but not always, and virtually no alcohol (makes me feel ill). If I do this I feel better but I do lapse on occasions with ready meals. I don’t avoid gluten or dairy and try not to stress over my eating habits. I take 25 / 50 mg of levothyroxine.

    I also read loads - such a fantastic diversion - and have learned to sit in the garden watching the flowers grow. I don’t have a car and walk everywhere I can.

    I really do wish you well with all this thyroid stuff. The people on this forum are very kind and have given me some fantastic advice over the past year or so, especially helvella.

    Take care

  • Hi Lizmag. I have read about the radioactive iodine. Do you know why they do this? I take it it's to deliberately destroy the thyroid? Isn't it horribly dangerous, to eat something radioactive? It sounds like the kind of thing that is a major body stressor all by itself. I take it they only give you it when they can't control the thyroid by medication?

    I eat a very clean diet myself so I know what you mean. I would love to eat organic but can't afford it. It takes all my money to squidge in things like free range eggs! £6 for two organic chicken fillets? Oh, you are being funny. Unfortunately that isn't happening, but I do worry about what I'm consuming, especially when I get a diagnosis of having subclinical hypothyroidism. You immediately start wondering if that's what's caused the problem, eating 'bad' meat, packed full of hormones. Or is it the pesticides, or using plastics in the microwave, or, or, or... THAT'S a stressant all by itself - the bloody worrying!

    Because B12 deficiency has played some part in my illness of Trigeminal Neuralgia, I went back to eating more meat, but you hear so many conflicting stories about the 'best' diet and you don't know what the hell to eat at the end of it. Everybody is always so sure their diet is the right one!

    I don't have the patience for yoga or meditation but I do worry about the role stress has played in my illnesses and feel I might need to make a better effort to calm down, by hook or by crook. I am also a walk everywhere person, but I do envy you your garden. I'm in a top floor flat and find it very stressing. If I could change one thing about my life - other than being ill at all! - it would be that.

  • Yes, absolutely, the aim these days is to destroy the thyroid with RAI rather than just knock it back, which is what they used to do. Thing is, if you have a thyroid which runs too fast, you can become very ill indeed unless you're properly medicated.

    I'm becoming more hypothyroid bit by bit as the thyroid stops working. I've put on 2 kilos and feel more sluggish but less panicky which has to be a good thing.

    You could try just the odd 5 minutes of yoga / meditation here and there. When I first started yoga I used to be very shaky and panicky but now things are easier.

    All the best


  • Yes, my 'mother-in-law' had what must have been Grave's Disease, I think. She had a goitre and poppy-out eyes and the difficulty looking down, watery eyes, thickened legs, and on and on and on, and she never kept good health all the time I knew her; terrible trouble latterly with vision. But like I said to someone else recently, I'm pretty sure she didn't have good compliance taking her meds - she belonged to the school of popping pills when she felt like it, and ignoring them when she felt fine. My partner's sister also had an overactive thyroid and then thyroid cancer and then after that she developed Parkinson's disease. And his mother died of a stroke, so they are NOT a good advert for healthy thyroids! So far though he doesn't seem to be afflicted, fingers crossed. I suspect being male has offered him some protection.

    I have low thyroid function on my side of the family and my mother was always convinced I took after my grandmother, a sufferer - it looks like her wish has come true!

    I will definitely try something for the calming qualities. Maybe hypnotherapy. I've used that a lot in the past so I'm quite good at it, but nowadays I barely have the patience for that. I'm my own worst enemy!

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