Chronic stress and low T3?: My apologies for the... - Thyroid UK

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Chronic stress and low T3?


My apologies for the many posts, but I am finding this community so helpful and I have so many questions!

I believe I have the issue like most where I can't convert T4 to T3 which is why before being diagnosed my T4 and TSH were in range, but T3 low and had all hypo symptoms. I read up on factors that impact T4 to T3 conversion and adrenals come up a lot. I saw my doc recently because of fatigue and thirst thinking I was over medicated, but with time off work, symptoms decrease, no need for caffeine (which often leaves me more tired), and feel like me.

Can anyone share their knowledge of stress on thyroid? Would it be possible for me to naturally help my body convert T4 to T3 and no longer need any medication?

10 Replies

Hi CC, any type of stress (physical, mental, emotional) will have an impact on your thyroid gland and how it works. So reducing it makes sense, although this can be easier said than done. I have high cortisol, even though I feel relaxed. Well, that's what the test showed. I was taking Adreset to reduce the cortisol, but stopped as it wasn't working. You can get a Cortisol profile saliva test done with Genova Diagnostics. Did you get checked for diabetes? Fatigue and thirst are symptoms.

Once you start taking thyroid replacement medication, it is usually for life. If you have the auto-immune disease, you can reduce the impact of this by avoiding gluten and soy. I am following the Auto Immune Protocol (AIP), which is a lifestyle programme and is working for me. It's not an easy route to take though.

I really like this website. Mickey Trescott has thyroid disease and manages it with diet and lifestyle changes.

CCheale in reply to Scazzoh

Thank you Scazzoh. My GP did test me for diabetes as she was concerned there might be some other autoimmune disease on top of the thyroid so she referred me to the Endo for further, more comprehensive tests. Unfortunately when I told him T3 was my main issue and I was on the replacement, he instantly wrote my symptoms off to over treatment. He did test my fasting glucose and insulin again so am awaiting those results. When my GP tested it and I fasted for 10hrs my glucose level was 4.0 with a range from 3.5-11. Considering I have the fatigue and thirst and am EXTREMELY sensitive to sugar (can't have ANY processed sugar or my body goes into hyper mode and if I have a night on wine I wake up with night sweats and a blood sugar drop around 2am) I feel like it could be something like diabetes? He completely disregarded my concerns about my sugar sensitivity and the fact it gave me heart palpitations and jittery hands... but linked those two to being overtreated.

I did gluten free diet for awhile. I currently take digestive enzymes and only eat fresh sourdough bread from the baker. I also avoid all processed sugar and dairy (if I do have dairy I take an enzyme). I do think there is a missing piece with the inflammation as I generally feel inflammation in my body.

My thirst is less severe on weekends and holidays. Would that be consistent with diabetes as well?

Thank you for the website. I will check it out!

CCheale in reply to CCheale

Also, i tested negative for both tests of the antibodies indicating I don't have hashimotos....

I used to have excessive thirst which improved massively after my iron levels were topped up. My Ferritin was 19 and had been low for many years. I had an iron infusion which raised this to 150. I feel significantly less thirsty and I visit the loo a lot less. My basal temperature also rose significantly since. My cortisol is also on the high side and although I don't usually feel stressed I do easily get stressed and have poor sleep. These are classic signs of an adrenal problem, however fixing this is easier said than done. I tried introducing T3 to my current Levo but I ended up getting extremely tired in the afternoon and I also experienced terrible insomnia. I think adrenals need to be fixed before increasing thyroid medication. I am currently experimenting with an adaptogen called Ashwaganda which is said to lower and balance high cortisol. All the best.

Thank you serendipitous. I have a feeling it might be my iron. I had asked my GP to test it back in November along with Bs and a liver panel. He did all the tests BUT the iron. This new endo also didn't test it. I will ask them to test it.

Last week I bought a multi that has some iron in it but I struggle with iron tablets due to constipation. I will also start to eat red meat again. Would you suggest not supplementing until I have it tested? If this is the key I'll be so relieved but also so annoyed.

Good luck with he ashwaganda. I have taken it in the past and have liked it. I was planning t start another batch of it

CCheale if you have absolutely no idea what your iron levels then I would advise against it, personally. I'd recommend having it tested first. I wouldn't want to give you the wrong advice in case. In my case I've had low ferritin levels since my teens and I'm now in my 30s. Like yourself, I get easily constipated so taking iron enough was a struggle. I've discovered that a lot of people here take iron bisglycinate which is a more gentle form of iron and is less likely to cause issues. Solgar is one brand. So now I'm trying one from Healthspan to keep this topped up because given my issue with heavy periods my ferritin levels may drop again. It hasn't caused me any problems so far. Some people here swear by eating liver once a week which also helps.

So if you're certain that you have low iron then trying either iron bisglycinate or eating liver will help. If you are very low it will take a long time but you can get there. You really need to get ferritin at least half way through the range provided by the testing lab. Within range is not the same as optimal. I was fortunate enough to get my iron infusion paid for by company medical scheme as its very expensive. I think the NHS may only consider if it you are completely below the lab range and you cannot tolerate supplements.

I've only been taking Ashwaganda for a few days so its early days yet. What benefits did you experience from taking it and how long did it take?

Thank you Serendipitous. When my results come back from the endo I'll ask my iron to be tested as I know it is one supplement that can be overdone and dangerous. Mine has always been normal in the past but I think without eating meat it may have dropped. Regardless I need to get it tested.

I've taken ashwaganda a few times in the last few years. It's important to be consistent in order to see best results. I ordered some on Amazon and took one in the morning and one at lunch. I just noticed a more grounded feeling and better capacity at handling stress. It wasn't any "lightning bolt" feeling but enough to feel more calm. I would give it a good few weeks and I think you'll just notice you are coping a bit better.

I'm also in my early 30s. I try not to get too bogged down with feeling "it's not fair." It's helpful to hear I'm not alone.

Best of luck with ashwaganda!

CCheale you mention fatigue but that could be down to several other factors, including B12. So that's another thing to have tested. A lot of people here have issues with low B12.

The thyroid needs optimum levels of several nutrients for successful conversion from T4 to T3. Supplementing with 200mcg of good quality Selenium is also important. Zinc is also essential for conversion. Members here will always ask you about the following blood values from your GP:




Vitamin D3

Here is an article which explains what nutrients are vital for the thyroid and it also explains what symptoms you'll get if you're deficient. Also, refer to the diagram called Factors that affect thyroid function:

Thanks for the advice about Ashwaganda. Yes you're definitely not alone. All the best!

Thank you Serendipitous. I started taking 200mg Selenium and tried 50mg zinc (as i have white dots on my nails) but it makes me nauseous 😔 Maybe try 25? I also bought some sea kelp for iodine. I've had my folate and B12 tested and both upper range. Take 5,000 IU of D3 everyday but got that rested this round so will see. Just needing my iron levels really.

There are different types of Zinc and some might suit better than others. For example, there is Zinc Picolinate, Aspartate and Orotate. Make sure you take it with food. I think some people avoid Zinc at dinner time as it might make them more active but some say Zinc relaxes them and helps them sleep better. Again there are different forms of Selenium.

People here say that Vitamins/Minerals need to be taken 4 hours away from thyroid meds.

I've never dabbled with iodine so perhaps somebody else can advise you there.

I'm only taking 3000iu of D3 a day but the advice is to supplement with Vitamin K2 if supplementing 5000iu of D3 or more.

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