Levothyroxine and Adrenal Glands

It says this on the Levo patient information leaflet:

"Do not take this medicine if you have any condition that affects your adrenal glands (your doctor will be able to advise you if you are not sure)"

Does anyone know what conditions this refers to? Would this include for someone who is very stressed and run-down, and may have adrenal fatigue (and what would the symptoms/consequences be in this case?)

I am asking on behalf of my daughter. Week 1 on Levo: Towards the end of week felt better than in ages, managing much better at work. Week 2 on Levo: Halfway through week crashed down, feeling worse than ever, then picked up a nasty cold virus which has knocked her for six. Now has terrible joint pains and headaches, visual problems, is off work and seems totally incapacitated.


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23 Replies

  • If you are happy with all normal thyroid monitoring and the usual folate, ferritin, b12 and vit d then you can find a fair amount re adrenal issues out there. Possibly the most straightforward book is by Avviva Romm. I hope that your daughter feels better soon.

  • Thank you cwill, I will try and source the book you suggest. Very helpful.

  • If you want to intervene then make sure that you both do a lot of reading. And only do one thing at a time so that you can be sure of the effect.

  • Anything she felt on week 1 would have had nothing to do with the levo, because it takes at least 7 days to be absorbed. And, I think week 2 she was coming down with the cold, which has nothing to do with the levo, either.

    Yes, it's all very well and fine the manufacturers saying 'ask your doctor', but the sad truth is, your doctor wouldn't have a clue! And, yes, they are talking about things like adrenal fatigue, but doctors don't believe adrenal fatigue exists, so not much point asking them. I think the manufacturers are just putting that there to cover themselves. It's very, very rare for a doctor to test for adrenal problems before putting the patient onto levo.

    Even if your daughter did have adrenal fatigue, I don't think the consequences would be dreadful. She might have problems converting, but then, that's another thing doctors don't believe in. So, it's very doubtful she's going to get any help on that one. The best thing to do is for her to just treat her adrenals kindly. Get her nutrients tested - vit D, vit B12, folate and ferritin - especially B12 because the adrenal need optimal Bs. She should also take vit C to tolerance, lots of vit C - that would help with colds and stuff, too. And make sure she doesn't skimp on the salt - adrenals need salt. A high protein breakfast as soon as she gets up, is recommended, too. :)

  • Thank you greygoose, yes her nutrients have tested low, and I have got her to take the usual supplements as advised on this forum, but she's only been doing that for 3 weeks. Vitamin C seems to upset her tum - I will ask her to persevere (or could it be the iron tablets?) I will tell her to add salt to the list.

    I know GPs don't seem to know about vitamins, and suspected ignorance on adrenals too - surely that's wrong when the Levo manufacturers tell you your Doctor will be able to advise you!?

    Thank you for your comforting reply! We are all very worried about her.

  • Does she take vit c with her iron? Iron can upset the stomach, but taking vit C with it, seems to get round that problem.

    As I said, the manufacturers are just covering their backs. If they put that warning in the PIL, and anything goes wrong (it rarely does) they can say well, it's not our fault, we warned you, it's the doctor's fault for not checking out the adrenals. But, I can assure you that, mentioning adrenals to your doctor, will just get you a load of blank looks. lol They know nothing about it! My last GP even told me there was absolutely no connection between the adrenals and the thyroid, end of!

  • Yes, she takes them together. Maybe she should take more Vitamin C with the iron. We don't even know yet whether it is definitely a Thyroid issue, she is just on a trial of Levo, 50mcg, and is having a follow-up blood test today. She has also ordered a Medichecks Cortisol test, and the Regenerus Adrenal Function Saliva Test. But I suppose we will have to research and treat, according to the results, on our own. :(

  • Your not kidding greygoose ? When I showed my Dr where it hurts in the adrenal area he said don't worry in two weeks it will go away . Can you imagine ? I fired him after many years of being my Dr . You need to tune in and if your Dr can not help you know it's time to move on even after many years .It's not easy to move on and change granted is not easy but one must to get the good care one needs .

  • Just to add, the salt needs to be a good salt like Celtic Sea Salt, which is full of minerals, not ordinary table salt.

    The virus could be what is making your daughter feel awful.

    I have one at the moment and have felt dreadful, worse than I have been in a long time, it seems to be one of those were by you feel a bit better one day and think you are getting over it then the next day feel rotten again.

    Hope she feels better soon.

  • It takes about six weeks for levo to build up in her system but must admit I felt worse than when diagnosed. Many do fine when their dose builds up.

    I saw two private doctors and one said to take care of adrenals and the other said they would sort themselves out when levo built up. So I believe they did sort themselves out.

  • That is useful Shaws, thank you.

  • I was aware that I was at adrenal exhaustion since originally diagnosed in 2008. I took all the recommended supplements and after getting much better FT3 results with dissicated Thyroid the latest test shows that this has resolved, with just low DHEA. Good supplements, good diet and good mental health habits have a lot to do with recovery. There are no short cuts.

  • greygoose , your on the mark . Dr don't test for adrenal fatigue or insufficiency because they themselves don't know much about it . Holistic , Naturopaths , Osteopaths could test and advise and they do know most of them . Definitely nutrients are very important components with the thyroid meds . Selenium helps with conversion , Vit."D", B-12 , Iron if test show your low .

  • I found this an interesting read: stopthethyroidmadness.com/a...

  • Hi AiryFairie

    I've also been very concerned about that warning. I was prescribed Levo recently, but have taken an adrenal test and urine iodine first and haven't, rightly or wrongly? Started it yet. I've had a battle and had to self diagnose a functional b12 def and haven't got that doseage right yet, so not sure if it's that causing the thyroid to be under stress or whether the b12 def, low iron, low vit d are all caused by a poor functioning thyroid, it's all a bit of vicious circle isn't it, so I can totally understand your concerns.

    When you say your daughter has low nutrients which ones do you mean? Has she had b12/ folate, vit d tested by gp? And does she have the results, always advised to get a printout...! I was told on numerous occasions I don't have a b12 problem and it took a private test via St Thomas to get it diagnosed and now have injections. Some b12 and thyroid symptoms crossover...

    I hope she soon starts to feel better, take care :)

  • Yes Jo, B12 and folate both low in range, and she got a printout. We are assuming Vit D will be too, when that is tested. I think this nasty virus is responsible for much of the way she is feeling right now - she had a fever last Friday, thought she had shaken it off, but this morning is feverish again, five days later!

  • I have all vitamin normal level but I have been ill like your daughter to the extent that I can't not move around nor carry my purse. Levo keeps adrenaline and cortisol high. Maybe. if you have your thyroid gland...less side effect..but I have not thyroid.

    My mother has been so ill. I know some lady in her 60's passed out after suffering from side effect of levo.

    Levo may work for many people but not all.

    My doctors told me levo is safe...and sent me to psychiatrist..and I got worse..

  • I'm sorry what happened to you and your Mom . But one size fits all does not work especially when it comes to thyroid meds . We are all individual and so are our needs . Some do great on Levo . Some do great on T3 /NDT and some with Levo and T3/NDT combo . We need to respect everyone's needs . I hope that you and your Mom get the best care and help that you need to feel your very best .

  • I get all side effects and anxiety on levo. I get hypothyroid and should increase dose as time passes after 3 years and suffer from myxedema. My side effects symptom is excess adrenaline and cortisol problem which was caused by levo only treatment according to stopthethyroidmadness.com/b...

    If has been 5.5 years on levo only so adding T3 did not remove side effects.

    Also tried NDT but had estrogen dominance symptom with increased belly fat and pain on liver & kidney.

  • winjy I feel your pain and my sympathy go out to you .I experienced the same symptoms as yourself . I can tell you it's awful . I had pain in my liver area and my adrenal . I was dosing with Synthroid (T4) only at the time . I changed to Levoxyl another T4 med and also to the 50 strength it's dye free . Yes adding to much NDT or T3 can cause estrogen dominance and cause us to be very tense weight gain , foggy thinking not pleasant to be around . I dose with tiny amount of Naturethroid for my T3 mix to my base T4 Levoxyl . I don't know if you take any nutrients like Selenium , Vit"D" , B-12 , Iron Only if your low you need to be tested first . Also calcium ,magnesium , and a good fish oil . Calcium and Iron is only to be taken after 4hours of thyroid dosing . You might want to take your iron with vit"C" for better absorption . If you are experiencing high cortisol levels "Holy Basal " is very useful . If you are having adrenal fatigue there are herbal tinctures that can help like licorice root Celtic Sea Salt . You must monitor your blood pressure if you should decide to take licorice root and Celtic Sea Salt . It's very very IMPORTANT it can raise your blood pressure .. Having a blood pressure monitor at home is very helpful . Nutrients like Vit."C" , pantothenic , magnesium , all support adrenals . There are adrenal glandule's that are very supportive and can help with thyroid meds . help with sleep energy and just feeling good . But before you set out to do anything please test your adrenals and see where you need help . If your cortisol's are high or low . Personally I have adrenal fatigue and I can tell you that adrenal cortex was NOT good for me . I need the whole adrenal components . I would also recommend very much that you journal your symptoms with thyroid meds too . Like blood pressure , pulse , basal temperature , energy , skin if you have dry cracked heels or skin breakouts , constipation , moods etc. If your still not feeling up to par start eliminating wheat dairy, sugar from your diet .

    Best wishes for a happy and healthy outcome .

  • l am still to get a final diagnosis but find a blood test (which GPs usually wont bother to do) shows low Cortisol which is produced by Adrenals and is initially triggered by Pituitary and Hypothalamus. GP had refused to give me Levo initially when l asked after decades of beiing ignored for over-tiredness and not coping. Perhaps just as well. Dont know enough to comment further. Best wishes

  • Some of the symptoms that you mention AiryFairie sound like adrenal fatigue . Supporting the adrenals is very important . Vit."C" Pantothenic Acid , B-complex , if your daughter has low blood pressure and craves salt some Sea Salt could help . Licorice too . But checking blood pressure is VERY IMPORTANT FIRST . There are some herbal or desiccated support supplements . Also taking your daughters pulse and basal temperature is very important too . And having her FT4, FT3, TSH, RT3 tested is very important . There are times that TSH are good but patient still feels symptoms . The symptoms have to be considered and meds need to be reevaluated .

    Wishing you success and well being .

  • My sympathy and prayers to you . Being a mother and watching your child go through terrible trying times is awful and one feels helpless . I would first want to see the lab work FT3 FT4 TSH RT3 and journal her symptoms . Sometimes labs can be fine but patient feels other wise . That is where journaling is very useful . Next step is to check or even switch to another T4 with perhaps less or different fillers and maybe try with the 50 dose strength because that dose does not contain dyes . Sometimes having some allergic reaction to thyroid or any meds can trigger terrible reactions .

    Best wishes for great outcome .

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