Thyroid or adrenals? | Part 2: Telling the difference

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So you’ve come to the conclusion that you are struggling with either an under-active thyroid or with adrenal fatigue. But which is it? Your symptoms seem to fit in with both! In this post I will share how you can tell the two apart. After reading this, you will know which of the two it is and how you can start your journey (back) to vitality & fertility.

In part 1 of this post, we looked at what adrenal fatigue is exactly, what an under-active thyroid is, and how the two can look alike.

There are however a few symptoms that make it easy for both you and me to see whether it’s depleted adrenals that are giving you these symptoms, or a slowed down thyroid. Let’s begin with your menstrual cycle.

1. Fertility chart / menstrual cycle

If you are not charting your menstrual cycle yet, this is the time to start. Charting is not just writing in your diary when you have your period though. It also involves making note of your morning temperature, as well as some other symptoms (read more). By tracking several fertility factors, your fertility chart paints you a picture of where you hormonal health is at. For me as a fertility homeopath, charts are the tool for me to identify a patient’s imbalance in hormones like progesterone, estrogen and others, and which hormonal gland is the root issue. That could be the thyroid or adrenals, but also the anterior pituitary gland, ovaries or hypothalamus.

The chart of someone with adrenal fatigue will show basal body temperatures (BBT) that are pretty much all over the place. Often they will be low, but they will fluctuate and be extreme with some highs too.
With an under-active thyroid, the BBT’s are pretty steady but overall low.

There are more signs you can spot from you charts to give you a clue whether it’s more likely adrenal stress or adrenal fatigue, or clearly hypothyroidism. How I interpret charts is something you can now learn yourself with my chart interpretation course.

2. Weight changes

Weight gain can be a symptom both for adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism. However, for adrenal fatigue that is only in the early stage when the body still tries to slow you down. Once adrenal fatigue has become severe, you will not have difficulty losing weight, but likely will have trouble gaining weight. Then when your adrenal fatigue goes into hypothyroidism you are again more likely to hold onto the weight again!

3. Sleep issues & energy levels

If you are hypothyroid, you will likely feel tired and sluggish all day every day.
With adrenal fatigue you also feel tired all day but the frustration is that despite being exhausted, you can’t fall asleep at night or are waking up during the night. Often that can be the case around 3 am because that is when your liver is most active and it will be trying to resolve the toxic stress, or around 5 am which is “hormone” time. In early stages of adrenal stress waking up at 5 am and not being able to go back to sleep, can often be a sign of you overdoing it as well.

4. Other symptoms

Apart from these top three differences, there are a few other typical differences between adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism.

Typical adrenal stress/fatigue

  • Skin: dry & thin
  • Nails: thin & brittle
  • Digestion: irritable
  • Eyebrows: full
  • Craving: sweet/salty
  • Intolerant to cold
  • Typical: heart palpitations, especially on lying down in bed

Typical hypothyroidism:

  • Skin: oily & puffy
  • Nails: normal or thick
  • Digestion: (frequent) constipation
  • Eyebrows: sparse outer 1/3
  • Craving: fats
  • Intolerant to heat
  • Typical: water retention

The adrenal fatigue underlying your hypothyroidism

Now, if you are dealing with an under-active thyroid for sure, that may not necessarily mean it is just your thyroid, it may have actually started with your adrenals!

When you suffer with chronic stress and your adrenals are constantly firing stress hormones, your body has a very clever trick to help you slow down and rest. It uses the thyroid to slam the breaks and slows it down on purpose (read more)!

If you now recognize yourself in the under-active thyroid symptoms, but remember having adrenal fatigue symptoms in the past, then adrenal fatigue probably underlies your hypothyroidism.

Getting better

If you have adrenal fatigue or your hypothyroidism is a result of that, then the solution lies in getting your adrenals back on their feet! Even with auto-immune hypothyroidism, taking care of your adrenals is key to prevent worsening of your condition.

Resting properly and taking the right nutrients (Read: How to nurture your adrenals and boost your vitality & fertility, can make a big difference already. Alongside lifestyle changes, homeopathic treatment has a way of accelerating healing by:

  • supporting the thyroid and adrenals
  • balancing out the hypothalamus (gland that turns nervous stress into hormonal stress) if chronic stress is involved
  • resolving underlying stress factors such as metal toxicity, unresolved emotional or physical trauma, and chronic inflammations
  • addressing auto-immune issues that cause the hypothyroidism or are a result of adrenal fatigue

Often in adrenal fatigue I see a history of (past) use of steroids which is something you can detox homeopathically to make a big difference for your hormone balance.

Any other synthetic hormones can have a big effect on any of your glands including the adrenals & thyroid, such as contraceptives or fertility drugs.

Thyroid issues specifically are in many cases caused or worsened by metal toxicity.

How I detox my patients is something you can start learning today with the detox protocols for synthetic hormones, steroids & metals that are available from the shop.