Low energy is the worst. It can add to your stress because, let’s face it, we all have things we need to do or have to do. Life goes on whether you feel up to it or not, right?
But the lack of energy is also depressing. No one wants to turn into a lump on the couch, turning down invitations to have fun with friends and family just because you don’t have the get-up-and-go.
If you’re battling low energy, hormone issues could be at the core of your ebbing energy stores…
Low thyroid hormone function
When thyroid-sensitive tissues throughout your body don’t get enough thyroid, you’ll have low energy and other symptoms. Your thyroid sensitive tissues are your brain, muscles, heart, intestines, skin, and general metabolism/energy). When this occurs, you have a few options. You can (a) take measures to boost your sensitivity to the thyroid hormones you currently have circulating; (b) boost your thyroid gland’s production of hormone; or (c) take a prescription bio-identical thyroid hormone replacement pill every day to ensure your tissues have what they need.
You probably know that the amount of your thyroid hormones is accurately measurable with the standard blood tests TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). However, these cannot measure how well your thyroid hormones work in your thyroid-sensitive tissues (i.e. their function).
That’s why I ask my patients to check their basal body temperatures, just after awakening but before getting out of bed. If this is low (e.g. below 98.2 F oral or 97.3 F axillary) and you have three or more of the signs/symptoms listed below, then you most likely have low thyroid function…
- Sensitivity to cold; cold hands and feet often
- Feeling tired in the daytime when sitting or at rest
- Unwanted weight gain; morning puffy face/swollen eyelids; water retention
- Constipation, abdominal bloating or colitis symptoms
- High blood cholesterol; high blood pressure
- Memory/concentration impairment; easily confused
- Depressed mood or anxiety upon waking or often during the waking hours
- Dry or slow-growing hair or nails/excessive hair loss; acne, eczema, psoriasis
- Stiff or painful joints; rheumatoid or osteoarthritis; carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hoarse voice, slowed speech
- Endometriosis, infertility, menstrual disorders, or abnormal uterine bleeding
- Frequent colds, sore throats, earaches, or other infections
With a low basal body temperature and more than three signs/symptoms from this list, you most likely have low thyroid function and will most definitely benefit from supplementation with natural thyroid hormone. It safely and effectively reverses many and possibly all of these symptoms within just weeks to months.
Adrenal fatigue (lack of cortisol)
After years of constant or repeated high-stress demands (physical, mental or emotional), you may experience the latent effects of excess cortisol production and then burn-out (not enough cortisol to supply your stress demands). This would be one or more of these signs or symptoms:
- Daytime fatigue: but you may get a second wind of energy at bedtime
- Not sleeping well: Cortisol blocks your sleep hormone melatonin so you toss and turn during the night and cannot turn off your thoughts very easily
- Weight gain around the middle: the classic apple-shape obesity even if you are exercising and eating healthy
- Craving unhealthy foods because cortisol increases hunger to supply energy for your stress needs
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation (with or without abdominal pain) come in part from excess cortisol secretion
- Sex hormone imbalances due to the “cortisol steal” effect in which your testosterone or estrogen production decreases
- Depressed mood comes from high levels of cortisol which suppresses serotonin (a key feel-good hormone) production
- Accelerated aging of the facial skin (looking older than stated age)
What can you do about this cause of fatigue? To heal from adrenal fatigue, it will require that you stop the repeated physical, mental or emotional stress causing this condition. I realize this is not at all a simple thing to do. That’s because it’s in our nature to stress and worry. We forget who we really are and our purpose here on earth. We forget that we came to learn and that learning to master our very thoughts and feelings is greater than any amount of money, good looks or friends.
There are a variety of ways to manage and master stress so we can enjoy life and have a predominate feeling of peace within you, even in apparently scary times. Also, there are nutrients, herbs, and foods are known to assist in healing adrenal fatigue. Sometimes you may even need to take adrenal extract or cortisol to replace the deficiency.
I’d like to share details of how to heal adrenal fatigue in my next article.
To feeling good with energy,
Michael Cutler, M.D.