5 ways that stress causes hypothyroid symptoms

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  1. Jess’s avatar

    Thank you for tackling this complex and important issue! I wonder if you have any thoughts regarding cortisol and exercise. I know that exercise is important for reducing stress, but that intense or chronic exercise can increase your cortisol levels. However, the specifics of how much, what type, and recovery are a little overwhelming to me!

  2. Chris Kresser’s avatar

    Yes, intense steady-state exercise can elevate cortisol levels. I think a mixture of low-intensity activity like walking, gardening, bicycling, etc. plus high-intensity interval strength training is the best approach.

  3. Charlotta (Sweden)’s avatar

    Is there a way to test for active contra inactive T3 or can one say anything obaout the common ration between the two? If I understand it right a regular blod test for FT3 really doesn’t say that much since you won’t know if it’s active or inactive T3?

  4. Chris Kresser’s avatar

    Free T3 is free T3.  The inactive forms of T3 are reverse T3 (RT3), T3 sulfate (T3S) and T3AC. FT3 is the right test for measuring active T3 in the body.

  5. Phoenix’s avatar

    So if Estrogen causes adrenal fatigue, is it possible that cyclic progesterone therapy could be helpful.
    I am planning on doing it, to restart my cycle, and also rebuild some bone.
    What are your thoughts on this?

  6. Susan’s avatar

    The series keeps getting better, Chris. I’m the herbalist still skeptical of the problems with iodine, but everything else you say is right on! Especially good how you made the connection between adrenal stress and thyroid, since many herbalists (and other medicos) will say they are not connected.
    The only missing element here is that you didn’t address nutrient deficiencies as broadly as I would. Not only are most ‘mericans deficient (esp in minerals) because of our depleted food supply, but stress gobbles up additional nutrients (esp B vits). I would never turn to botanicals until diet is fixed, stress is reduced, and nutrients are supplemented. I would supplement first at a high level for a few weeks (as insulin levels stabilize with reduced-carb diet), then reducing supplementation to a maintanance level.
    Keep the great posts coming! -Susan in Florida

  7. Chris Kresser’s avatar


    I wouldn’t say that estrogen causes adrenal fatigue.  Excess estrogen can cause hypothyroid symptoms by decreasing levels of active T3.

    I don’t recommend direct hormone supplementation in cycling women.  Hormones are unbelievably potent substances, and taking them in cream form especially can cause serious imbalances because the body’s natural regulatory mechanisms are bypassed.  The best way to balance the hormones is to focus on adrenals, blood sugar, GI health and essential fatty acids.


  8. Tyler’s avatar

    Chris, leaning on the side that I might be gluten intolerant, how would I truly go about finding out any food intolerances? Is there a definite way of testing besides eliminating the suspected cause entirely from the diet for a while and seeing the results?

  9. Chris Kresser’s avatar

    Enterolab.com has the most accurate testing for gluten intolerance. However, as I mentioned in the article on gluten, the gold standard for identifying gluten intolerance is still the elimination/re-introduction test. This is what the top food allergists use because even the best tests are not infallible.

  10. Charlotta (Sweden)’s avatar

    Are you going to address the ovarian adrenal thyroid connection, if you consider there to be such a connection? And if so, do you believe that adrenal fatigue and/or thyroid problems can cause ovarian cysts and an early menopause?

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