- Peter Bouloukos
Thyroid Related Fatigue?
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Energy is the backbone of life. All systems in the body need energy to function properly, the only true energy is ATP ENERGY and a soda and most store bought energy drinks do not create energy and only agrivate the thryoid! The human body mirrors the fire pyramid, and where the thyroid is concerned, energy heat gain and loss is critical. How you produce and distribute energy is complex; thyroid hormone function has a major impact on all of your energy systems. However, not all fatigue is due to thyroid malfunction.
How do you tell the difference?
Thyroid hormone governs the basal metabolic rate, which is like the idling speed of a car engine. Even when you are sitting in a chair or sleeping 100 trillion cells keep making energy in a process called "oxidation." It's the same process that generates "rust." This type of energy production is the foundation for all other energy and hormonal systems. If it is not up to par, no other system in your body works as well as it should.
When you step on the gas pedal during the day, the thyroid hormone does not go into action. Increased activity of any kind is controlled by adrenaline, muscle activity, increased calorie burning, and an increased speed at which cells create energy.
With a sluggish thyroid the body still will generate energy based on adrenaline-driven necessity. Here, one may notice too much reliance upon stimulants like sugar, caffeine or cigarettes. A demanding day may deplete muscles of fuel and induce enough wear and tear so natural tiredness will no doubt follow. Such fatigue is normal and why we need to sleep.
Even pushing it day after day and cutting sleep short may not be a thyroid problem. However, such a poor lifestyle can drain the human body creating the path for thyroid trouble. Getting less than seven hours of sleep per night is asking for trouble!
Thyroid-related fatigue starts to show up when one cannot sustain energy long enough, especially when compared to a past level of fitness or ability. If the thyroid foundation is weak, sustaining energy output is difficult. Here, one will notice they simply don't have "the energy to do things they were easily able to do before."
The menstrual cycle, pregnancy, exercise, stress, and physical demands are all examples of increased energy demands requiring increased energy output. Thus, PMS is almost always a thyroid problem to a degree. The increased energy demands of the menstrual cycle are simply too much, partly due to an underlying thyroid weakness. Pregnancy is always a major test of the thyroid, as one’s thyroid is called upon to do metabolic work for two bodies. This is why thyroid issues often flare up during or following pregnancy.
Thyroid hormone is synergistic with growth hormone in muscles, and when these two are working properly together then muscles feel fit. Exercise conditions thyroid hormone to work properly to assist general energy production and a lack of exercise contributes to poor thyroid function. The more fit muscles feel, the less likely thyroid-related fatigue will be an issue. With poor thyroid function people frequently feel as if they don't have the energy to consistently exercise and this is a trap! Muscle weakness, especially for former athletes with "muscle memory" is a classic hypothyroid symptom.
One of the key symptoms of thyroid fatigue is a heavy or tired head, especially in the afternoon. Thyroid hormone activity is regulated differently in the brain than anywhere else in the body, as brain cells themselves convert T4 to T3 (active thyroid hormone). Your head is a very sensitive indicator of thyroid hormone status. This is different than low blood sugar symptoms from not having eaten for a while. The head just feels sluggish or tired, lacking clarity or sharpness. When this head tiredness occurs too many hours in the day one will feel like sleeping all the time and depression will set in - signs of more advanced thyroid-related fatigure. More the reason to get out and exercise whilte making sure the body is nourished with whole food options and receives at least seven hours of rest.
Another key sign of thyroid fatigue is "conking out" as soon as you sit down and don’t actually have to do something (there is no necessity making you have to do something). In this case it feels like the body is a car idling too slowly at a stop sign. The body just stalls and goes to sleep. This is a clear sign of thyroid fatigue.
You either do or don’t have the symptoms of thyroid-related fatigue. If you wake up energized, maintain decent energy throughout the day, are able to maintain mental alertness/sharpness, have energy as needed to meet demands, and your muscles feel fit, you do not have thyroid-related fatigue. The more you don’t feel this way, the greater the problem. No lab test is needed. In many cases thyroid lab tests may still be normal, even though you clearly are not. The symptoms tell the story and they never lie.
Body Temperature and Thyroid Problems
When the thyroid hormone is working properly inside cells they will make 65% energy and 35% heat while burning calories for fuel. Thyroid hormone is governing basal metabolic rate, orchestrating the idling speed at which all cells make energy and thus heat. A classic symptom of poor thyroid function is being too cold. Conversely, a classic symptom of hyperthyroidism is being too hot (making too much heat). However, many people with slow thyroid are too hot, a seeming paradox!
Generally, it's clear when one fits into the "cold" category. You always want the thermostat set higher than everyone else or you have on an extra layer of clothes on when it is nice. You go to bed with socks on your feet or want extra layers of blankets. When this type of coldness matches up with the symptoms of thyroid-related fatigue, you fall into the classic pattern of sluggish or hypothyroid.
In many cases of poor thyroid function a cold feeling is not quite so obvious. Dr. Broda Barnes pioneered the use of the basal temperature test to help identify sluggish thyroid function. This is done by placing a thermometer (not digital) under your arm for ten minutes before getting out of bed. This should be done ten days in a row, averaging the daily reading. Menstruating women should start their ten day test when their menstrual cycle begins, as basal temperature naturally rises 2 degrees at ovulation. If your waking temperature averages from 97.8 to 98.2 degrees it is normal. Less than 97.8 reflects sluggish thyroid function.
It should be noted other factors besides thyroid make a person run too cold. Common ones include:
A) Protein malnutrition resulting in a loss of muscle. Individuals with borderline thyroid should eat at least ½ their ideal weight in grams of protein per day (avoiding excessive intake of soy protein).
B) Nutrients lacking for cellular energy production (co-enzyme B vitamins, Q10, magnesium).
C) Nutrients lacking to implement cellular DNA thyroid instructions (iron or zinc).
D) Excessive stress, which pools blood around central organs and makes hands and feet cold. Anti-inflammatory nutrients are required to fix this, along with stress management.
E) A viral infection, even a subclinical viral infection. Viruses hijack cellular energy production, shutting down energy and heat production, and making excess lactic acid. This leaves one feeling cold and achy from the lactic acid. This is why you get the chills from the flu. Many viruses, like Epstein-Barr or cytomegalovirus, can operate on a low grade basis – enough to make a person cold, tired, and achy. Such individuals often wake up with a sore throat in the morning. Monolaurin is a top choice for nutrient support.
These coldness issues can masquerade as thyroid problems, and in some cases may in fact be the primary cause of the hypothyroid symptoms. The proof of the source of the problem is in the solution. Whatever helps get energy on and temperature up is what is needed. Sometimes this means thyroid support nutrition. Sometimes it is addressing any issue in A-E above. Many times it is some combination of approaches, including thyroid support.
Many individuals with hypothyroid symptoms are not cold and may even be hot. Remember, normal cell energy production is 65% energy and 35% heat. In classic low thyroid both numbers drop. However, if thyroid hormone is still signaling cells to go, but cells lack nutrients to properly make energy, then a person may make 50% energy and 50% heat. If the problem worsens a person could make 35% energy and 65% heat (and lots of anxiety). Such a problem will present itself as low thyroid, but it is really a deficiency in energy-producing nutrients like co-enzyme B vitamins, Q10, magnesium, and nutrient dense antioxidants. Remember, antioxidants are the only thing you can put into your body that will nourish the cell, slow the rate of oxidation and "cool" the fire.
The most common reason for true low thyroid with excess heat occurs in the overweight individual. In this case the body is trying to dispose of surplus fat calories by converting them to 100% heat. Even though cells are not making adequate energy or heat, the heat is coming from the desperate attempt of the body to get rid of fat so it doesn’t clog organs, cells, and arteries. Eating according to the Leptin Diet solves this problem. Since excess heat produces too many free radicals, extra antioxidants are a good idea.
As thyroid problems deteriorate a person becomes both heat and cold intolerant. Hot humid days are stressful; frigid winter days are stressful. The body’s heat regulating system simply struggles to keep up with environmental demands, especially when they are more extreme. Aging is generally associated with deteriorating thyroid function and troubles regulating body temperature.
Understanding the body’s heating and cooling system is central to effectively managing thyroid health.
The human body mirror's the "Fire Pyramid." The triangle of life is the fire pyramid too. We need 90 nutrients in balance. Your diet not only will not balance 90 nutrients every single day, but it probably also includes synthetics and toxins to the human cell...both can flare the Thyroid system. I hope this all makes sense! Yours in Health, Wellness and Success, Peter D. Bouloukos