My hormones are all screwed up. What can I do to get my adrenals back in to balance?

Welcome to episode 48. 

Hi Stephanie,

I love listening to your hashimoto’s podcast

I’ve been listening now consistently for a few months and feel it’s been so helpful for just more understanding of hashimoto’s and knowing I’m not alone in this battle

I was diagnosed after I had my son (he is 2.5 now). I had no difficulty conceiving him but since him have had 2 miscarriages. I feel like my thyroid is to blame. I’ve been working with a functional medicine doctor and have gone gluten free 100% and as much as I can grain free dairy free and soy free. 

I’m on 60mg on NP thyroid

I’m 33 years old 

My latest blood work still show concerns. My TSH increases from .11 (nov 2018) to 3.29. My t4 is low at 3.9 and free t4 low at .68

My t3 is 88 so low on the normal scale

My free t3 is 2.4 again low on the normal scale

My anti thyroglobulin antibodies did decrease from 329 to 183 (so I guess that’s one good thing)

My dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate is 104

Estradiol is 223

Progesterone is .33

Testosterone is super low at less then 12

She thinks if I decrease my adrenal stress this should help thyroid and testosterone . I’m trying to get more sleep and decrease stress but let’s face it with a 2.5 year old, I work full time, my husband travels a lot for work so I’m solo a lot -it’s just hard.

She said to try acupuncture so that’s on my list to start 

I’ve read some info about having hashimoto’s and low stomach acid . What are your thoughts on this? Having low stomach acid might mean I’m not breaking down and getting as much nutrients from food. I read it talking about taking a pepsin enzyme with meals but it did caution about taking them if you don’t really have low stomach acid. It said papaya and pineapple might naturally increase stomach acid so I was thinking of adding more of these into my green smoothies in the morning

I just added hemp seed for more zinc in my morning smoothies and would like to try selenium too (you have talked on both of these in your podcasts previously) 

I have stopped doing orange theory and other high intensity exercises and now just do yoga or light short jogs. I have always done consistent regular mod to high intensity workouts so this is a change for me

Any feedback you have would be so helpful

Thank you again for providing me with a hashimoto community 

Have a great day


Thanks for your question Jennifer. It sounds like you could have had pregnancy induced hypothyroidism which is not the correct technical name for it but it is really common. It could also be that you had the autoimmune component before pregnancy and the pregnancy triggered a full blown attack which you felt symptoms of after your son was born. 

If you want to see if your thyroid can function on its own, so meaning you get off your medication, then you are going to have to be diligent with your diet and your doctor is right- you will need to work on getting your adrenals in to a normally functioning range which will also help your body keep a pregnancy. I am so sorry you have had two miscarriages. Your body definitely needs some time to get back in to balance. 

There are several things that could be going on here. I mentioned pregnancy being one thing that is messing with your thyroid. The other is the possibility that your pituitary is sensing the thyroid isn’t working well and will release more TSH in order to tell your thyroid to make thyroxine but your T4 is low so I’m honestly not too sure about that. 

DHEA is on the low end which means your adrenals have become tired so to speak. I can’t comment much on the other hormone levels as I am not even close to being an expert on them. They do work in concert with adrenals and thyroid though so if one is not working well the others will not be either. 

I think you need to work on your adrenal health first and foremost and then retest hormones and thyroid levels. 

Here are some signs you might be struggling with hypo or hyper adrenal function: 

    • You tend to be a night person or have that second wind late evening

    • You struggle to fall asleep, tend to be keyed up and have trouble calming down

    • You are a slow starter in the morning

    • Have either really high blood pressure or really low blood pressure

    • Do you feel wired or jittery after drinking coffee?

    • Do you get a headache after exercising?

    • You clench or grind your teeth?

    • Feel calm on the outside and troubled on the inside

    • You have chronic low back pain that gets worse when you are tired

    • You become dizzy when you stand up suddenly

    • You crave salty foods, salt foods before tasting them

    • You tend towards arthritis

    • You sweat easily

    • You have chronic fatigue or get drowsy often

    • You experience afternoon yawning or headache

    • Tendency to sprain your ankle or get shin splints

    • Do you need sunglasses when you go outside?

If your cortisol is highest in the morning, you will not be dragging yourself out of bed. High cortisol in the morning and low cortisol at night is what you are striving for. You need your melatonin to kick in at night so you can feel tired and fall asleep. 

Being keyed up with trouble calming down is a sign that your adrenals are in hypermode and your DHEA is low. 

Chronic stress lowers cortisol which will cause your body to not be able to manage your blood sugar very well- low blood sugar, irritability and headaches. 

Wired after coffee indicates excess adrenal/cortisol output, need for supporting your liver and high cortisol with low DHEA will cause this wired feeling as well. 

If you are craving salt this is a classic sign your adrenals are not working or are in a hypo functioning state. You may also need electrolytes. Your adrenals help with mineral balancing. When you are in a state of chronic stress, you are losing minerals. 

You want to make sure you are eating real whole foods as much as possible. Avoid refined sugar and refined carbohydrates- basically avoid most things that come in a box. Avoid caffeine. Make sure you are eating a clean source of protein at every meal and avoid those foods that may cause a reaction because the inflammation in the body will also affect your adrenal health. 

Do not fast. Fasting will affect your blood sugar levels which will then affect your adrenals. No cleanses, no detox diets. 

You can take things like herbs from the ginseng family that will help your body deal with stress. Licorice root can be helpful as it will increase cortisol or help you if your cortisol is low which will allow your adrenal glands a chance to take a break and heal a bit. 

Please check with your functional medicine doctor about this. It might be a good idea to to the cortisol salivary panel to see just where you are in adrenal fatigue. 

Make sure you make time for sleep. Not so easy with a 2.5 year old at home but you can go to sleep when he does. Stay off screens at night and wear the blue blocker glasses starting at about 7pm. 

Work on relaxation techniques, meditation, biofeedback, acupuncture. 

Keep exercise to a minimum for about a month. Stick to walking and light weights 2 days a week for a month. You have to give your body a break, especially since you are on your own so much with a spouse that travels. 

If you can buy pre-made meals for some way to give yourself a break on cooking- buy from Paleo on The Go or some other delivery service like that. You can get $10 off your first order with the code GETCLEAR. I use them for situations where I know I need food and I don’t have the time or ability to cook up a bunch of stuff for myself. When I broke my collarbone I bought a weekends worth of food from them for a seminar I was going to. I couldn’t cook so I didn’t have a choice. 

Lastly- for the adrenals- get outside and expose your eyes to natural light as much as possible especially right away in the morning. 

You asked about stomach acid. If you are dealing with chronic stress, it is likely you are not making enough stomach acid. Dealing with hypothyroidism also means you are probably low on stomach acid. So, you can start out with pepsin and digestive enzymes and see if you notice a difference. You may need to get some Betaine HCl which is actual acid that is needed to convert pepsinogen to pepsin (I hope I have that right- I just learned that in school- it is that way or the opposite) which is what breaks down protein and then more breakdown happens in the upper small intestine and then absorption of nutrients through the rest of your small intestine. 

So, you need to be relaxed when you eat and you may still need some digestive support. Just adding papaya and pineapple to your smoothie will not help you digest your meals well. In fact, those are pretty high in sugar if I am not mistaken so they may make your blood sugar worse which will just trigger a cascade of issues, including more adrenal stress. 

 Most brands of Betaine should be fine- there is no one betaine that is more special than the other. Although many supplement company reps will tell you the quality of their betaine is better which may be true. Who knows.  You will know if you don’t need the stomach acid if you feel a burning sensation after taking it. Do a “challenge” to see how many you need and start small at about 150mg of betaine.  If you have an ulcer or an H. Pylori infection, you can make things worse so be aware of that. 

Speaking of your smoothies- add frozen chopped zucchini and frozen riced cauliflower to them. I have been adding those to my smoothie and zero fruit which is helping my blood sugar a ton. Here is what I put in my smoothie: 

    • 1 cup crushed ice

    • 1 scoop Designs for Health Pure Paleo Protein powder

    • 1 scoop Designs for Health Pea Protein powder

    • 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder

    • ⅓ cup coconut flakes

    • Apex Energetics Nourish Greens and Collagen- 1 scoop each

    • 5 or so drops vitamin d, and AEK

    • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds

    • 2 tablespoons chia seeds

    • ½ cup chopped frozen zucchini

    • ½ cup frozen riced cauliflower

    • sometimes 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, sometimes 2 drops mint essential oil from organic ecocertified oil 

    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

    • sometimes 2 teaspoons monkfruit or ⅓ ripe banana

    • 1 cup or so of water

For selenium, I take GTA Forte II from Biotics which also has zinc and copper in synergistic amounts so that one mineral doesn’t deplete the others. Getting your minerals from food is fine because our food, real food, is packaged perfectly so that we get just the right amount of each mineral. If you are supplementing, you maybe don’t want to just go buy selenium because someone says it works for them. It is always a good idea to have a practitioner monitor that type of stuff. 

I hope this helps. Good luck to you and thanks for writing in.

That is it for today. Please leave me a rating or review on iTunes so more people can find the podcast and get the ever loving help they need. 

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