"Thyroid disease is more common than diabetes or heart disease."

~ American College of Endocrinology

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More than 30,000,000 people in the US and 200 million worldwide have a Thyroid Disorder Most affected are women. Some estimates are over 50 million in US and over 200 million worldwide, and growing.

Estimates vary widely as most patients are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed because doctors don't know what they are looking for.

Thyroid disease is also an autoimmune disease. This means that over 27 million people have one or more of the over 105 known autoimmune diseases.

Are you one?

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Thyroid Health and the Impact of Stress


Thyroid health is undiagnosed and misdiagnosed 99% of the time by regular health care practitioners. But one miss­ing link in helping people with their thy­roid health is understanding the impact of stress.

Stress affects thy­roid func­tion in a vari­ety of ways, from appro­pri­ate sig­nal­ing and hor­mone bind­ing, to actual T3 con­ver­sion and even­tual detox­i­fi­ca­tion of inac­tive metabolites:

  • High cor­ti­sol slows con­ver­sion of inac­tive T4 into active T3 by affect­ing the enzyme responsible.
  • Chronic stress sup­presses the pitu­itary gland which is respon­si­ble for releas­ing thy­roid stim­u­lat­ing hor­mone (TSH) which then leads to T4 and T3 release.
  • Not all T4 is con­verted to active T3. Some T4 is con­verted to T3 Sul­fate (T3S) and tri­iodothy­roacetic acid (T3AC)which are inac­tive inter­me­di­ates.

This isn’t meant to be a chem­istry les­son so it is only impor­tant to under­stand that these T3 mid­dle guys require action by bac­te­ria in the gut to con­vert them into active T3.

 Stress inter­feres with gas­troin­testi­nal integrity, lead­ing to bac­te­r­ial imbal­ances, that over time can deplete active T3 production!

  • High lev­els of cor­ti­sol put stress on the liver’s abil­ity to detox­ify — as cor­ti­sol itself is detox­i­fied by the liver. T4 is also con­verted to an irre­versibly inac­tive form of T3 called “reverse T3” (rT3). rT3 is cleared out by the liver. With chronic lev­els of stress, the body may become inef­fi­cient at clear­ing out inac­tive r T3. This inac­tive form inter­feres with nor­mal T3 activ­ity. This is one rea­son why blood lev­els of T3 and TSH can be nor­mal, yet dys­func­tion could still be present, in part due to stress!


Most aca­d­e­mics will share “lin­ear” sto­ries of how the body func­tions. But the body works dynam­i­cally. Mol­e­cules morph in and out of active forms. Pro­teins bind to the hor­mones affect­ing their activ­ity. Even the recep­tor sites are highly regulated. It’s a beau­ti­ful sys­tem to think about, yet a frus­trat­ing sys­tem to “treat”.


The body is a series of inter­con­nected webs of activ­ity. Stress is just one exam­ple of the phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and chem­i­cal fac­tors involved in thy­roid health. 

As a series of interconnected webs of activity the body can pull from mul­ti­ple streams of resources when cer­tain sys­tems become over­loaded. Too much stress, over time, may dete­ri­o­rate some of these streams, lead­ing per­haps to symp­toms of hypothyroidism.

Thank you to Alexander Rinehart, MS, DC, CCN for this input.

To find health care practitioners who will diagnose and treat you appropriately for thyroid problems, search in my PRACTIONERS list.

2 comments to Thyroid Health and the Impact of Stress

  • Sorry iPad may have sent unfinished comment. Was writing this link recommends soy when my modest amount of research has clearly indicated soy of any sort a bad thing with hashimotos. Cheers Merry.

    • kim

      Yes, soy is recommended lots of places, but soy is one of the TOP 8 GMO’d foods and messes with our hormones. You can absolutely do a whole diet with no soy.

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