Adrenal or Thyroid, which is your problem

Thyroid vs Adrenal- Which is Your Problem

Inside: Know what is Adrenal gland and why is it important. Symptoms of Adrenal dysfunction and the difference between Thyroid dysfunction and adrenal dysfunction. At the end, know what are the therapies that helps with these problems.

Thyroid disorders namely hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease come with a host of symptoms. These symptoms vary greatly from person to person and can vary in intensity also.

The most common symptoms associated with hypothyroidism are weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, skin problems, hair loss/thinning, mood changes, depression, anxiety, constipation, cold intolerance. 

Adrenal dysfunction is another problem that is on the rise. The problem is that the thyroid symptoms and adrenal fatigue symptoms often overlap. And people are left confused about which dysfunction they should work on because they don’t know what they have.

So it is important to differentiate between the two so you can make a proper treatment plan for yourself. 

Adrenal glands are you’re what I call as your de-stress glands. Typically adrenal glands have been associated with our body’s ability to respond to stress. There is a subtle connection that exists between the thyroid and adrenal gland and that one affects the other. 

But most people have this question whether they have adrenal dysfunction or they have thyroid dysfunction. Here in this article we are going to explore further what it means to have these dysfunctions and how can you differentiate the two.

Importance of adrenal

Adrenal Glands and Their Importance

Adrenal glands are small glands that are situated right above your kidneys. These are small glands,  but they are one of the most important organs of our body. Without them, it will be almost impossible for us to live the way we do now.

These are responsible for producing several hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and other steroid hormones. Whenever our body perceives any external threat these glands secrete these hormones which then have a widespread effect on our body.

Out of all these hormones we are most concerned about cortisol. 

This cortisol hormone is responsible for all these following roles in our body: 

  • Controlling body metabolism 
  • Controlling inflammation 
  • Controls glucose metabolism
  • Controls bodies response to stress 

When your body is exposed stress your body produces too much cortisol and then it leads to several dysfunctions. And if the body is exposed to stress continuously it leads to chronic high levels of cortisol which is where we typically see symptoms. 

The Typical Symptoms of Chronically Elevated Cortisol are:

  • Gaining excessive weight especially around abdomen
  • Feeling anxious or “ wired “ 
  • Fatigue 
  • Female menstrual problems 
  • Thin fragile skin 
  • What’s the adrenal thyroid connection

The connection between thyroid and adrenal gland has been established by research for a long time. It’s a two-way connection and that’s the reason the symptoms often time overlap. 

The thyroid hormone is responsible for the metabolism of cortisol hormone and also affects its secretion. The control of thyroid hormone on cortisol levels in our body is through regulating various enzymes involved in the metabolism of cortisol hormone.

By regulating these enzymes thyroid hormone indirectly influences the levels of cortisol levels in our body.  

On the other hand, cortisol also has an effect on thyroid hormone levels. High levels of cortisol shut down the production of thyroid hormone.

This is an inbuilt defense mechanism in your body that it shuts down major hormone production when it senses there is external stress and that your body needs to prioritize the resources for more essential functions. And thus it shuts down the thyroid hormone production.

Also, cortisol affects the conversion of thyroid T4 hormone to T3 hormone which is the active hormone. Also, cortisol, by impacting the immune system affects the thyroid gland. Through these various mechanisms, cortisol has profound effects on the thyroid gland and the thyroid hormone levels in the body. 

So you will see that both thyroid and adrenals impact the levels of either hormones. 

Thyroid vs adrenal

Thyroid Vs Adrenals

Now a lot of people will have these questions whether their current symptoms are because of thyroid dysfunction or because of adrenal gland dysfunction. To me, if you have one dysfunction you will have other dysfunction as they both are so well connected. 

But there are subtle symptoms changes which can help to differentiate between the two. 

Below is the chart which might help you to differentiate whether you have thyroid or adrenal symptoms. 

Symptoms of Thyroid dysfunction Symptoms of Adrenal dysfunction 
The skin here is mainly dryThe skin here is mainly fragile or thin 
If patients have mood changes its predominantly low mood or depression. People are generally more anxious or “ wired” 
Cold intolerance Don’t have that feeling generally 
Fatigue generally later in the dayFatigued all the time 
Weight gain mainly on thighs, abdomenWeight gain mainly around the abdomen only
How to Differentiate between Thyroid and Adrenal Dysfunction

These are some subtle ways you can identify whether you have thyroid dysfunction or adrenal fatigue. 

But there is another way to test that and that is through a saliva test. We have a great test now to determine whether you have adrenal dysfunction or not. And its not the typical blood test to check your cortisol levels. That test is not going to help us identify your problem.

You need a 4 point salivary adrenal test. As cortisol levels change during the day, so you need a test that checks cortisol levels 4 times in a day and then a trained practitioner can identify if you have adrenal dysfunction or not. 

Now depending on what you identify what your problem is you need to take relevant steps take care of that particular dysfunction. But sometimes it is not easy for you to differentiate between the thyroid and adrenal dysfunction and then you are confused about what to do. 

As adrenal and thyroid are so very well interconnected so there are some therapeutics things which are the same for both of them. What it means is that some common therapies can help both thyroid dysfunction and adrenal dysfunction. 

I am going to list those therapies below.

1. Stress management: This is an important therapy useful for both thyroid dysfunction and adrenal dysfunction. I like a simple guided meditation for a few minutes that people can do every day that helps them immensely. Other ways are obviously doing deep breathing, Heart math, Meditation, yoga, Nature walks, exercising. 

2. Ashwagandha: This is one of my favorite supplements for people with thyroid or adrenal dysfunction. It has helped so many people to improve their quality of life and the good part is it doesn’t have any side effects. So it should be a part of your adrenal/ thyroid healing plan 

3. B Vitamins: B vitamins are very useful for thyroid health and also for adrenal health. Again they should be a part of your thyroid and adrenal healing plan. The important aspect is getting good quality B vitamins, as there are several over the counter B vitamins but they are not very useful.

The reason being they are very weak and don’t have the right combination of the B vitamins. Because some form of B vitamins are not absorbed by your body so you need to get one that is easily absorbed and processed to have an effect on your body. 


Several people are aware of adrenal dysfunction or have thyroid disease but they don’t know how to check for adrenal dysfunction. This is what we do in our practice, where we help people identify whether their symptoms are mainly because of adrenal or thyroid dysfunction and help them take actionable steps to improve it.

If you are interested to know how you can order this test or want to know more about adrenal or thyroid dysfunction you can click here to make a free consultation with me and we can talk about it. 

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