Fibromyalgia and Adrenal Fatigue

By Lucy Rose Clinic

October 26, 2022

Our adrenal glands are amazing small pyramid-shaped glands on top of each kidney. They produce steroid hormones, which help keep our body, tissues, and ligaments, toned.

Our daytime adrenal hormone ‘cortisol’ is what gets us up in the morning and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.

Most fibromyalgia (FM) patients have chronically low cortisol production, which is one factor behind the exhaustion, pain, and constant and damaging inflammation in the body.

Fibromyalgia and Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Skin allergies
  • Low blood pressure/dizziness
  • Feeling faint when standing up quickly
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling shaky/irritable when you are hungry
  • Frequent thirst
  • Salt cravings
  • Low libido
  • Multiple food or environmental sensitivities

Click the button to discuss your symptoms with a Lucy Rose Clinic consultant.

Cortisol patterns in ADRENAL FATIGUE

Cortisol is higher when we are really active or stressed, or low when dealing with chronic fatigue and pain.

Our adrenal glands have 3 stages of adapting to this stress, in the following order.

Stage 1 – sudden fatigue that usually is manageable with periods of rest.

Stage 2 – fatigue becomes intrusive and persistent and doesn’t seem to get better with rest.

Stage 3 – when persistent fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest is present for 6 months or more, it is classed as chronic fatigue.

The Thyroid Fibromyalgia Connection

Many experts believe that hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia have the same root cause – so it is not surprising that both disorders are commonly seen together.

When the thyroid is even slightly low, it can be a slippery slope with FM.

A common issue we see in the clinic with FM patients is that they appear to have the correct amount of thyroid hormone in the blood, but due to the amount of inflammation throughout the body, the hormones are not reaching their target tissues. This will usually coincide with other hormone imbalances – all our hormones struggle in the face of inflammation.

The other issue we see in 90% of FM cases is reverse T3 dominance.

Fibromyalgia and Reverse T3

Symptoms of high reverse T3:

  • fatigue
  • depressed mood
  • hair loss
  • muscle weakness
  • low blood pressure
  • slower than normal pulse rate

An increased production of reverse T3 (rT3) is often seen in patients with disorders such as fibromyalgia

RT3 is an inactive form of T3 that is produced in the body, particularly during periods of stress, starvation (excessive fasting), liver disease, chronic inflammation, and some nutrient deficiencies.

Reverse T3 becomes a problem when it is too high. RT3 competes with T3 as a substrate for the 5-deiodinase enzyme. This inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3, with more T4 being converted to more rT3.

Low iron affects Reverse T3. When iron levels are low, your red blood cell numbers reduce, and their structure changes. Red blood cells carry thyroid hormones via your blood, so when numbers become inadequate, thyroid hormones start to pool in your blood – essentially, they are going nowhere. The body responds by converting it to RT3 to clear out the excess T4.

How stress affects Reverse T3

When stress is chronic from ongoing pain and other factors, your adrenals will eventually tire and produce less cortisol. This leads to fatigue all day long that does not improve with sleep.

Low levels of adrenal hormones can cause anxiety, poor coping skills, paranoia, nausea, sensitivity to light or sounds, mood changes, and more. When you don’t make enough cortisol, thyroid hormones can pool in your blood. Your body responds by converting the T4 to RT3.

Reverse T3 Test Result

The following result is from one of our FM patients, and this is very typical of what we see in the clinic. Luckily, RT3 responds well to our holistic treatment approach.

How and What to test

When testing adrenal function and its impact on the body, it needs to be done alongside other tests to truly understand the root cause – and of course alongside symptom surveys and thorough consultation.

Many symptoms of thyroid issues are similar to adrenal issues, so testing both is vital to get the full story and then be able to treat it correctly.

For our purposes, testing cortisol in a blood sample is not sufficient. We use a more sensitive test that requires a saliva specimen.

  • Nutrient deficiencies or excesses. Too much, or too little of a nutrient, drives diseases and imbalances causing fatigue. CLICK to learn more.
  • Adrenal hormone status – vital for anyone with a FM. The Adrenal Plus Profile provides a much more in-depth examination of your adrenal hormones, including Diurnal (3 times in the day) salivary cortisol – stress and energy hormone. Close examination of your melatonin -sleep neurotransmitter. DHEA hormone levels – antiaging and adrenal hormone
  • Functional thyroid hormone testing. A full Thyroid Blood Profile includes the testing of several blood markers including TSH (the standard blood test to screen for thyroid dysfunction through medicare) as well as Free T3, Free T4, Anti-TPO, Anti-TG, Reverse T3, and SHBG. (TRABs available on request) CLICK to learn more.
  • Blood Sugar Profile. Energy, weight gain, and sleep issues always have some functional disturbances with the blood sugars in the body. Testing is essential. Blood Sugar Test – Insulin and Glucose Test – The Lucy Rose Clinic
  • Sex hormone balance – E2, Progesterone, Testosterone. As we age the ratio between these hormones varies, and imbalances in these ratios can have a wider impact on every other system in the body. CLICK to learn more.
  • Cardiovascular markers. This test examines your inflammatory & cardiovascular markers. Triglycerides, CRP, LDL, HDL, Total Cholesterol and Homocysteine. By examining these, we’re able to assess systemic inflammation and disease risk associated with poor thyroid, metabolic functions, and hormone levels. CLICK to learn more.
  • Iodine status. Iodine supports metabolic energy and the correct dose has been shown to help FM patients reverse symptoms. CLICK to learn more.
  • Food intolerances. Using immunoglobulins, this test is able to see if you have a particular intolerance to certain food types by their reactions in your blood sample. Food reactions are a driver of inflammation, and avoiding your specific trigger foods helps to reduce your pain levels by reducing the global inflammation sum. Food Intolerance Test – Allergy Test – The Lucy Rose Clinic

Natural medicine for fibromyalgia

Addressing fatigue, exhaustion, or burnout needs more than medication to band-aid the symptoms – such as anxiety or depression drugs. It is usually more complex than that, involving deep nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalance, toxic load, incorrect diet choices, and an unsupportive lifestyle. Working with a holistic practitioner allows you to get guidance from a trained professional who is experienced in treating the body holistically – taking all these functional factors into account.

This is even more important if you are on medications for your condition, as many commonly prescribed FM medications have contraindications with natural medicines. Working with a naturopath ensures you are using the correct supplements, safely.

If you would like to discuss your health with one of our experienced and caring team about how we can support you to;

  • Reduce pain
  • Increase energy
  • And lose excess weight

Book in a free 15-minute appointment – to discuss your health and get started on a better way forward toward vitality.

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