Thyroid Health & Alcohol Intake: What’s the problem?

Thyroid Health & Alcohol Intake: What’s the problem?

To understand the pathway of damage that alcohol does to the thyroid, we first need to look at all the key players that are also affected by alcohol. These are the liver, oestrogen, progesterone, prolactin, glycogen and cortisol. There has been many scientifically published articles on how alcohol affects the liver; in basic terms, moderate to high long term consumption of alcohol will most likely result in scarring of the liver which reduces its ability to function as it was designed to. Below we have listed some of the many hormones that are affected by alcohol, what these hormones are supposed to do to keep us well. It is far easier to avoid something that makes us unwell when we understand it’s effects.


Some of the liver’s role is as follows:
 Metabolise excess oestrogen and fat to be excreted
 Glycogen synthesis
 Convert T4 to T3 (one of the sites in the body where this happens)
 Make Thyroid-Binding Globulin (TBG) – TGB is the taxi that takes T4 & T3 to where it is needed in the body
 Eliminate toxins



The main hormones of the thyroid that we talk about are Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T4, T3 – active and Reverse T3 (RT3) -inactive. TSH is made by the pituitary and stimulates the thyroid to make T4. T4 (Tyrosine & Iodine) is an inactive hormone, it needs to be converted to T3 to be used by the cells and tissues. This conversion takes place in the liver, kidneys and
muscles. T4 can also be converted instead to RT3, this is part of the cycle but T4 to RT3 needs to also be in balance for healthy thyroid function. Thyroid imbalances have a dramatic impact on your weight management, watch the free video here.


Glycogen is made up of many units of glucose joined together & is stored in the liver as a source of energy. Some of its functions are:
 Regulate blood glucose levels
 Produce glucuronic acid which detoxifies estrogen



This is a naturally occurring hormone, that is generally produced by the ovaries. It can also be produced by the adrenals & special belly fat cells in post-menopausal women. There are also phytoestrogens that come from plants such as soy, and synthetic forms known as xenoestrogens which can be found in a range of products, pesticides, and plastics to name just a few sources. Learn more about Thyroid and menopause hereSome of Oestrogens functions are:
 Bring about puberty in girls

 Helps control cholesterol
 Helps to keep bones strong
 Has an effect on brain and emotions
 Excess estrogen can inhibit thyroid function



Progesterone is also made in the ovaries and is needed to be in balance with estrogen so the female reproductive system works well. We tend to notice a lack of progesterone rather than an excess, as the majority of PMT symptoms is a result of not having enough of this hormone. In post-menopausal women – the small amount of progesterone that is made in the body is produced by the adrenals, and if the adrenals are overworked it will direct all its resources to making its stress hormones or adrenaline & cortisol. This further compounds the estrogen dominant picture. One of its major function is:
 Thickens the lining of the uterus at ovulation, this makes the womb ‘warm & fluffy’ so that a fertilized egg can implant.



Prolactin is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary. There is a correlation between high prolactin levels and hypothyroid function. Some of its functions are:
 To produce breast milk for a baby
 Down regulates oestrogen production



Thyrotropin Releasing Factor (TRF)
TRF is produced by the hypothalamus. Some of its functions are:
 To stimulate the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
 To increase production of Prolactin




Cortisol along with Adrenaline is produced by the adrenals. Cortisol is our long lasting stress hormone. Some of its functions are:
 Metabolism of protein, carbs and fats to maintain blood glucose levels
 Energy production via the blood glucose levels

 Long lasting levels of Cortisol in the body promotes the laying down of fat cells so the body survives famine
 Cortisol decrease TSH production
 Inhibits T4 changing to T3
 Increases the conversion of T4 to RT3
 High levels of cortisol also impacts of the liver’s ability to clear estrogen

So know that we can see all the ways alcohol affects thyroid function, it’s a good idea to limit your consumption of alcohol to 1-2 standard drinks up to 4 days a week. Alcohol intake is also linked to poor cholesterol, reflux and poor digestion. What was interesting in doing this research is that if a moderate to heavy drinker gives up alcohol, you can expect their thyroid hormone levels to drop and then after a period (research varied on the length of time) the hormone levels increased and stabilized. So keep a symptoms diary, see a Thyroid specialist, get some thorough testing to treat your health effectively.



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