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Thyroid and adrenal malfunction are the main causes of low metabolic energy in the body, which in turn can be caused by candida overgrowth. This is because candida puts out over 79 different kinds of toxins that makes all the body cell membranes go rigid, or stiff – see Candida Causes Cell Membrane Defects.
This interferes with communication between cells, with the ability of the cells to receive nutrients and hormones, and it makes the cells less able to get rid of their waste. All of this results in low metabolic energy for the entire body.
What Causes Low Metabolic Energy?
Every process that goes on inside our bodies requires energy – specifically, metabolic energy. When the body doesn’t have enough energy to function properly, each component of the body will malfunction in its own unique way.
For example, if the brain has too little energy, thought processes such as memory and focus become impaired. The body needs energy to keep itself warm — a low body temperature, therefore, usually accompanies low metabolic energy.
Symptoms of Low Metabolic Energy
Although many of the symptoms below seem unrelated, they may all stem from the same root problem of low metabolic energy.
- General – Low body temperature. Coldness. Low Energy or Fatigue. Weight problems (can’t lose or gain it). Slow healing.
- Brain – Depression. Anxiety. Poor memory, focus, or concentration. Sleep disorders.
- Immune system – Under-Reactive or Over-Reactive: Frequent infections (skin, sinus, bladder, bowel, yeast problems, etc.). Allergies. Auto-immune diseases.
- Musculoskeletal – Fatigue. Fibromyalgia (muscle or joint pains). Generalized aches/pains. Repetitive use injury and carpal tunnel syndrome. Weak connective tissues (ligaments, bones, etc). Headaches.
- Sexual – Loss of Libido and function. Menstrual disorders. Infertility.
- Vascular – Low blood pressure. High blood pressure. Raynaud’s disease.
- Bowels – Connstipation. Gas or bloating. Digestive disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Nervous system – Numbness of hands and/or feet. Dulling or loss of senses such as vision, taste or smell.
- Skin – Dry. Acne. Pallor in light skin, darkening or dark patches in dark skin.
- Hair – Hair loss, brittle, coarse, dry or oily.
In our cells, ready to use energy is in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) there are molecules. The body converts fats, sugars, etc. into ATP that is then used for energy. However, there are other factors involved that can affect how well our body can make this conversion from those fats and sugars into the ATP molecules.
The thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, makes the hormone T4 (thyroxine). T4 converts to T3 (triiodothyronine) and RT3 (reverse T3).
The T3 turns on the ATP (energy) making machinery inside each living cell while the RT3 slows it down. Production of these thyroid hormones is controlled by TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), which is released by the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary takes its orders from the hypothalamus (also part of the brain).
The adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, help the body deal with stress. If the metabolic activity is excessive, the adrenals perceive this as a stress. In response to this stress, the hypothalamus will signal the pituitary to produce less TSH, thus producing decreased T4 and thyroid activity.
Based on the above explanation, some of the contributors to low metabolic energy are:
- The thyroid gland can not make enough T4 (hypothyroidism).
- The adrenal glands are too weak to handle the stress of the body’s normal metabolic energy and force a down-regulation of energy production.
- The enzymes (cellular machinery) which make ATP may be held back due to chemical interference such as toxins, lack of needed ingredients (vitamins or minerals), or breakdown due to auto-immune disease or old damage.
- Hormonal imbalance such as growth hormone, testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone.
- Severe nutritional/caloric restriction.
And, as discussed earlier, when one or a combination of these factors is in place the symptoms of low metabolic energy — such as fatigue, weight issues, memory loss, cold hands, dry skin — may start to appear.
To restore energy to a healthy level, the causative problem(s) must be corrected. Toxic exposure, nutritional deficiencies, and auto-immune damage are all, to some degree, universal. If severe enough, any one of these can overwhelm the body’s metabolic mechanisms and become the leading cause of the problem.
However, these are not as common as the low metabolism caused by adrenal and/or thyroid dysfunction. The corrections described below relate to the most common causes we see, namely sub-optimal adrenal and/or thyroid function.
Poor Thyroid Function
If poor thyroid function is the only cause, we typically see a reddish complexion, thinning of the outer eyebrows, easy weight gain, depression, sluggishness, excessive sleep, high blood pressure, and a decreased ability to fight infection.
Conversely, if poor adrenal function is the only cause, we typically see pallor, full eyebrows, difficulty gaining weight, anxiety, exaggerated startling, insomnia and unrefreshing sleep, low blood pressure, and auto-immune problems. Most people have a mixture of poor thyroid and poor adrenal function rather than purely one or the other, and therefore a mixture of symptoms.
Where to Start: Adrenals or Thyroid?
If both the thyroid and the adrenals are weak, adrenal repair must precede thyroid repair.
If the adrenals are weak, then even normal thyroid activity places an excessive burden on them. One may begin to feel ‘hypoadrenal’ (coldness, weight loss, dryness, fatigue, insomnia, and/or anxiety) and then the body innately turns down its own thyroid energy production by increasing production of RT3.
Conversely, if the adrenals are strong and the thyroid is weak or unable to keep up with the adrenals, one begins to feel ‘hypothyroid’ (heat intolerance, weight gain and fluid retention, tiredness, excessive need to sleep and/or depression). A very common error is to focus entirely on the thyroid and ignore the adrenals.
In a weakened adrenal state, prescribing thyroid medication that contains T4 and/or T3 may produce limited or transient improvement. Subsequent increases of the dose offer little or no benefit as the medication pushes the energy machinery into overdrive.
Unfortunately, this higher energy level is unsustainable due to the stress on the adrenals. Eventually the adrenals become fatigued and the symptoms of low energy return. If, however, the adrenals are functioning well, the thyroid hormones can do their job and the result is good metabolic energy.
Adrenal Repair Basics
In general, stress hurts the adrenals. The opposite of stress such as joy, peace, security, stability, etc. help the adrenals. Avoid the stressors and seek out those things that help. Eat more proteins and "good" fats (not vegetable oils). Limit carbohydrates, especially sugars. Avoid stimulants and physiologically stressful substances such as caffeine, diet pills, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.
Mold is a common serious stress but difficult to avoid. Reduce as much stress as possible. Even ‘good stress,’ such as celebration, can sometimes be excessive for the adrenals. Look for opportunities to experience security, joy and optimism.
Learn to avoid negative emotions such as fear (e.g. horror movies), anger, etc. Increase rest – get as much sleep as possible and make the timing as regular as possible. Pushing too hard, excessive work or exercise, and any sleep deprivation stresses the adrenals.
Providing the body with proper support, including diet and supplements, is critical to repairing the adrenals – for information on the minimal nutritional requirements for healthy adrenals see Adrenal Malfunction and How to Improve it.
For mildly poor thyroid function, support can be obtained with the same diet and supplements recommended for adrenal support – Adrenal Malfunction and How to Improve it.
Do not take extra iodine supplements, i.e. Lugol’s iodine, kelp, seaweed, etc. since iodine is only required in "trace" amounts by the body, and too much iodine will cause the thyroid to malfunction just as much as too little iodine. There is enough iodine for proper thyroid function found in butter, eggs, good ocean sea salt, and other foods.
If the thyroid condition is more severe, perscription medication may be required. Giving only T4 synthetic thyroid medications such as Levothyroxine, Synthroid, Unithroid, Levoxyl, etc. is okay if T4 is the only missing component of the thyroid hormones.
However, if both T3 and T4 are low, many individuals are unable to convert T4 to T3, particularly candida sufferers and people with autoimmune diseases, therefore they will need to take a desiccated thyroid preparation like Armour Thyroid because it contains the needed T3 as well.
NOTE: It is unwise to start on thyroid medications, which will make your body dependent upon them, before doing everything possible to improve adrenal malfunction, and before getting the nutrients required with a proper diet and supplements. If you have candida overgrowth adrenal and thyroid function will gradually improve as you continue on the candida program. Any efforts to treat the thyroid with medications before that time will not treat the cause, which is candida. Therefore your focus should be on curing your candida, which will normalize your adrenals and thyroid. If you are taking thyroid medications when your health improves the thyroid can go into a tizzy, from very low to very high, which can be dangerous and unnecessary. “Treat the cause, not the result!”
Breaking thyroid medication doses into two or three doses daily provides a more stable blood level of T3 and generally produces better results. Taking the daily dose all at once in the morning tends to be stressful on the adrenals and often leaves one feeling depleted by afternoon. Evidence of this can be seen when taking daily temperatures. The adrenal stress shows as temperature volatility (instability).
Note, if the adrenals are too weak to handle desiccated thyroid there may be an initial response of better energy and fewer symptoms followed by a later ‘crash’ in which energy can drop to even lower levels than before the desiccated thyroid support.
Additionally, other symptoms of adrenal stress such as anxiety, insomnia, and palpitations (racing heart) can then occur. The same can be seen with fast release T3 (e.g. Cytomel) or with slow release T3.
Coconut oil can help those with thyroid malfunction, whether it is overactive or underactive. Although there are no documented studies to show that coconut oil helps, it can have a balancing effect. That is for those with hypothyroidism, since it supports increased thyroid activity, and for those with hyperthyroidism it decreases activity. Therefore coconut oil stabilizes thyroid function.
Hyperactive Thyroid Symptoms
It is just as important to know when your thyroid is overactive, so you can be aware that your thyroid function may be adjusting and changing from low to high. Then you can take proper action to decrease your medications in time before disaster happens.
Hyperactive Thyroid Symptoms:
- Feeling hot and sweaty.
- Clammy skin.
- Fine tremors.
- Rapid weight loss.
- Feeling as though your heart is pounding.
- Shortness of breath.
- Double vision.
- Muscle wasting.
- Increased eye tearing.
- Infrequent or absent menstrual periods.
- Abnormal breast enlargement (men).
- Increased hair loss.
- Diminished sex drive.
- Brittle nails.