Thyroid Dysfunction and Migraines – How Stress Affects it All

Your thyroid affects every cell in your body.  This butterfly-shaped organ is located in the front of your throat and helps control the way your body uses energy. Your thyroid also dictates your body’s metabolism.

The thyroid is a major gland in your endocrine system. Your endocrine system is charged with regulating the hormones in your body. The thyroid works by converting iodine in the food you eat into two hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones travel throughout your body. If you have too much or too little of these hormones, your entire body starts to hiccup.

Your Adrenal Glands and Your Thyroid

Your adrenal glands are the small, little, pea-sized glands that sit above each of your kidneys. They are also a part of your endocrine system and are responsible for releasing hormones that help regulate your ability to handle stress. Your adrenal hormones (including cortisol, aldosterone, and your sex hormones) communicate with the rest of the endocrine system, including the thyroid, and tell these glands how to do their jobs.

When your body is under chronic, unrelenting stress, or in persistent, merciless pain, your adrenal glands can become fatigued. This type of stress reduces your hypothalamic and pituitary brain functions. These functions determine how much T3 and T4 your thyroid should produce. Basically, what it comes down to, is when your body is drowning in unremitting stress, your thyroid can become unable secrete the correct amounts of hormones, leaving you in a hormonal mess.

Adrenal and Thyroid Gland dysfunction may lead to:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Exhaustion
  • Fluctuating temperatures
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Irregular periods
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Muscle and joint aches

 

Gut Health and Your Thyroid

Thyroid problems are often caused by underlying gut troubles. Because the overwhelming majority of your immune system is situated in your gut, maintaining a healthy gut is the key to protecting your thyroid. In fact, your thyroid relies on receiving healthy gut bacteria to convert T4 into the powerful T3 hormone.

When your body is under stress, your endocrine system suppresses your body’s immune system in order to slow down inflammation and to quickly fight the stressor. Many people think that stress comes from bills, difficult family situations, or even being stuck in traffic. Although these stressors do matter, stress can often be caused by physical experiences, including what’s on the end of your fork.  Subjecting your body to a food you are sensitive to is a stressor that is often overlooked. Managing gut health, thyroid health, and stress begins with what you eat.

To improve your gut health, start by removing common triggers like:

  • Coffee
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Processed Foods
  • All Types of Sugar

 

Migraineurs should also participate in an elimination diet. Find more information about that here.

Thyroid Dysfunction and Migraines

Thyroid dysfunction is a common migraine trigger. According to research, people with thyroid dysfunction are more likely to experience migraines. Scientific literature is not always clear on how thyroid dysfunction and migraines are related. However, we do know stress plays a huge role in both problems, and ultimately stress impacts the thyroid’s ability to function well.

Finally, the thyroid gland is often compared to a furnace because it regulates your body’s temperature. One key symptom of thyroid dysfunction is fluctuating between feeling hot or cold throughout the day. In fact, you can even take your temperature throughout the day to see this phenomenon in practice. Many studies show consistently low body temperatures can indicate a low thyroid.

Stress impacts every part of the body, including your endocrine and immune systems. When these systems are fatigued, your thyroid performs poorly.  As a result, your body is starved of the energy it requires.

A poorly functioning thyroid and migraines are a well documented connection.  Stress management is a key step in the journey to control over your body. Remember, base hits will eventually win the baseball game. You don’t need to start out swinging for the fences. Instead, start by improving your food choices, work on your sleep schedule and make sure you’re practicing relaxation techniques throughout the day. You can win the migraine game. It’s all in the first step.

 

Sources:  

Thyroid Basics: How the Thyroid Works

How Adrenal Stresses Causes Thyroid Dysfunction

Gut Health and Hypothyroidism

Body Temperature and Migraines

Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction