Low hormones occur often in chronic Lyme disease. If you have symptoms of low hormones use the supplements and drugs I recommend in this article. Do not trust blood tests to decide if you should treat your thyroid or adrenals.
Inflammatory cytokines made by white blood cells to fight Lyme decrease the effective functioning of an area of the brain called the hypothalamus and pituitary. This part of the brain produces chemicals that induce sleep and that regulate hormonal systems. It also releases messengers such as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to stimulate the thyroid, adrenal glands, and sex hormone organs respectively. Because of the dysfunction caused by the cytokines, these regulatory messengers are released based on an incorrect interpretation by the brain of the hormone environment. Thus measurements of these messengers are an unreliable way to determine the hormone status.
Marty Ross MD Discusses Low Thyroid and Adrenal Hormones.
The video is a Lyme Byte from our webinar Conversations with Marty Ross MD recorded on 12/03/2013.
Another way to check hormone status is to measure the actual hormone levels like T4/T3 (thyroid), or cortisol/dhea (adrenals), or estrogen/progesterone/testosterone (sex hormones). These tests give a broad range of normal however. A person could have normal range testing for each of the hormones but still have clinically low hormones. Because of the unreliability of testing, treatment for low hormones should occur if there are clinical symptoms of low hormones as long as treatment does not increase hormone levels above the upper end of normal. Hormones provide many functions in the body. Proper levels improve energy and help the immune system to work more effectively.
- Low thyroid: fatigue, achiness, low body temperatures, cold intolerance, weight gain, constipation, changes in menstrual periods.
- Adrenal Insufficiency: fatigue, recurrent infections, poor recovery from infections, low blood sugar with shakiness and irritability relieved by eating, low blood pressure and dizziness on standing, afternoon crashing, and sugar cravings.
The hormonal systems require essential micronutrients found in a high quality multivitamin to work best. Curcumin, a part of the seasoning turmeric, lowers cytokines that interfere with the functioning of the hormone control centers in the brain. Thyroid glandulars like desiccated thyroid and armour thyroid are available by prescription. Based on experience, these often work better than synthetic thyroid products like synthroid. The adrenals can be supported to work better. Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal herb, is an adaptogen that supports adrenal function and can improve cortisol and dhea levels. It also lowers inflammatory cytokines that cause many Lyme symptoms. As a neutral herb it tends not to cause the caffeine like jitteriness that can occur with other herbs that support the adrenals like ginseng or rhodiola. Adrenal glandulars are the cortex of the adrenal gland and thus contain cortisol and dhea.
Each patient should take a multivitamin that supports all the the hormonal systems and curcumin that lowers cytokines.
(Warning: Before beginning any glandular treatment have blood testing done with your healthcare practitioner to ensure that your hormone levels do not exceed the top end of normal range. Only use glandulars at a level that removes the low hormone symptoms and do not exceed the upper limit of normal on laboratory testing.)
- Multivitamin. Take one scoop daily of a powered multi-vitamin preferably by Thorne or Integrative Therapeutics
- Curcumin 500mg 1 pill 3 times a day.
Start with Ashwagandha first. If you have low sex drive after working with ashwagandha for 1-2 months then consider adding DHEA.
- Ashwagandha 400mg 1-2 pills in AM and 1-2 pills between 12 PM and 1 PM. Taking late in the day may disturb sleep.
- DHEA 5mg take 1 to 5 pills 1 time a day based on DHEA-SO4 blood levels. Treat to reach a blood level of 150-180 mcg/dL for women and 350-350 mcg/dL for men.
Be sure to correct adrenal insufficiency for at least 2 weeks before beginning treatment. Sometimes supporting the adrenals will lead to better function of the thyroid.
- Thyroid Glandulars. Desiccated thyroid or armour thyroid 30mg (1/2 grain) 1 to 5 pills in the am on an empty stomach 30 minutes before any food or medications. See your healthcare provider for these to obtain a prescription. Increase doses to remove low thyroid symptoms every 3 weeks. Do not exceed the upper limits of normal T4 thyroid testing because this could lead to osteoporosis.
by Marty Ross MD