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Thyroid Allostasis vs Homeostasis

Maintaining Thyroid Balance

Thyroid physiology in your cells, tissues and body is always increasing and decreasing based on the metabolic needs and demands of the body. When there is minimal stress and strain on the body, thyroid physiology works to increase and decrease metabolism to meet the demands of the body and the individual cells and tissues. This non-stressed state is called Homeostasis.

All too often, people struggling with chronic hypothyroid symptoms are not in homeostasis. They are under some form of chronic stress. Thyroid physiology under stress shifts from a normal or homeostatic regulating system to a stressed or allostatic regulating system. Allostasis is a state of stress adaptation. It differs from homeostasis in that there is always something being compromised to maintain a level of function.

This means that your body will fight to maintain normal blood levels of thyroid hormone often at the expense of your cells. Your cells and tissues will have cellular hypothyroidism and you will experience hypothyroid symptoms long before you see abnormal levels of thyroid hormone on your lab report.

There are many factors that can induce an allostatic response. Multiple aspects of daily life can contribute to the chronic shift from homeostasis to allostasis. Physical stress, emotional stress, microbial stress, poor nutrition, sleep disruption, EMF’s, medications, excessive exercise, lack of activity, and clinical and subclinical infections are just some of the stressors that can induce changes in cellular and extra-cellular chemistry and invoke a protective reaction in the body.

It has long been thought that thyroid hormone regulation or thyroid hormone physiology played the same role in all cells and tissues all the time. We now understand that all tissues in the body regulate thyroid hormones differently. Some cells and tissues have their thyroid physiology up regulated, while simultaneously other cells and tissues have their thyroid physiology down regulated. The metabolic demands of each individual cell will determine how thyroid hormone is used in any given moment or situation.

Even short periods of stress can trigger an allostatic state. As long as the allostatic state is short lived, the cells and tissues can respond and adapt. Once the stress is removed, the cells and tissues can then return to normal. Conversely, if the stress on our cells and tissues becomes chronic or excessive, the allostatic state can result in allostatic overload which can result in tissue damage, pathology, and disease. The problem is most patients with chronic illness or thyroid dysfunction are in an allostatic state for extended periods of time.

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Hi, I’m Dr. Eric Balcavage, owner and founder of Rejuvagen. If you’re struggling with health issues or have questions, let’s chat. You can schedule a 15-minute call with me to get started.