Archive for February, 2012

Note: http://tiredthyroid.com/feeling-hyper-when-hypo.html Thyroid and adrenaline (epinephrine) have an inverse relationship. [1- 4]

Over a year ago, in January 2011, I started having numbness & tingling throughout my body.  A year later, I have a less severe version of these same symptoms, although instead of numbness, it feels more like cold patches on my skin – and the skin is actually cold to touch.

I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia by a rheumatologist but I don’t buy that diagnosis as I don’t have any other symptoms, and zero tender points, no pain, no fatigue – just muscle aches.

I have been trying to meticulously pay attention to my symptoms and when they arise. What I believe is happening is this:

  • After a year of unbearable stress, the symptoms started. I think my body was so used to the stress hormones that I became hypersensitive to them.
  • My body, exhausted, seems to live in a state of under-arousal. With the slightest bit of stress, I will get surges of stress hormones.
  • This results in vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). The areas of vasocontriction either go numb, or they go cold and tingly.
  • This narrowing of blood vessels also results in a lack of blood to the muscles, resulting in ischemia, resulting in muscle cramps. The skin above the area is white/pale.  I’ve gone in hot baths and these areas don’t
    • starts with my right thigh – goes tingly, then both thighs, then my upper arms go tight and sore. I crave sweets during this time and seem to have extra energy. This whole process takes 1-2 weeks.
  • After the blood vessels return to normal, or likely, to a more relaxed, vasodilated state (they even look larger through my pale skin), the muscles are sore, like I had exercised. Also, I end up with mild edema throughout my body!
    • First my arms ache and swell, then my right thigh aches, then my right foot aches. This whole process takes 1-2 weeks and I crave salty foods during this time and am more tired than usual.The slightest pressure leaves indents in my skin.

Thyroid Dump?

Stop the Thyroid Madness states that “Thyroid Dump” occurs when those who have been low on cortisol may have had the thyroid hormones “pooling” in the blood, and the HC opens up the receptors to receive the thyroid hormones. Instead, the discomfort may be from adrenaline rushes. When that happens, you may feel extreme anxiety, racing heart, and/or other uncomfortable symptoms.

Wonky Stress Hormones?

Adrenaline and related stress hormones are potent vasoconstrictors. When present in excess, those hormones cause spasm of the muscle in arterial walls, narrow the lumens of vessels, impede the flow of blood in tissues and cause the tissue temperature to fall.

Vasoconstriction is also part of the fight or flight response, a physiological response to stress started by the sympathetic nervous system. During this response, the nervous system triggers the release of chemicals, including vasoconstrictor hormones, which cause the body to shake, the bladder to relax, the face to alternately blush and drain of color, the muscles to be reactive, and the pupils to dilate, amongst other signs of excitation.

Vasopressin  stimulates the release of adrenocorticotropin hormone from the anterior pituitary. This hormone stimulates the adrenal gland to release cortisol. In addition to vasoconstriction, vasopressin also regulates body temperature, and studies demonstrate a correlation between an elevation in vasopressin levels and anxiety. Unlike other vasoconstrictors, vasopressin paradoxically increases the dilation of pulmonary and coronary vessels. The dose and specific receptors on blood vessels determine whether vasopressin constricts or dilates a particular vascular bed. Is this why I had big blue veins at the outset of my symptoms?

What Helps?

Beta Blockers

This would explain why when I was feeling numb that a beta-blocker (left over from my hyperthyroid diagnosis) helped! As beta adrenergic receptor antagonists, they diminish the effects of epinephrine (adrenaline) and other stress hormones. Beta blockers block the action of endogenous catecholamines epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) in particular, on β-adrenergic receptors, part of the sympathetic nervous system which mediates the “fight or flight” response.

Vitamin C

People who have high levels of vitamin C do not show the expected mental and physical signs of stress when subjected to acute psychological challenges. What’s more, they bounce back from stressful situations faster than people with low levels of vitamin C in their blood.

It is my hope that after time, my body will readjust and go back to normal. It’s been a year and I still have this  happen to me, so I’m not sure how long it will take!

WiseGeek has some interesting information on vasoconstriction:

A vasoconstrictor, also called vasopressor, is any substance that causes the layer of smooth muscle in the blood vessels to contract, resulting in a shortening of the diameter of the blood vessel. This causes a rise in vascular resistance or the amount of energy it takes for blood to move through the blood vessels, and an increase in blood pressure.

  • A vasoconstrictor may be made endogenously, or naturally within the body, such as with antidiuretic hormone (ADH) and adrenaline.
  • A vasoconstrictor can also be made exogenously, or outside the body, and be taken as a drug, such as caffeine, pseudoephedrine, amphetamines, and antihistamines. In a medical setting, such drugs are used as decongestants, agents to raise blood pressure, and agents to stem blood flow to a certain area.

The purpose of an endogenous vasoconstrictor is to help preserve homeostasis, the body’s balancing act that keeps all of its processes within a set of safe parameters. Vasopressors achieve this by helping thermoregulation, or maintenance of normal body temperature, and by preventing hypotension.

  • Hypotension, or low blood pressure, occurs as a result of too much vasodilation, or opening of the blood vessels, hormonal upsets, anemia, or lack of sufficient red blood cells, side effects from medicines, and heart conditions.
  • The body commonly releases vasopressors when it is undergoing orthostatic hypotension, a condition in which blood pools in the lower extremities while sitting or lying down, causing a drop in blood pressure towards the head. This causes the head rush that some people experience when standing up. The body uses vasoconstrictors to push the blood back up through the blood vessels towards the heart and head.
  • The body may also release a vasoconstrictor when the outside temperature is cold and the body wants to retain heat. Because animals lose heat as blood travels to the extremities, vasopressors restrict blood flow to places like the fingers, toes, and nose to keep as much of the body’s warmth as possible. Sometimes the body overreacts to the cold, causing excessive vasoconstriction and whiteness in the hands or feet. This is called Raynaud’s phenomenon.
  • In decongestants and antihistamines, the drug works by tightening the blood vessel, thereby impeding the blood’s ability to induce inflammation.

At rest, I have low blood pressure and could probably use a vasoconstrictor. I have mild swelling throughout my body, which could be a result of this. I went through several months of complete adrenal exhaustion: extreme fatigue, night sweats, thirst and salt cravings. However, I am currently in a state of constant arousal and tingling .

During stress, I get a rapid heart rate, even if it’s just a mild stressor.

1. Adrenal Malfunction (source: http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/)

Sometimes water retention is a result of adrenal gland malfunction, and boosting its function is important for maintaining fluid levels.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can also be a problem for people because it causes the body to produce adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that elevates heart and respiration rates; also called ‘epinephrine.’ The function of adrenaline is to restore and maintain blood glucose levels. One of the causes of low blood sugar is excessive drinking of alcohol, which would also cause low blood sugar. Alcohol interferes with maintaining normal blood sugar levels because it directly affects the functioning of the liver and adrenals. Article Source

Therefore when the adrenal glands produce too much adrenaline it affects the sympathetic nervous system. When the sympathetic nervous system is active there a quickening of the pulse, increased blood pressure, constriction of blood vessels, decreased activity in bladder and bowel muscle, dilation of the pupils and a rise in blood sugar – preparing the body to react to a threat through “flight or fight” behaviour.

On the other hand when the parasympathetic nervous system is active it produces the opposite responses to the sympathetic nervous system, i.e. pulse and blood pressure are normal, blood vessels relax, saliva and mucus production is increased, gastric juice is secreted and motility of the digestive tract is increased, digestion is increased, pupils relax, etc.

Natural Vasodilators include:

  • Beetroot is one of the latest researched root herb that has shown to lower blood pressure significantly, with prolonged effects as much as 24 hours after consuming. The beetroot mixes with saliva and bacteria to produce nitrite. As it enters the acidic stomach another chemical reaction takes place. The nitrite turns to nitric oxide or will re-enter the circulatory system and this is what opens the blood vessels.
  • Cranberry juice might protect against cardiovascular disease, according to researchers from Queen Mary University of London. They reported in the February 2010 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” that oligomeric procyanidins improved blood vessel function by reducing the synthesis of vasoconstrictors endothelin-1, or ET-1, which constricts blood vessels and decreases blood flow.
  • celery a member of the carrot family, is also known for it`s vasodilating action by relaxing smooth muscle in artery walls. The active compound is Phthalide (3-n-butylphtalide) which gives celery its strong aroma and flavor. As a diuretic it does not cause the potassium/sodium ratio to change when excess fluid is secreted, as some prescribed diuretics do, saving the user unnecessary side effects.
  • Garlic, as we all know, is hailed as a good natural high blood pressure medicine.It contains effective compounds such as adenosine, allicin, and y-glutamylcysteines among others.
  • Ginkgo Biloba is one of my favorite high blood pressure herbs. Its the oldest known tree in the world, dating back to the Jurassic period: dinosaurs probably had a nibble. Ginkgo is known for it`s use in dilating blood vessels, getting blood to small capillaries, allowing more oxygen to flow in the brain to improve memory and help patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • Hawthorn works like a beta-blocker.  The use of Beta blocker drugs are discouraged in the UK because they are thought to provoke diabetes type 11 by 30%, so hawthorn berry extract may serve as a substitute, but be aware it takes a few weeks to start seeing the benefits.
  • Magnesium works by stimulating nitric oxide production, which happens also during exercise. It helps relax and dilate blood vessels, but you need to take the correct amount or there will be a calcium imbalance triggering the opposite. The arteries will restrict.
  • Niacin:
  • walnuts

Interesting articles of vasodilation and vasoconstriction:


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If you read the post called “Numbness & Tingling on the right side” you’ll get an idea of what I’ve been dealing with since January of 2011.  I don’t know if what I have is fibromyalgia or adrenal issues, but one of my biggest symptoms is sore muscles in my upper arms with mild swelling. I also have mild swelling throughout my body, but my finger tips and toes are always dehydrated-looking.  – lots of lines in my fingers (adrenal issues?). I also have Graves Disease and am on PTU.  My symptoms also sound vaguely like hypothyroidism. While my TSH was 3.0 before my symptoms started, it has remained at around 1.75 throughout the past year.

If you have had sore upper arms, like the muscles are lumpy, please let me know. I don’t think they are weak, just lumpy and sore.  I don’t have any tender points like in fibromyalgia and my energy level is pretty good.

I have had low creatine kinase and low albumin levels, as well as low ferritin, calcium, b12 (corrected with b12 shots), but most of those have come back in the low-normal range on more recent blood tests.

I’m doing a cortisol test today and should have the results by Monday.

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