The Mitochondria, Adrenal and Thyroid Connection

If you’re a little nerdy like me, you may have noticed that the abbreviation for my new book, Adrenal Transformation Protocol: A 4-Week Plan to Release Stress Symptoms and Go from Surviving to Thriving is ATP, and this is by design!

ATP is short for adenosine triphosphate, which is our body’s main form of energy. It’s created in our mitochondria and fuels necessary everyday functions like protein synthesis, muscle contractions, and nerve impulse transmission. When our ATP is low, we can experience symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, muscle weakness, and muscle pain. So if you are guessing that one of the reasons behind the success of my Adrenal Transformation Protocol is that it focuses on building our energy via mitochondrial support, you guessed right. 😉

Over the years, I, along with other functional medicine practitioners, have recognized that there’s an intricate connection between the health of our mitochondria, our thyroid function, and adrenal dysfunction.

A decade ago, I first discovered that benfotiamine could sometimes relieve Hashimoto’s fatigue in just three days! I didn’t realize at the time, but this is because benfotiamine supports mitochondrial biogenesis, a process which increases the number of mitochondria and their function. (1)

In connecting with researchers and innovators around the world, I began hearing more and more about the role of mitochondria in conditions related to brain fog and fatigue, including Hashimoto’s, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

All of these conditions share similar root causes and patterns, including a dysfunctional HPA axis, as well as mitochondrial dysfunction.

While some individuals focus on restoring thyroid hormone levels in these conditions, others focus on cortisol levels, and yet others restore mitochondrial nutrients in an attempt to improve fatigue. I have found that when you support thyroid function, healthy cortisol levels, AND mitochondrial function, you can get phenomenal relief from fatigue and brain fog, in a fraction of the time!

The Adrenals and the Thyroid

Adrenal function and thyroid function are both significantly impacted by HPA activity. The health of our HPA axis will directly impact the function of both of these glands, and imbalances in either gland can affect the other.

Cortisol (which comes from the adrenals) functions in a negative feedback loop with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, meaning if there’s lots of cortisol in the body, it will tell the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to slow down. This means slowing down thyroid hormone production as well.

Both the adrenals and the thyroid are responsible for supplying our body with essential hormones for energy and vibrant health. When we’re under chronic stress and our adrenals become dysregulated, it can cause thyroid problems as well.

Adrenal dysfunction and thyroid dysfunction can present with very similar symptoms including fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, weight gain, feelings of overwhelm, dependency on caffeine, blood sugar problems, and digestive issues. Their root causes can also be very similar! Things like chronic stress, nutrient deficiencies, gut problems, and infections can trigger both adrenal and thyroid issues.

How Mitochondria Tie In

You may remember the mitochondria by their well-known tagline “the powerhouse of the cell.” And they’ve certainly earned their title! Mitochondria generate all the energy our body needs and are essential for turning the fat we eat into valuable energy. They also manufacture all of the steroid hormones produced by the adrenals, and act as gatekeepers for pregnenolone production the “mother hormone” needed to make other adrenal hormones, including cortisol. As you can see, mitochondria are very important for our health!

When our mitochondria are damaged or impaired, it can cause a significant drop off in adrenal hormone production, which can then impact our thyroid, resulting in fatigue, brain fog, and other bothersome symptoms.

There are many things in our modern world that can damage mitochondria including poor nutrition, toxins like ammonia and mycotoxins, infections, lack of sleep, lack of sunshine, and of course chronic stress. I think of the mitochondria as enigmatic little creatures that are delicate, yet oh so powerful. They need the optimal circumstances to do their powerful work of producing adrenal hormones and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our main energy molecule.

What this means is that when we address the health of our mitochondria, we are supporting our body at the most fundamental level, while also supporting adrenal and thyroid function.

But we can’t ignore our thyroid in this approach either because, as with almost everything within our bodies, there’s a feedback loop between our various body parts and the chemical messages they produce. 🙂

Individuals with hypothyroidism often have mitochondrial issues, and this is in part because the thyroid hormone T3 plays a large role in regulation of mitochondrial activity, and is responsible for activating the mitochondrial energy process.

When we have low T3 or are not converting our T4 to T3 well, our mitochondria slow down. But incidentally, even when a person’s thyroid hormones are optimized, there’s still an inflammatory process that remains. Free radicals that are a result of the oxidative stress we see in hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s are an important cause of mitochondrial damage.

What Is the Adrenal Transformation Protocol?

Adrenal Transformation Protocol is a simple four-week program designed to help you balance your stress response, build your resilience, reduce brain fog, and increase energy levels!

The plan is an easy and streamlined, yet comprehensive approach that focuses on using lifestyle changes and supplements that target multiple areas of dysfunction, such as adrenal health, blood sugar, circadian rhythm imbalances, personal transformation, thyroid function, and our stress response.

The book is divided into three parts.

The first part of the book explains the theory behind the many stress symptoms we experience and provides you with self assessments to determine your degree of adrenal dysfunction.

The second part focuses on the core four-week protocol, and how to execute it successfully. 🙂 This section helps on average 80-92% of people get relief from the symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, trouble sleeping, and anxiety.

The third part of the book has all of the details and my very nerdy modifications for people who may have special circumstances (like breastfeeding moms), or the minority of individuals who don’t see complete results (or full results) after the four-week plan.

I would love to pull back the curtain a bit and share a little bit more about how the ATP is focused on mitochondrial restoration.

Eating lots of good fats
The mitochondria require fatty acids from fats to make ATP, so a fat deficiency can actually cause energy deficiency. Essential fatty acids like omega-3s are especially important, as they help build up your mitochondria’s protective membranes. Wild-caught fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are great sources of omega 3s. Nuts, seeds, avocados, grass-fed beef, and egg yolks also supply necessary fatty acids for mitochondrial health. We focus on getting good fats from diet, but as a bonus, a fish oil supplement can be useful for additional essential fatty acid support.

B vitamins
B vitamins keep the mitochondria running, acting as cofactors or coenzymes for all of the processes that occur in the mitochondria. (2) Since the activity of mitochondrial enzymes is regulated by the spectrum of B vitamins, it’s important that we get enough of them, to support the production of ATP, as well as all the other functions of the mitochondria. Most people associate B12 with energy levels, but we need the full spectrum of B vitamins – thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7) folate (B9), and B12 – for optimal energy production. B vitamins are abundant in animal protein, especially organ meats like liver, fish, eggs, and leafy green vegetables. We focus on food-based sources of B vitamins for the four-week protocol, as well as utilize an Adrenal Support supplement that supplies B2, B5, and B6. After the four-week plan, if a person still is fatigued (89% report their energy comes back), I provide specific recommendations like a B-complex supplement that can further support B vitamin levels in the body or how to utilize megadoses of thiamine.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is needed to break down fatty acids and turn them into energy. (3) It’s also a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize the free radicals that are a by-product of the production of ATP in the mitochondria. Vitamin C can also help the oxidative damage done to the mitochondria themselves, as a result of toxins, disease, chronic stress, and certain medications. This helps maintain a healthy mitochondrial membrane. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, bell peppers, cabbage, broccoli, and tomatoes. I developed an electrolyte drink that contains high levels of vitamin C, and that is one of the six core supplements used in the protocol.

Magnesium is an extremely important mineral, and plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It is essential for mitochondrial function, and especially for the production of ATP. Magnesium also acts as an antioxidant for mitochondria, and helps repair cell damage caused by stress, optimizing the production of energy. (4) Additionally, it’s one of the best minerals to help the body fight stress, so I often recommend it to anyone who’s dealing with chronic stress or working on supporting their adrenals. We can find magnesium in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocado, and dark chocolate. Since magnesium is quickly depleted by stress, a supplement can be helpful.

Multitasking adaptogens
Adaptogens are plant compounds that are known for helping to increase the body’s resilience to stress, and can help balance the HPA axis. Ashwagandha, eleuthero, and rhodiola rosea (included in the Rootcology Adrenal Support supplement) in particular have been found to enhance mitochondrial function and support the mitochondria by strengthening their antioxidant status. I’ve found that they work best in synergy as part of an adrenal support blend. (5-7)

D-ribose is a naturally occurring monosaccharide found in our cells, and is essential in energy production. It’s been shown to improve cellular processes in mitochondrial dysfunction, and increase ATP production. (8) It’s also great for hydration. Our body manufactures d-ribose from our blood glucose, so the best way to increase levels of d-ribose is through a supplement. It can be found in Rootcology Electrolyte Blend, which also contains electrolytes and vitamin C (because I don’t want you to be Pilbo Baggins, having to take 20 different supplements), or as a stand-alone supplement.

Carnitine is a key mitochondrial nutrient with multiple benefits, that can help turn the corner on exhaustion and cloudy thinking. (9) Carnitine optimizes the body’s ability to burn fat for energy by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they can be burned and used. It also supports energy and mental clarity by assisting in the removal of toxic by-products from the gut, like ammonia, and promotes gut motility. Even with a balanced diet rich in animal proteins (the best source of carnitine), we may end up short on this nutrient, especially those of us with adrenal issues or thyroid conditions. I’ve found carnitine supplements to be extremely helpful for fatigue and brain fog. I created Rootcology’s Carnitine Blend, since it combines the two best types of carnitine so that they work in synergy. L-carnitine is the form that is viewed as being most beneficial to the muscles. In research, it has been shown to resolve muscle weakness and soreness. (10) Acetyl-carnitine, on the other hand, is the form that is viewed as most beneficial for the brain; it crosses the blood-brain barrier and has been found in the research to potentially benefit those with various neurodegenerative diseases. (11) As one community member shared, “The debilitating fatigue I had before seems to be much better due to the carnitine supplement.”

Melatonin Production
Beyond diet and supplements, the mitochondria also benefit from lifestyle changes that support circadian balance. When people hear about the circadian rhythm, they may think about sleep, but daytime exposure to natural outdoor light and darkness at night supports our energy levels in other ways. It allows us to make more of the hormone melatonin, which helps preserve mitochondrial function by maintaining mitochondrial membranes and biogenesis, and increasing production of ATP.

Melatonin is not only a hormone necessary for sleep and healthy mitochondria, but also a powerful antioxidant, which can further protect and support mitochondrial function.

This is why there is such an emphasis on optimizing the circadian rhythm in the protocol. We do this by prioritizing exposure to sunlight within an hour of waking, getting as much natural light as possible throughout the day, limiting exposure to bright light at night, and creating an optimal sleep environment.

In Adrenal Transformation Protocol, we prioritize the health of the mitochondria, and this has led to impressive results for the over 3,500 people who have now taken my Adrenal Transformation Program:

  • 92% had reduced mental fog
  • 89% reported reduced fatigue
  • 89% reported reduced forgetfulness 
  • 86% reported reduced anxiety
  • …and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Over the years I’ve spent working with clients, researching, and putting my Hashimoto’s into remission, I’ve gained great knowledge on the connection between the thyroid, the adrenals, and the mitochondria. When we support our mitochondria, we support the adrenals, and this often results in improved thyroid symptoms. Addressing the adrenals can help us move from surviving into thriving!

I used to believe that healing the adrenals required hormones, sleeping 12+ hours a day, and quitting caffeine for three to 24 months in order to heal, until I found myself in adrenal dysfunction as a new mom and realized that the strategies I once used as a young woman would no longer work. Fortunately, I found a much simpler and more effective solution to transforming your adrenals into a healing state, in just four weeks!

I shifted from surviving to thriving — yes, even as a sleep-deprived new mom who was drinking two cups of coffee per day — and decided to pilot this program with my clients in 2020.

I decided I wanted to create a way for this program to reach even more people, so it could help them reverse their adrenal and thyroid symptoms, in just four weeks. This is how my newest book, Adrenal Transformation Protocol, was born. This is why I wanted to bring everything I’ve learned over the years — through my personal journey and the journeys of thousands of my clients and readers — to one place.ATP Book

When we start supporting the mitochondria and our adrenals — making a few small dietary and lifestyle changes and taking the right supplements — we can produce profound improvements in energy levels, feel more calm, and allow our body to repair itself, within weeks or even days. You can get a new lease on life and feel like yourself again in just a few short weeks!

Here’s what participants have shared about the ATP:

“The program has really changed how I feel energy wise. I’m not tired. I feel mentally clearer. I seem to have more resilience to stress and I feel a lot calmer. I’ve had more visions for the future and generally feel more excited about life.” – Claudia

“I am feeling better. My energy level has improved, my joint pain is much improved and [I’ve noticed] a reduction in brain fog, headaches, and anxiety. The fact that I am feeling better is an inspiration to want to continue to use the program and to make many of the things we have learned lifelong habits and routines!” – Barbara

Anyone who has debilitating symptoms like fatigue and brain fog from an autoimmune condition should take this program. I could barely get out of bed before taking the program, and then it would take me a couple of hours to actually feel awake. It was horrible. With the program not only is it much easier to get out of bed but I feel so much more awake and alert. Thank you!” – Sylvia

Most/Many of my symptoms are resolved. I finally gave myself permission to really rest. It has been years since I did any resting. . . . [A few] weeks is all you need to begin a healing journey. Hope becomes a certainty. I thought I would have to live with all the awful symptoms for the rest of my life, but I now can see a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.” – Geraldine

The ATP has changed my life. I was proud of myself because I was functioning on five to six hours of sleep each night. Actually, I found that not getting the proper amount of sleep each night was causing me adrenal imbalance. I no longer have brain fog, fall asleep midday, lack energy, or have acid reflux. I changed my sleep pattern and diet with the help of this program and the supplements were a big help in dealing with issues I was having with insulin intolerance and dehydration. I highly recommend this program. It changed my life.” – Desiree

This book is for anyone experiencing brain fog, fatigue, sleep issues, chronic pain, low libido, and/or mood issues. If you have come to a healing plateau in your thyroid journey, or are looking for a way to become more resilient in the face of all the stress life throws at you, this book can truly transform your health!

I’m so excited to share this book with the world! Get your copy now and start transforming your health!

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P.S. Would you take a moment and share this information with anyone who you think might benefit from it? I’m on a mission to spread hope and help as many people as I can!


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  2. Depeint F, Bruce WR, Shangari N, Mehta R, O’Brien PJ. Mitochondrial function and toxicity: role of the B vitamin family on mitochondrial energy metabolism. Chem Biol Interact. 2006;163(1-2):94-112. doi:10.1016/j.cbi.2006.04.014
  3. Tardy AL, Pouteau E, Marquez D, Yilmaz C, Scholey A. Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):228. Published 2020 Jan 16. doi:10.3390/nu12010228
  4. Pilchova I, Klacanova K, Tatarkova Z, Kaplan P, Racay P. The Involvement of Mg2+ in Regulation of Cellular and Mitochondrial Functions. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:6797460. doi:10.1155/2017/6797460
  5. Lee DH, Ahn J, Jang YJ, et al. Withania somnifera Extract Enhances Energy Expenditure via Improving Mitochondrial Function in Adipose Tissue and Skeletal Muscle. Nutrients. 2020;12(2):431. Published 2020 Feb 7. doi:10.3390/nu12020431
  6. Hashimoto T, Okada Y, Yamanaka A, Ono N, Uryu K, Maru I. The effect of eleutherococcus senticosus on metabolism-associated protein expression in 3T3-L1 and C2C12 cells. Phys Act Nutr. 2020;24(3):13-18. doi:10.20463/pan.2020.0016
  7. Xing S, Yang X, Li W, et al. Salidroside stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis and protects against H₂O₂-induced endothelial dysfunction. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014;2014:904834. doi:10.1155/2014/904834
  8. Mahoney DE, Hiebert JB, Thimmesch A, et al. Understanding D-Ribose and Mitochondrial Function. Adv Biosci Clin Med. 2018;6(1):1-5. doi:10.7575/aiac.abcmed.v.6n.1p.1
  9.  Virmani MA, Cirulli M. The Role of l-Carnitine in Mitochondria, Prevention of Metabolic Inflexibility and Disease Initiation. Int J Mol Sci. 2022;23(5):2717. Published 2022 Feb 28. doi:10.3390/ijms23052717
  10. Fielding R, Riede L, Lugo JP, Bellamine A. l-Carnitine Supplementation in Recovery after Exercise [published correction appears in Nutrients. 2018 Apr 26;10(5):]. Nutrients. 2018;10(3):349. Published 2018 Mar 13. doi:10.3390/nu10030349
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