Deborah, a hypothyroid and low cortisol patient, wrote the following on her quest to quit smoking. I’ll keep adding to it as she sends me more:

OCTOBER, 2008: When I quit smoking the first time, I used Aeros, which is a natural nicotine inhaler, when I would otherwise smoke a cigarette. This helped SO much with the cravings! I actually was doing pretty well with not smoking, except for the fact that I just couldn’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep at night.

By the time 3 weeks went by, it got to the dangerous point–I removed a hot pan from the oven with one oven mitt, but went to help support/balance it with the other hand … with no protection … without it even dawning on me that this might be a bad idea. Ouch! That was the tipping point that got me back to smoking.

Since then, I have switched to rolling my cigarettes, using filters of course, and making them a little smaller and a little smaller … but not smoking less cigarettes per day. This way, I’m gradually weaning off and letting my adrenal status adjust as it can.

As it happens, it seems that I’m needing less cortisol now, 6 months after trying to quit and about 5 months into gradually weaning. I’ve dropped my HC by 2.5mg and am ready to drop it another 2.5mg.

It appears, from what my body is telling me, that smoking does stimulate cortisol production (probably by stimulating ACTH), that it is NOT just the nicotine that has this action, and that it also causes us to NEED more cortisol to deal with the toxins. It also appears that our bodies don’t adjust quickly enough to a sudden change.   For me, too much time between cigarettes is worse than none at all, so smaller doses at the same interval is working well.

p.s.   One thing that may have a bearing on my story versus others is that I do NOT have adrenal fatigue, as so many do–I have secondary or tertiary (which seems most likely based on the evidence) adrenal insufficiency.  It may be that my adrenals are capable of producing more than they do, while those with adrenal fatigue or primary adrenal insufficiency have adrenals that can’t put out any more than they do, no matter how they’re stimulated.

This may mean that, while my hypothalamus has been unable to stimulate my pituitary adequately, tobacco stimulates the pituitary enough to have kept me going at all over the years.

Related information on smoking

Effects of smoking when pregnant: http://www.endocrinetoday.com/comments.aspx?rid=36149

Smoking cigarettes linked to changes in maternal and fetal thyroid function: http://www.endocrinetoday.com/view.aspx?rid=36397