Most of What You Hear About Concussions Is Wrong

Concussions, unfortunately, aren’t rare. As common as they are, though, we don’t know much about them.

Symptoms can be all over the place, but medicine has concluded the problem is a damaged brain. Fix the brain, and you fix the problem.

But, no. There’s a lot more to it than that. Most concussions (68%+ in one study) damage the endocrine system. And when the endocrine system’s in trouble, the brain doesn’t work.

And right there is the problem of dealing with concussions: It’s about the endocrine system, not the brain.

A second problem in dealing with concussions is that doctors are taught very little about the endocrine system. Instead, they’re taught it’s all about the brain.

We need to talk about this.

How a concussion can damage the endocrine system
The pituitary gland, the king of the endocrine system, lives behind the bridge of your nose. Given the vulnerability of that position, when your head takes a hit, and your brain starts ricocheting around inside your skull, you often end up with a damaged pituitary.

With plenty of bed rest, an excellent diet, and an absence of stress, the pituitary may heal. That may not happen, though. And repeated concussions make natural healing impossible.

A wounded pituitary means big trouble. The pituitary, and only the pituitary, tells the others endocrine glands–thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, thymus, etc.–when to pump out their hormones and when to stop.

How much of that signaling happens after a concussion depends on how much pituitary damage there is and what glands are affected.

When a drunk driver smashed into my parents’ car, my infant head got whacked to a fare-thee-well, and I started downhill. Slowly at first, then at warp speed once puberty arrived.

In my twenties, I finally found a doctor who took me seriously, and he did extensive testing. For days, including several in the hospital.

After all the testing, he diagnosed me as having panhypopituitarism–that is, all my pituitary functions were running on fumes. Which meant my endocrine system was a shambles.

I had no idea how devastating that diagnosis was. My optimistic self simply decided I would learn how to fix the problem, and so I set out.

My journey has taken many years, and I’ve come a very long way. And I’ve learned a whole lot about concussions.

First, even though a concussed brain doesn’t work well, it’s actually not about the brain. I had brain scans, all of which, according to doctors, said my brain was just fine, even though it seemed to be in some kind of witness-protection program.

Second, which endocrine glands no longer get signals from the pituitary determines what your symptoms are.

Third, the shaky endocrine tests don’t work at all after a concussion. For example, my wounded pituitary gland couldn’t tell my thyroid to do anything, so it didn’t. With no thyroid juice, I did beached-whale impressions a lot.

But thyroid tests are based on the “fact” that the pituitary’s lack of action meant I had too much thyroid hormone. I was told if I needed more thyroid, the pituitary would have said so.

Fourth, your endocrine system and your nervous system are an item. Either they work together, or they don’t really work. Stress and depression are both signs of trouble.

And so it goes.

Doctors didn’t help me much, but I found good answers that made all the difference.

If you’re dealing with endocrine or concussion problems, you have to join the battle to get to a good place. And a working brain.

God is good,
Bette Dowdell

About the author: Bette Dowdell defines determination. A drunk driver caused a concussion, which put her into a really deep health ditch, when she was a baby. Her endocrine system, the thyroid and the rest of the gang, which controls all of health, dragged along, out of balance and out of sorts, but doctors didn’t help. So, she got her Oh-Yeah! attitude in gear and researched her way out. Along the way, her fascination with how our bodies work grew, and grew, and grew, so Bette’s still researching. Subscribe to her free health e-mails at

The content of the Too Pooped To Participate blog is provided as general information only.

© by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved

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