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I too am healing from adrenal fatigue. A good friend of mine referred me to a lady(a good friend of mine now) who practices Applied Kinesiology (muscle testing) and with her help, a well as some changes that I’ve made in my personal life and at home…. I’ve come to have great results! Not 100% but a mark improvement from where I was several months ago.
Treatments for adrenal fatigue vary from using certain botanical medicines - which certainly will always play a major role, to using intravenous vitamin therapy. Usually this combination very quickly delivers results that both address the symptoms and nourish your adrenals back to optimal function. Additionally, patients usually need some blood sugar support and dietary changes to support stabilizing and decreasing insulin resistance while healing the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands secrete over 50 hormones including the metabolic intermediates (known since 1965). The adrenal glands are important glands to keep us balanced. Norepinephrine fight or flight hormones are needed the first part of stress response. Most of adrenal glands regulated by blood flow – HPA Axis and hormones. Most of our hormones are secreted by adrenal glands so if are adrenals are tired and overworked then the hormones may become below normal levels. The sex hormones and the stress hormones need to work together. Blood sugar is important to keep normal during stressful situations. If adrenals are not functioning their best, then we can’t perform as well as we need to. If cortisol is too low or too high, then other hormones may be out of balance- the body is very delicate and has innate intelligence to keep functioning with daily demands of life.
I live in the UK and am having great difficulty getting a diagnosis. Having read your article and taken your “quiz” I realise that I have most of the symptoms covered. My problem is to get my doctor (a General Practitioner) to recognise Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Do you know of anyone in the UK that I could consult? In the meantime, I will try all your Lifestyle tips, I shall enjoy the chocolate!
The ACTH has the effect of stimulating your adrenal hormone output, just like it would if you were placed in a stressful situation. This test allows you to see the response of your adrenals to stress. If your cortisol exhibits a healthy spike higher (at least double in a blood test), your adrenals are probably in reasonably good shape. If the spike in cortisol is not so large, this suggests adrenal insufficiency.
Adrenal fatigue can affect blood sugar and sugar metabolism as stress normally causes the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, which helps raise blood sugar levels so the cells can more glucose to generate energy for your response to the stressor. The elevated blood sugar, in turn, requires higher levels of insulin to get the glucose from the blood into the cells. When this cycle is repeated frequently, the cells may become insulin resistant to protect themselves from too much glucose, especially when no energy-consuming physical action is taken in response to the stress. The greater the insulin resistance, the more insulin it takes to get glucose into the cells. In this way, chronic or repeated stress can contribute to persistent insulin resistance, and the resulting high levels of glucose (hyperglycemia) and insulin circulating in the blood that are likely precursors to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
In addition, a dysfunctional hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and disruptions to your body’s cortisol production can significantly hinder healthy sleep patterns. In the lead-up to adrenal fatigue, elevated cortisol levels will prevent you from falling asleep at night. This hyperactivity can fragment sleep patterns and decreases slow-wave sleep. These disturbances tend to worsen the axis dysfunction, setting up a vicious cycle.
Hi Ladies…I too have all the symptoms above and can relate to you all…I am only 39 and this is my third year…I too feel like this is never going to end.I eat very clean…no dairy wheat gluten or meat…I exercise yoga twice to three times a week and walk….I have tried every holistic avenue… But am still trying and will not give up…I do believe the way we live today is a massive cause…Being busy has become the new NORM….I wish us all love and luck…love sonia xzz
To address some above comments, in having tested quite a few people this year in NTP school, I find most people’s pupils pulse (release, contract, release, contract, rather quickly), rather than completely releasing for a prolonged period of time. What you’re looking for is a sustained, non-pulsing contraction for 30 seconds. The longer the sustained contraction, the better. Pulsing is better than fully releasing, and some people don’t contract at all, which would be a big indicator.
Stimulant use, however, can also be a result of adrenal burnout. While stimulants can cause or contribute to adrenal weakness, some who use stimulants do so because they are in adrenal burnout already. Stimulants are attractive to one in burnout to provide temporary energy. This is an important appeal of the drug culture, both legal and recreational. It is also the appeal of loud music, sexual addiction, and even anger.
Patients can conduct a saliva cortisol test or a urine cortisol test to assess adrenal hormones. This involves collecting four non-invasive samples over the course of one day, from which ZRT is able to generate results with a diurnal cortisol curve. This four-point graph reveals cortisol levels throughout the day and allows health care providers to pinpoint issues with adrenal gland function.
I have Hashimoto’s and adrenal fatigue. I don’t know what’s causing my adrenal fatigue or how to find that out. Is it the autoimmune attack? Gut infections? Food sensitivities? The fact that I’ve been to like 50 doctors and nobody can help and they make me so stressed I want to yell at them? I also go to bed really late like 4am. And my blood sugar is chronically low despite eating protein and fat with each meal so I have these awful blood sugar swings which I’m sure is hard on the adrenals. I just don’t know how to figure out the cause and reverse it. Can you reverse it without figuring out the cause by taking a B complex and Vitamin C?
Allow yourself to accept nurturing and affection. If you didn’t learn how to do this as a child, you may need to practice it. Every morning before you get up, spend a minute or two reveling in a memory of a time you felt loved. Do the same at night. Imagine your heart being filled with this love. Use affirmations that help you feel deserving of this nurturing and love.
Treating Adrenal Fatigue requires lifestyle changes, for example an improved diet and exercise routine, along with appropriate supplementation and even some emotional counseling. Even if your MD is willing to go through these steps with you, the limitations of our overcrowded healthcare system make it impossible for him or her to do so. Modern healthcare aims to get patients in and out of the clinic as quickly as possible, and it encourages the use of prescription medicines to treat symptoms, rather than attempting to diagnose and treat the underlying problem.
Hi Dr. Jill. I’m in my 60s, and about 5 years ago I was diagnosed through testing with adrenal fatigue. I have high toxic metals, very low cortisol, but thyroid is normal. I understand that more sleep is restorative, but for the last 10 years I’ve been lucky to get 4 hours per night. I can go to sleep, but I can’t stay asleep. I’ve tried prescription meds, singly and in combinations (under a doc’s care), supplements of all kinds, and I just can’t stay asleep. My latest strategy is to go to sleep around 10 pm. Then when I wake up, I take Ambien to go back to sleep. Usually I can only sleep for another 2 hours, if that. I always feel sleep deprived and fall asleep at my computer or in meetings. My questions are:
Unfortunately, some types of stress are hard to spot. In his book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. James Wilson mentions a study which measured the stress hormones of a group of nurses working in a pediatric unit. They weren’t aware of any particular stress in their lives, but their lab tests told a different story. According to Dr. Wilson, they “were totally unaware of being under stress, but their cortisol levels were elevated by 200-300%.”
A 2 was all I have in cortisol which is way below minimum range of 8. Probably fried adrenal and Addison. I will be taking prednisone and dhea for the rest of my life. Probably all my gastro issues and cvid disorder are all connected. I can tell you that my spiritual background and training in alternative healing are worthless to fight this condition
I have been suffering from rocking vertigo for 7 months now with no known cause. It was brought on by a period of high anxiety/panic attacks. The feeling hasen’t left me since this happened to me in June. I have been researching adrenals as a cause because of how it started although im not seeing rocking vertigo as a normal symptom. I would say I experience fatigue too but the vertigo is the main problem.
Sounds similar to symptoms I had been experiencing. I was so debilitated with chest pain, dizziness and shortness of breath, that I was hospitalized. The cardiologist tested me with everything he could think of all kept coming back normal. Finally, he diagnosis me with Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia. A diagnosis by ruling all else out. Just weeks prior I found out my hormone levels are in menopausal range. I was not feeling stressed that was out of the ordinary and this came out of nowhere. I asked the cardiologist if he thought this was due to menopause and he said he did not think so, bet there’s no studies on this but I have researched lots of blogs with similar descriptions. You may want to look into this. Hope this helps.
Conventional medicine is truly wonderful at treating disease-state conditions. Unfortunately its focus on drugs also tends to suppress early-stage symptoms rather than treat their underlying causes. This can have the effect of delaying treatment until a disease state has developed. This is true in the case of adrenal fatigue cortisol testing. In the conventional standard of care, any cortisol level within a very broad range is considered normal, and anything outside that range indicates disease.
So how widespread is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome? Some practitioners believe as many as two-thirds of Americans have suffered from some degree of adrenal exhaustion. But while some of us can bounce back relatively quickly from a period of stress or trauma, others find it more difficult. Left untreated, Adrenal Fatigue can gradually worsen until simple everyday tasks become a challenge. That's why it is important to address the cause of your Adrenal Fatigue early, and begin a restorative treatment to rebuild your health, vitality and energy levels.
Adrenal fatigue is a prototype fake disease. Defining a cluster of symptoms in general terms is the first mistake. Symptoms need to be collated in a rational way to understand the parameters of the disorder. With adrenal fatigue, there’s no objective operational description, nor is there a validated symptom score, as the systematic review notes. Using a vague list of symptoms to identify patients is the second mistake. While laboratory tests are advertised for identifying adrenal fatigue, there’s no persuasive data to suggest that any testing used by naturopaths is valid in any way.
This syndrome develops due to the malfunction of the adrenal glands in producing hormone competently. The adrenal gland secretes cortisol which is a hormone essential to optimal health. Cortisol in the body in excessive amounts may lead to problems that are severe such as Cushing’s syndrome. But, if released in amounts that are common by the gland, cortisol is a hormone that is vital to helping the body fight infection and deal with stress – without cortisol the body is not able to sustain life. Balance is crucial as well. Cortisol has an effect on every tissue, gland and organ in the body. When these glands are tired, they don’t provide the body with adequate cortisol. The body does what is necessary to get by but it is not without penalties. As such, this syndrome normally precedes other chronic situations.
Food is medicine. I always ate healthy, other than my favorite "healthy junk foods" of gluten-free pizza and stevia soda. But I knew that if I was going to rehab my adrenal fatigue, I had to take my food medicine plan to the next level. I had to make sure my diet was on point for hormone health. Here's the 90-day food plan I used to improve my sleep and energy.
A recent review of 58 studies concluded that there is no scientific basis to associate adrenal impairment as a cause of fatigue. The authors report the studies had some limitations. The research included used many different biological markers and questionnaires to detect adrenal fatigue. For example, salivary cortisol is one of the most common ordered tests used to make a diagnosis. The cortisol level, when checked four times in a 24-hour period, was no different between fatigued and healthy patients in 61.5% of the studies. The review raises questions around what should get tested (blood, urine, and/or saliva), the best time, how often, what ranges are considered normal, and how reliable the tests are, to name a few. In summary, there is no formal criteria to define and diagnose adrenal fatigue.
Unfortunately, many individuals and physicians continue to deny that this syndrome is a legitimate disease. The medical literature is, however, very clear in proving the opposite; individuals with this disorder have measurable hypothalamic, pituitary, immune and coagulation dysfunction. These abnormalities then result in a cascade of further abnormalities, in which stress plays a role by suppressing immunity and hypothalamic-pituitary function.
It is ordinary for stress to cause cortisol levels to rise in a normal fashion, but in adrenal fatigue the output of cortisol and other adrenal hormones is constantly being stimulated. This overstimulation causes the body’s vitality to dwindle. With each downshift in adrenal function, the body is considerably more affected in a negative fashion: “adrenal fatigue, in all its mild and severe forms, is usually caused by some form of stress…. It is important to know that your adrenals respond to every kind of stress the same, whatever the source” (p 11). Cortisol is a powerful hormone that has a profound effect on every organ and system in the body.
CoQ10 plays a vital role in helping the body to manage stress. Research has shown that supplementation with CoQ10 helps to reduce signs of inflammation in the blood and fight oxidative stress. Stress is a significant cause of inflammation, which – on top of adrenal fatigue – is linked to chronic health problems of the brain and cardiovascular system. Your stress-coping mechanisms become weaker with age, and are particularly vulnerable when cortisol is running low.
That discussion leads to a more in-depth explanation of how our understanding of the nature of stress has evolved in recent years, and then an explanation of how the adrenals work to provide the hormones we need for stress response. From there, she quickly moves to a discussion of the circadian rhythm, and how its dysregulation can impact sleep patterns and ultimately lead to a cascading series of system failures that put your health in jeopardy.
Note: The “Past” column refers to the last time you felt well (before your symptoms seemed to noticeably worsen). All your responses in the “Past” column will be about how you felt before that date – it’s helpful to write this date or approximate time down so you don’t forget it. The “Now” column is not necessarily about today, but about how you generally feel now, in this present time frame or since the date you entered for the “Past” column.
These stress hormones regulate everything from your mood to your digestion to your blood sugar to your stress response (acute short term and chronic long term stress), your immune response, blood pressure and so much more. Your adrenals are regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary glad along the HPA axis (the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axis). Now, let’s break this down.
Abnormal adrenaline and cortisol levels can result in mood disorders, sleep disturbances, reduced resistance to disease, and changes in vital circulation. Because these side effects are not uncomfortable enough to be intolerable, a self-destructive, adrenal-depleting lifestyle often continues. DHEA, which helps the body recover from this sort of chronic abuse, gets revved up full time instead of only episodically.
I scored 12 out of 15 on the quiz above. My main concerns are brain fog/poor memory, lack of interest in sex, 20-lb weight gain, craving salty foods & sweets, pain in the upper back and around my chest area, AND tired all the time! I have bags under my eyes that I can’t get rid of them. I also read where adrenal fatigue is associated with melasma…due to hormonal inbalance. I seen adrenal fatigue supplements that I could buy through Amazon. What do you recommend my next step be?
Navigating this ocean of uncertainty is not an easy task. Symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue probably have multiple causes. Frequent follow-up visits and a strong patient-clinician partnership are critical elements for success. Alternative and complementary clinicians often have better results, because the appointments tend to last longer and they view patients through a more holistic lens. An important word of caution: some medical professionals prescribe cortisol analogs to treat adrenal fatigue. Cortisol replacement can be dangerous even in small doses. Unintended consequences can include osteoporosis, diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease.