Adrenal Fatigue Continued
Dr. Bruce Rind has a helpful chart, Metabolic Scorecard: Symptom Matrix with information on how to evaluate your symptoms in greater detail.
The adrenals produce hormones that help to balance your blood sugar, helping your body manage your daily ebbs and flows of energy. When blood sugar drops, the adrenals release hormones that cause the blood sugar to rise, and increases energy. The adrenals also release hormones when under stress, releasing energy. It’s the “fight or flight” response from the days when we needed to run away from wild animals, which now kick in for everyday stressors, such as traffic jams, arguments, and work pressures. But being consistently under stress takes a toll on the adrenal glands, and eventually, they run out of steam and stop producing sufficient hormones.
Conventional tests cannot diagnose adrenal fatigue, only extreme dysfunction in the adrenals, such as Addison’s disease, a potentially fatal condition where the adrenals essentially shut down. However, a saliva cortisol test can be done to evaluate your adrenal function to diagnose more subtle dysfunctions in your adrenal glands.
In many cases, Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders get mistaken for one another due to a similarity in symptoms. If you have not yet been diagnosed, click here to read our page that will help you recognize the Difference Between Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders.
Tips for Adrenal Fatigue
Physiologic Replacement Dose of Hydorcortisone (Cortef)
Some people with adrenal fatigue or unresponsive hypothyroidism have found that low-dose hydrocortisone at physiologic doses can help their immune system, and resolve many symptoms of adrenal fatigue. You will need a more open-minded, aware doctor to obtain this sort of treatment.
Progesterone and Pregnenolone
Progesterone and pregnenolone are steroid hormones manufactured by the adrenals, ovaries and testicles.
- Progesterone is made from pregnenolone
- Both are metabolized into DHEA
- Pregnenolone is the first hormone to be made from cholesterol
- Progesterone is the second to be made from cholesterol
- Both can be converted into several other adrenal hormones, including aldosterone and cortisol
Hormones like pregnenolone and progesterone are incredibly versatile, letting your body choose which other hormones it will make from them based on your individual needs.
With adrenal fatigue, sex hormone levels often fall because your adrenal glands are not able to manufacture adequate amounts. One key function sex hormones serve is to act as antioxidants that help prevent the damage caused by cortisol. The lower the levels of sex hormones, the more damage there is to tissues, especially when stress levels are high. This oxidative damage is one of the key factors contributing to rapid aging.
Both pregnenolone and progesterone can be used to raise the hormonal levels in both men and women, and decrease some aspects of adrenal fatigue. Bypassing the very complex and energy consuming steps required to make pregnenolone or progesterone from cholesterol means fatigued adrenals do not have to work nearly so hard to keep hormone levels adequate. Using hormone replacement therapy for adrenal fatigue is an area that requires skill.
As much as you may want them, stimulants are the equivalent of giving too much gas and “flooding the engine” in a car. It puts further stress on the adrenals to work harder and produce more energy, and ends up further depleting the adrenal glands.
- Kola nut
- Prescription stimulants, such as ADHD medication
Balance Your Blood Sugar With Your Diet
To minimize stress on the adrenal system, and ensure maximum energy, you should consider a low-glycemic (low-sugar) diet, consisting of sufficient protein and fat, low-glycemic carbohydrates, eaten in smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Sugar and simple carbohydrates put stress on the adrenal glands due by rapidly shifting blood sugar levels. By switching to vegetables, fruits and proteins, and high fiber carbohydrates, blood sugar remains more stable, providing less strain on the adrenal glands causing the risk of adrenal fatigue or failure to decrease dramatically.
Use Adaptogenic Herbs for Energy
In the book Living Well With Hypothyroidism, herbal and aromatherapy expert Mindy Green of the Herbal Research Foundation offered some interesting recommendations about the use of herbs for energy, stimulation or adrenal support:
We live in a society that runs on stimulation — whether it’s coffee, or violence on television — things that make us live on that edge. So while there are some excellent herbs and essential oils for adrenal support, people need to take care not to try these products along with other stimulants. When you’re trying to tone your adrenal glands, you don’t want to drink caffeine, or watch horror movies or violent news stories, for example. Instead of the simulating effect of aerobics, do something more calming, like yoga or tai chi. It’s almost as if you need to train your body to run more on internal energy than outside energy and stimulation.
The way Mindy described it was that taking excessive stimulants when your endocrine or adrenal systems are depleted is like “like kicking a dead horse.”
From an herbal standpoint, Mindy recommends Siberian ginseng, as opposed to regular ginseng, and astragalus, which is also good for immune support, as key tonics for the adrenal and endocrine systems.
In their book Herbal Defense, herbalists Robyn Landis and K.P. Khalsa discusses the benefits of Siberian Ginseng and astragalus, and also recommend several other herbs for adrenal support:
- Fo-ti root (Ho Shou Wu) a Chinese herb that’s broader and slower in action than — but similar to — ginseng
- The Ayurvedic remedy Triphala, as a long-term glandular tonic
- Black cohosh root, as a long-term glandular tonic
Herbal Teas and Mate — NOT Coffee
The Herb Research Foundation’s Mindy Green recommends the tea forms of several herbs, including chamomile, and melissa, which is also known as lemon balm, as relaxing herbal tonics. Mindy recommends that an easy way for a beginner with a relaxing tea is to get something like “Sleepytime Tea,” by Celestial Seasonings. She also recommends mate, pronounced, “mah-tay,” an herbal tea native to South America. Mate is considered far more nutritious than black tea or coffee, and though it also has some caffeine, its effects are energizing, rather than making people jittery. On the scale of bad to good, coffee should be your last choice, followed by black tea, then green tea, with mate being the best option.
Basic Multivitamin/ B Complex — You will want to take a strong, balanced formula that provides decent amounts of key factors for adrenal and metabolic health. One formula I personally recommend is Lipotropic injections which can give you the complete array of essential B vitamins along with other benefits, such as amino acids.
Adrenal Glandulars — Desiccated adrenal gland can be helpful to some people in supporting the gland, and replacing some missing adrenal hormones. Be sure to get a reputable brand from a reputable supplier, to ensure quality, potency and safety.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of supplements or solutions. Your best option is to come in for a free consultation and we can begin to diagnose your adrenal fatigue, and to develop a customized treatment program that will help resolve this condition.