BY JEFFERY DACH
Ignored by mainstream medicine, adrenal fatigue is a common problem I see every day at the office. The paramount symptom is fatigue unrelieved by sleep. Other symptoms include craving for salty foods, hypoglycemic episodes, decreased libido, stress intolerance, light headed upon standing, depression, loss of memory and cognitive decline, allergies, sinus problems, and prolonged recovery from flu-like illnesses. The basic underlying cause is low cortisol output by the adrenal glands.
DEFINITION OF ADRENAL FATIGUE
Adrenal Fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms that results from low function of the adrenal glands. The paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep. The syndrome may be caused by intense or prolonged stress, or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia…. People suffering from Adrenal Fatigue often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.
RESULTS FROM YEARS OF CHRONIC STRESS
Adrenal fatigue is the net result of years of continuous high cortisol output by the adrenals caused by chronic stress from job, family, illness, injury, and poor diet and lifestyle associated with hightech modern living. After years of chronic stress, the two small triangular supra-renal glands poop out, and we become another casualty of adrenal fatigue, the 21st century epidemic. Since mainstream doctors can’t seem to help, either ignoring the syndrome, or prescribing anti-depressants for it the condition goes untreated.
SYMPTOMS AND CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH ADRENAL FATIGUE
Asthenia — lack of, or loss of strength, generalized weakness
Bronchitis – recurrent, chronic or slow recovery from Burnout
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Chronic infections,Chronically run down – with early morning fatigue and low blood pressure
Chronic mental and/or physical exhaustion
Cravings for carbohydrates, sweets or salt
Fatigue — severe, disabling early morning fatigue
Feeling tired despite sufficient hours of sleep
Immune System dysfunction – frequent illnesses
Insomnia – or non-restful sleep
Low Blood Pressure
Nervous breakdown (nervous exhaustion)
Respiratory infections — recurrent, chronic or slow recovery from
Reliance on stimulants like caffeine
Slow recovery following acute infectious
diseases, especially influenza, pneumonia, or other respiratory infections
THE ADRENAL GLANDS MAKE THE CORTISOL
The two small triangular adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys and secrete the hormone cortisol in response to stress, physical, emotional, or traumatic stress. The adrenal glands make the hormone cortisol.
WHY IS CORTISOL IMPORTANT?
Cortisol is the stress hormone, and is produced in response to stress. Cortisol is important for blood sugar regulation, it mobilizes glycogen in the liver to maintain blood glucose levels. Symptoms of hypoglycemia are common in low cortisol adrenal fatigue. Also low blood pressure or inability to maintain blood pressure upon standing is also a common symptom. Another physical exam finding is an unstable pupil response to light. The pupil at first contracts and then after a few seconds opens and closes.
WHAT IS CORTISOL? IT’S THE STRESS HORMONE
Cortisol is a steroidal hormone, and like all the others it is made from cholesterol. cholesterol, in turn, is made from Vitamin B5 and Acetyl CoA. The manufacture of steroidal hormones can be best understood by referring to a steroidal pathway chart as shown here.
SALIVARY CORTISOL TEST
Although cortisol can be measured in a blood sample, the best way to measure corticol levels is with 4 saliva samples taken throughout the day. There are literally hundreds of medical research studies validating the usefulness of salivary cortisol measurements.
The keystone of the treatment program is a nutritional supplement program to restore adrenal function that includes vitamin C, B5, magnesium, biotin and adaptogenic herbs. We use a product called Adapt from Interplexus along with a high quality multivitamin. Another Interplexus product, Seriphos, is useful to correct the reversed pattern of high cortisol at night which may cause insomnia. Recovery takes about 6 weeks. Other suggestions:
- Avoid excess caffeine, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and sugar
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Take steps to reduce stress with gentle exercise,meditation, and yoga.
- Bioidentical hormones as determined by lab profile.