Adrenal Fatigue: What can I do about it?
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Doesn’t she look like she is bursting with energy? Typically if you have adrenal fatigue jumping up for no good reason is not on your list of thing that you do. Treating your adrenal fatigue however can have you jumping for joy once again.
Hopefully you have read my other two blog posts.
Adrenal Fatigue: The silent epidemic
Adrenal Fatigue: How can I know for sure
Now while you wait for your test results there are things that you can do to begin healing your adrenals. The absolutely most important thing that you can do to help your adrenals to heal is sleep more. The second most important thing that you can do is to reduce stress in your life. Learn to say no and reduce your obligations as much as possible. The applies equally to positive stress (having fun with friends, exercising) and negative stress (arguing with your spouse). Stress is stress. In addition increasing the saturated fats in your diet will help to nourish your hormonal system as a whole. The adrenal glands also use a lot of sodium, vitamin c, b-vitamins and magnesium. Increasing those in your diet and taking supplements may be very helpful no matter what kind of adrenal fatigue you have. Generously salt your food and try drinking a glass of water with 1/2 a tsp of celtic sea salt stirred into when you are feeling tired or weak. (I have my husband trained to offer me a glass of salt water or mthfrade when I am too weak to get off the couch. I often can’t think clearly enough do do it for myself at those times.) I am always amazed at the benefit I feel from that simple step. Liver is a good dietary source of b-vitamins and a very good food to consume if you have adrenal fatigue. Plus it has that anti-fatigue factor in it that may really benefit someone with adrenal fatigue.
Once your test comes back (you should get results 1-2 weeks from when you send it off) you will then be able to determine what kind of adrenal fatigue you are experiencing and better treat it. In general there are two main kinds of results. Those who have overall high cortisol results and those who have overall low cortisol results. There is a third category of people who have some high and some low. Symptoms can be very similar no matter what is going on so it requires the test results to know for sure.
If your results overall are high there are supplements that will lower your cortisol levels. Holy basil, melatonin, and phosphatidylserine are 3 common supplements that will lower cortisol levels. There are many others. If you find out that your levels are high over all lowering them through supplementation may make you feel much better. While all of these supplements lower cortisol they don’t have identical actions in the body and so finding the right one may take some trial and error. Working with a practitioner who understands the role of supplementation in lowering cortisol levels can be very helpful.
If your results are overall low there are two approaches. One is to extend the cortisol that you already have. I know of two herbs that do this. They keep your body from breaking down it’s cortisol quickly and they will work to prevent levels from dropping too low in some mild cases. Licorice and Rhodiola Rosea both have this effect. If the level is so low that extending it won’t work supplemental cortisol is needed. Isocort is an over the counter product that contains a small amount of cortisol. We used this product to heal my older daughters adrenals quite successfully. If Isocort isn’t enough then hydrocortisone (bioidentical cortisol) is needed. Hydrocortisone is available in an over the counter cream (I used Exederm Hydrocortisone Cream since it is paraben free) or in pill form with a prescription. Some do better with one form and some do better with the other. I took prescription hydrocortisone pills and also got huge benefit from them. The important thing with hydrocortisone is that you are taking it in physiological doses. This small dose is not associated with the immune system problems that are associated with higher doses of hydrocortisone. It is a physiological replacement for what your body is failing to make. Having low cortisol status can make it difficult to fight off infection and can cause you to gain weight, two problems that hydocortisone in medicinal doses is associated with.
My experience with these supplements is that they were a temporary support while we healed our adrenals and we were able to wean off of them once healing had happened. They are not a replacement for the other work (more sleep, less stress, nutritional supports) but simply a way to give the adrenals a break and allow them to recover. Shortly after I weaned myself and my older daughter off of our adrenal supports we both got sick and needed to take some again to help us deal with that stress. We are recovered enough to not need supplemental cortisol on a regular basis but that doesn’t mean we can beat up our adrenals and expect them to take it. I have no idea at this point if we will always be this sensitive or if we will be able to get to the point where occasional acute stress on our adrenals can be taken in stride. This is a work in process for my family and your mileage may vary.
If your results are mixed. Some high and some low a combination approach will be needed with the right thing taken at the right time of day. So a person like that may need to take Isocort upon waking and Melatonin at bedtime. Or some other combination depending on what their pattern is. My younger daughter had a strange pattern with her highest time of day in mid afternoon. Her morning level was low but not out of range so for her a cortisol extender in the morning seemed to be all that she needed (she also has healed her adrenals and no longer needs this).
You may have noticed a conspicuous lack of dosage and time of day recommendations for these supplements. That is because these are so individual. For more information please go to www.adrenalsweb.org . There is more information on there. Also on the left hand side there is a link to the yahoo group where I got most of my information. Please join that group to get advice and more information on how to heal your adrenals. I am not an adrenals expert and I can only share what I have learned and what has helped us. Your own experiences may vary.
In addition many people with adrenal fatigue also have other imbalances. Thyroid, sex hormones, sodium, potassium, and/or iron are often also out of balance in someone with adrenal fatigue. The website I linked above and the yahoo group you will find there can help you to determine if more testing is needed and explain how to request it from your Doctor or order it yourself if necessary.
It is very tempting to go to the health food store and take an “adrenal support” pill that you may find there from a “trusted brand”. If you spend some time looking up the ingredients however you will often find that they contain herbs that both extend and lower cortisol levels. Some also may go to a health practitioner who swears by a particular supplement for helping her patients with adrenal fatigue, but unless they have tested your adrenal status and understand that all adrenal patients are not created equal, you may not be one of those patients helped. This is why you must educate yourself on this subject.
A word about taking glandulars. Many have found that taking whole adrenal glands cause problems because they include adrenalin. There are a few glandulars that don’t. Until about a year ago Isocort was made from animal adrenal glands with the adrenalin removed. They decided to move to making it in a laboratory and while there was a lot of fear that it wouldn’t work as well as the origional formula our findings was that it worked equally well. There are also liquids that is made from the adrenal cortex (no adrenalin) one is Sub-Adrene . It is not standardized like Isocortbut it is a natural product. I love Dr Ron’s products as a general rule but his adrenal glandular is the whole gland and not just the cortex and so is probably not a great choice if you are facing significant adrenal fatigue.
I hope that this blog post will help you know how to proceed in pursuing healing in this area of your life. Do you have more questions about healing your adrenals? Have you been able to find a health care practitioner who can help you with testing and treating your adrenals or are you needing to “go it alone”? Leave your answers in the comments and any other questions you may have.