What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is extremely common in the 40-50’s age group around the time of menopause for women or for men, andropause. It can happen earlier (really, at any time) if there are major stresses, emotional or physical. It is not a disease, but rather a state of decreased function and adaption ability of the adrenal glands, our “fight or flight” system, which is designed to help us deal with and recover from stress of any kind. It can be caused by one major stress, physical or emotional, or a result of chronic, low grade stress over many years. It is often associated with depression and a general feeling of “burn out”. Some people with a strong constitution, mental and/or physical, can, in essence, “deal with it” for many years, until it just gets to the point that they feel so bad they can’t take it anymore or the slightest little stress sends them reeling, emotionally or physically. People with adrenal fatigue often state that they just don’t seem to be able to “bounce back” like they used to.

Adrenal fatigue can affect:

  • general energy
  • sleep patterns
  • ability to cope and recover from mental or physical stress
  • mental function and clarity
  • immune function
  • blood pressure
  • hormonal balance
  • cravings, appetite and weight control

Adrenal dysfunction can swing from adrenal stress to adrenal fatigue or exhaustion depending on the degree of dysfunction and the current stress level. Some patients are “wired and tired” while others are just tired all the time and never seem to feel refreshed or rejuvenated from the time they wake until the time they go to bed at night. Looking at these patterns is helpful to the treating practitioner, to decide how to start therapy and monitor the patient’s progress.

Is there a test for Adrenal Fatigue?

A saliva cortisol test can help to further define adrenal fatigue and show where you are having your highs and lows of cortisol throughout the day. This test is useful in managing the condition and it is a great tool to follow while going through the treatment program  to see if your treatments are working. Normally, this test is rechecked every 4-6 months throughout the treatment.

The treatment of adrenal fatigue may also require special tests for food sensitivities, leaky gut syndrome, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances or candida (yeast) overgrowth. If a patient truly cannot afford testing, we can start with supplements and if not feeling better in a matter of 8-10 weeks, get testing done. At the NHIC, we prefer to do testing to get an idea of where the body is  before beginning a supplement program. You can overcome adrenal fatigue, but you must be prepared to make changes. Supplements are not miracles unless the body is in a state where they can be utilized. A complete recovery is part of a complete program, addressing all of the points outlined below.

The process of healing the adrenals and regaining their full function can take 6 months to 2 years, but with persistence it can be overcome.

Treatments from Dr. Auburn:

FIRST AND FOREMOST: A foundational base and initial detox. This must include a high antioxidant multivitamin-multimineral formula and Omega-3’s from fish oils. At our office, this is Natural Preventive (at least 2 twice per day and 3 twice per day is preferred) and Enteric Coated Fish Oils (1 twice per day). Alternate options are available if these are not workable for you. These are usually started while we are waiting for test results during the 2-3 weeks after your initial evaluation. A detox using Ultraclear Plus is also recommended to be implemented during this time to “clean the slate” so-to-speak, and prepare the body for recovery. It’s amazing how many people are greatly improved, just with this detoxification step!

SECONDLY: Nutritional IVs can be nothing short of miraculous to speed the healing of adrenal fatigue. Gaby-Wright IV pushes, Myer’s Cocktail IV and most often, the “Felice” Amino Acid and Trace Mineral IV are used once per week for the first 6 weeks to speed the healing and improve the energy levels.

Specific to the adrenals, there are several supplements that can be used at the NHIC:

Adren-All (licorice root, Vit C, B5 (aka, pantothenic acid) and adrenal glandulars). This my favorite for the adrenal fatigue person who is super tired, even when they wake in the morning, and then gets the “two o’clock tireds”, as I call them. Doses should be individualized but a general rule of thumb would be: 2 caps in the morning and 1-2 between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm, no later than 3 pm or it may cause too much energy at night and difficulty sleeping.

Other supplements Used for adrenal conditions include:

  • Drenamin from Standard Process
  • Dessicated Adrenal from Standard Process

For vegetarian patients:

  • Adreset from Metagenics
  • Cortico B5B6 from Metagenics

Sometimes a saliva test shows an up and down pattern of cortisol with high cortisol at night, causing difficulty sleeping, I may also use the following supplements and then also give something at night to bring cortisol down.  These may include:

  • Phosphotidyl Serine
  • Kavinace from Neuroscience
  • Nusera from Metagenics
  • Serenagen from Metagenics
  • TranCor from Metagenics
  • TranQ from Metagenics

Occasionally, the adaptogen Serenagen, from Metagenics will work as a combination formulas. This is the “sister” to the Adreset product, also an adaptogen, but is more for “wired and tired”, whereas the Adreset is more for the just plain tired, “I could sleep all the time” person.

There are other adaptogens that others like but I don’t usually use alone…

  • Ashwaganda
  • Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus Senticosis)
  • Licorice Root (tea or caps)…watch blood pressure with this, but it actually takes a fairly large dose to raise BP, just watch the pressures

Diet

Increase water, decrease caffeine, eat whole and mostly organic foods, control blood sugar with a low-glycemic diet –eliminate sugar and refined foods including high-glycemic foods, such as juices, bananas, dried fruit, pineapple, mango, white flour, white rice, white potatoes and corn and junk food (candy, cookies, cakes, pies and the like).

Exercise

Light, gentle daily activity such as walking, yoga, and  tai chi, to de-stress and improve circulation and breathing, but not so much as to over-stress the body.

Adequate Sleep

See above, but may also need Melatonin 3-12 mg at bedtime or other natural sleep aids.

An individualized medical program based on your test results and a visit with one of our practitioners will determine  what plan of action we would take but the information above gives you some idea of natural tools we can use to address this situation.

So, yes, Adrenal Fatigue is real! It can be diagnosed, treated and overcome with diet, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and proper sleep. It does take persistence and education and a commitment to the program. Here at the Natural Health Improvement Center, we are ready and willing to help you get to the other side of Adrenal Fatigue and prepare your body for long term health, energy and happiness!