Is Adrenal Fatigue Real
- By , Contributor
Low energy and tiredness are among the most common reasons patients seek help from a doctor. Despite being so common, it is often challenging to come up with a diagnosis, as many medical problems can cause fatigue. Doctors engage in detective work, obtaining a medical history, doing a physical exam, and doing blood tests. The results often yield no explanations. It can be frustrating for clinicians and patients when a clear-cut diagnosis remains elusive. An attractive theory, called adrenal fatigue, links stress exposure to adrenal exhaustion as a possible cause of this lack of energy.
Why Your Adrenals Arent The Problem
As I mentioned previously, adrenal fatigue doesnt exist because your adrenal glands dont actually fatigue.
However, you can easily develop adrenal insufficiency with hypothyroidism.
And its quite common.
But while many people will tell you that you have to treat your adrenals in order to improve your thyroid health its actually quite the opposite.
What you might not realize is this
Your body requires thyroid hormone to produce your adrenal stress hormones.
Can you make a cake without all the necessary ingredients?
Of course not.
And this is why your cortisol levels begin to drop, the more hypothyroid you become.
Not because your adrenal glands become fatigued.
Its because you lack the thyroid hormone you need to produce that cortisol.
So, if youve developed adrenal insufficiency, its because youre hypothyroid in the first place.
How To Use Licorice Root For Adrenal Fatigue
Most of us only of know licorice as a sweet black candy. You may be surprised to know that licorice is actually a highly therapeutic herb that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. In fact, most commercially-available licorice candy doesnt contain any real licorice at all just the flavor!
The licorice plant grows throughout Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean. The root is the part most often used for medicinal purposes, and is generally made into a tincture or dried into a tea.
Licorice root boasts a huge variety of therapeutic properties. Its a proven anti-inflammatory and immune booster, and has been used to treat a range of conditions including asthma, coughs, heartburn, viral or fungal infections, ulcers, psoriasis, sore throat, tendinitis, arthritis, and yeast infections.
But its licorices adaptogenic properties that make it a potential lifesaver for those suffering from adrenal fatigue. An adaptogenic herb is one that supports the adrenal glands and helps the body manage stress. Research has found that licorice can help to modify or even increase the bodys levels of cortisol. This means that licorice may be an effective treatment for those suffering from sub-optimal cortisol production, such as in the case of adrenal fatigue.
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How Do You Treat Adrenal Fatigue
Finding a cure for your adrenal fatigue usually means reversing the factors that led to your poor health in the first place. This might mean removing added sugars and junk food from your diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding or eliminating sources of stress.
There are other ways to support your body, make it more resilient to stress, and treat your adrenal fatigue. Adaptogenic supplements like ashwagandha can help to moderate your stress response, while basic nutrients like vitamin C can give your adrenal glands the nutrients they need.
Causes Of Adrenal Fatigue
Excessive stress, an important cause of burnout, can be from many sources. Chemical toxicity and nutritional depletion are among the physical causes. Mental, emotional or spiritual stress may be a major factor. Financial, family or other stress may also contribute to burnout.
Any excessive stress can deplete the adrenals, especially when weakened by poor nutrition. Working too much or emotional stress are two common causes. Excessive stimulation, especially for children, is another cause. Fast-paced, high-stress, fear-based lifestyles are a sure prescription for adrenal burnout. Other stressors in cities are noise and electromagnetic pollution. Cell phones, microwave towers and appliances like televisions, microwave ovens and computers give off strong electrical fields.
Chronic infections play a critical role in some cases of adrenal exhaustion. Chronic infections may originate in infected teeth or gums, though they can be located anywhere in the body. They contribute greatly to the toxic load of the body. Infections also cause inflammation and stress that must be countered using the adrenal hormones such as cortisol and cortisone.
Stimulants damage the adrenal glands. They whip the adrenals. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol are among the most common stimulants.
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Do You Have Cortisol Or Adrenal Issues
We need to talk about what causes low energy and then we can talk about how to fix it.
Low energy is really a subjective symptom that is a result of low energy production in your body.
The majority of energy produced in your body comes from special organelles inside your cells known as mitochondria.
These mitochondria are responsible for the production of a compound known as ATP and ATP is considered the “energy currency” for your body.
The amount of ATP that you produce and the efficiency of your mitochondria really help to define your subjective sense of energy .
What’s even more interesting is that you can directly impact ATP production and increase the efficiency of energy production in your body.
In addition to being involved in energy production, ATP production is also involved in heat production and metabolism .
This may explain why so many people suffering from adrenal problems and low energy also present with weight gain as one of their main symptoms .
Because if your energy production in your body is lower than normal you will have less heat production which will result in a lower than normal body temperature and a slower than normal metabolism.
It’s helpful to think of your body as a machine.
As long as you are alive your body will be producing energy, but you need to think in terms of efficiency.
Let’s say that “normal” is considered to be 100% efficiency.
Tip #: The Value Of Potatoes
How to lose weight when you have adrenal fatigue all starts with a simple potato. Its like I always say: a potato a day keeps the inches away!
Studies have shown that boiled potatoes are in a class of their own when it comes to foods which curb appetites11.
Working more of these ingredients into your diet, in quick and simple ways, can help you combat adrenal burnout for good. The resistant starch in potatoes, in particular, will also help to heal your gut lining12.
There are so many superfoods out there, but potatoes can call themselves one of the original ones. They have loads of health benefits and can help you jumpstart your adrenal fatigue weight loss. Easy to prepare, easy to enjoy and youll be reaping the benefits in no time.
When it comes to balancing out the relationship between cortisol and body fat, potatoes are a great place to start. Heres how it could look as part of your day-to-day routine
Your Diet and Potatoes for:
- Breakfast: serve a boiled potato beside your scrambled eggs.
- Lunch: another boiled potato compliments any salad.
- Dinner: enjoy a baked potato alongside a lean cut of meat.
- No matter the meal, you can easily work more potatoes into your diet.
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Common Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
Adrenal Fatigue is a stress-related condition that results in symptoms like exhaustion, weakened immunity, sleep disturbances, and food cravings. The adrenal glands and HPA axis become depleted and dysregulated after a long period of emotional stress or chronic illness.
As you might expect, tiredness and exhaustion are some of the most common Adrenal Fatigue symptoms. However, these are far from the only ones that you might experience.
What is Adrenal Fatigue and how can you recognize it? Adrenal Fatigue leads to lower levels of a number of hormones and neurotransmitters, changes that can affect every single part of your body. Every individual with Adrenal Fatigue tends to have a slightly different set of symptoms, although there are always common complaints.
The most common signs of Adrenal Fatigue, which are experienced by most sufferers, include symptoms like fatigue and food cravings. Then there are the less common symptoms, which are only experienced by a smaller set of patients. These include low blood pressure and frequent urination. Typically, an individual with Adrenal Fatigue will have most or all of the main symptoms listed here, along with a handful of the less common symptoms. Take a look and see how many apply to you.
The first section of this page contains the 7 most common symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:
The Most Effective Adrenal Fatigue Supplements
In order to treat your adrenal and low energy you really need to target your supplements to your body.
That means looking at your cortisol level.
I won’t go into significant detail here, because I’ve elaborated on the best cortisol test in this post, but it’s worth a quick mention.
First, you need to understand that your cortisol level has a big impact on your subjective sense of energy in your body.
Second, you need to realize that certain supplements are better at lowering your cortisol and others are better at raising it.
Recall that high cortisol and low cortisol present with similar symptoms , but you still need to know what is going on in your cortisol in order to target treatment.
There are a lot of different ways to measure cortisol in your body, but the best is definitely the urinary options with multiple tests throughout the day.
This doesn’t mean your serum cortisol is not helpful though, quite the contrary.
One problem with urinary testing is that it can be expensive, whereas serum cortisol is cheap and is covered by insurance.
This makes serum cortisol a good place to start.
If you check your serum cortisol level look for these ranges:
- Low serum cortisol: Less than 8 mcg/dL
- Normal serum cortisol: 14-16 mcg/dL
- High serum cortisol: Greater than 18 mcg/dL
Using these ranges can give you an idea of where to start with your supplementation .
Below you will find a list of all of the adrenal supplements I use targeted to cortisol levels.
Treatment for Low Cortisol:
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Boost Your Thyroid Hormone
The good news is that anything you can do to boost thyroid hormone is very effective at de-activating your adrenal glands and decreasing the demand of cortisol.
Plus, anything that boosts your T3 will also help protect you from adrenal insufficiency by ensuring youre able to produce adequate cortisol.
Thyroid hormone does this through a variety of different means including many of the fixes just mentioned previously
But, as I also mentioned previously, some people with severe adrenal insufficiency might not tolerate thyroid hormone all that well .
This includes all medications and supplements that contain T3, including desiccated thyroid, cytomel, etc.
This is because T3 makes you more sensitive to adrenaline, which can become quite elevated in hypothyroidism and severe adrenal insufficiency.
In this case, its important to start very slowly with a small enough amount of thyroid hormone that doesnt cause an adrenaline response.
Then as your adrenal insufficiency improves slowly over time, youll be able to slowly increase your thyroid hormone as well.
In any case, boosting your thyroid hormone can make all the difference.
And youll learn about some very simple ways you can boost your thyroid hormone to help heal your thyroid and adrenals when you .
What Are Mental And Emotional Stressors
Research tells us what causes a stress response. The stress response happens when peoples lives are disrupted. It does not matter if it is physical, like a car accident or emotional, like the death of a loved one. Stress is stress no matter what the cause. Constant stress that is has bad health effects. Your healthy stress responses become unregulated and exhausted. And, sometimes, they fail altogether.
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Overuse Of Stimulants Like Sugar And Caffeine
Are you one of those people whose day revolves around finding your next shot of caffeine? If so, youre not alone! Millions of people rely on stimulants like coffee and sugar to lift them up when they get tired. However, theres a big difference between drinking an occasional coffee and consuming stimulants all through the day.
The problem is that stimulants tend to lose their effectiveness over time. As chronic stress takes its toll on your endocrine system, each cup of coffee or sugary snack gives you less of an energy boost. Caffeine can prevent you from getting a good sleep too. The more stressed and tired you become, the more stimulants you need. This vicious cycle is how many people unwittingly accelerate their decline into hormonal dysregulation and extreme fatigue.
It doesnt have to be this way. Simply becoming more mindful of your caffeine and sugar consumption will often help to reduce it. Limit yourself to one or two coffees each day at first, then try to give it up entirely. Eat a nutritious, healthy diet, and try some of these low sugar recipes. Look for low glycemic fruits instead of sugary dried fruits or fruit juices. Learn how to improve your sleep hygiene so you wont feel the need for those stimulants. And identify ways to work more efficiently during the day, so you take rests when needed.
What Are My Adrenal Glands And Which Hormones Do They Produce
Humans have two adrenal glands each one sits on top of a kidney. Our adrenal glands have two parts: the outer section is called the adrenal cortex, and the inner section is called the adrenal medulla.
The adrenal glands produce and discharge four distinct hormones that travel through your bloodstream, acting as chemical messengers. This means they essentially travel around telling different tissues in your body how to function properly.
Your adrenal cortex produces three hormone compounds:
- Adrenal androgens
For instance, the most predominant mineralocorticoid is aldosterone, which helps your body maintain its proper salt and water levels .
The most important glucocorticoid is cortisol, which helps regulate your bodys metabolism, glucose production. It also triggers your bodys response to illnesses and has anti-inflammatory effects.
These are all very, very important functions of your adrenal gland hormones, but at Evexias we are most concerned with your adrenal androgens. These are the male sex hormones.
That is to say, the main two are dehydroepiandrosterone and another hormone you may have heard of called testosterone.
So, its not uncommon for symptoms of adrenal fatigue to be related to an insufficient production of testosterone, which is something we can specifically address with bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
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What Is The Treatment For Adrenal Fatigue
The treatment for adrenal fatigue is essentially lifestyle advice, including sleep, diet and exercise. Talk with your doctor to discuss how you are feeling so that your doctor can arrange tests if needed and also provide you with advice and support.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Avoid junk foods and processed foods. Also avoid or reduce coffee and any other stimulant drinks and reduce your intake of sugary drinks and foods. See also the separate leaflet called Healthy Eating.
Regular exercise is also important. See the separate leaflet called Exercise and Physical Activity.
There is no evidence that supplements are of any value, and some supplements may be harmful.
How Do I Get Off My Adrenal Medications
If you are now discovering that you did not need adrenal medications in the first place, you might be asking yourself how you can safely get off them. First, you have to identify and treat your root causes finding out what is going on with your adrenals, and making them feel better so that you can feel better.
It also takes medical guidance, and a gradual taper off your medications. You might even needed compounded versions of cortisol. It allows for a gradual taper quite effectively, so that you can take baby steps to feeling better.
Key Insight: In order to gradually taper off your adrenal medications, consider compounded cortisol of 1 2 mg / week.
The next question is, how long should you tapering off your medication for? Lets take a look at this chart to help you:
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How Do Menopause And Perimenopause Affect Adrenal Fatigue
During mid-life, womens hormones begin to change. This time of life is called perimenopause. During perimenopause, estrogen levels may be higher than usual. This can cause adrenal fatigue. When women stop producing ova , estrogen decreases, and menstrual periods stop. This is called menopause. The symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, and feeling tired. These symptoms are stressful and can further strain your adrenal glands.
Loss of estrogen during menopause makes it harder to handle stress. Estrogen replacement therapy with bioidentical hormones help women handle stress.
Moreover, some of these symptoms are the same symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue. Scientific studies have been done on estrogen and stress. Studies show that the loss of estrogen during menopause makes it harder for you to handle stress. They also show that estrogen replacement therapy with bioidentical hormones help women handle stress better.
Can Poorly Controlled Blood Sugar Cause Adrenal Fatigue
Yes, one common cause of adrenal fatigue is out of control blood sugar. Low blood sugar makes the adrenal glands work hard to make cortisol which raises blood sugar levels. During severe adrenal fatigue, the adrenal glands cannot produce enough cortisol. The symptoms of low blood sugar are dizziness, shakiness, and irritability. These are also symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
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