Feeling lazy, neurotic or depressed? You may have an adrenal deficiency.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012
By Jennifer Greenfield, D.C.
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I'm just SO TIRED

I am so depressed!
I never have energy

These three sentences are some of the most common in the healthcare field. In fact, fatigue and depression are a huge contributing factor to the success of the pharmaceutical industry. Not to mention the recent boom of energy drinks on the market. While many factors can come into  play when discussing these symptoms a large part of the population is actually experiencing adrenal fatigue. In fact up to 90% of the population has some level of adrenal fatigue. So what is this condition and what can you do about it? What are the adrenal glands? They are 2 small endocrine glands, the size of a walnut, that sit on top of each kidney. What do the Adrenal Glands do?
They are the “stress handling” glands.  They produce a variety of hormones that help you handle all types of stress – physical, mental or emotional.  They seek to keep your body functioning in a dynamic balance (homeostasis) amidst whatever external changes or challenges you meet.  They help mobilize you for “fight of flight” in a dangerous situation. They control:

  1. fluid balance
  2. blood sugar balance in between meals
  3. inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses to injury or invasion
  4. immune system response and strength

They produce the steroid hormones which:

  1. are the vitality hormones that determine overall strength, energy and stamina
  2. provide a sense of well-being and maintain healthy mood and emotion
  3. are on the backup system for sex hormones, and so are vital for everything from healthy pregnancy to healthy menopause, potency and fertility
  4. when functioning in healthy levels and proportions, provide protection against all forms of dis-ease.

 How well you live depends to a large degree upon how well your adrenal glands function!

Adrenal Fatigue

1. Adrenal Fatigue is not recognized by conventional medicine.  Only the extremes of Addison’s disease or Cushing’s disease are recognized.

2. Probably 90% of the population is in some degree of adrenal stress or fatigue.

3. Weak adrenal function sets the stage for a host of other conditions to appear and progress, including digestive problems, allergies, chronic fatigue, hypothyroidism, immune system weakness, diabetes, degenerative diseases and cancer.

4. Traditional blood tests are almost always normal even though the patient is clearly not well and presents with a host of signs and symptoms.  These patients have often been told, “There’s nothing wrong, it’s all in your head,” or have been branded as a hypochondriac, lazy, neurotic or a difficult patient.

How do you "fix" adrenal fatigue? The best thing to do is to contact your trusted acupuncturist, chiropractor or holistic nutritionist to discuss your options. Whole food and herbal supplements are usually used to treat this condition but first you should undergo a simple saliva test to see if you are truly experiencing this condition.  Some supplemental suggestions may include Rhodiola &Ginseng, Rehmannia and Ashwaganda, Cataplex B, or Drenamin. High Grade Licorice is also recommended in many cases. The herbs/whole food supplements prescribed to you should be done by a professional and on a specific case by case basis after that professional has reviewed your test and your chart. Monthly follow-ups should be done to re-assess your dosages for the most effective results.

Leave a comment:
Darcy Ward - Have you had an adrenal saliva test run (ASI)? This would be very important information to have to know how to handle your adrenal dysregulation. Oftentimes I use MediHerb herbal liquid tonics to help balance out adrenals because they can be more customized for each patient. Drenatrophin may work well, but it would only be a small piece of the solution, not the entire fix. Your ASI test (Adrenal Stress Index) would really give the information needed, such as DHEA levels, cortisol high or low and at what time of the day it is dysregulated. You really need to find a qualified practitioner in your area to help guide you through resolution. Hope this helps clarify.
Cheryl - What about Drenatrophin?
My adrenals are severely down to the point of causing very eratic blood pressure and, at times, the Standard Process products will spike my blood pressure dangerously high. Any suggestions?
Darcy Ward, D.C. - Response from Moderator:

Yes, as you are aware, the blood tests are very ineffective at picking up adrenal insufficiency. Blood tests are only testing for the protein bound, inactive form of the hormone. We use a company called Diagnostechs whom I have found to have the most reliable saliva testing. http://www.diagnostechs.com/Pages/ASIIntroduction.aspx The Adrenal Stress Index Test, in addition to testing Cortisol and DHEA, also checks 17-Hydroxyprogesterone and a gliaden marker which indicates gluten sensitivity. Once we see what the cortisol levels are throughout the day, we then form a plan addressing the findings. Some of the treatments are herbs and supplements that you saw listed in the article, but there are others that we use to bring down cortisol if that is the problem. It is also very important to address the liver and digestive problems that often accompany the Adrenal Fatigue. It digestion is not improved, the body has a very difficult time healing. Diet modification is also a strong likelihood due to blood sugar imbalances being directly tied into adrenal health.

On a side note, keep in mind that not all herb companies are created equal. It is very important that you find a company who is formulating very good quality herbs (high potency) and that they are actually using the correct portion of the plant to elicit the therapeutic result. We typically use a company called MediHerb out of Australia.
alan - how do you diagnose adrenal fatigue if blood tests are always normal, what saliva (or other) tests do you take to diagnose adrenal insufficiency? i assume the saliva tests would be for cortisol/DHEAS.

i have developed complete exhaustion. stress is a HUGE issue in my life. i do everything i can to minimize it- yoga, meditation, exercise- but it seems to be how i am built and it is a difficult time economically for many of us. i eat pretty low carb to minimize blood sugar swings and am supplementing with fish oil and adaptagenic herbs (many of which you mentioned). any thoughts?