Adrenal Fatigue

How well you live and how good you feel depends heavily on your adrenal glands and if they are functioning properly.  They help you prevent illness, overcome illness and are a major source of sex hormones.  Adrenals are also known as ‘stress’ glands because they enable us to deal with all kinds of stress including internal imbalances, not just ‘work or family stress’.  Adrenals are important because they influence every organ, tissue and process in our bodies, determining the breakdown of carbs and the conversion of fats.  They also regulate our blood sugar and are in charge of the health of our gastro-intestinal system along with many other essential areas in our bodies.

We’ve all known the feeling of being ‘pumped up with adrenaline’ when reacting to emergencies so what do our adrenals help balance?

  • Allergic reactivity
  • Energy function
  • Glucose metabolism in muscles
  • Brain function
  • Sleep/Wake function
  • Protein metabolism
  • Our immune system

When an ‘alarmed’ message reaches our kidneys (fight or flight), the regions of our adrenals secrete adrenaline into our bloodstream, which prepares our body for intense action, boosts oxygen and glucose in the brain and muscles and suppresses other non-emergency bodily processes especially related to the immune-system and digestion functions. This suppression of immunity functions is one reason many people get sick after a stressful event.

DHEA is the most abundant product of our adrenal glands and it’s also the most abundant circulating steroid hormones in our bodies. When our adrenals are overworked and struggling to maintain high cortisol levels, they loose the capacity to produce DHEA in sufficient amounts, which is why my Integrative M.D.’s always test my DHEA levels.

When I was healing, I worked with my Integrative M.D, and discovered my body was shutting down due to toxicity, lack of sleep and stress. What did I do? I detoxed through I.V.’s with Dr. Morrison of The Morrison Center in NYC, got more sleep and was put on a heavy duty supplement regimen prescribed by my doctor to support my adrenals. Stress causes high amounts of cortisol and even though I was not under ‘work’ stress, my body was under stress working overtime trying to detox and rid my body of all the toxins stored inside. Cortisol causes our bodies to create more fat and gain weight; it also kicks up your appetite and prompts us to eat large quantities of sweets and simple carbs- foods that make our insulin levels plummet, which makes us hungrier and wanting to eat again and again. Many people who have adrenal fatigue have low blood pressure and get dizzy upon standing, which are symptoms I didn’t experience but many people do.

My tanking adrenals were due in part to my Hypothyroidism, which I inherited from my mother who is also hypothyroid. It’s important to have your doctor test your Reverse T3 and your Thyroid Antibodies because Western Medicine does not regularly run these tests for your blood work. These results will help your Integrative M.D. figure out if your thyroid is the issue or if there is another issue that is effecting your adrenals.

Adrenal fatigue often accompanies other illnesses, which is why this is often overlooked. It’s likely that adrenal function is involved in fibromyalga, hypoglycemia, auto-immune diseases, allergies and chronic fatigue because the adrenals are needed for the recovery from any disease- therefore the road back to health should be monitored by your Integrative M.D. and should include improving your adrenal function.

My Western medicine doctors always said my blood-tests were ‘Good’ and ‘Normal’ or ‘Fine’ but I never felt ‘Good’ or ‘Fine. I knew there was a reason for this and that’s why I kept digging for answers and going to new doctors (all out of network that my insurance never covered). Most adrenal issues are found with more accurate, personalized testing and working with specialized doctors who run Alternative Testing – not just the regular blood work that your general doctor does. They will address the causes and stimulate healthy glandular function with carefully selected supplements.

For years doctors viewed ME and my tests as ‘Black or White’ either I was ‘sick’ or ‘well’ according to them- but that’s not the case and adrenal fatigue is a matter of the gray areas that these Western medicine doctors do not look into. Biochemical Individuality is SO important and many of my doctors overlooked the fact that I had my own unique set point. I cannot stress enough that once the level of your adrenals is determined, it’s important to look UNDER the tip of the iceberg of the results you receive because it takes serious experience, many doctors and many skill-sets to pinpoint the causes of dysfunction and to advice successful treatments. Many doctors run ACTH testing, a 24-hour urine test, a saliva test for cortisol and other blood tests that measure your pregnenolone and DHEA. It’s also important to see if you have nutritional deficiencies through vitamin profiling tests or other tests.

Adrenal fatigue can be reversed and you can turn your life around and feel GREAT, again! Focus on the good, let go of certain things in your life and see the bigger picture by seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. There were SO many times that I wanted to give up but also so many times that I looked into my doctor’s eyes and my hope was restored again.  I needed to supplement my body with natural compounds through I.V. vitamin therapy which significantly improved the functioning of my cells and organs (a non-invasive way of increasing blood flow and energy production to my adrenals)- leading me to profound results. I switched to eating ALL ORGANIC foods with nutrients and foods that have LOW traces of pesticides. I stripped my lifestyle of processed refined carbs, meat, dairy, soy, refined sugars, trans-fatty acids, alcohol and caffeine.  Many patients with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) have adrenal fatigue and diet is key so eating more protein in smaller, frequent meals will help take the stress off your adrenals. Adrenals respond to infections, stress, asthma, allergies, etc. and they are constantly working nonstop so it’s important to make lifestyle modifications, increase your sleep and decrease your stress.

I cannot stress how important the biochemical individuality of each person is and how much it needs to be addressed by your doctor. There are safety issues that are involved, so working with an Integrative M.D is recommended and I would never, ever suggest doing anything on your own. I ONLY do what my doctors say because I believe them and truly love them as people. I tried a few herbs that were helpful (and prescribed by my doctor) such as Ashwagandhaand vitamin C. I also focused on adding more Essential Fatty Acids in my lifestyle and increased my intake of ‘good fats’ such as ground flax seeds (I use the Barlean’s brand of organic flax seeds, which I love).

It is essential to work with a nutritionist and an Integrative M.D. because I am sharing general information that is not intended to be medical advice. This information is only given for informational purposes.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana May 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Hi Amie,
Thanks so much for your website! I knew a little bit about problems with adrenal glands but had no idea how much they could affect me. I’ve completely changed my diet to organic and clean eating, but I’m still tired all the time and don’t have the energy to do as much as I used to. I will check into this and see if it isn’t part of my problem. Thanks again!

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Amie May 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

Great to hear from you Dana! Happy to help. Feel better! xxoo

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Cheryl May 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Do you have any smoothie suggestions for adrenals and hypothyroidism? I’ve read that I should stay away from uncooked kale and spinach, but I do love these in a juice!

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Amie May 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Yes check out my Smoothie page on the right hand side of my website! You can also search ‘smoothie’ in my search box! And check out my latest smoothies on FOX News Health; the link is on my press page. Enjoy!!

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Kendra Hall May 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Every since I had chemotherapy it seems like I have days where I am very low energy, slightly light headed, slightly nauseous.
I’m used to being high energy, so it is hard to accept this.
Any thoughts?

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Amie May 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Kendra,
My best advice is to look at my Integrative Medicine page and try to find someone that is trained in that type of medicine to heal you. I have many colleagues who were helped SO much from my Integrative Dr’s after their chemo. Feel better!

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Jeanne June 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hi
It is so nice to hear someone actually feels better after having adrenal fatigue. I was diagnosed with stage 3 adrenal fatigue and felt awful. I too have hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s) and under tremendous amounts of stress (taking care of my mother who has dementia/heart issues). Anyway after YEARS of being misdiagnosed I went to a holistic MD who figured out I was also allergic to milk, eggs, soybeans and wheat….go figure. I’ve been following the autoimmune paleo diet and I feel much better. My doctor put me on a heavy regime of serious vitamins which is also helping. My question to you is…..are you feeling almost back to normal? How long did it take?
None of my friends or family has this so it’s nice to find someone who has gone through it.
Thanks :)

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Amie June 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Thank you Jeanne! Yes I am feeling so much better. Thank you for asking! How are you feeling? Xxoo

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Rickie August 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

Hi,
Thanks for your article. I am just in the stages of figuring out what is going on with me. I’m seeing an endocrinologist. I am a single mother working full time with an almost one year old. My symptoms are exhaustion and weight gain (I find this the most depressing) I weigh more now than when I was pregnant with my son! I gained only 9lbs with pregnancy however I have been back running 20 miles a week and keep packing on the lbs. I have a long history of dieting and rather g highly processes foods. My mom had me on skim milk at 6 weeks and eating low and non fat (ie highly processed!) since I can remember.
I’ve switched from that mostly when trying to get pregnant buy I feel like I’m spinning my wheels weight wise. Are all of your recipes adrenal fatigue friendly? Meal prep is a really nb piece for me as I have v little time for grocery shopping and meal prep but want to stay 100% committed to this! And I need to get my weight down. It is very stressful and depressing and I’ve bordered on eating disorder in the past. Including over exercising. Thanks for the website and info!!!!

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Amie August 18, 2013 at 11:56 am

Thank you Rickie; hope you feel better soon!!

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Wendy September 15, 2013 at 9:58 am

Timely article. This spoke clearly to where I am, but described it clearer and more holistically than I had heard before. Thank you. I will start the search for an Integrative MD in my area.

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Amie September 15, 2013 at 10:22 am

Thanks Wendy; wishing you well! xox

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Brenda September 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I was just diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.
I am so tired and have no energy at all. I was also told that I have celiac disease. I have been almost totally gluten free foe several months.
I do have a great dr. that does prescribe herbs and medical grade vitamins. I do get IV treatments from him too.
He told me that I was at stage 3 level with adrenal failure. So he has just put me on Hydrocortisone for at least a couple of months.
I did the cortisol blood work and 24 hr urine catch. My levels that came back were almost not even on the chart! I’m talking 1.5 and 3s.
I hope that I will recover quickly because it is almost hard for me to hold up my head some days.
I am also so tired of some people saying that I am making up my problems.
I will also be going I for IV treatments for this too.
I thank you so much for your information!

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Amie September 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Thanks Brenda; you should try getting your cortisol urine checked for the 24 hour urine test or the saliva test- those are more accurate! xoox

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jan February 27, 2014 at 8:50 am

I’m confused. Do you or do you not eat meat? I have hashimtos and I am also adrenal deficient. I have been following a vegan/vegetarian diet for a long time but the more I google these health issues the more I read that I should be consuming animal protein. Please help end the confusion!

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Amie March 1, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Jan, I have to eat animal protein – I couldn’t eat it when I had colitis but I’ve learned that organic chicken and turkey and nuts/seeds are best for me and I need my animal protein to feel healthy. When I was vegan because of my colitis many years ago, my body was not healing.

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Lori Leal March 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Very informative article, Amie! Adrenal Fatigue is what my Integrative MD & I are currently working on. It’s a major source of sleep issues for me. I want to sleep all day and can’t at night. I’m anxious to get the proper testing at my next visit and go from their. My family doctor stopped my thyroid medication because suddenly my bloodwork was showing that I do not have hypothyroidism as my Rheumatologist had suggested. Are there any natural remedies- foods, supplements, etc. – that you’ve tried for Hypotnyroidism? Thanks again for another great article. I’m going to check out your detox section again now. That’s my current goal…detox detox detox…then it’s back to treating Lyme Disease full on. I have yet to try any IV therapies, but that may very well be my next step. Thanks for the awesome info! :-)

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Franz March 17, 2014 at 10:49 am

hey,can you share what kind of supplement you are taking for detox and what food you are eating right now? do you stick on low carb diet? and do you have a healthy GI tract? because myself is diagnosed with adrenal fatigue 2 yrs ago. and my digestive system sucks, and ppl say usually when you have adrenal fatigue, you also have gut issues.

thx

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Amie March 18, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Thanks; I’d have to work with you as a client to help with detox and supplement advice. Thanks!

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Kassie March 18, 2014 at 4:45 pm

This article was very helpful to me. Over a year ago I was placed on short-term anti inflammatory steroidal treatment. Little did I know the harmful effects the treatment would have on my body. Ever since the treatment, I have taken special care to eat right, (fermented vegetables, cultured beverages, bone broth, etc), however, my health has never been fully restored. I am fatigued on a regular basis, I suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies when I never was susceptible prior to a year ago, and I have battled a variety of viruses and ailments. I describe my ailments to my doctors, who never put two and two together. I’ve been doing my own research in order to attempt regaining control of my health and my overall wellbeing. Adrenal suppression is a possibility I’ve only stumbled upon recently. Your advice is very helpful and much appreciated!

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Amie March 18, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Thank YOU Kassie; xoxxx!!!!

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