How Should Doctors Treat Adrenal Fatigue?

If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots. If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible. – T. Harv Eker

It’s frustrating to have persistent symptoms your doctor can’t readily explain. Adrenal fatigue is a term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, and nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems. The term often shows up in popular health books and on alternative medicine websites, but it isn’t an accepted medical diagnosis unless it is diagnosed as Addison’s disease.

Proponents of adrenal fatigue seldom recognize adrenal dysfunction is always secondary to other physiological mechanisms 

What are the adrenals? Think of them as the caring grandma. She will not sit down when the family is together until everyone is seated at the table and all are served. But before she sits down, she has to clear the dishes, make coffee and serve dessert. Then she has to wash the dishes, clean the kitchen and make snacks. She’s fatigued because she is always trying to take care of everybody. She is an enabler to a dysfunctional family. Do you think she would be so fatigued if family members would stop bickering long enough to pitch in and help?

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This is not a case where the Alternative medicine community knows something the Medical community does not. While it is true the Medical community does not recognize adrenal fatigue. The Functional Medical community has followed the adrenal fatigue paradigm. This off recognizes other factors are involved because neurotransmitters are tested at the same time as the adrenals. As a result of this, those with ‘failing adrenals’ on the never-ending adrenal program respond to the neurotransmitter support.

Adrenal testing is the “Low-Hanging Fruit” of the Alternative medicine community. 

Adrenal testing is the “Low-Hanging Fruit” of the Alternative medicine community. Adrenal tests do not require a lot of effort and will almost always show adrenal fatigue, like testing the air pressure in a flat tire.

The adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, produce a number of hormones and neurotransmitters, including cortisol, noradrenalin, adrenaline – the three main stimulatory neurotransmitters, dopamine – a neurotransmitter and stress hormone precursor, DHEA, aldosterone, estrogen, and testosterone in addition to the little know – eticholanolone – the inflammation hormone. Dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine are classified as Catecholamines, which are tyrosine-based stress neurotransmitters produced by the adrenal glands during times of psychological stress or low blood sugar levels’.

Melatonin will not work for interrupted sleep for those with low cortisol levels. Low cortisol levels will allow a person to go to sleep and wake up later during the night. Melatonin suppresses cortisol levels and makes adrenal hormone receptor sites more sensitive. Melatonin would work best for those who simply cannot go to sleep.

Cortisol is a corticosteroid hormone produced in the adrenal cortex (part of the adrenal gland). It is commonly known as the primary ‘stress hormone’. It is involved in the response to anxiety and stress, controlled by the Corticotrophin-releasing hormone produced in the pituitary. Elevated cortisol levels tend to increase blood pressure and blood sugar, and reduce the immune responses/capability. Compared with the neurotransmitter adrenaline, it is very slow acting, in neurological terms. Adrenaline can be released in a small fraction of a second, whereas cortisol requires a whole second to be secreted. Cortisol tends to be more implicated in the long term fight or flight response that afflicts those with long term stress, e.g. autoimmune conditions. Of course, overproduction of cortisol through extended periods of stress will result in adrenal burnout and the eventual underproduction of cortisol and other adrenal hormones.

There are many other factors contributing to the stressing of the adrenals glands and impaired neurotransmitter production in general, such as impaired Dopamine/GABA and Serotonin pathways and energy production, excessive Glutamate and Aspartate intake (results in excitotoxicity and disrupts brain chemistry), excessive free radicals, psychological and physical stress, high carbohydrate diet (especially sugar), nutritional deficiencies, inadequate digestive and amino acid conversion processes, prolonged periods of hunger between meals (3 large, square meals a day approach), recreational/legal drug use (caffeine, alcohol, certain anti-depressants, marijuana, speed, meth, cocaine etc.), and birth control pills etc.

For example, it is very difficult to improve adrenal function if a person is anemic. They will not be able to deliver oxygen to mitochondria for ATP energy production and will be dependent upon glycolosis for energy production. Glycolosis is inefficient and places great demands upon the blood sugar/adrenal stabilizing system. The symptoms of any of the thirteen types of anemia are identical to those of adrenal fatigue.

The use of simplified protocols and models to support adrenal disorders are self-limiting. Adrenal dysfunction is always secondary to other physiological mechanisms that need to be identified. The following physiological mechanisms are the root causes preventing the adrenals rehabilitation:

  • Anemia
  • Dysglycemia
  • Low cholesterol
  • Infection
  • Increased intestinal permeability
  • Surgical menopause
  • Dehydration
  • Inflammation
  • Immune Dysregulation
  • Excess Pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • Deficient Inhibitory neurotransmitters
  • Depression medication
  • Emotional stress
  • Autoimmune
  • Heavy metal due to DMT1 upregulation from inflammation/immune dysregulation
  • Environmental antigen burden

- Case Studies & Principles, page 90-91, D. Kharrazian, Author of Why Do I Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal.

Are the adrenals involved? Absolutely, but the best way to support them is by correcting the physiological mechanisms causing them to fatigue. The major factor behind adrenal fatigue is usually a Neuro-Endo-Immune system imbalance.

The Neuro-Endo-Immune (NEI) Supersystem incorporates three vital disciplines: Neurology, Endocrinology, and Immunology. Evaluation of the NEI Supersystem – through the measurement of neurotransmitters, hormones, and cytokines – nervous, endocrine, and immune function, are represented respectively. Assessment of these essential biochemical mediators provides important insight into the root causes contributing to adrenal fatigue. The Neuroscience NeuroEndocrine Comprehensive should be utilized to simultaneously measure adrenal hormones, cortisol, DHEA, neurotransmitters and hormones. The NeuroEndocrine Comprehensive profile includes additional neurotransmitter metabolites, DOPAC and 5-HIAA, to assist in assessing serotonin and dopamine activity. It also includes the addition of the amino acid taurine, which is useful in confirming the extent of the stress response.

One way to develop a plan to correct adrenal fatigue is to measure neurotransmitter precursors using the Metametrix Triad Profile. The TRIAD Profile targets each persons specific needs by integrating three powerful profiles – Organix, Amino Acids, and Allergix IgG Food Antibodies – into a single innovative test offering customized intervention options.

The interrelationship of the biochemical processes between the adrenals, different neurotransmitters and hormones involve extremely complex systems of the body: endocrine system, exocrine system, hormonal regulation, immune system, neurological system and brain chemistry. It is extremely complex and finely balanced. Too much or too little of any system can be very detrimental to the body.

Neurotransmitter and hormones must be evaluated. Patients with similar symptoms can have remarkably different metabolic and nutritional needs. Patients with comparable laboratory results often exhibit widely divergent symptoms.  Adrenal fatigue can be measured and corrected by specific testing.

Are you interested in having your adrenals checked? I invite you to call today to set up your adrenal test.

Concerned about your Gastrointestinal Immune Health or Autoimmune Disease? 

Concerned about your Health?

Call today! 530-615-4083

2 thoughts on “How Should Doctors Treat Adrenal Fatigue?

  1. Hi I am nineteen, have a goitre, feel fatigued every day, sore throat in the mornings, amenorrhea for 5 months now, have gained weight ( 20 lbs) yet I am a performing art student and exercise every day. I eat well- virtually no carbs and good quality protein , vegetables and fruit. I had a blood test which read normal for TSH so no further readings were taken. I had a saliva test which showed high cortisol in the morning then normal, then high again then normal. DHEA levels were normal. Cotisol, Dhea ratio was 1.33. I have bloating, cramps and I vomit after every meal. I cant seem to stay happy and up-beat for long no matter how hard I try. I am due to go for a thyriod scan this month and I think I need to have a blood test to check my female hormone balance. Any suggestions as to what I can do next to help myself. I took your thyroid profile but do I need to fix the adrenals first ( as evidenced by the elevated cortisol readings) .

    • Your issues look like more of a neurotransmitter problem along with the thyroid. The “normal TSH” is only normal because they are comparing you to the other sick people on thyroid medication. From a Functional Medicine perspective it is very likely it wouldn’t be “normal”. Your adrenal are not the issue. As you read in the blog, there are at least twelve conditions that will stress the adrenals. Neurotransmitters play a huge role in regulating moods, hormones, adrenals and the immune system. Over 95% of neurotransmitters are made in the gut. Your digestive issues would quickly deplete your neurotransmitter reserves leaving you with mood issues. I would recommend doing a Comprehensive Wellnes panel to start with. This would give us a look at what the underlying cause is. I am suspecting digestive or microbial overgrowth problems may be driving you to feel the way you do.

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