Previously, I discussed the symptoms and signs of adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, the treatment of adrenal fatigue is not taught in mainstream medical schools. Effective treatment takes from many months to a year or two, but it is not complicated. In this article I’ll outline a safe and effective way to reverse this condition with treatment.
Adrenal Fatigue Testing
If you suffer many symptoms of adrenal fatigue, you don’t need to have a saliva test or blood test to substantiate the diagnosis; you can proceed to treatment. The lifestyle interventions and natural supplements used to treat this are completely safe. However, testing is advised before supplementing with cortisol from animal glandular extract, in the form of the prescription hydrocortisone or of tiny dose prednisone. In addition, you should repeat the testing in three to six months, depending on your response to treatment.
Any primary care physician can order blood testing from his standard blood-testing laboratory. You should be checked for plasma (blood) cortisol levels at about 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and at bedtime. A measurement of free or total cortisol levels in the morning or afternoon usually offers the most definitive diagnosis. Even when your levels are in the bottom third of the reference range, if you have many symptoms of the condition, you can make the diagnosis. Don’t rely strictly on lab testing to establish this diagnosis.
A better alternative is to ask for saliva testing at a lab that specializes in the procedure. One that I use for patients is found online at www.accessmedlab.com. However, finding a physician to prescribe this test and who will prescribe cortisol (hydrocortisone) for you may be a challenge.
At the same time you test your saliva for cortisol levels, you should also be tested for other adrenal gland hormones: DHEA-sulfate, testosterone, progesterone and the estrogens. You can find suitably trained physicians in your locality by looking on the physician directory of the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine at http://www.a4m.com/directory.html.
Treating Adrenal Fatigue
It is important to first recognize the life events, stresses or other causes that are fatiguing your adrenal glands. To alleviate these problems, you may need to ease your ongoing work stress, fix the stress of unhappy relationships and improve your poor dietary choices (such as overeating high-carb, high-fat comfort foods).
You should also get more rest. This means physical, mental and emotional rest. Often, this necessitates allowing yourself to sleep in until 9 a.m. when you feel you need extra sleep.
Eat regular healthy meals and chew your food well. Spend time with friends and allow yourself to laugh and feel happy. Give yourself 15-to-30 minute rests during your workday. During that time, implement relaxation techniques like slow, deep abdominal breathing performed while lying down.
Plan to give yourself a specific time to enjoy yourself each day. Plan low-competition exercise on a regular basis and make it fun. Remember, you aren’t exercising to get your muscles in shape. You merely want to relax and enjoy yourself.
Get to bed early, sometimes as early as 9 p.m.
Nutrition For Adrenal Support
For dietary starters, avoid hydrogenated fats, caffeine and junk foods in general. Make at least half of your food intake come from raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and sprouted grains. The rest should be from whole food sources as much as possible.
Whole foods are closest to their natural source. The more that foods are processed, cooked, refined or chemicalized with dyes or preservatives, the less you can call them whole foods.
For optimal healing of the adrenal glands, replace white-flour foods, table sugar and all other refined carbohydrates with natural sugar from whole fruits or Stevia (from stevia leaf). Cold pressed oils (almond, walnut and flax), nuts, seeds and other whole foods are also important.
Supplements for adrenal support
- Vitamin C, 3 to 4 grams daily
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), 1.5 grams daily
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 250 milligrams daily
- Vitamin B7 (biotin), 1,000 micrograms daily
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin E with mixed tocopherols, 800 IU daily
- Phenylalanine (an essential amino acid), 2 grams daily
- Minerals taken separately: calcium (800 mg daily); magnesium (400 mg daily); trace minerals
Herbal remedies for adrenal support
- Licorice (Be cautious, this herb can worsen high blood pressure.)
- Siberian ginseng
- L-theanine, 200 to 400 milligrams daily
Glandular Extracts And Cortisol Replacement
Cortisol is found in animal glandular extracts that can be purchased at health food stores. The best extracts contain adrenal gland, hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid and even gonadal tissue.
Lab testing is recommended whenever you are taking hormone replacement, especially with glandulars. This is because animal glandular tissues do not have a clear amount of cortisol and other hormones.
Cortisol (hydrocortisone) can also be taken as a prescription at physiological replacement doses such as 5 to 10 milligrams twice daily, or as prednisone, 1 to 2 milligrams twice daily.
You can see that there is a way to healing and that simply taking cortisol replacement could actually cause your adrenals to be weaker over time if you are not also building your adrenal strength with herbs, good nutrition and stress reduction.
To feeling good for life,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
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