The story is all too familiar. A patient comes in with a history of chronic fatigue. They feel older than their years, worn down and lack the energy throughout the day to function well. All they want to do is rest and recover, but hope is wanting.
Knowing something isn’t right they seek out the advice of their doctor, who runs various tests for anemia, liver, kidney and thyroid function but everything comes back normal. They suggest it may be depression, that you should seek out therapy or try an antidepressant medication, but you know better. You know that it’s not in your mind…it’s physical. There’s something wrong with your energy.
Desperately seeking answers “I just want to feel better!”
Out of desperation you seek out an alternative medicine provider like myself, hoping that they have answers. If you’re lucky, you end up seeing someone who understands the adrenal system, since often that’s the problem with chronic fatigue. The adrenal glands are small in stature, but play an enormous role in our body’s response to stress.
During a stressful event it’s the adrenal glands that secrete adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones with powerful effects on energy, muscle activity and inflammation. They help us rally in order to fight or flee, which in ancient times could have meant survival. Now, the stressors just keep coming…deadlines, parenting while working, chronic or acute infections, difficult relationships, pain or inflammation, bad news, etc, etc.
Often we feel like there’s no escape and in an effort to keep up with life’s demands, we end up with an adrenal system that is chronically overstimulated.
Adrenal glands and their place in your health.
Chronic overstimulation of the adrenal glands is not without consequences.In the early phases, sleep is disturbed, we gain weight, and feel anxious, tense and irritable.With continued elevation of adrenal hormones we get high blood pressure, digestive tract dysfunction, immune system depletion and a long list of other problems.
Over time the receptors for adrenal hormones become less responsive, so high levels of the hormones don’t help energy any more.The adrenals will continue to produce higher and higher levels of stress hormones until you reach a point where they can’t keep up and the levels of adrenal hormones plummet.
I see it all the time on the salivary cortisol tests I run. We call it flatline adrenals and it’s a step before Addisons disease which is total adrenal failure. This whole process takes years to create, but the endocrinologist won’t treat anything until your adrenal glands have failed, so don’t expect them to know what to do to prevent this.
There is a solution.
The good news is that adrenal dysfunction is treatable given the right evaluation and approach. It’s not a quick fix, but most of my patients respond well to a well-rounded approach that corrects the sources of adrenal overstimulation, diet and lifestyle changes that optimize adrenal function, and supplements that normalize the activity of this vital gland.
It’s amazing how many people, after a couple months of treatment, come back and lament that they should have done this approach sooner. If you think you have an issue with your adrenal system, contact me and we can get you on the right path.