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THE Adrenal Fatigue Thread

post #1 of 2286
Thread Starter 
I've posted in a few threads about my recent diagnosis of Adrenal Fatigue & have had a few requests to start a specific thread, so here it goes!
Anyone else who is on this journey to heal their adrenals, please join in the discussion! I plan on updating after every appointment.

I go to Clymer Healing Center in Quakertown, PA. Dr. Neville (95% of his patients are adrenal patients), has phone-appts from all over the world every day. Last time I was there, he had one from Poland & one from Turkey. Here's their other site, on CFIDS/Fibro (see below.)

I did an ASI saliva test (Adrenal Stress Index.) That should be the first step - my doctor ordered mine through DiagnosTechs lab. After that, he came up with a healing plan. Everyone is different & the saliva test is essential in finding out what phase of adrenal exhaustion you're in. It cost me $99.

Here are my saliva test results:

Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) 3/07:

Free cortisol rhythym****** Reference Range

7:00-8:00am - 10 Depressed 13-24 nM
11:00-noon - 3 Depressed 5-10 nM
4:00-5:00pm - 2 Depressed 3-8 nM
11:00-midnight - 2 Normal 1-4 nM

Cortisol burden - 17 23-42

DHEA - 2 - Depressed 3-10 ng/ml

According to the "Cortisol-DHEA Correlation Zone, I am in zone 7 (Adrenal Fatigue), the lowest possible zone - 1 is the highest & is called "Adapted to Stress."

I also have Hypoglycemia, which is the first symptom of adrenal fatigue - I've had it for as long as I can remember.

Total Salivary SIgA Reference Range

5 - Depressed Normal: 25-60 mg/dl Borderline: 20-25 mg/dl

Just for comparison's sake, here are my blood test results (from 2/07) - the saliva test is SO much more accurate!

My progesterone is non-existant, <.5, less than a post menopausal woman.

My estradiol (estrogen) is 22, which is in range. (Not very accurate.)

My testosterone is in range, but towards the lower end. (Total - 12, free - 1.2)

My DHEA is very low, 35, the reference range is 40-325.

My cortisol is 13.5, which is in range. (HA! This is why you need to do a saliva test throughout the day!)

Vitamin D was 37, in range (I've heard that 40 is ideal & you don't want to go over 50.)

Thyroid: (doctor said this was good.)
T-4, free - 1.1
TSH - 1.86
T-3, free - 296

There is a book called Chronic Fatigue Unmasked 2000 that was written by Dr. Gerald Poesnecker. Dr. Poesnecker worked at Clymer for 40+ years researching adrenal fatigue & treating patients. His theory is that Chronic Fatigue & Fibromyalgia is a double sided coin, both caused by adrenal fatigue. My doctor, Dr. Neville, worked alongside Dr. Poesnecker & before Dr. Poesnecker passed away in 2004, he chose Dr. Neville to take over his work & patients. Oh, and a bonus, he's really into WAPF.

I don't have physical fatigue even though my test results would suggest so. I have the "dread horror anxiety" that is a symptom of adrenal fatigue. My body just doesn't have the cortisol to cope with any type of stress, physical or emotional. I need to try to cut back on nighttime nursing, that's the only issue that I can't control. I've had no caffeine for almost 4 months now, don't even crave it. I have had a few bites of chocolate (mostly on easter) but I've been really good about not having it.

My doctor asked if I was eating enough red meat, so I think that animal protein is very important when dealing with adrenal fatigue. I feel like I eat enough, I eat 2-3 eggs every morning for breakfast & some form of animal protein each night, beef, chicken or salmon usually.

The important supplements are a high quality B-complex, vitamin c (sodium ascorbate is good) & a magnesium supplement, also a good multi vitamin/mineral. The diet *must* be a whole foods diet, no crappy processed/packaged foods. Another big recommendation is salt & lots of it.

I salt everything heavily (sea salt.) My doctor wanted me to drink a glass of salt water first thing in the morning & I tried but I couldn't do it.
I limit potassium intake, no bananas, dates, figs, minimal fruit. Breakfast is VERY important, something with protein & lots of salt. No juices, minimal sweetener in teas - I use a dab of honey.

Dehydration is a biggie for AF patients. We have a problem with the sodium/potassium ratio (why we shouldn't eat potassium rich foods & need lots of salt.) I know when I first wake up in the morning, all I want to do is chug down 2 pints of water, but I have to wait until I get a good amount of salt in my system.
When I first wake in the morning, I cook eggs & salt them very heavily - after I eat them, then I can drink water, but plain water on an empty stomach is a no-no. We need *a lot* of salt. You'd be surprised how many people suffer unknowingly from some degree of adrenal fatigue - especially us sleep deprived mamas.
I'm also *almost* EBFing my 14 month old, my milk makes up about 95% of his diet, so that doesn't help with the dehydration issue.

Bottom line, our adrenals need salt, our bodies NEED salt!

Cutting out caffeine is MAJOR, as is eliminating stress, seriously eliminating it - whatever it is, negative people, high stress job, relationships, whatever, if you want to heal, you need to eliminate it. Rest is very important, we're supposed to be in bed by 10pm at the latest & sleep till 9am if possible (ha!) take any naps you can get. A sleeptime routine is also essential, going to bed & waking at the same exact times each night/morning. (I have yet to perfect this routine!)

My doctor says that the thyroid is always affected when one is suffering from adrenal fatigue - even if it doesn't show up in testing.

Low blood pressure is one of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue - it's even used as a diagnostic tool, I've always had low blood pressure, low body temp. too. I went for my appointment this week (5/07) & my blood pressure was 94/50 & that's a HUGE improvement! It actually rose 10 points after I stood up which is also HUGE since up until now, it hasn't budged when I rose from laying down to standing up - a classic sign of adrenal fatigue.

One of the diagnostic tools is to have the patient lay down, relax for 5 minutes, while laying down, take the patient's blood pressure. Then have the patient stand up & take the blood pressure reading again, if it fails to rise or drops upon standing, that's a sign that you're adrenals aren't working to their fullest capacity & it should be addressed.

A couple of fantastic books are Chronic Fatigue Unmasked 2000, by Dr. Poesnecker (the link is for the first edition, there's a newer one available now with the "2000" in the title) & Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st Century Stress Syndrome by J. Wilson. The first one, by Poesnecker, is much more in depth in terms of treatment & how the neuroendocrine system works, which explains *how* adrenal fatigue occurs. Here's Wilson's website.

Here is my treatment plan: ***before taking any supplements/medication to treat adrenal fatigue, an ASI saliva test is needed to determine the stage of adrenal dysfunction you are in, it's VERY important in deciding which supplements to use.***

I started out taking 1 tablet of Mil Adregen by 'Miller' brand. It contains raw spleen concentrate, raw adrenal concentrate, raw thymus concentrate, citrus bioflavinoids, vitamin c, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 & zinc. I have slowly built up to 3 tablets a day, taken at meals.

I also started out taking 10mg of bioidentical pregnenolone by 'Pure' brand. I am currently taking 30 mg/day all in the morning. The necessary dose depends on how severe your adrenal fatigue. I'm still working up to a higher dose.
Pregnenolone is the first hormone that our bodies convert from cholesterol. It is at the top of the adrenal hormone cascade & is made into cortisol, DHEA & all of the sex hormones, estrogen, testosterone & progesterone. Pregnenolone usually has zero side effects where bioidentical DHEA supplementation can often have masculine side effects like rage & facial hair growth.

I take "Seriphos" by InterPlexus as needed, a proprietary blend 1000mg of phosphorylated, Serine/Ethanolamine which has a calming affect & helps take the edge off of the anciety.

Those are the supplements that my doctor gives me, aside from those listed above, I take these (with his approval.):

B-50 complex by Now brand
Magnesium citrate (powder) by Now brand
Selenium 200 mcg by Now brand
Zinc 50 mg by Solaray

post #2 of 2286
Thread Starter 
Understanding Adrenal Function -Mercola, explains how pregnenolone is made & how it is used in the body - good article.
post #3 of 2286
Interesting.........I have low thyroid problems, and sometimes I get dizzy if I haven't had enough salt.
post #4 of 2286
I think I am well on my way to an adrenal fatigue diagnosis. I'm having blood tests run on Monday for various stuff to see if my thyroid is a problem. I did that eye test (where you see if your pupil has trouble focusing) and FAILED bigtime, and took an extensive online quiz and was rated "moderate adrenal fatigue with severe symptoms" (so, not a TON of symptoms, but those I have are strong). I am also hypoglycemic, which popped up right after my wedding 3 years ago and coincides with the other symptoms starting.

I'm hoping that this will make a big difference in my quality of life. I'm seeing a regular doctor on Monday but may try an alternative practitioner if the MD doesn't have enough info for me. What kind of doc, exactly, are you seeing?
post #5 of 2286
Thread Starter 
My doctor has a degree in Naturopathy from Bastyr, he's one of two doctors at Clymer Healing Center.

I think you're really going to need to take the bull by the horns in this situation (seeing an allopathic MD.) You can order the ASI saliva test directly from Diagnos-Techs & have it sent to your home. Then you can take the paperwork to your doctor & have him/her sign it (you need a doctor's siggy) & then do the test according to the directions. IME, if you call a lab, they're usually happy to guide you. Make sure you read all of the paperwork because there are a few things that can throw off the results, like eating within a certain amount of time before saturating the cotton ball or brushing teeth or eating anything minty, etc.

I don't know that your doctor would know what to do with the results, but the lab should send them to you & your doctor. After you get the results, you could always call Clymer (or another doctor that *really* knows adrenal fatigue) & figure out what to do. I get the feeling that it's hard to find such a doctor since my doctor gets calls from all over the world from frustrated patients.

I wouldn't waste the time with a blood test (see my results above.) The ASI test from Diagnos-Techs is $99, and it's really the only tool you need to get started on healing (that and a good doctor.)

I just went to Diagnos-Techs' website, they list the reasons for doing a saliva test over a blood test, they also have a provider directory (but when I typed in Quakertown, PA, my doctor wasn't even listed!) so take that for what it's worth. Even my chiro didn't know what to do.
They also have a client online directory which I'd guess is where you order the ASI. You can always call them, I bet you could ask a lot of questions....
post #6 of 2286
Thread Starter 
Neat, this is the first time I've puttered around on the Diagnos-Techs website, here's what it says about the Adrenal Stress Index (ASI):

Originally Posted by Diagnos-Techs Site
2. Muscle & joint function
Abnormal adrenal rhythms are known to compromise tissue healing. Reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown can lead to muscle and joint breakdown with chronic pain.

7. Thyroid function
The level of Cortisol at the cell level controls thyroid hormone production. Quite often, hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue and low body temperature are due to an adrenal maladaptation.
That was really comforting to read since I've been suffering chronic muscle pain for almost 7 months now.

ETA: I had to edit a bit for copyright reasons, but please check out the Adrenal Stress Index link on the Diagnos-Techs website, interesting info & good explanations, to find it, click on the "Tests & Panels" link in the column on the left of your screen, then click on the first link, under "Adrenal Stress Index" called "Overview for Patients."
post #7 of 2286
I've also got adrenal fatigue as well as hypothyroidism. I had been complaining of fatigue to doctors for the last 15 years (I'm 33 now). None of them ever did a thing about it.

By the time I was finally diagnosed I was barely doing much. If I went out for the day I'd need 3 days to recuperate.

This was the result of my Diagnos-Techs saliva test:

7:00-8:00am <1 depressed (13-24nM)
11:00-noon 6 normal (5-10nM)
4:00-5:00 8 normal (3-8nM)
11:00-midnight 3 normal (1-4nM)

cortisol burden 18 (23-42)
DHEA 2 depressed (3-10ng/ml)

E2 (estradiol) 14 (Luteal Phase: 7-20 pg/ml)
P1 (progesterone) 836 (Luteal phase: 65-500pg/ml)
TTF (free testosterone) 16 (8-20pg/ml)

(The progesterone was high because I had used proges cream the month before)

I started taking Hydrocortisone in February. The dose I take is physiological, 20mg broken up over 4x a day. These small doses do not cause all of the side effects that you normally read about with hydrocortisone. This dose gives my body the cortisol that I am missing.

Since I started the hydrocortisone (and switched to 3 1/2g Armour thyroid) I feel MUCH better. I actually have energy for the first time in a long time. I am actually going to bed before 4:00 in the morning and my insomnia has pretty much disappeared. I hope I can wean myself off of the HC in the next couple of months. I may need it for life and if that's the case than so be it.

I also take 1/2 tsp of salt a day. I should really be taking more like a Tbsp a day but I can't stomache it right now. I believe that I also have low aldosterone and I need to get that tested as well. Low aldosterone causes salt wasting, the symptoms I have are leg cramps, pounding heart and breathlessness. So, I would like to get that checked soon too.

I also try to take about 3000mg of vit c a day but I always forget. I take 2.5mg of DHEA and about 100mg of Magnesium.

That's all I can think of for now. It's nice to know there are others out there who have discovered they have this. I think Adrenal fatigue is very widespread but very under diagnosed....
post #8 of 2286
Metasequioa, thanks so much for starting up this thread. I'm going to try to get my allopathic (with a natural bent) doc to help me with this. The test you mentioned sounds like a great resource.
post #9 of 2286
Just wanted to pass this along. If you're interested in buying Chronic Fatigue Unmasked 2000 it's much cheaper here ($20) than at Amazon ($60).
post #10 of 2286
I go see a naturopath on Tuesday (6/5).....I'm hoping he can figure out what it wrong, although I am leaning towards Adrenal Fatigue. Is there anything I should be sure to ask? I already know I want to ask about the saliva test.

Do any of you have headaches? I have had this headache 24 hours a day/7 days a week for 14 months....it started 1 week after my son was born. It feels like my head is too full and I can feel my pulse pounding in my head at all times.

My symptoms-

Constant headache
Tired all the time
Have trouble getting out of bed in the morning
Have trouble falling asleep at night
Get a "rush" when I stand from sitting
Muscle aches
Anxiety attacks? Shortness of breath, heart pounding....started in March
I also had Hypoglycemia pretty bad while pregnant

I had an MRI last week and should get the results Monday or Tuesday.

What complicates my problem is that I have Interstitial Cystitis so taking vitamins is very hard for me as it causes extreme bladder pain....I do well on chewables and liquids, but no pills. On a GOOD night I get up about 3-5 times. BAD nights.....up to 30. This is probably what caused my problems in the first place.
post #11 of 2286
Thread Starter 
From the Diagnos-Techs website:

The ASI™ is mostly ordered for individuals that suffer from:

* Chronic stress and related health problems
* Lack of vitality and energy
* Muscle and joint pain
* Hypoglycemia
* Migraine headaches
* Osteoporosis
* Sleep disturbances
* Poor memory
* Alcohol intolerance
* Stress maladaptation
* Low sex drive
* Low body temperature
post #12 of 2286
post #13 of 2286
Metasequoia: My mom has AD and my naturopath suspects that I do as well based on my symptoms. However, she said that since I'm nursing right now, she would not be comfortable supplementing with any kind of hormones, so she said I might as well save my money on the testing for now.

Did your dr say anything about hormones while nursing?
post #14 of 2286
I went to the doc yesterday and they drew blood to test my thyroid. I should hear back in a few days. After describing my symptoms she said, "Well, if it's not your thyroid then we should consider that it's a MOOD DISORDER.." That seems like a really, really ridiculous conclusion to draw or option to throw out there after having spoken with me for 3 or 4 minutes. I hate MDs. Anyway, if my thyroid bloodwork comes back normal, I'll consult with a naturopath about AF.
post #15 of 2286
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ledzepplon View Post
Metasequoia: My mom has AD and my naturopath suspects that I do as well based on my symptoms. However, she said that since I'm nursing right now, she would not be comfortable supplementing with any kind of hormones, so she said I might as well save my money on the testing for now.

Did your dr say anything about hormones while nursing?
My doctor said it was perfectly safe. I tried to look it up on Hale's site but he doesn't have anything for hormones because they're bioidentical, they're not a "medication." The way my doctor explained it, was that these are naturally occurring hormones, identical to the ones that our bodies produce & since we are lacking them, what we're doing is just replacing what *should* be there but isn't. If you think about thyroid disease, *not* treating it can be detrimental to the nursling (from what I've read) so I can't help but wonder if the same could be true for AF.

Originally Posted by smokeylo
I went to the doc yesterday and they drew blood to test my thyroid. I should hear back in a few days. After describing my symptoms she said, "Well, if it's not your thyroid then we should consider that it's a MOOD DISORDER.." That seems like a really, really ridiculous conclusion to draw or option to throw out there after having spoken with me for 3 or 4 minutes. I hate MDs. Anyway, if my thyroid bloodwork comes back normal, I'll consult with a naturopath about AF.
Of course it's a mood disorder, buy WHY???? Why is there a mood disorder?? Maybe because you simply don't have the tools to deal with stress, maybe because you have no cortisol or too much cortisol!

If you look up adrenal fatigue, anxiety & depression are *ALWAYS* high on the list, perhaps you should enlighten your MD.

Yea, that's the common band aid approach, don't look for the root of the problem, just fix the symptoms. :

Keep us posted smokeylo.
post #16 of 2286
Thread Starter 
Smokeylo, I found this site which explains the misdiagnosis of Adrenal Fatigue pretty clearly.

Diagnosing (and misdiagnosing) adrenal fatigue

To make matters worse, doctors often don't diagnose this problem. Dr. Wilson offers the example of a woman who has been to 37 doctors before finally receiving proper diagnosis and a renewed sense of hope. So, why don't doctors recognize adrenal fatigue? In medical school, they are only taught to look for extreme adrenal malfunction -- Addison's Disease, which occurs when the glands produce far too little cortisol, and Cushing's Syndrome, which stems from excessive cortisol production. They check adrenal function by testing ACTH levels, using a bell curve to recognize abnormal levels. This is where the problem occurs. ACTH tests only consider the top and bottom 2 percent of the curve abnormal, yet symptoms of adrenal malfunction occur after 15 percent of the mean on both sides of the curve. In other words, your adrenal glands can be functioning 20 percent below the mean and the rest of your body experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, yet most mainstream physicians won't recognize that you have a problem.
post #17 of 2286
So I went to the naturopath today. He said he is 99% sure I have Adrenal Fatigue based on my symptoms and he said thyroid problems usually coincide.
I am getting blood work done tomorrow to confirm. I have had my thyroid checked plenty of times and it always comes back fine, but he said they may not have checked T3. He is also checking, DHEA, my hormones, and for some vitamin deficiencies. He sent me home with a list of supplements to buy. He said to start out with a good vitamin and CoQ10. When we get my results back we'll go from there. He said if I wanted to start taking an adrenal supplement I could and wrote down what one to get, but they didn't have it at Sprouts. My MRI results came back fine.

Oh yeah, he also said I *could* get the saliva test for adrenal fatigue if I wanted, but that he probably doesn't need it as he feels confident that I have it. Are there any benefits of getting it if you are already pretty sure you have it?

Is there anything else I am missing that I should look into?
post #18 of 2286
Thanks for the confidence boost, ladies! Docs can really me. I will let you know what the thyroid results are, and I will be looking around for a naturopath to consult w/.

About how much do their services run? I doubt that they are covered by my insurance.
post #19 of 2286
Originally Posted by Metasequoia View Post
My doctor said it was perfectly safe.
Thanks! It sounds like you found an awesome doc.
post #20 of 2286
Originally Posted by ledzepplon View Post
Metasequoia: My mom has AD and my naturopath suspects that I do as well based on my symptoms. However, she said that since I'm nursing right now, she would not be comfortable supplementing with any kind of hormones, so she said I might as well save my money on the testing for now.

Did your dr say anything about hormones while nursing?
I'm not sure what hormones you plan on taking but I am currently pregnant and I'm still taking the Hydrocortisone. According the book I have "Safe Uses of Cortisol" it is safe to take (in very low doses) while pregnant. I do plan on continuing it while nursing.

From what I understand very little of it passes to breastmilk. It's just replacing a hormone that I am missing and it is bioidentical to the cortisol that our bodies should be producing.
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