Are You Tired for No Reason and Have Trouble Getting Up in the Morning?
You may have a syndrome called Adrenal Fatigue. The adrenal glands are responsible for making Cortisol, the stress hormone. With years of stress, excessive coffee, and lack of sleep, the adrenals get tired and become dysfunctional. Conventional medical doctors do not recognize adrenal dysfunction.
What are the Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
Although the symptoms of adrenal fatigue can be endless, the two most common symptoms are restless sleep and afternoon fatigue. Other common symptoms include:
- Tired for no reason
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Craving caffeine all day
- Feeling energized right before bedtime
- Feeling run down / stressed
- Exhausted after a workout instead of energized
- Craving salt and sugar
- Frequent illnesses
What other medical problems does Adrenal Fatigue cause?
Cortisol is said to be the “master hormone,” and it influences numerous systems including the brain, heart, lungs, and muscles. Because of its vast influence, it can contribute to:
- Auto-Immune Diseases (Hashimoto, Lupus)
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- Low Thyroid or Suboptimal Thyroid (typically low T3)
- High Reverse T3
- Weight Gain or Difficulty Losing Weight
Adrenal fatigue can also cause metabolic changes such as high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar (diabetes) because of its profound effect on your energy levels. Without adequate energy, most people tend to not exercise and eat more sugar in order to stay awake. This leads to a host of medical problems stemming all the way to strokes and heart attacks if left alone for too long.
How do I get tested for Adrenal Fatigue?
There is a free online quiz published by Dr. Wilson (one of the experts in the field) which takes roughly 15-30 minutes to complete.
After completing the quiz, save the results. Print and bring them to your appointment, or email them to our practice. We will review the results and store them in your medical records in order to compare them down the road.
This quiz is helpful but further diagnosis can be made with Salivary Diurnal Cortisol Testing. Yes, it is a saliva test using saliva (or spit) from your mouth. The kit measures your cortisol levels four times throughout the day in order to get an accurate picture of your cortisol curve.
The first sample is collected within 30 minutes of awakening. This should be your highest level as cortisol is spiking before you open your eyes.
The second sample is collected before lunch (or around noon).
The third sample is collected before dinner (or around 6pm).
The fourth sample is taken right before bedtime.
The salivary test is not covered by insurance. Prices for salivary testing usually range between $90 – $150 depending on the lab, levels ordered, and healthcare provider.
Why should I get tested?
Many people think they feel tired or sluggish because of their age. While it is true that age is playing a part in their adrenal fatigue, it is more likely that the reason their adrenals are exhausted is because of the multiple years that they have expected more than their adrenals could keep up with.
Adrenals fatigue slowly, so they also recover slowly. It takes weeks to months in order to completely heal adrenal fatigue, so you should not delay treatment.
What are the stages of Adrenal Fatigue?
There are three stages of adrenal fatigue.
Stage 1 is a high cortisol state. The cortisol is spiking too high in the morning, remaining elevated the remainder of the day and night. This high cortisol state prevents high quality sleep at night, which leads to fatigue. Elevated cortisol levels dampen the immune system and can cause frequent illnesses.
Stage 2 and 3 are low cortisol states. They are defined by inadequate cortisol surge in the morning and an overall flattened appearance to the cortisol curve. Stage 3 is usually characterized by further dysregulation of the cortisol hormone. Stage 3 adrenal fatigue is the worst stage. Cortisol is low when it should be high and cortisol is high when it should be low.
How do I improve my Adrenal Fatigue?
Restoring cortisol balance requires multiple herbs, supplements, stress balance, caffeine reduction, adequate sleep, optimal nutrition, and hormone balance. It can take years to recover from adrenal fatigue. Recovery requires a holistic approach, and your treatment plan is individualized based on your history, current needs, and stage of illness.
The most well known herb to help adrenal fatigue is Ashwagandha, which works in all stages of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal gland extracts (usually from cows) are used in stages 2 and 3 to enhance production of cortisol. Licorice root is also useful in stages 2 and 3 of adrenal fatigue since it prevents the breakdown of cortisol. If your adrenals are under-producing cortisol, licorice can prevent the breakdown of cortisol in order for the small amount of cortisol produced to be more effective.
Other well-known supplements for adrenal fatigue are rhodiola, Vitamin C, phosphatidylserine, and eluethero.