Adrenal Fatigue

by Dr. Jason Barker January 30, 2017

Diagnosis of Adrenal Fatigue

Many people are affected by adrenal fatigue. It is however, grossly under diagnosed, especially by conventional medicine. Adrenal fatigue is difficult to diagnose with standard blood tests; however a properly trained doctor looking for the right signs and symptoms can help make the diagnosis. Keep in mind adrenal fatigue is a functional diagnosis. It isn't adrenal failure, which is called Addison's disease.

Testing cortisol and DHEA hormone levels are an important first step; you can test these hormones yourself at home using a convenient at home saliva test. A blood test cannot be used to test adrenal hormones - it doesn't offer the sensitivity that a saliva test does.

Additionally, in order to accurately assess adrenal function, we want to measure cortisol levels throughout the day - upon awakening, noon, early evening and bedtime - to get a good picture of cortisol levels as they change throughout the day.

Knowing the cortisol pattern helps to establish the degree to which a person's adrenals are affected. There are three stages to adrenal fatigue, with Stage 1 being mild, Stage 2 being moderate and Stage 3 being severe.

Common Signs And Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue

  • Weight gain, especially around the waist and stomach
  • Exhausted despite plenty of sleep
  • Frequent wakening at night; poor sleep
  • Inability to recover from exercise
  • Frequent illness, especially respiratory infections<
  • Inability to cope with stress; completely ‘wiped out’ after a stressful situation
  • Foggy brain
  • Dizziness when standing up
  • “Tired, but wired” in the late evenings (sleepy but can’t fall asleep)
  • Must have coffee or sugar to get moving in the morning

Treatment of Adrenal Fatigue

Treating adrenal fatigue involves both supplemental and lifestyle therapies.

Lifestyle Therapy

  • Rest Exercise should be minimal and only slightly stimulating. Think recovery-zone workouts. Keeping workouts at low intensity takes the stress off the adrenals.
  • Diet Avoiding sugars and simple carbohydrates is super important. Sugars and foods that are rapidly metabolized into sugar can be a source of ongoing stress to the adrenals as they work in conjunction with the liver to reestablish normal blood sugar levels. Every meal should be rich in fiber, protein and fat instead of sugars and simple carbs. 
  • Stress management Mental-emotional stress taxes the adrenals perhaps even more than physical stress does. Managing stress - whichever way works for you - is imperative to take the chronic stress off the adrenal glands so they can begin to recover.

Natural Supplement Therapy

  • Adrenal B Complex: B complex + adrenal adaptogens along with certain B vitamins support adrenal function and improve one’s ability to tolerate stress.
  • Vitamin C: Supports adrenal hormone production. The adrenals contain the highest concentration of vitamin C in the entire body.
  • Rhodiola: Is excellent for supporting adrenal function and boosting energy levels.
  • DHEA: DHEA is produced by the adrenal glands, and output becomes drastically reduced from adrenal stress. Supplementing with DHEA allows the adrenals to rest during recovery.
  • Cortisol Manager: In some instances of adrenal fatigue, cortisol levels may be elevated at the wrong time, such as in the evening. Cortisol Manager helps lower inappropriately elevated night time cortisol levels, so you can get a restoratve night's sleep.

Recovering from adrenal fatigue takes time and adherence to a supportive regimen, as above. Depending on the stage of adrenal fatigue, it may take a minimum of 3 months and up to a year if more severe.

Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker



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