Adrenal fatigue is a collection of physical signs and symptoms that are the result of inadequate levels of adrenal hormones. Typically this condition results from excessive stress on the adrenal glands, and can also be caused by intense or prolonged mental, emotional, or physical stress or serious illness. It occurs when the adrenal glands can no longer produce adequate levels of the hormones it typically manufactures in response to stressors.
People with adrenal fatigue experience a level of physical fatigue that isn't relieved by an adequate night’s sleep, among other symptoms. They often cannot even begin to function without nearly continual doses of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants that are needed to get them going in the morning and to keep them afloat the rest of the day.
Many people are affected by this condition; however it is grossly under recognized, especially in conventional medicine. It can be difficult to diagnose adrenal fatigue syndrome using conventional lab tests; however a trained practitioner looking for the right signs and symptoms can help establish a diagnosis.
People with adrenal fatigue syndrome have great difficulty getting out of bed. They may have problems throughout the many organ systems of the body leading to a variety of symptoms. All of which occur as the body tries to compensate for inadequate levels of the adrenal hormones - most specifically cortisol.
The adrenals are responsible for the secretion of several hormones, namely those related to stress. These include cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine; all of which orchestrate the ‘fight or flight’ stress response.
Other hormones secreted by the adrenal glands include the androgens (testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S), as well as others that regulate water and electrolyte balance to help maintain blood pressure.
The adrenal glands are directly wired to the nervous system, and respond nearly instantaneously to any kind of stress.
Establishing a diagnosis involves a careful interview process at our Fort Collins clinic about the different signs and symptoms a person may be having, and testing the levels of cortisol and DHEA. In some instances, other conditions may need to be ruled out and testing for additional hormones/factors may be necessary.
Conventional medical practitioners sometimes try to diagnose adrenal fatigue by using a blood test and come up with nothing. This is because blood isn't an ideal way to test cortisol levels (for a variety of reasons - watch video). Additionally, conventional doctors are trained to look at adrenal function through an all or none lens; meaning they are only looking for absolute failure (Addison's disease) or over production (Cushing's disease). Adrenal fatigue can't be properly diagnosed using blood tests.
Treatment is ultimately very individualized, as the person's specific lifestyle factors will need to be addressed. An individual treatment program will be designed based on test results. It will include a variety of adrenal fatigue natural medicines and botanical medicines, depending on the patient.
Some of our treatment recommendations include, but aren't limited to: