Adrenal Fatigue: Is It a Hoax? (and if it isn’t, what can we do about it?)

Okay, all you super sleuths, it’s time for a little detective work. Good thing we have the spirit of Sherlock Holmes with us. So in yesterday’s article we talked about the role of the adrenal glands in our stress response, as well as the symptoms of “adrenal fatigue.” Today we’re going to wrap things up by discussing whether or not chronically high levels of stress can really blow our adrenals to smithereens.

Well, wouldn’t you just know it – looks like we have yet another battle between conventional and alternative medicine. Gee, maybe we ought to get the AMA and Kevin Trudeau to chime in. Uh – no.

Here’s the take from conventional medicine…

“Adrenal fatigue” involves the claim that the adrenal glands are burned-out, therefore incapable of coming up with sufficient hormone production, particularly cortisol. Now, they’ll acknowledge they can’t account for the symptomatology associated with “adrenal fatigue,” but they still won’t recognize the disorder. Of course, they readily acknowledge adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s Disease (severe or total deficiency of cortisol and aldosterone due to destruction of the adrenal cortex), and Cushing’s Syndrome (an excess of cortisol production or excessive use). Finally, conventional medicine would suggest alternative medicine practitioners actually coined the diagnosis, “adrenal fatigue,” because they knew there were no blood tests that could confirm or deny it. So they had the green light to promote “adrenal fatigue” and rip everyone’s eyeballs out with all sorts of unnecessary, and perhaps harmful, herbs and supplements.

So now to the alternative medicine camp…

They acknowledge adrenal fatigue is difficult to diagnose with blood tests; and, of course, they know that’s the only reason conventional medicine won’t recognize it. According to alternative medicine, the flaw in conventional medicine’s rationale is the traditional blood test used to diagnose adrenal function, the ACTH (adrenocorticotropin) challenge test, only shows extreme hormonal underproduction or overproduction. That being the case, there’s a range of hormonal levels that, shall we say, flies under the radar. So as it applies to low adrenal hormone levels, alternative medicine says conventional medicine will only make a diagnosis if levels are scary-low. Unfortunately, that excludes diagnosis and treatment for millions of folks – those suffering from adrenal fatigue, or hypoadrenia.

Well, since conventional medicine doesn’t recognize adrenal fatigue, we can’t look to them for treatment ideas. But since alternative medicine is all over it, let’s see what they have on their minds.

Alternative medicine’s treatment suggestions for adrenal fatigue?

  • Removal/reduction of stressors
  • Adequate and regular pattern of sleep in a completely dark room – hit the sack at 10p and get up between 830 and 9a.
  • Bye-bye caffeine
  • Avoid TV and computers after 8p – may prevent melatonin levels from rising sufficiently to induce sleep
  • Exercise in a well-considered manner
  • Nutritional supplementation – egs: glutathione reduction, vitamins b5, c, d, e; beta-carotene, selenium, magnesium, lysine, proline, glutamine, DHEA, pregnenolone, Ribose, CoQ, type 1 and type 3 collagen,   ashwagandha root, licorice root, Korean and Siberian Ginseng, ginger root, ginkgo leaf, natural hydrocortisone or cortisone acetate
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, lunch between 11 and 1130a, snack between 2-3p, dinner between 5-6p
  • Customized diet plan
  • Work with a licensed/certified/whatever practitioner

By the way, chipur is not sponsoring or recommending any of the treatments offered in this article. This is just objective information for you to consider and discuss with your medical and mental health team.

So what do you think? For my money (literally?), I see merit in the arguments from the conventional and alternative medicine camps. But I guess I kind of lean toward the alternative side. BUT – I must say I’ve always had my suspicions regarding the immediate availability, and efficacy, of products and treatments for the disorders alternative medicine practitioners like to promote.

But what really matters here is what you think. That said, won’t you comment?