I often get new clients who have been suffering from chronic fatigue. One such client sought my help after repeatedly visiting his doctor year after year. He was on thyroid medication for a hypothyroidism. Every year he would get his thyroid labs checked. They were normal–yet he was still fatigued. He came to see if there was anything I could do.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:
The adrenal gland has two regions responsible for the production of several hormones. Two of these include cortisol and epinephrine. Adrenal fatigue can present in various stages from elevated cortisol to low cortisol. He was experiencing symptoms of low epinephrine and low cortisol. He seemed to have a surge energy during a stressful moment followed by exhaustion–classic failure of the adrenal glands to maintain cortisol and epinephrine production. Cortisol and epinephrine help maintain sufficient blood sugars when fasting(between meals) to keep our brain and tissues fed. If blood sugar is low, brain fog and muscle weakness may ensue. This man would experience hypoglycemic headaches if he missed a meal, so he snacked on sugary foods to keep him going. Cortisol follows a diurnal pattern: it is elevated in the morning to help us wake up and low in the evening to help us fall asleep. If cortisol is chronically low, we are always tired. If it is always high, we don’t sleep or rest well– hence we are tired and gain weight.
How to test for adrenal fatigue:
I ordered a salivary test that checks cortisol at four points during the day: morning, noon, afternoon, and evening. Additionally I ordered a neurotransmitter testing to look at epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. In his case, his cortisol was significantly lower than normal all throughout the day. Additionally all three neurotransmitters were low. This definitely explained his symptoms.
Treatments for adrenal fatigue
If adrenal glands are sufficiently low, a prescription cortisone may be helpful, although weight gain is a common side effect. I have had good results with simply providing the nutrients the adrenal gland needs with support from botanical medicine: vitamin C, Zinc, B-vitamins, licorice, Rhodiola, Panax Ginseng. In his case I used a combination of high dose vitamins and minerals, botanicals, and a low-glycemic diet to prevent his blood sugars from dropping.
No surprise that his thyroid started to improve, and his dose of thyroid medication was lowered. Three months later, I received a message that he had “0” days of feeling like crap! If your blood work is normal, and you have been suffering from chronic fatigue, consider adrenal fatigue as one possible cause*.