Can adrenal fatigue cause immune problems?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 12, 2011 at 4:03 AM

I don't have any autoimmune diseases but do have a number of positive serum auto-antibody tests. I also think that I have adrenal fatigue, due to over a decade of pushing myself way too hard (some all nighters, double all-nighters, prolonged periods of 2-4 hours of sleep, and an inherited aggressive/defensive personality). Could this be responsible for my positive blood tests? I realize that restoring my sleep schedule to ~10pm - 6am would probably do the trick. Are there any other treatments that I should consider? I read somewhere that Curcumin (Turmeric) can restore HPA axis dysfunction.



on December 12, 2011
at 04:57 AM

I'm definitely curious as to how this is answered. I had a few positive autoimmune antibody tests this year, one (lupus) went down to nothing, but I still have low positive antibodies for Sjogren's. I don't have symptoms of either so I am curious if stress factors in (I was super stressed at the time when I got the tests and had some other stomach issues going on).

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on December 12, 2011
at 11:21 AM

Immune problems arise, as you correctly identify, when something in your body is out of whack. You seem to have a strong suspicion of what the underlying cause is (stress - caused by your personality, lack of sleep, probably a myriad of other factors) so I suggest tackling this head-on rather than staying as-you-are but dying all your food yellow.

I suspect improving your sleep pattern with massively improve your markers, but if increasing the volume is not easy for you, consider the following ideas (top of my head, sure there are lots more other readers can add):

  1. Improve the quality of the sleep you get: get away from artificial light in the evening; supplement melatonin (cheap-as-chips); spend the 30mins before bed doing something relaxing.

  2. Get out and about as much as possible. This might be anecdotal, but I find going for a 30minute stroll (and I mean stroll; I amble about in a random direction looking at and thinking about nothing in particular) in the evening massively improves my mood and sleep (see above about relaxing before bed)

  3. Cut down the caffeine and other stimulants.

  4. Drink more water (this, even above gluten, would be my first diet-based advice to 99.9% of people)

  5. You dont mention your exercise patterns, but adrenal fatigue (if there is such a thing) linked strongly with CNS over-stimulation (i.e. lifting heavy weight too often). If you do this; try cutting back. If you dont do much exercise, try doing some body-weight exercises (like pushups, squats, planks etc, all this you can do at home) for 15-20mins a day to begin with.

Look forward to others suggestions to expand the list :)



on December 12, 2011
at 01:07 PM

Yes it can. Humans need normal cortisol and aldosterone production for maximal effectiveness of their immune system. The key with cortisol it is rhythm and its time context must be of short duration and not chronically high or low. That is what happens when one eats or acts in a biologically incongruent fashion and results in multiple hormone deficiencies at once. Cortisol problems are never found in isolation without other problems. Most fail to look for the other issues.



on December 12, 2011
at 11:37 AM

Sleep, as usual is critical. If you've got adrenal fatigue, you could be exhausting your adrenals to the point of not creating enough cortisol if it's at the late stages - and it sounds like it is, it's pumping out tons of cortisol, and stealing the raw materials for making other hormones (ie. The Famous Pregnenolone Steal.)

Since you need cortisol in order to stay awake, if you're not getting enough sleep, for sure, your adrenals are getting quite a work out, but it's also preventing sleep since it keeps your revved up.

You can try some adaptogens such as holy basil (aka Tulsi tea), a bit of melatonin to help fall asleep (but it won't keep you asleep), some GABA if you can't fall asleep due to a racing mind.

ZMA also helps and helps return your hormone balance in the right direction well. If anything you'll probably need more Magnesium and other raw materials (minerals, cholesterol, etc.) since the adrenals are grabbing a lot of it.

When your cortisol is high, your body is trying to escape from the tigers it thinks you're facing, so it shuts down repairs and other vital functions, so your immune system gets lower functionality.



on December 12, 2011
at 05:05 AM

I would be very strict in avoiding gluten because of the links between gut permeability and autoimmunity. Gliadin can increase zonulin which controls the tight junctions in your gut.

Also, I would do a lot of bone broths and other GAPS diet-inspired foods in order to promote gut health.

Fermented foods would also be a plus. I like this stuff http://shop.goldminenaturalfoods.com/GOLD-MINE-ORGANIC-RAW-GARLIC-KRAUT-16-OZ/productinfo/1902-1916

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