3

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Adrenal fatigue / high cortisol? Did doc's office give WRONG supplement?!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 06, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Question for you guys! (I should be asking my D.O., but it is frankly awkward as I am thinking he gave me the wrong supplement for the opposite condition)

I took a saliva cortisol/DHEA test. I am not posting the numbers since I know all labs use different numbers, but I'll discuss the ranges which should assist in your responses.

My DHEA levels are "great" and are at the highest end of the ref range. My cortisol levels represent the issue of concern.

My 7am-9am test showed my cortisol at the lowest end within the reference range. (My doc wanted to prescribe hydrocortisone for this and I was like "but won't that impact the levels the rest of the day?!") I am not taking an rX for that. Crazy. Anyways, my 7am-9am levels are still considered "normal" by the test results, so I am not too concerned about being slightly low in the morning. I've read that is the norm with people who have high levels throughout the day.

My 11am-1pm cortisol levels are above the reference range. Not sky high, but still abnormal. It should be noted this test was taken in the summer (which has been relatively relaxing and stress free. On that day I hung out and watched TV all day. Not a typical day in law school (this fall) for me!!!

The 3-5 pm levels were within the range, as were the 10pm - 12 am levels.

The printout from the lab (since his explanation was a bit confusing) says "A pattern showing one or more elevated cortisol levels, while the DHEA is within reference range, is clinically significant. Elevated cortisol suggests adrenal HYPERFUNCTION of the zona fasciculata (the primary source of cortisol) At this time there is no evidence of hyperfunction of the zona reticularis (the primary source of DHEA). This profile may present in the presence of increased physiological stress, anxiety, hypertension, and or dysglycemia."

I ended up declining the hydrocortisone (was shocked he offered that...he is a D.O. and loves supplements, not rX!) and he sold me an Adrenal Complex supplement from Designs for Health. From what I understand from internet research, this is a fantastic product, but it is supposed to STIMULATE adrenals. Why should I be stimulating my adrenals if the issue probably lies with my high cortisol levels? I've had a life of chronic stress since childhood and have belly fat to prove it! If it matters any, I am also hypothyroid which is managed with only 1 grain of the Nature-Throid rX daily. My levels are great for that issue, so hopefully that isn't interfering with my cortisol. Lastly, I have been strict paleo for about 6mos hardcore and still had odd symptoms, which is why I went in for this saliva test to begin with.

Any advice or insight is greatly appreciated! I did contact his office today and the snippy receptionist said "that is the only adrenal supplement he uses! that is what he said to give you!". In my mind, this is the equiv. of giving a hyperthyroid patient a supplement or rX for hypo symptoms. I am not sure if I am allowed to post the link the website, but the product is made by Designs for Health and is called "Adrenal Complex". It has Vitamic C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B-6, Pantothenic Acid, Whole Adrenal Glandular, PABA, N-Acetyl Tyrosine, Adrenal Cortex Glandular.

From research, I've read that Tyrosine and Adrenal Glandular is not good for folks with Hyperfunction of the zona fasciculata, thus you can see my cause for concern.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to our discussion.

Kristen

6cb9eb6228b5c0c358e4ac28f71a391d

(70)

on August 06, 2012
at 11:57 PM

Thanks *so* much for your response. Your explanation of the stages of adrenal insufficiency totally just clicked with me. Quite frankly, it is a MIRACLE I do not yet have adrenal fatigue. I originally had this test done because I had probably 95% of the adrenal burnout symptoms, although the odd belly fat (which I know is a result of high cortisol) was perplexing! Your advice is great, and the fasting tip is something I keep hearing. My problem is I hate to eat when I'm not hungry and frequently go until 1pm without eating. That's probably the biggest improvement I can make at this point!

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5 Answers

5
Af842c68e3d07fa0e35b4274f3acaeec

on August 06, 2012
at 11:43 PM

So what it looks like is the supplement he gave you is meant to support the adrenal glands. In the earliest stages of adrenal(stage 2 it seems you're in, if at all), cortisol is too high, as a result of too much stress. Cortisol itself is not the cause of adrenal fatigue, it's a response to stress by your body.

Supporting your adrenal glands, so that it doesn't progress to stage 3, adrenal exhaustion in which cortisol production drops (not a good thing at this point).

The other steps to take would be reducing your stress levels, getting more quality sleep(blacked-out room, magnesium glycinate and/or melatonin can help), making sure to eat enough, no fasting, and reeling in the intensity and/or volume of training.

Having fun, playing, enjoying time with friends, etc are all important things too to reduce stress levels.

6cb9eb6228b5c0c358e4ac28f71a391d

(70)

on August 06, 2012
at 11:57 PM

Thanks *so* much for your response. Your explanation of the stages of adrenal insufficiency totally just clicked with me. Quite frankly, it is a MIRACLE I do not yet have adrenal fatigue. I originally had this test done because I had probably 95% of the adrenal burnout symptoms, although the odd belly fat (which I know is a result of high cortisol) was perplexing! Your advice is great, and the fasting tip is something I keep hearing. My problem is I hate to eat when I'm not hungry and frequently go until 1pm without eating. That's probably the biggest improvement I can make at this point!

4
4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

on August 07, 2012
at 02:50 AM

Many people have low AM cortisol.

The fact that your Noon level is high but its within range after that is GREAT since its harder sometimes to deal with too high PM cortisol then it is to deal with too low AM.

I am unclear why he didn't Rx Isocort (plant based cortisol) for the AM. That's what makes the most sense to me here. My understanding is that Isocort is the only product out there that doesn't have adrenaline or increase adrenaline but does increase cortisol. DFH is a great company and I use a lot of their products but I would want to know if it affected cortisol only and not adrenaline.

I'm glad others mentioned the Adrenal/Thyroid link. I too really like the Stop the Thyroid Madness website and their explanations.

With law school coming up you are very much at risk for a worsening Adrenal Fatigue. I personally would take Isocort in the AM so as not to further stress my adrenals.

2
1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

on August 07, 2012
at 01:51 AM

I thought it said your cortisol was low in the AM, which is when its typically highest (which is why you wake up) peaking about an hr or two after you wake (which is why you get hungry if you eat during this window ((because high cortisol causes an extra high insulin response)) )

2
A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 07, 2012
at 12:48 AM

I was curious about your thyroid labs, because it's not necessarily uncommon for thyroid and adrenal issues go together, with one attempting to compensate for the other during insufficiency. Ultimately that is a losing game, and you end up insufficient in both. The website "Stop the Thyroid Madness" has a lot of good information on this twin-diagnosis, if you'd like to get some other perspectives. It seems good cortisol patterns are important for your body to properly use your thyroid hormones. Added thyroid hormones might increase need for more cortisol too.

A close relative has both hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiency, and she absolutely must take hydrocortisone, or risk death (not exaggerating). The problem with taking HC is that, while a properly functioning adrenal system knows when to increase output to help you deal with stress, human consciousness is less sensitive to this need. My relative often does not detect the need for another dose until she is already suffering some strong physiologic and emotional effects of insufficiency. Her health, her happiness, her marriage all suffer as a result. It can be pretty horrible.

I think finding ways to manage and reduce your stress, which can feel tedious and often seem to offer little helpful feedback in the immediate short term, will be important strategies for you to prevent a worsening prognosis. I also second the recommendations of not fasting, and improving your sleep hygiene. And if you ultimately need HC at some point, don't beat yourself up over it--the alternative can be awful. Change/avoid it if you can, accept it if necessary. This sounds like some version of the serenity prayer...

0
A0a3a7c27939c50da5dcfa3ed321b866

on June 20, 2013
at 06:29 PM

I also have adrenal fatigue and am taking armour..I was told by my Dr. that I can not take Adrenal Complex because it has glanulars in it and you can't take thyroid glanulars with adrenal glanulars so I was told to take AdrenaTone..

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