My Experience with Adrenal Fatigue

4 05 2008

Adrenal fatigue is a very curious condition with many causes and symptoms. For me, my health seriously declined in the summer of 2004 with migraine headaches which caused zigzag patterns with my vision, nausea, extreme fatigue that was not resolved with sleep, trouble sleeping, problems with blood sugar, depression, anxiety, allergies increased severely especially food allergies; I developed asthma and multiple chemical sensitivities.

The recovery program for adrenal fatigue is to avoid stressors, do things you enjoy, eat healthy nutritious foods, exercise, use relaxing techniques and take supplements. Recovery time for adrenal fatigue can take up to three years but it also depends on how severe your adrenal fatigue is, how well you follow the recovery program and how well your body can heal itself. For me, I needed to make many changes:

  • Avoid foods I am allergic to.
  • Control environmental allergies with removing carpet from the apartment, using an air purifier, removing upholstered furniture, use a mask while cleaning and use natural cleaners, and stay inside when pollen counts are high. I also take medication like Claritin, and albuterol in a nebulizer to control allergies and asthma. I refrain from taking an albuterol inhaler as they now contain ethanol (alcohol) which is can be asthma trigger for those with chemical sensitivities. Also, ethanol is made from corn which I am moderately allergic to and causes asthma. Taking the inhaler would increase the danger to my life.
  • I had to switch to eating organic food in order to consume as little pesticides as possible and gain as many nutrients as possible.
  • I was put on DHEA supplements, vitamins, adrenal fatigue support supplements, digestive enzymes and I had to limit my carbohydrates and eliminate sugar to help control blood sugar. However, the down side to this was that I noticed the supplements I was were giving me problems. My peak flow reading with asthma would fluctuate so much I had a hard time controlling my asthma. When I took myself off the supplements to see what would happen, my peak flow readings normalized. It was then I realized there was an ingredient called magnesium stearate in many of the supplements which comes from beef, which I am allergic to. Also, the capsules where made from either a bovine (beef) or procine (pork) source. I am slightly to moderately allergic to beef and severely allergic to pork. I had to look for supplements made with vegetable capsules and the vegetable comes from seaweed. Still, the struggle was to find supplements of high quality but without the magnesium stearate. I didn’t have much luck. Now I am only on DHEA supplements but I have to open the capsule and dump out the powder into my food in order to take it. I found a digestive enzyme called Digest Gold by Enzymedica that is without fillers and has a vegetable capsule. The only other vitamins I am on is a liquid Vitamin D3 drop, and a liquid combination Vitamin B12 and folic acid drop. The later I am on because I’m pregnant. Other than that I must retain nutrients from food even though there aren’t very many foods I can eat safely.
  • My daily patterns are relatively the same. I wake up in the morning around 5 and eat breakfast, go back to bed, wake up around 10 or 10:30 and have a second breakfast, take a nap if I need one, eat lunch, do something I enjoy that keeps me calm (read, write, watch TV, exercise, work on crafts), eat a snack about 3 or 3:30. About 6 or 7 at night I make dinner. Then I try to be in bed by 10 if I’m not hungry. If I am, then I have another snack. Boy I sound like a hobbit with as much as I eat! My meals are high protein, low carb in order to keep my blood sugar level. Too many carbs make me feel sick and make me very hungry an hour or two later after I have already eaten.
  • I drink an 8 ounce glass of regular (non-iodized) salt in the morning and twice later in the day. I use non-iodized salt as the iodized salt contains dextrose, or corn which I am allergic to. The amount of salt I use depends on my taste. If I can’t taste the salt in the water then I know I need more.
  • I use a lot of self-talk for when I am feeling down or anxious. I try to keep myself positive but if I am in a rough patch and need help, I pray, talk to my husband, family and friends. I also am a member of an adrenal fatigue support group on Yahoo Groups, which has helped tremendously. The support group can be found at: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/adrenalfatigue/
  • I remove myself from situations, or from relationships that make me feel anxious, scared, vulnerable, and exhausted. Any situation, or relationship that leaves you feeling less than yourself is really a drain on your system. Change what you need to to make yourself feel good again.

I think that about covers it for what I have to do to recover. Rest and eating about every four hours is key for me to get through each day. Not dwelling on events that feel stressful such as a simple doctor’s appointment, or doing chores, is hard, but I try to put distance between me and what bothers me in order to handle it. A big key to help me through each day is for me to remember God is with me and is helping me through anything that comes. I find great comfort in knowing He is with me and guiding my every step in getting well.

Best of luck to you if you have adrenal fatigue. Please feel free to send comments or ask questions.

Have a great weekend!

J.I.

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22 responses

16 07 2008
ricki

Did you recover from it? How long did it take and what worked well for you? I am pregnant and have adrenal fatigue and notice a decline, can you offer me any light?

Ricki

28 11 2008
Scott

JJ:

Are you fully recovered and what stage of adrenal fatigue were you in? I have been dealing with this for three years, but started treatment a month ago and have not seen any difference. A little depressed.

Scott

8 02 2009
JI Soucie

Hi, Scott,

I know this is something you may not want to hear, but my nutritionist advised me it could take up to three years to fully heal from AF (adrenal fatigue). It depends on how long you have had it, what the cause was, how well you follow treatment and lastly how fast or slow your body heals. Generally, you will not notice a difference in only one month. You need to give your body time to heal and not over do it. The more you push yourself to get better, the longer it will take you to heal. Eat right, limit stress, do things that make you happy but not exhausted and sleep or rest when you can. My best to you.

Janis

21 05 2009
MARI

In reading your story I’ve found comfort in learning all I’ve been feeling is not all in my head. Even though people in my live don’t believe something is really wrong with me. I just made Dr’s appt and will be talking to him about this. Thank you so much for sharing. Truly appreciate it.

Mari

31 12 2012
Judy

I could not loose weight ! I was working with an nutritionist and the weight still would not come off ,I felt stressed all the time . The doctor checked my hormones ,a saliva test found out my Progesterone was low and I had very low Cortisal levels ,thats the hormone that helps you with stress ,but I didn’t have much ,I burned out my adrenals . I had taken care of my parents through the years but I was under lots of stress ,its a long story but my thyroid and all adrenals were not functioning right. I’am on Biodentical Progesterone and Biodentical Cortisal . and adrenal meds and vitamins . Feel a little better I had an awful time sleeping ,now thats better .Low Cortisal causes lots of problems low blood pressure ,Hypoglicimia etc. I get very tired fast ,I take napes now just to heal my body . It takes a year to 3 yrs to heal of all the things I have read about it . Stress is the worse thing and Areanal Stress comes in stages I was in stage 3 before my nutritionist found out with a saliva hormone test was done. Thank God for him. .

31 12 2012
Janis I. Monroe

I am sorry to hear that you have to deal with this condition. It is not easy. I also took the saliva test but just recently saw an endocrinologist to check for adrenal insufficiency and went to the hospital for a test that stimulates the adrenals and checks for abnormalities. Everything checked out fine. I question the saliva test and whether I really had adrenal fatigue. I did however find out that my thyroid was sluggish so that is being compensated for. Glad you are feeling even a little bit better. That should give you some hope!

30 09 2009
Sharon

When I look at your daily routine, I think, that is a nice routine, restful, healthy. But, how does someone like myself with a full time job (in a corporate environment, versus working at home,etc) recover? This is something I have been struggling with – stress from work, not having enough time to make proper foods (to avoid allergens) and also squeeze in time for meditation/relaxation. Do you think it is neccessary to take time off of work for this process?

12 10 2009
Lynn

I have been dealing with gluten intolerance since last year. I was tested after 5 months of run around with HMO docs. My naturopath told me to quit wheat and corn, then 2 weeks later tested me. No gluten, sugar, soy, dairy or oats. I felt much better in about 3 months. After 5 months I was so charged up I slept only 5 hours a night for months. Now in the last month or so I am sleeping as much as 12 hours and still feel wiped out. There is suspicion of adrenal fatigue. The ND has tried me on several bovine supplements that sent me in a downward spiral. I get major stress symptoms and I now wonder if I just shouldn’t eat beef. I was served a flat iron steak at a banquet Friday night and have been down all weekend, fatigue, anxiety and some stress symptoms. Now that it is several days later, I am starting to feel normal. Have you had such experience with beef? I didn’t test intolerant of beef, but I sure see the correlation.

17 10 2009
Cindy Ostrom

Thanks for sharing J.I……….great information. I just went for a walk around the block and feel exhausted now. Have to learn to take care of myself and slow down and learn to say “no, I cannot do that today”. Thanks again. I believe as you do, that God walks with us through it all.

17 10 2009
Cindy Ostrom

Feel free to email me J.I., want to hear if this is all behind you now!

19 11 2009
Anne

I loved your down to earth take on recovering from adrenal fatigue. I suffered from a rather severe form of sciatica for 8 months last year, followed by severe flu. After that my adrenals were down to zero. I never realised that stress of that sort also did the adrenals in. I do have stress, as everyone, but those illnesses pushed me over the edge. I got onto a naturopath, and took the saliva tests, and sure enough – depleted adrenals. She said it could take about a year for me to recover, and in the process it’s been tough. I’ve never suffered from depression before in my life, but low adrenals will certainly bring that on. I am feeling better, some slight setbacks from time to time, but I am a fighter so I know I will be fine eventually. I have moved out to the countryside, and am taking things easy. I’ve always been a high achiever, so it is a bit difficult just doing things for the sake of enjoyment – that is my biggest lesson and benefit. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your info. I really appreciate it.

30 11 2009
Rachael

Mari,

I know how you feel. Unfortunately, I’ve found little help with doctors. It’s amazing how little adrenal fatigue is recognized in western medicine. After 4 years dealing with this, I was begining to think it was all in my head, or that I was just being “weak” or lazy. Finally met someone who had adrenal fatigue and had fully recovered. They recomended the book “Adrenal Fatigue: 21st century stress syndrome”. I have to tell you, I laughed and cried when I read it. I was so happy to finally know what was wrong with me, and that it actually did exist, not just in my head. I started my treatment (same basic stuff of strict “adrenal healthy foods”, stress management and lots of rest,etc.) and was noticing small but steady changes in improvement. Unfortunately I am in graduate school, which is high stress, long hours, etc. So I found it almost impossible to integrate the two lifestyles, and I fell “off the wagon” with my treatment so to speak. Almost immediately, I was right back where I started energywise, as bad as I ever was. I think the key is sticking with it for a very long time. Which is hard! Thankfully I only have one semester left in school, then I plan to dedicate myself fully to my recovery! I wish everyone luck with theirs!!

9 04 2010
Lynda

I want to share with everyone this information about Adrenal Fatigue. You need to go see an Endocrinologist! I have been searching for an answer for all my symptoms. Most Dr.s don’t ever think of A.F. and life changes aren’t possible for all the people. In my situation, my marriage is great and we have a beautiful child and everything is perfect in my life but we are self-employed, business is great, we are so thankful and blessed, but it is not a 9-5 job and we are trying to limit work time. My point is we love what we do and it is profitable but we can’t learn overnight how to not talk about our work day at the dinner table! Also there’s a big market on supplements. $$$ What I have learned is Adrenal Cortex produces cortisol. When you have A.F., the cortisol is limited or depleted. The Endocrinologist can provide you the medicine that your body needs!! Then it would be wise to take vitamens, exercise, and be aware of your stress level, also time to re-assess your life! I don’t know how everyone feels, but for me, life is too short and I don’t want to miss it! Another bit of advice, don’t let anyone talk you into just depression or blaah blaah, go with what your body is telling you. You will have to have a referral from a Dr. but tell any Dr. thats what you want!!! It’s your life on hold and your body. Believe me, Iv’e been worried with this mystry diagnoses for years and that is what I have learned. Good Luck and I will say a prayer for all you guys!!!!

27 08 2010
sandy

Why do you drink the salt water 3 times a day?

27 12 2010
JI Soucie

I drank the salt water three times a day because with adrenal fatigue your body does not retain enough salt. In Dr. James L. Wilson’s book he guides the patient to put salt in water and taste it. If you cannot taste the salt then your body needs more salt. So I added as much salt as I needed until I could taste it and then drank the 8 ounce glasses of water. Salt is an electrolyte your body needs to function, but in adrenal fatigue this can be too low.

2 03 2015
Jeannine

Take the Himalayan pink salt, or Sea Salt. Regular salt is highly processed and the nutrients are taken out. See link of Dr. Axe and salt and he talks more about this. http://draxe.com/10-benefits-celtic-sea-salt-himalayan-salt/ Also, on adrenal fatigue: http://draxe.com/3-steps-to-heal-adrenal-fatigue/ Wishing you great health!

29 11 2011
Kathy

Get saliva cortisol test with dhea from amazon.com. Collect your spit at 4 times a day to check cortisol and a dpot chack of dhea. Got Drenamin. from my chiropractor – saved my life and also take 50 dhea daily. Drenamin has cortisol. Tsper on, then taper off really slowly. AM dose most important to help your body eake up without taxing adrenals. They get to rest and heal. Better health to you all. -K

3 11 2012
Mavis Manolakis

When doing some bodybuilding stuffs, DHEA can help you boost your testosterone levels.;

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28 11 2012
beefwalker

Great piece Janice, but on the issue of Mag Stearate, you’ve been seriously misled. This is a common con-job, initially spread by producers of low-grade supplements who want to differentiate their product from those of the good, ethical producers.

It’s almost (almost!) impossible to have an allergy to Magnesium Stearate. It’s amazingly benign and found in hundreds of natural, daily foods – often in quantities that are hundreds or thousands of times the amount you could ever get from capsules and pills. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid unless you eat a very restrictive, unhealthy, unnatural diet.

Do some more reading and don’t sweat the small stuff 🙂
All the best,
BW

Now Foods – one of the primal health movement’s favourite ethical supplement producers has this to say on the subject:
http://www.nowfoods.com/Products/FAQs/FAQs-on-Magnesium-Stearate.htm

28 11 2012
beefwalker

PS: And almost all Mag Stearate used in pill manufacture comes from vegetable sources – palm oil mostly.

3 03 2013
Katia Spino

There is sufficient evidence supporting the use of DHEA in the treatment of adrenal insufficiency, depression, induction of labor, and systemic lupus erythematosus. ‘

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28 04 2013
Debra

How do others with adrenal fatigue respond to the well-meant question from others, “How are you?” I wonder how to respond when I feel as bad as the last time the same people asked me the question and I’m quite sure it is going to be some time before I can respond with a “good or great.”

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