a question to those of you who have successfully recovered from adrenal fatigue

I have been fighting adrenal fatigue for years, probably since shortly after going hypothyroid. I was diagnosed in late 2000, but my problems started in late 1995, after recovering from mononucleosis. Five years later, antibody levels were out of range, and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (autoimmune hypothyroidism) and put on Euthyrox. That was the start of a long, long battle that is still going on to this day.

I have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue twice; first, in 2004, by a doctor in Hertoghe's practice in Brussels. He put me on Medrol, but kept me on 2 mg daily for over two years (which equals 10 mg of natural HC). Then, I went off it without any problems, at the same time I stopped seeing that doctor, and did not take any adrenal support until late 2011, when I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue for the second time, this time by another so called Hertoghe doctor (but in private practice, not in H's practice).

I was put on Medrol once more, told to start on 4 mg daily, and work my way up to 6 mg daily if necessary. I did that, and remained on 6 mg for over two years. Looking back, I have not felt as good in a long time as I did back then. I then managed to lower the dose to 4 mg daily, and did fine but, looking back, I was probably doing best on 6 mg daily (equal to 30 mg of natural HC). I cannot really explain why I lowered the dose; I think I just felt I "had" to try to take as little as possible and, when I seemed to be doing OK, I concluded that I most likely did no longer need as much, and even interpreted that to mean that my adrenal glands were in the process of healing...

I managed to wean myself off Medrol completely earlier this year, after more than four years on it. Since then, I have tried several supplements and adaptogens to support my adrenal glands, but without much success.

Two weeks ago, I ended up with a bad infection which turned out to be a strep throat. I was put on antibiotics, and then developed a nasty cold from which I am still not fully recovered. Looking back, I realise I probably should have supported my adrenals during the time I was sick, as they are obviously still struggling. At present, I am fighting terrible salt and sugar cravings.

I want to find a solution once and for all. The Hertoghe doctors seem to consider this a life-long condition requiring life-long cortisol supplementation (the reason I was not put on HC, but on Medrol, in the first place, was because I tended to retain fluid, and HC was said to make that problem worse). Then, others say that if you are really cortisol deficient, HC will not make you swell, as long as you only take physiological doses (which vary between 20-40 mg daily depending on source). Above that, you are taking therapeutic doses, and that is when the swelling supposedly starts to be a problem.

However, I have read that adrenal fatigue is not like adrenal sufficiency, and that it only means that your adrenal glands are tired, not dysfunctional. Therefore, you should not need to be on adrenal support for more than a few weeks to a few months (once again, depending on source).

I have also read that, unlike people with Addison's disease, people with adrenal fatigue should not take cortisol three or four times a day, but rather in the morning and at lunch, and nothing after 1 or 2 pm, in order to avoid shutting down the HPA(?) axis.

The information out there is contradictory and confusing to say the least...some say adrenal cortex only is better as it does not contain adrenaline, while others claim that adrenal cortex is only likely to work during the early stages of adrenal fatigue, but that whole glandular is required later on. Some say that, after a certain point, prescription drugs are always needed, as supplements are too weak and too inconsistent. Some say that natural HC is better than synthetic steroids like Medrol, while others claim that Medrol is better as it will convert to cortisol over several hours, and stay 24-36 hours int he body, and not just peak after an hour or so like HC does, only to drop again just as drastically.

What I do know is that if I go back on Medrol now, I am never going to be able to go off it. The main reason for that is that I know I am going to feel so good on it that I will never want to go off it...

So is that so bad?! Maybe not...it also depend on whom you ask.

Medrol is longer-acting than HC, so you normally only have to take it once a day when on physiological doses (up to 6 mg daily).

I recently found a supplement containing 5 mg of natural HC per capsule, along with vits B, C, and rose hip. It's recommended you take four capsules a day spread out throughout the day, which would mean 5 mg of HC in the morning, 5 at lunch, 5 in the early afternoon, and 5 at bedtime. But are you really supposed to take HC like that...? I always thought the adrenal glands secrete more cortisol in the morning, and that you should try to mimic that by taking more HC in the morning, and then less later in the day.

If anyone here has successfully recovered from adrenal fatigue, no matter the method(s), I'd love to hear about it, as I feel I am running out of ideas...I have no problems getting a prescription for more drugs, but I am still wondering if the idea is really to keep me on (prescription) adrenal hormone replacement for the rest of my life...I may have to accept that eventually but, before I do, I'd like to hear from as many of you as possible.

I feel I can no longer waste time and money on supplements and adaptogens developed by doctor so and so...

13 Replies

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  • thecat346 what was the supplement with the natural HC please? Can you say,

  • I will PM you. I don't think there is a problem mentioning supplements in the forum, but I'd prefer to PM it to you anyway, as I think it's a good idea for such products to remain off the radar as long as possible...PM will follow.

  • Okay thanks :)

  • My story is somewhat similar to yours, but I didn't take a lot of medication so can't authoritatively comment on the drugs side of things. When I had my daughter 8 years ago I got adrenal fatigue (easiest baby on the planet thankfully or I would never have coped), I went gluten free and eventually mostly paleo (corn is really bad for my adrenals it would seem as well as wheat and all the glutinous grains). This helped a lot, but it took a good while to start healing, but I found vitamin D was huge in terms of my healing process (my levels were low even by the incredibly low levels that are deemed 'normal' in medical terms. (What is deemed normal in some countries is 'severely deficient' in others, so I did my own research. But the one thing that has brought me back to life is methylated sublingual vitamin B12 it has such an enormous impact on our thyroids, adrenals, in fact every body system out there and is so completely undervalued and misunderstood (have a look at the pernicious anaemia forum to see how tough some people have to do things, when they need regular B12 to survive). My B12 adrenal and thyroid symptoms were only the early stages of my B12 deficiency journey. I eventually suffered bursitis issues and then even worse, lost the ability to swallow food, I didn't write so much about my adrenal issue here on my blog but more the later symptoms like swallowing difficulty-swallowing.com/s... but you will find a good list of most B12 deficiency symptoms, which you might find interesting? There are a couple of great videos on the site to that I recommend watching too. I also used rose hip in the form of tea, not in a supplement form as well as nettle, I sipped them all day, this was prescribed to me by an MD who also had a background in herbals.

  • PS I no longer suffer adrenal fatigue at all, except when I eat any fermented foods or drinks (like kombuscha or pickles) I haven't got to the bottom of that one yet, but I am 100% well again now, so do have hope!

  • Great to know, thanks....!

  • The problem with 'Adrenal Fatigue' is that its such a catch-all description. What it does NOT mean is that your adrenals are tired, even if they are making less cortisol than they should. In fact in my case they made far more than normal, all through the day.

    The things they describe as adrenal fatigue are usually caused by a dysfunction of the signal mechanism to the adrenals - the HPA (hypothalmic-pituitary axis, I think) which gets disrupted by extended stress. That is why long term cortisol treatment is such a bad idea - it is unlikely to be treating the causes, only dealing with the results in the short term.

    I found the most useful thing was a book by Alan Christianson called The Adrenal Reset Diet. I followed the diet fairly closely for a while, meditated, used light therapy to reset my body clock, and used adaptogen herbs.

  • In 2011 I crashed overnight into a 2 year depression with acute anxiety.I did a Genova cortisol test in 2012 after a year in that state.My morning cortisol was very high,making me feel panicky every day,with dry wretching.I always felt normal after 6pm,slept well.

    I had been on thyroxine since 1997 for Hashi's & I think it is now recognised this long term use of monotherapy can cause this.I had long-term stress issues,too.

    I saw Dr P,who prescribed adrenal & thyroid supplements.They didn't help.I took them for ages.he didn't think I needed to give up thyroxine.I then used Siberian Ginseng,Rhodiola,L theanine,innositol.I couldn't say if they helped.I did an 8 week "Mindfulness based stress reduction course"it got me into daily meditation & a regular yoga practise.I started self medicating on SAMe which pulled me out of that state.I felt better after 10 days & continued to improve over the 18 months I was supplementing with a very low dose of only 200mcgs daily.As advised,i took B12,B6 & folate too,to aid methylation.Bet they helped.

    I then relocated,had a FT3 & FT4 test thanks to my new GP & she liased with the local endo,who prescribed T3.I decided to give up the T4 after a few weeks & followed Paul Robinson'S circadian T3 method for healing my adrenals,using his 2 books & his facebook group.I bought my own T3 from Cyprus to top up my NHS prescription.This was now 2015.

    I have also gone GF & take LDN daily.

    All my symptoms of hypothyroidism & adrenal issues have hugely improved,especially mood & energy.

  • LDN is = low dose naltrexone, right...? (not sure about spelling)? I have heard about it, I know there is supposedly a doctor in Belgium prescribing it, but what is it for more precisely...?

  • LDN was originally found helpful for ME,CFS,fibromyalgia.I have a friend & a relative who have been using it for a few years with good results.After my 2 year depression,before being prescribed T3,I experienced a chronic profound fatigue state for 2 years & decided to try LDN.It is now being used for Hashimoto's & many many other conditions.I get a private prescription every 3 months for £25 by telephone-only & am supplied by a chemist for £18-both in Glasgow.check out the LDN research Trust.There are FB groups,too,including a couple for Hashi users

  • Sorry, when you say a very low dose of only 200mcgs daily...200 mcgs of what exactly???

  • SAMe is S-Adenosyl-Methionine.It is a neurotransmitter but different to SSRIs like Prozac.I had been prescribed an SSRI called Cetalopran in January 2011,by my GP(the SSRI of choice when acute anxiety is presenting).It made me MUCH worse.I later tried St John's Wort & 5HTP.5HTP made me more anxious.

    I read about SAMe only on the net & bought it off an Ebay shop.200mcgs is a very low (starting) dose,but it pulled me out of my depression with acute anxiety.I do not know anyone else who's tried it,apart from reviewers on the net.I have met a dog-owner who is using it for his traumatized rescue dog!

  • OK, thanks:-) I thought SAMe was the name of some forum...!

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