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...