WELLNESS & HEALTHCARE SERVICES

in Fort Collins, Colorado

Adrenal Dysfunction

In today’s world we are bombarded with daily stressors. These stressors come in many different forms including environmental, physiological, psychosocial, and mental varieties. It is well established that chronic stress from any cause can affect the body in harmful ways leading to a variety of symptoms. Conventional medicine does not recognize adrenal fatigue as a true medical diagnosis until there is complete failure of the adrenal gland to produce hormones. This complete failure is called Addisonʼs disease. Addisonʼs disease is a rare form of adrenal failure.

There are many holistic and alternative providers advertising about fatigue, and capitalizing on the public’s interest by selling dozens of supplements, magic “cure all” pills, and quick-fix solutions. This is not the answer!!

As traditional medical practitioners with an interest in natural and integrative therapies, Balanced Well-Being Healthcare does recognize adrenal dysfunction and has seen many patients with adrenal fatigue. We do not feel there is any quick-fix to this nationally growing problem. Addressing this problem requires a deep look into an individual’s life with a willingness to correct a host of potential imbalances. All aspects of a patient’s health are factors. This includes a detailed examination of all bodily systems, from the brain, to the digestive system, to the glands, as well as an examination of mind and spirit issues. A patient must be willing to make lifestyle changes and be open to a full examination of their own personal habits in order to improve their overall well-being. A comprehensive approach utilizing multiple therapies is a more thorough method of healing. Each of us has our own capacity to heal. Understanding this and helping a patient tap into their own natural healing abilities is our goal.



Types of Stress

Environmental:

  • Standard American Diet (SAD), high in inflammatory foods and toxins
  • Toxin exposure: plastics, POPʼs, pesticides, etc…
  • Disrupted sleep cycles; night shift work, poor sleep habits
  • Noise

Physiologic:

  • Chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid, lupus, crohnʼs, ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic/severe/prolonged infection or illness
  • Starvation
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Anorexia
  • Excessive exercise
  • Blood sugar imbalance

Psychological:

  • Unemployment
  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce/ relationship problems
  • Self esteem issues
  • Moving

Mental:

  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Fear/anxiety
  • Depression

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue and Dysfunction:

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue can vary depending on the stage at which a patient may come to medical attention. There are several stages of adrenal dysfunction. Initially the adrenal glands may respond to stress with increased hormone production and there may elevated cortisol levels. This may be episodic and the gland is able to recover to normal baseline function each time. There is an initial adaptation response by the gland to try and compensate to ongoing stress. However, with ongoing stress that is left untreated, the adrenal gland may begin to produce less hormone. Symptoms include:

  • Cravings for sugar and salt
  • Being easily overwhelmed, slow recovery from a stressful event, exaggerated startle response
  • Fatigue, awakening tired and unrefreshed
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, indigestion
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Recurrent infections
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness with standing
  • Weight gain
  • Severe PMS or menopausal symptoms
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Slow healing
  • Restlessness, irritable, absent-minded
  • Palpitations

Test to assess adrenal dysfunction:

Testing for adrenal dysfunction will vary for each individual. Testing can be performed in some individuals though saliva tests. Cortisol levels at different times throughout the day will be measured. Sometimes cortisol levels will be evaluated through blood testing and medication given to stimulate the adrenal glands to assess adrenal reserve will be performed. Urine collections may also be used. Testing includes:

  • Cortisol levels thru saliva, blood, or urine
  • Other blood tests may include testing for other adrenal hormones including: DHEA, Pregnenolone, sex hormones, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone
  • Thyroid hormone testing
  • Assessment of food allergies
  • GI examinations of stool to assess gut function
  • Toxin testing: blood, urine, or hair analysis

Treatment of Adrenal Dysfunction:

Individual treatment plans will be devised depending on symptoms, laboratory evaluation, and whether the adrenal is functioning on a higher or lower level.

In all patients a comprehensive plan will likely include:

  • Dietary guidelines, avoidance of inflammatory foods, refined sugars, and excess carbohydrates
  • Nutritional supplements to support increased stress in the body
  • Herbal therapy to support glandular function
  • Removal of potential allergic substances/foods
  • Avoidance of further toxins and removal of toxins if indicated
  • Exercise programs to promote stress relief, or alterations of exercise programs to gland healing
  • Immune support
  • Adrenal hormone replacements, DHEA, pregnenolone if indicated
  • Gut/gastrointestinal support to promote healthy intestinal function
  • Relaxation/stress reduction program

There is not a “one size fits all” approach to promote balanced and healthy adrenal and glandular function. Therapies must be tailored to meet each individual’s needs. Therapies must take into account all aspects of care, mind, body, and spirit. Healing comes from within and must be directed from a willingness to want to make changes. Lastly, healing takes time, and an openness to complete recovery.