Saturday, 28 July 2012

Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st C Stress Syndrome, Dr. Nikolas Hedberg

I'm really convinced that part of my M.E. issue relates to adrenal exhaustion. I've even got the evidence in very low DHEA readings. However, finding someone who can help treat adrenal exhaustion is proving a real challenge. That help is certainly not going to come from a free source, such as a national health-care service, as I found out this week. They didn't really know anything about DHEA, and in short shrugged it off, saying it was an irrelevant issue, and they wouldn't look into it any further. I'm so frustrated to put it mildly to have reached this kind of dead end.

Meanwhile, there is the really informative video of the aforementioned name in the heading to be found on YouTube on the issue of adrenal stress, as posted by Hawthorn University, an online holistic nutrition and wellbeing organization. I will look forward to checking out more of their videos, as it looks like they have a lot. Again, I strongly encourage all of you to make use of these completely FREE resources to increase your background knowledge on M.E. related topics.

Summary notes:

- Optimizing liver, blood, and bowel function is the basis of treatment of any adrenal disorder. Then, it can allow you to move on to addressing adrenal, thyroid, and pancreatic issues.

- The main realms:
Adrenal cortex - corticosterone/cortisol
Pituitary - adrenocorticotripic hormone ACTH
Hypothalamus - corticotropin releasing factor/CRF/CRH

  • Made by adrenal cortex in response to stress.
  • Optimum pattern should see highest level in the morning, then decrease over day. If the pattern is disrupted it can affect rhythms such as SLEEP.
  • Cortisol is anti-inflammatory.
  • Cortisol increases blood sugar under stress.
  • Required for healthy intestinal barrier.


Most people with auto-immune diseases (M.E.) have DHEA deficiency.
Produced by adrenal cortex.
Helps regulate immune function, liver health, brain.
It has an anabolic (as opposed to catabolic) process in that it helps build bone, muscle, elevates mood, and promotes detoxification.
Precursor to sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.
5mg is the max dose recommended for a woman; too much can cause an imbalance.

- "PREGNENALONE STEAL": Cholesterol forms the basis of all hormones. This gets converted into pregnenalone, which in turn converts to: progesterone, DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone. If the body comes under stress, some of this pregnenalone is 'stolen' and used up in cortisol, thus compromising the healthy production of the other hormones.

- The adrenal glands consist of the medulla vs. the cortex. The medulla region produces epinephrine and norepinephrine.

- Aldosterone: This is an adrenal hormone made in adrenal cortex. It regulates blood volume and helps increase sodium absorption and potassium excretion. A low salt and high water diet puts stress on the adrenal glands. It dilutes the blood and forces adrenals to pump out more aldosterone. Suggests using unrefined sea salt, measured at 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon in the morning with water.

- Herbal support for adrenal disorders - ie. adaptogens:
  • Ashawgandha (Indian ginseng) - helps people sleep
  • Siberian ginseng - increases energy and ability to absorb oxygen
  • Panax Korean ginsent
  • Eleutherococcus
  • Rhodiola
  • Holy Basil
  • Licorice - not an adaptogen, but extends the half-life of cortisol
  • Lemon balm, passion flower, valarian - helps with excessive adrenaline

- Blood sugar support - important to balance when fixing adrenals:
  • Zinc - doesn't stay in body for long; needs regular topping up
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid - used intravenously in Germany for diabetics
  • Gymnema Sylvestre
  • Chromium
  • Vanadium
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin E
  • L-Carnitine
  • Huckleberry/Bilberry
  • French Lilac

- The adrenal diet:
  • Moderate to low carbohydrates
  • Food allergy elimination
  • Balance water intake with salt
  • Eat protein frequently - should aim for 1gram per 1 kilo of body weight; taking protein snacks before bed can help to stabilize blood sugar and help to sleep. At night, if your blood sugar drops too low, the body pumps out adrenaline to compensate for this, and thus helps keep you awake. One tip is that if you wake up in the night, eat some protein.
  • Eat vegetables with every meal
  • Follow an alkaline diet
  • Avoid excessive carbohydrates

- Supplementation:
  • Pantethine
  • B-Complex
  • The adrenals have the highest concentration of VITAMIN C in the body
  • Phosphatidylserine - balances HPA axis (works for both hypo & hyper adrenal function)
  • Magnesium - calms the nervous system

- Adjunct therapies:
  • Chiropractic
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Neurofeedback
  • Somatic therapy
  • Counseling
  • Exercise - You should exercise in the morning, when adrenal glands are most active; exercising at night can throw them off balance - My own notes about this: Prior to my big M.E. crash, I was exercising a lot, and it was often fairly late in the evening. I felt really wide awake after the exercise, and did find it much harder to go to sleep.

- Conclusion:
  • Remove stress
  • Participate in fun activities
  • Sleep well - turn off all electrical appliances at night
  • Exercise, improve nutrition, supplementation

Additional comment made about omega 3 supplements that was interesting: These days, an emphasis is on the need to increase omega 3 supplementation. The speaker comments that over-emphasising omega 3 is neglecting the other important omegas: 6 & 9. An imbalance of fatty acids is not good for adrenal recovery.

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