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Tests for adrenal fatigue

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  • Tests for adrenal fatigue

    I'm considering ordering a test of some sort to help me determine if my adrenals are off. Many of the problems that I'm struggling with right now line up with hormonal imbalances that all lead back to the adrenals. Is a saliva test a good test to do? I've read that blood tests aren't great indicators for hormonal levels. The one that was recommended by one site is this one, and I notice that it does morning cortisol levels, but not nightly. Shouldn't I have one that does both?

    This is a big investment of money for me so I want to make sure that I get the test that's going to give me the most useful information. I'm doing it myself, without the help of a doctor. Anyone have any suggestions?

  • #2
    IME, a 4x saliva test in conjunction with

    Serum ACTH
    Serum AM cortisol (both must be done fasting, before 9 am)
    25 OH adrenal antibodies
    chem panel inc Na and K
    an ACTH stim test if warranted

    Are the best way to go.

    Canary club is a good place to get saliva tests; DiagnosTechs is a good one as well, albeit provider based. I started with a saliva test, and moved on to blood tests to determine the extent of the issue. There is a yahoo adrenals board that is extremely valuable.

    If your adrenals are wacked, your thyroid likely is too. They go hand in hand, and when one goes, the other does too-if not immediately, then eventually.

    Chief cook & bottle washer for one kid, a dog, 6 hens, 2 surprise! roosters, two horses, and a random 'herd' of quail.

    ~The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something one knows nothing about and refuses to investigate~


    • #3
      I strongly suggest getting these tests done under the supervision of a specialist. I was treated for adrenal insufficency (wrongly) for 18 months by a primary care physician until I saw a specialist who straightened me out (and proved that I was never deficient). Over the course of that treatment I gained 40 lbs and seriously suppressed my immune system and threw my digestive system completely out of order. It's taken me over two years to get back on track (and I still have a freaking moon face from the steriods even though I've lost 36 of those 40 lbs). Also, if you're actually deficient, you will need to carry an emergency injection and wear a medical alert bracelet because you'll need to be injected if you were to ever have serious trauma or head injury. It's nothing to mess with alone.

      I do agree with pp that if the adrenals are screwed up then your thyroid likely is too. Also not something you want to try to self treat.


      • #4
        Kimmie makes a good point. The the bracelet and Solu-med are mandatory for those on steroid treatment; You don't want to go that route if you can avoid it, but if you need it, you need it.

        If your adrenals aren't too bad-if they were, you'd quite likely know it-low blood pressure, nausea under stress, lack of appetite (anorexia), heat intolerance, weight gain (due to increased RT3) or loss (typically, gain is seen in nonaddisonian AI because thyroid hormone is unavailable with low cortisol/aldosterone), and so on.

        There are many, MANY things you can do BEFORE needing to move to the so-called 'big guns' (steroids) to realign the circadian rhythm and give them a bit of a break, and help them work better.

        Licorice extract
        Plain ol' sea salt (unrefined, of course)

        Anyhow, there is a plethora of options, depending on where you are. A saliva test is a good place to start, and if you go to an endocrinologist, they will recognize (unless they are a rare bird) only Addison's and Cushing's-nothing in between. I have seen the best results from DO's and ND's, though the ND's are typically big into sticks and bark and berries, and reluctant to move that. They are more willing to do the in-depth testing (eg ACTH stim, Dex suppression) than endos. And of course, as always, there are exceptions to every rule.

        For minor issues, eg high morning, depressed production in the remainder of the day, or vice versa, no MD is required. It's quite simple to fix, actually, and sometimes, a little extra salt, licorice, and increased vitamin C intake will do the trick.

        If you have extremely high production throughout the day (Cushing's) or very little (AI), then a med prof is absolutely warranted. In either case, a serum ACTH (in AM) is a good idea, to see what's going on. Very high production may require a dex suppression test as well.

        That said, keep in mind I am NOT a doctor and do not pretend to be; I have simply had WAY too much experience with this stuff, and have suffered the consequences of inept medical advice from doctors who knew too little. I had two adrenal crises, and decided I would do best to get MORE educated on the subject. Adrenal crisis SUCKS-it is HELL.

        Coincidentally (and totally irrelevant)-my mom has a dog that developed Addison's shortly after I was dx'd with hypopit. Funny how things work out.
        Chief cook & bottle washer for one kid, a dog, 6 hens, 2 surprise! roosters, two horses, and a random 'herd' of quail.

        ~The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something one knows nothing about and refuses to investigate~


        • #5
          Ecklecktika- thank you very much for the information. As far as symptoms:
          1. Excessive fatigue and exhaustion, chronic fatigue
          2. Non-refreshing sleep
          3. Sleep disturbance, insomnia
          4. Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
          5. Craving salty and/or sweet foods
          7. Low stamina and slow to recover from exercise
          8. Slow to recover from injury or illness
          9. Difficulty concentrating, brain fog
          10. Poor digestion
          11. Irritable bowel syndrome, IBS
          13. Premenstrual syndrome
          16. Sensitivity to cold
          17. Fearfulness
          18. Allergies,
          21. Anxiety
          22. Irritability
          23. Depression
          24. Reduced memory
          25. Low libido, sexual drive or interest
          26. Lack of lust for life and/or food
          28. Low appetite
          29. Panic/anxiety attacks
          30. Irritability, impatience, quick to anger.

          I found this list and all of these fit me to a T. ESPECIALLY low (or in my case almost no) libido and sleep disturbances. I realized recently that those two things getting worse a few years ago coincided with one another. And the low libido makes me extremely unhappy. Extreme fatigue, feeling overwhelmed a lot of the time. I've been to a kinesiologist who's told me that my adrenals were out of whack. He works on them and he's given me a supplement for them...but he is expensive and I haven't been able to have regular enough appointments with him so that his work would help.

          kimmie- thank you very much for the advice. Right now, my first step is to get the testing done. I am a student living on financial aid and I have no insurance so seeing any type of specialist is out of the question right now. Not to mention the fact that...quite honestly, I don't trust doctors. I've had too many experiences with them where I got wrong diagnosis...or handed a prescription for something that I'd have to be on for the rest of my life without even exploring the possibilities of FIXING what was wrong, or getting to the bottom of what was wrong. I actually did see an Endo a few years ago. My thyroid levels were just slightly off at that time. According to him, they were SLIGHTLY off, which from what I understood was still fixable by other means...and yet he wanted to put me on a synthetic thyroid medication that would have made my thyroid basically atrophy, meaning I would have been on the medication for the rest of my life.

          I should have addressed the thyroid stuff back then, but I had a lot of other stuff going on. Now that I'm really focusing on my health, I want to look into natural ways of addressing it. If it comes down to actually needing a specialist and heavy guns like steroids, then I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

          Sea salt...that's interesting. I've been craving salt like mad lately. I put a pinch of sea salt in almost everything (I've been skimpy with it lately cause I am running out and it's expensive. I'll definitely have to pick up some more.)

          Ecklecktika- do you have any data (articles/studies whatnot) saved that you'd be willing to share with me? I can provide you with an actual email address. If not, no worries.


          • #6
            Send me a PM w/ your email addy and I'll spill my guts :-)
            Chief cook & bottle washer for one kid, a dog, 6 hens, 2 surprise! roosters, two horses, and a random 'herd' of quail.

            ~The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something one knows nothing about and refuses to investigate~


            • #7
              fyre... been where you are and understand it well :-)

              I did the saliva testing, and ended up with a basic adrenal supplement (through the doc-- Adreset specifically). For the most part, though, for me it helped to "rest" the adrenal glands. I.E. give them a freaking break already. Step one was I quit the job from hell. I had to... it was literally making me useless in the rest of my life because of the high/abusive stress. I also quit all caffeine (which stimulates the adrenals), took it easy with exercise (i.e. did yoga, long, slow walks, light weights/body weight-- nothing that would be considered stressful physically) and took up some nice meditation (which for me, is usually some light music I find relaxing and sitting outside with some sun and letting it all go for 15-20 minutes). Helped a LOT. As did learning to be kinder to myself...

              I did end up getting my thyroid treated, which helped, too. And raised my Vitamin D which helped TONS and was the final key.

              I found the trouble with many doctors is like E said, they only recognize Cushings and Addisons... they don't recognize a "fatigued" state of the adrenals. Which always confused me. I mean your liver doesn't go directly from healthy to cirrosis... there is a long stage where it starts getting bad slowly over time. Not sure why they think our other organs don't get overstrained/overworked for various reasons... but that's just me.

              E, I'll be PMing you as well just so you know. I could use more info on adrenals and hormonal cascades. While I am tons better, I'm still having some wierd issues, and some recurring (like non-recuperative sleep), so need to figure out where to go next and some good reading would probably help.
              sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


              • #8
                Ecklecktika- how familiar are you with using licorice extract to support the adrenals? Is it something you've used yourself? I'm reading up on it and see that there are two types, glycyrrhizin and Deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL. The DGL doesn't have the same side effects that the glycyrrhizin has, but do you know which one is used for adrenal issues?


                • #9
                  You don't want the DGL. The glycyrrhizin is what does the trick. Yes, I used it a LOT before I figured out why my adrenals weren't working. I still use it on occasion-I have trouble with low potassium though, so I don't use it a lot. I have not used ashwaganda, or panax; I have used isocort, licorice and sea salt, and adrenal glandulars. The good glandulars are really good; the cheap ones have a lot of adrenaline, and are not so good.

                  I still use a lot of sea salt. If you crave salt, you'll want a chem panel + aldosterone and renin. Have blood drawn sitting upright, not reclining, and early in the AM. Fast from all added salt for 24 hours prior to the test to raise aldosterone as high as possible, and to provide a control for future tests to ensure consistency. I add between 1/2 and 1 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt to my drinking water-more in hot weather or if I'm sweating a lot.

                  Do you have excessive sweating? That's a classic low aldo sign. If you can correct your low aldo (with supplemental salt or florinef/compounded bioID aldosterone (best)) your thyroid will work better as well. Low aldo can cause pooling-you show adequate or even high T3 on paper, but its just floating in your blood, can't be utilized. For some people, usually just those on dessicated thyroid tablets or T3 only (eg cytomel, liothyronine, naturethroid, Armour, Thyroid, Erfa, Thiroyd-NOT synthroid, levo, thyrolar, etc) have trouble with dumps from increasing sodium levels, but they can be uncomfortable. Usually not dangerous, but less than fun.

                  Increasing cortisol can cause dumps as well but for those not on NTH or T3, its uncommon, IME.
                  Chief cook & bottle washer for one kid, a dog, 6 hens, 2 surprise! roosters, two horses, and a random 'herd' of quail.

                  ~The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something one knows nothing about and refuses to investigate~


                  • #10
                    Another thing that is very helpful is Sub-Adrene. It's a tincture, and very useful.

                    I have not used it, as I am still on steroids, but I know many, many people who have used it on themselves and on animals (eg during thunderstorms, fireworks, etc).
                    Chief cook & bottle washer for one kid, a dog, 6 hens, 2 surprise! roosters, two horses, and a random 'herd' of quail.

                    ~The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something one knows nothing about and refuses to investigate~


                    • #11
                      Wow...sub Adrene. I'll have to look into that as my dogs are terrified of fireworks and they're REALLY loud where I live. Have tried Rx something which did not work at all.
                      I'm a quitter...but I'm back now.


                      • #12
                        pm'ed you too. thanks, eklek
                        Adding minerals wherever I can.


                        • #13
                          This thread has been very useful for me. I think I have low aldosterone. It has reduced a lot now, since eating a healthier diet, but still I have some of the symptoms in the low adrenaline list. I guess I will have to read more on it.
                          Last edited by Anand Srivastava; 07-02-2010, 03:59 AM.


                          • #14
                            Eklektika, can I have those docs too. Thanks. After reading this thread I realised that I might have a small level adrenaline problem. I have always had huge sweating. My energy levels are always low. I have trouble remembering and concentrating. Most of the things on the list seem to apply to me.