Adrenal Fatigue (Cortisol Deficiency) And Insomnia-congrats . .

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Ronaldo60, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Ronaldo60

    Ronaldo60 Member

    ...for having an interest in the adrenal "stress hormones" and how they might relate to an important aspect of your CFS. Many others on this site are talking about things like "mold," "red meat/heart-disease," and even a few insane "positive-thinking" courses claiming miracle-cures. But you joined our discussion, bravo! Cortisol, secreted by the adrenal cortex, is essential for life and plays a key role in maintaining normal blood-glucose levels needed for energy (body AND brain), and is your body's natural inflammatory med. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter needed for sleep (and that general feeling of "well-being") is produced by the brain when it has enough energy to function normally. When cortisol gets too low, perhaps after some lingering viral illness, severe stress/trauma, or hormonal issues, etc., insomnia is a common symptom of this deficiency as well as CFS, probably due in part to low serotonin-levels. But normal, deep sleep is NEEDED to produce normal cortisol amounts, which are typically highest first thing in the morning. As cortisol drops, so does blood-sugar, and the "partner" stress-hormone, epinephrine, responds by rising. The "fight-or-flight" response is now switched-on, with all of THOSE nasty symptoms. Not a pretty picture, but does it sound all-too familiar?

    [This Message was Edited on 04/19/2013]
  2. Ronaldo60

    Ronaldo60 Member

    I see so much theoretical discussion around this forum it really is driving me a little crazy. So many hypothetical scenarios on what is actually causing the CFS and ordering more tests and texts, endless and helping no one. Do a very simple and safe trial: For about ten days, take 5mg. Prednisone with a very good, substantial breakfast in the morning. See how you are feeling, take notes starting with the first day. If you notice a big improvement back towards "normal," consider a long-term, low dose that you taper-off slowly. If you take it easy, and avoid stress, hopefully your own cortisol/cortisol receptors improve. There are probably several supplements(including licorice) you can use to help the process and eliminate the need for long-term meds. If your symptoms resemble hypoglycemia but are not relieved by eating, my guess is you're a good candidate for this kind of treatment.
  3. Ronaldo60

    Ronaldo60 Member

    I see so much theoretical discussion around this forum it really is driving me a little crazy. So many hypothetical scenarios on what is actually causing the CFS and ordering more tests and texts, endless and helping no one. Do a very simple and safe trial: For about ten days, take 5mg. Prednisone with a very good, substantial breakfast in the morning. See how you are feeling, take notes starting with the first day. If you notice a big improvement back towards "normal," consider a long-term, low dose that you taper-off slowly. If you take it easy, and avoid stress, hopefully your own cortisol/cortisol receptors improve. There are probably several supplements(including licorice) you can use to help the process and eliminate the need for long-term meds. If your symptoms resemble hypoglycemia but are not relieved by eating, my guess is you're a good candidate for this kind of treatment.
  4. lesliesue

    lesliesue New Member

    A few years ago I was diagnosed with this. I took a couple supplements that really helped a lot. I bet meditation would help, too. At least help not make the problem worse.

  5. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    High cortisol at night, when it should be low, can cause severe insomina. Chronic stress is a major factor in high cortisol levels. Seriphos (phosphorylated serine) is fabulous for normalizing high cortisol levels and helping with insomnia caused by high cortisol. But it's best taken in the morning, oddly enough, due to circadian rhythms.

    It's interesting - many with CFS do have low cortisol, but many also have high cortisol. An adrenal stress index test is a saliva test with samples taken 4 times through the day/evening which is very good for seeing cortisol levels and how they fluctuate throughout the day/evening.

    There's no doubt that cortisol and adrenal fatigue play a major role in these illnesses.

  6. Ronaldo60

    Ronaldo60 Member

    I don't know, I can only speak from my own experience and research, but if symptoms include lots of inflammatory problems, plus hypoglycemic ones, where it appears the adrenaline fight-or-flight response is switched-on constantly, that sure points to low cortisol, which the NIH actually did find in one of their CFS studies. Consider that while the first response to many stresses is elevated cortisol, over time our cortisol-receptors become burned-out or the actual cortisol output eventually slows and the end-result is the "mild cortisol deficiency" causing "unexplained chronic-fatigue" discussed by Dr. Jefferies 40 years ago.
    Jodielee72 likes this.
  7. Ronaldo60

    Ronaldo60 Member

    And wouldn't it be valuable if ProHealth could offer them along with including "Adrenal Fatigue" or "Mild Cortisol Deficiency" as a possible CFS-scenario?
    Jodielee72 likes this.
  8. ljimbo42

    ljimbo42 Active Member

    There's no doubt in my mind I have adrenal fatigue. I started taking b-5, pantethine (co-enzyme b-5), and licorice root a few days ago and my stress level has dropped significantly.

    Also as a testament to adrenal fatigue causing hypoglycemia and adrenaline kicking in to make up for the low cortisol- a few hours ago I was feeling very anxious and hyper. I hadn't eaten in about 4 hours so I eat a couple of hand fulls of almonds.

    In about 10 minutes I felt relaxed. The almonds brought my blood sugar up enough to get rid of the anxiety and hyper feelings from low cortisol and high adrenaline. This absolutey amazed me! I had no clue that I even had adrenal fatigue until about a week ago.
  9. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    My stress levels were chronically quite high for several years, and I ended up with elevated cortisol, not low, with severe middle of the night insomnia. Seriphos worked like magic to normalize my cortisol levels, bring them down. So I haven't dealt with trying to raise low cortisol.

    My chiropractor who did muscle testing first diagnosed my weak adrenals. I was weak as a kitten, no energy, no stamina. He gave me an adrenal glandular product by Standard Process called Drenatrophin PMG which within just a couple of days helped my energy to start picking up again. I had to take quite a high dose for several weeks, and a maintenance dose for a long time. I still take a low dose (now am taking Drenamin, also by SP)

    Also pantothenic acid is crucial for the adrenals.

    And of course learning to deal wtih stress, to minimize it as much as possible, go easy on caffeine, sugar and alcohol, all of which deplete the adrenals.

    But - my adrenals have been in pretty good shape for quite awhile now, but I still have CFS - characterized by post-exertional malaise - exhaustion which begins to hit several hours after exertion and lays me flat the next couple of days. It's not adrenal fatigue. It's delayed onset fatigue. I've been taking lots of mitochondrial supplements for several years, methylation supplmenets (metafolin and B12 and extra potassium), all of which have helped but nothing has stopped the PEM, or crashing after exertion, although I recover quicker than I used to.

    So I don't think CFS equals adrenal fatigue, although it's involved somehow.

    A friend has a problem with low cortisol in the mornings, and she never had the severe insomnia I had with high cortisol. Actually, she slept much better than me, although she had trouble getting going in the morning, due to low cortisol.

    I tihnk having an adrenal stress index test would be crucial to determine exactly what's going on with one's cortisol levels.

  10. astroherb

    astroherb New Member

    Just wanted to put my two cents worth in regarding adrenal supplements. I had very low cortisol and DHEA several years ago when I was the sickest. I am very, very much improved due to bringing my cortisol levels up, switching to a no gluten, no dairy (I had high anti-gliadin levels), low carb diet, and now practicing qigong.

    I have taken a few different natural cortisol supplements, but the one I like the best is Adreno-Lype-Plus by Nutri-West. I get it through my chiropractor. A 120 table bottle is approximately $45. That is pricey, but I find I feel much better when I take it instead of others. The difference is that Adreno-Lype-Plus has methionine, choline, both adrenal (bovine) extract and pituitary (bovine), and parotid (bovine). Most other supplements that I have tried do not have methionine, pituitary and parotid in the formula. They are very helpful for my particular body and situation.
    Jodielee72 likes this.
  11. Ronaldo60

    Ronaldo60 Member

    No, I'm sure CFS isn't always the same as adrenal fatigue, but lots of studies have shown low cortisol in CFS patients, as well as positive treatment results. Dr. Jefferies believed that even in patients not showing clinical cortisol deficiency, cortisol supplementation often helped due to the fact that after long chronic over-
    stimulation, the cortisol receptors became "burned-out." And FYI, when I was severely sick with CFS following a bad lingering virus/unusual stress situation, I had no normal sleep at all for seven years. No deep sleep means no normal cortisol also, as deep sleep is needed for the adrenal cortex to make normal amounts of the hormone. Ironically, when my accidental hydrocortisone/prednisone "cure" happened, on day4 I awoke from my first normal sleep in years, quite a nice surprise!
  12. Ronaldo60

    Ronaldo60 Member

    And don't you think ProHealth should consider offering those type of supplements and acknowledge the stress-hormone connection to CFS?
  13. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    They do carry several supplements that help with adrenal function. For instance Adrenal Energy has things like B-5, DHEA, tyrosine, etc. They can't sell prednisone or hydrocortisone because they aren't a registered pharmacy.

    I really like royal jelly for adrenal support. I don't see that in the Pro Health store but you can get it at any health food store. You have to start with a very small amount or it will make you hyper but it did improve my quality of sleep.

  14. Petrilla52

    Petrilla52 New Member

    Could I please ask, where did you get your supplements of b-5 and licorice root? Thanks, Pam
  15. NikiHicks

    NikiHicks New Member

    I believe I am qualified to comment on both diseases! I was diagnosed with CFS (after extensive testing ruled out all other causes for my symptoms) 10 years ago. One year ago I was diagnosed with Adrenal Insufficiency after a prolonged course of prednisone to treat a pulmonary condition permanently damaged my pituitary gland's ability to instruct my adrenal gland to produce cortisol. As a result I am now permanently taking low doses of hydrocortisone (17.5mg/day split across 3 doses to reflect the body's normal cortisol release cycles) to replace the cortisol my body doesn't make.

    Ever since I have had CFS I have had poor quality of sleep - tough to fall asleep, repeated waking during the night, unrefreshing sleep, etc, etc, every night. However as my cortisol levels dropped lower and lower before the adrenal insufficiency was diagnosed I was sleeping like a log! Couldn't stay awake in the evenings, couldn't wake up in the mornings and slept so deeply - for 10-12 hours at a time - that I barely moved during the night. However my sleep was still unrefreshing.

    Once I started on the hydrocortisone my sleep returned to its usual CFS version of struggling to fall asleep and repeated waking. When you start on hydrocortisone for AI the aim is to find the lowest possible dose that prevents symptoms, any higher than that will cause side effects one of which is insomnia. For example if I take my last dose later than around 6.30pm I will be awake until midnight or later and will wake even more often than usual during the night. In those without AI your body naturally releases very little cortisol at night so you can sleep, then releases the bulk of it between 6am & 8am to wake you up, which is why random cortisol blood tests are performed 6am-8am for most accurate results.

    In summary, from my experience when cortisol drops very low the main issue is the exact opposite of insomnia - you can't stay awake and can't wake up in the mornings either! Insomnia at night would suggest either too high a level of cortisol as happens if my evening dose is too high or too late or, alternatively, as in my case with CFS the insomnia must be due to something other than cortisol levels being out of whack. If anybody knows what that is please let me know because I'd give anything for my first refreshing night's sleep in 10 years!

    Interestingly the adrenal insufficiency also made the orthostatic intolerance that I believe I already had due to CFS worse - take it from me you really can't function well on a blood pressure of 90/50! Usually OI in adrenal insufficiency is associated with Addison's Disease - adrenal insufficiency caused by damage to the adrenal glands which stops the production of aldosterone as well as cortisol. Aldosterone manages sodium levels and therefore blood pressure. As I don't have Addison's in theory my blood pressure should have been fine but I suspect the combination of AI & CFS together (I really am a walking list of medical abbreviations!) is what affected my blood pressure enough to require medication. I started taking Florinef, a type of corticosteroid which causes your body to hold on to sodium and therefore raises your blood pressure and no longer feel constantly light-headed and dizzy.

    From an OI point of view I feel much better on Florinef. From a CFS point of view I feel back to CFS-normal (as opposed to healthy-normal) on hydrocortisone. It is worth noting that fatigue is only one symptom of adrenal insufficiency, I had many others including nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite and extreme light-headedness that for me identified AI as being different to CFS and therefore worth pursuing with my doctor, and which have now gone away with treatment leaving the original CFS symptoms intact.
  16. ljimbo42

    ljimbo42 Active Member

    You can get licorice root and b-5 almost anywhere. Any health food store should have them and there are many places online to get them.

    Sorry I can't give you them website where I got mine, I think it's against board rules. You shouldn't take licorice root if you have high blood pressure. Taking high doses over a prolonged period of time can cause your blood pressure to go up.

    It is very safe at 1-1.5 grams a day of the whole root, long term, as long as you don't have high blood pressure. I stopped taking the licorice root because it made so energized I was having trouble sleeping at night.

    I switched to "Isocort"-it's a plant based cortisol supplement. It works very well for me at 6 a day, the directions say 1-2 tablets 2-3 times a day. Isocort is also available online, I'm not sure about health food stores carrying it. Best of luck-Jim
  17. IanH

    IanH Active Member

    Your summary is very enlightening for me. I appreciate you going into detail and you have delineated CFS from AI from the patients perspective.Very valuable.
  18. Lookn4health

    Lookn4health Member

    When Ambien first came out I went and got a prescription for it. The first time I took a pill I woke up feeling fabulous and was telling everyone that day the answer to my problem was Ambien. It never worked again.

    I had a day/night cortisol test a year ago and it was normal.

    I swear that my adrenals are worn out but I cannot get any medical tests to verify this.

    My sleep cycle for at least the last 14 years has been so off the wall it is not funny.

    Right now I am going to sleep around 9-10 AM and sleeping till about 6. Getting up and eating and going back to sleep till about 9PM.

    Wake up both times DEAD TIRED.

    I have the most amount of energy between midnight and 2AM. This is when I pay bills and do anything else that requires brain power as my brain functions best at this time also.

    My spouse does not like me sleeping all day at all. I don't like sleeping all day either. I try and try to get my hours turned around by staying up for 24 hours and it does work for about 3 days and then I am back to my same old schedule. It makes it very difficult to schedule doctor's appointments or medical tests.

    I am going to take a Functional Adrenal Stress Profile, #201B. Of course the collection period is 4 times during the day. Going to be hard to get turned around again so I am awake in the daytime so I can take this test.

    I am glad I visited the board this morning and saw these posts about adrenals. I am on the downside of being up all night so I printed them off and will re-read them when the brain is functioning better.
    Thanks for this information.
    Jodielee72 likes this.
  19. LadyCarol

    LadyCarol Member

    It sounds like your Circadian Clock/Rhythm is messed up.

    Have you had a sleep study ?
  20. Ronaldo60

    Ronaldo60 Member

    And you can see, any discussion of our stress-hormones relating to CFS involves lots of conflicting case-histories and opinions. The fact that CFS usually follows some kind of prolonged unusual stress or illness, along with the issue of women being 4X more likely to suffer from it, and the fact that Addison's Disease shares so many common features, all indicate a stress-hormone connection. Three respected and well-published physicians who are proponents of the CFS-adrenal hormone connection as well as being former CFS-patients themselves(!) are Drs. Teitelbaum, Riccardo Baschetti, and the late endocrinologist William Jefferies. All successfully treated not only themselves, but countless patients with safe, low doses of cortisol in various forms. Teitelbaum and Baschetti also advocate various supplements to maintain healthy cortisol-levels.
    One self-test you can perform is to check your morning fasting blood-sugar level and if it's below normal, that indicates "non-reactive" hypoglycemia which can be caused by low cortisol. So many CFS-symptoms are similar to hypoglycemia, but normally doctors only test for the "reactive" kind.
    "Chronic-fatigue" syndromes have been with us and documented for centuries, but with all the new names and definitions, you would think these disorders are something new. Of course, insomnia can be due to any number of things besides "CFS." Keep posting, and good luck!

    [This Message was Edited on 04/14/2013]
  21. Lookn4health

    Lookn4health Member

    I recently met a doctor who is retired and is now working with hormone replacement. He was positive I had adrenal fatigue. He had a questionaire and we went over it and he said no I did not have adrenal fatigue. Then we met again and talked about testosterone. At that meeting he told me he had ordered Dr. Jefferies book and was waiting for it to come in. After he read it we met again and he brought the book with him and showed me where he put my initials as he read the book with things that pertained to me. He does agree with me about my adrenal glands being burned out from stress and never recovering.

    I did a silva test and sent it off and I don't have a clue what lab did the testing as I did not pay attention to that. The doctor let me know that one of the levels on the test indicated that I should do a 30 day trial of cortisol. Then in the meantime he found another lab that does more detailed testing and I am trying to figure out how I can work my way back to being awake during the daytime.

    I really hate being awake during the day because I drag all day long and I never get any kind of energy boost or any mental clarity during the day.

    This next test takes 4 vials of saliva at specific times. My spouse says I should do them at that time but start in the late afternoon and finish up the next morning because that is a normal day for me. I think I will call the lab first and find out what they think about that.

    Thanks for replying to my post. I will let you know what the test tells me.
  22. Lookn4health

    Lookn4health Member

    I did have a sleep study a year ago. They had to bring someone in for a day study for me. I do have sleep apnea and use a cpap machine but it has not helped me to get refreshed sleep.