Adrenal Support and Health

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Slayadragon, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    It's my experience and understanding that adrenal health is a very major issue for many CFS patients. I haven't seen it brought up on this board very much though. I'm not sure why.

    In any case, i am going to be continuing antiviral treatment with Famvir, and have realized that my own adrenals need to as good a shape as they can be in order to handle the stress that virus-killing entails. I always am attentive to my adrenals, but I want to be especially so now.

    I thus would like to see if there are any adrenal support measures that I might have missed.

    Following is a list of some things that are said to help the adrenals. Please note that I am NOT suggesting that you run out and buy all these things. I have worked very carefully with three different doctors with regard to focusing on how to improve my adrenal health. I do take all the things on this list, but that doesn't mean that everyone should. (Some people could be harmed by them.)

    Please let me know if you have any other thoughts or if you have questions. Thanks!!!!


    Adrenal Hormones (so that adrenals don't have to work as hard):

    * Hydrocortisol (low-dose natural cortisone, available by prescription, often sold under the name Cortef)

    * DHEA or the similar 7-Keto (these should be micronized for absorption)

    * Pregnenelone

    * Testosterone (for women only--a bit of testosterone is needed for women and made in the adrenals--available by prescription)

    Support for Low Aldosterone (resulting in low blood pressure and feelings of faintness)

    * Lots of salt
    * Florinef (a prescription "fake" aldosterone)
    * Whole licorice (maybe preferably in solid form)

    Herbs and Supplements:

    * Adrenal Extract (sold under many brand names--I can supply names of a couple of products my doctor especially recommends)

    * Ginseng (Panax or Siberian tends to be recommended most. American is milder and could be appropriate if adrenals are very weak. Korean is a different species and may create feelings of being "hyper" in CFS patients.)

    * Licorice. ("Whole" licorice may raise blood pressure. Most--but not all--people with weak adrenals have low to normal blood pressure, but obviously this should be taken into consideration before and during use.)

    Vitamins and Minerals:

    * Vitamin C (I use the EmergenC brand.)
    * B-5 (Pantothenic Acid)
    * Magnesium
    * B vitamins
    * Multivitamins


    * As much deep sleep as possible. (I use Klonopin or Xanax to push my body into deep Stage 4 sleep. This is a common remedy for CFS patients.)

    * Minimize stress (especially emotional stress) through avoidance and/or meditation etc.

    * Natural light may help

    * Mild Yoga (More strenuous yoga is a bad idea unless adrenals and body in general are in good shape. I vary how much I do depending on how I'm feeling and avoid standing positions)

    * Going to bed early (10 p.m. or earlier) so that you are awake most of the time when the sun is out is preferred. Going to sleep at the same time every night is important too. (This is the one area where I am negligent, but I'm going to try harder.)

    Other thoughts? I would be very appreciative of anything to investigate!!!



    There is a good chapter on adrenal health in the book "Optimal Wellness" by Ralph Golan M.D.

    A great book on yoga (with simple drawings that actually show you how to do the postures) is "The Little Yoga Book." It is written and illustrated by Erika Dillman, who is a CFS sufferer!! A few classes to learn the basic poses before using the book as a reminder may be preferred, although perhaps not necessary for the simpler poses.

    [This Message was Edited on 12/09/2006]
    [This Message was Edited on 01/11/2007]
    [This Message was Edited on 01/12/2007]
  2. Catseye

    Catseye Member

    When I had bad adrenal fatigue, I got a couple of hydrocortisone shots after going to the hospital a couple of times and I ordered Dr. Teitelbaum's Adrenal Stress End and another by Enzymatic Therapy called Adrenergize. I took it for 2 months and then I didn't need them anymore. I took them and loaded up on health food store salts.

    It has most of the stuff you listed, here's the ingredients in Adrenal Stress End 2 capusles:

    Vit C 150 mg
    Vit B6 50 mg
    Pantothenic acid B5 100 mg
    Adrenal Polypeptide Fractions 400 mg
    Betaine 250 mg
    L-Tyrosine 250 mg
    Licorice 200 mg
    Adrenal Cortex Extract 33 mg

    And this is the Adrenergize 1 capsule:

    adrenal cortex extract 250 mg
    multi glandular complex (liver, lung, pancreas, heart, kidney and spleen)
    100 mg

    They really did the trick!

  3. elliespad

    elliespad Member

    Sent note to self. Thanks.
  4. razorqueen

    razorqueen Member

    this is what I am using approx 1 hr before bedtime to help lower my cortisol level. I take 2 capsules. In the a.m. I am to take 1/2 tsp of solid licorice extract in hotwater. I am not a great licorice fan so I am struggling with this one.

    Haven't notice any improvement yet, but I got a bad cold for the first time in yrs, and was gone for about 3 days and then decided it wanted to come back.

    I've been extra wiped since getting the cold. Not sleeping that great and lots of extra pain and achiness.

    I am under the care of a Naturopathic Dr.[This Message was Edited on 12/09/2006]
  5. evol_or_revert

    evol_or_revert New Member

    Ive just started fixing mine and WOW its great!!

    First it started as I become addicted to licorice (just normal stuff) was eating a packet a day, it really made me feel better.

    Then I got a new doctor that believed in helping me with it.

    So i started taking licorice tablets. From not being able to wake up in the mornings got up around 10 - 11 to getting up at 7am every morning.

    Now iIm on an adrenal support, theses are just supplement, the my doctor wants to try these first before I go on any real drugs. They work well, I've been up since 6.30am.

    I've also been able to start walking, 10mins a day but it's better then nothing.

    Thanks for the infomation guys :D

  6. evol_or_revert

    evol_or_revert New Member

    Ive just started fixing mine and WOW its great!!

    First it started as I become addicted to licorice (just normal stuff) was eating a packet a day, it really made me feel better.

    Then I got a new doctor that believed in helping me with it.

    So i started taking licorice tablets. From not being able to wake up in the mornings got up around 10 - 11 to getting up at 7am every morning.

    Now iIm on an adrenal support, theses are just supplement, the my doctor wants to try these first before I go on any real drugs. They work well, I've been up since 6.30am.

    I've also been able to start walking, 10mins a day but it's better then nothing.

    Thanks for the infomation guys :D

  7. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    Thank you for reinforcing this point, Jolie.
  8. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    Would you please tell me what sort of licorice you are using? Does it have a brand name?

  9. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    Seriphos is primarily used for people who have low cortisol levels in the morning and high cortisol levels at night. If you are a "night owl" (and especially if you have severe morning fatigue) this may apply to you.

    Testing for this condition is generally done with saliva tests taken several times throughout the day. You will need to get a doctor to order this test.

    if you do have this sort of 'reversed cortisol,' Seriphos supposedly can help fix the problem. The general protocol is to take it in the afternoon. By evening, cortisol levels are lower, helping you to wind down.

    Lowering cortisol levels at night prompts the adrenals to make more cortisol in the morning. As stated, it is better for adrenals to spend more time being awake when the sun is out.

    As an aside, people with chemical depression or manic-depression often--but by no means always-- have reversed cortisol levels.

    Some people really like Seriphos.

    I used it a very long time ago and didn't find it that helpful for me. I seem to be better off just being more disciplined about going to bed earlier. (I feel so much better at night that it's sometimes hard to motivate myself to do this, but in the long run it would be a good thing.)

    I'm not of the impression that Seriphos lowers overall cortisol levels _that_ much (at least not for most people). If high cortisol levels in general are a problem, patients may be better off trying to reduce stress or (possibly) working with a doctor to experiment with supplementing for at least a while with DHEA.

    Again, PLEASE work with a doctor on this. It's doubtful you'll have much luck with most endocrinologists or primary care physicians, but doctors who understand bioidentical hormones etc. are becoming much more common these days.

    i am providing this information ONLY so that you can decide whether to look into this and get a sense of whether your doctor understands the standard manner in which this is investigated. (I have had three different doctors use the exact same techniques, with excellent results.)

    If your doctor pursues adrenal work in a totally different way---or pooh-poohs it altogether---it might be appropriate to look a bit harder for a doctor who knows more about this subject.

    Regardless, be safe!!!


    Note: Again, all of this is explained quite well in "Optimal Wellness" by Ralph Golan M.D.

    The fact that his approach is the same as that of the three very good doctors I have used for this (including one specializing in bioidentical hormones--MD from Stanford and a CFS sufferer herself) makes me fairly confident that it's a good approach when done in conjunction with a doctor knowledgeable about this area.

    I was initially treated with bioidentical hormones and supplements for all my adrenal conditions by all three of my doctors almost a a decade ago, and so nothing i've mentioned here or in my original post on this thread is considered by informed doctors in this subject area to be an 'experimental treatment'.

    You just have to find a doctor who knows something about it.
  10. bigmama2

    bigmama2 New Member

    I read the book Adrenal Fatigue by a Dr Wilson, and I really related to the symptoms, and I finally got a saliva adrenal stress test by Diagnos Tech Lab, and it came back as a stage 5 adrenal malfunction/fatigue. (out of a possible 7, 7 being the worst.) Meaning that my adrenals now are not producing nearly enough cortisol, especially in the morning. (I feel worst every morning, no pain, but just so exhuasted and out of it). By evening I can function decently. (I do alot of housework and laundry at 10 pm!)

    So I am being treated by a naturopath Dr, who is knowleldegable about this, and I am taking adrenal glandular supplements, and will be starting licorice (herb) soon. (Kinda nervous about this because I have high blood pressure sometimes.) I am praying that this will help me. I've been exhaused 11 years. Of course I will report results here, good or bad.

    By the way the sups. I take are called MilAdregen, (and/or Dr wilson's Adrenal recovery supps -forget the exact name.

    And yes I agree that people should do this under Dr supervision!

  11. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    If you have high blood pressure, you should consider de-glycyrrhizinated licorice root. (I think that's the's a long word!)

    Supposedly it has the benefits of licorice for the adrenals as a whole, but does not raise the blood pressure.

    I have low blood pressure and thus have not tried it myself.

    If for some reason you use whole licorice root instead, you should monitor your blood pressure _extremely_ carefully in order to make sure that it stays within reason. (Jolie's comment about several times per day sounds about right to me.)

    Good luck and keep us informed.
    [This Message was Edited on 12/09/2006]
  12. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I actually have been thinking about your adrenals for the past week or so, and also have been worried about you since you haven't been posting much.

    Would you please let me know all the ingredients in that adrenal supplement that the FFC gave you?

    (Please also check to see whether it states that the DHEA is micronized.)

    What other supplements (in general or--if the list is too long--apparently related to adrenal function) are you taking now?

    Have you had your DHEA level checked recently? If so, what was the test result?

    (If you haven't had it tested recently, perhaps you could have your husband do it for you?)


    I have some thoughts, but since I'm herxing again don't want to write a whole lot that is just speculation.

    I also suggest that you order the book "Optimal Wellness" by Ralph Golan M.D. right away. Adrenals are a little complex, and it's important to understand how they function if you're going to fix them.

    [This Message was Edited on 01/11/2007]
  13. munch1958

    munch1958 Member

    What dose of cortisol did the FFC have you on when you had your hypertensive crisis? Were you getting it from ITC or from another compounded pharmacy?

    I've been taking compounded hydrocortisone (5 mg 3X per day) for the last year. On 12-23-06, my FFC switched me to 20 mg. of slow release cortisol. My BP has been mysteriously creeping up and so has my pulse. My face is puffy. I think this is way too much cortisol.

    My big hypertensive crisis happened in May, 2003. About 30 days after I quit taking Armour thyroid my BP shot up to 170/120! Doctors said it had NOTHING to do with quitting the Armour or being hypothyroid. They put me on all kinds of beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics. Nothing kept it under control until I went back on Armour thyroid.

    Some interesting reading -- Matrix of Signs and Symptoms: Adrenal Fatigue vs. Low Thyroid Function from

    << and >>

    "Hypertension is another disorder associated with hypothyroidism (as well as with hyperthyroidism). If hypertension is present, along with a lower than normal basal temperature, the hypertension will almost always come down with thyroid replacement therapy alone. When this type of hypertension is treated with anti-hypertensive medications alone — without thyroid replacement — the blood pressure does not come down, and the doctor brands this patient as having "refractive hypertension." That term only means that the hypertension is refractive (resistant) to the treatment which the doctor knows to prescribe."

  14. cherylsue

    cherylsue Member

    These are just my opinions/questions, and I, too, am considering some kind of adrenal support.

    First of all, cortisol is a type of steroid as are thyroid hormones. Of course, they are going to give you that spurt of energy. Is that a good thing, or does it contribute to the push/crash cycle? Dr. Cheney does says you have to get to the reason for the energy deficit. Does glandular/adrenal extracts mask the problem or heal it?

    Also, I am concerned about mad cow. LisaP gave a recommendation from her Dr. Guyer who recommends a porcine (pork) glandular from Atrium Labs. I think this would be a way around the bovine problem.

    This adrenal situation is something I need to think over carefully. I do have borderline high blood pressure.

    I found giving up sugar helped my hypoglycemia (had it since I was a kid.)

    Too much vitamin C can aggravate the gallbladder, so you have to be careful with that. I take 2,000 a day through raspberry flavored EmergenC, and I also take fresh lemon juice in water in the morning.

    And I love .5mg klonopin. I wish I had this at the onset of my illness. Nothing helped me get to a deep sleep like klonopin. I think it is helping me in my recovery. And I just started experimenting with it in December.

    We all need to tailor our protocols for our body systems. I appreciate LisaP's contribution, as several of her suggestions have really helped me, but some may not apply to my body.

    Just my thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing, as always, Lisa.


  15. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I see an awfully lot of talk about cortisol and whole adrenal here, and hardly any about DHEA. That seems to me strange, but perhaps reflects the fact that endocrinologists have not paid much attention to DHEA until very recently (if that).

    DHEA and cortisol are both adrenal hormones, but they are not replacements for one another. If you are short on DHEA, more cortisol is only going to make the problem worse.

    Cortisol/DHEA levels are affected by amount of stress and also individual differences.

    If your adrenals are working well, your cortisol and your DHEA levels will be in normal range.

    If your adrenals are fairly stressed, your DHEA level will be depressed and your cortisol level will be normal to elevated.

    If your adrenals are extremely stressed, your DHEA and your cortisol levels will be depressed.


    When I first got sick, I was all but bedridden. After a month or so, I found a doctor who tested my DHEA and cortisol levels. The cortisol level were low-normal. The DHEA level was about 1/10 of what it should have been.

    After taking 50 mg of DHEA for two days, I went from being a total mess to being able to function. I tend to think of it as my "coping" hormone. If I feel tired and worn out, it's possible that cortisol is a problem. But if I feel totally unable to cope with the world at all, I almost invariably will be helped by DHEA.

    It is my understanding that no amount of cortisol will help you to recover from stress once it has already happened. If adrenals are burnt out from stress, the hormone that may help them is DHEA. The only other thing that is going to help is time.


    Here are a couple of paragraphs from the "Optimal Wellness" book regarding properties of DHEA:

    * Reverses many of the unfavorable effects of excess cortisol and therefore creates an improvement in energy/vitality, sleep, premenstrual symptoms and mental clarity, as well as quicker recovery from any kind of acute stress (insufficient sleep, excessive exercise, mental strain, etc.)

    * REverses immune suppression caused by excess cortisol levels, and therefore improves resistance against viruses, bacteria, candida, parasites, allergies and cancer


    Adrenal glandulars have some DHEA. However, if you want to focus on DHEA supplementation, it should be done directly. Glandulars are more for overall support.


    Adrenal glandulars have a variety of hormones. This is good if you need that variety.

    If the problem is cortisol/DHEA imbalance, the glandulars would not be helpful.


    With regard to blood pressure:

    * High cortisol certainly has a connection with high blood pressure. (This is evident from a google search.)

    * High aldosterone (another adrenal hormone) most _certainly_ has a connection with high blood pressure. (That's the stuff that keeps water in the cells.) Glandulars contain aldosterone, and thus have the potential of raising blood pressure. (Licorice and ginseng may do so also.)

    * Evidence that DHEA raises blood pressure (except insofar as it heals adrenal function and thereby brings low blood pressure to normal) in any circumstance is slight.

    * DHEA supplementation helps thyroid function. If (as stated in the post above) low thyroid is a cause of high blood pressure, DHEA could help. (Note: if DHEA is added, thyroid should be re-checked since less may be needed.)


    Other comments:

    * DHEA is easy to monitor with a simple blood test.

    * In my experience, positive effects of DHEA are fully experienced in 1-2 days. (Conceivably it could be a week.)

    * DHEA must be micronized. Otherwise absorption will be minimal. Be sure to check the package for this (or ask the compounding pharmacy).

    * CFS sufferers who have undergone significant amounts of stress often can tolerate large amounts of DHEA at first; this can be tapered down later as the adrenals heal.

    * Side effects of too much DHEA include hair growth, oily skin and acne. If these things start to appear, DHEA levels should be tested.

    * Some DHEA converts to estrogen and testosterone. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since CFS sufferers can be short on those hormones too. Some people say that the form 5-keto DHEA might be used instead. This does not convert to estrogen and testosterone.


    My comments to Jolie in particular:

    * That combination from the FFC of various adrenal stuff does not seem optimal to me. Some of those things may be causing you problems. The amounts of others may not be sufficient for your particular needs.

    * The Korean ginseng in that product really bothers me, since it may be making you more strung out. (That's what Korean ginseng did to me anyway, even though I had no problem taking other ginsengs. Korean ginseng is a different plant than other ginsengs.)

    * I've not heard anyone say that pregnenelone is a magic hormone for them, and too much can cause feelings of being irritability and frustration. 50 mg is a lot. If your adrenals are in bad shape, this may not be hurting you. I am not absolutely sure of this, though.

    * I don't know what else is in that stuff.

    My suggestion for Jolie would be to do the following:

    1) Have a DHEA and cortisol test blood test done.

    2) Assuming DHEA is not high, discontinue all adrenal supplements (including FFC product and glandulars) and start on just DHEA (micronized) in the same level as in the FFC product. Monitor results. (If results are worse, don't backtrack could be that DHEA in adrenal glandulars has gone down and thus that overall levels are worse.)

    3) Gradually raise the amount of DHEA (maybe 5 mg every several days). Continue to do lab tests to see if DHEA levels are normal. Also monitor results.

    If a) DHEA gets too high on lab test, or b) signs of excess DHEA are noted, increases should be stopped. (Obvious immediate increases in well-being may or may not be noted up to optimal level.)

    If DHEA supplementation is at a high level, lab tests may be done on a regular basis do make sure they remain okay. Rebuilding burnt-out adrenals with DHEA may take at least several months, however. (If this is the problem, an immediate increase in feelings of well-being should be noted as soon as the hormone is started.)

    Once you have the DHEA in order, you can consider experimenting with whole adrenal. Trying to do it at the same time is too confusing, if nothing else.


    Let me know if this makes sense, please.

    [This Message was Edited on 01/11/2007]
    [This Message was Edited on 01/11/2007]
  16. Forebearance

    Forebearance Member

    Hang on Jolie! I'm thinking of you!

  17. cherylsue

    cherylsue Member

    Jolie: I've been thinking about you, and I'm so sorry you are feeling poorly before your big move. I hope you have stopped the antivirals at least to give your body some rest. God bless you.

    Lisa: Thanks you so much for giving me that info on cortisol/adrenals/DHEA. I probably will start with the 7 Keto DHEA because it doesn't affect the estrogen hormones. Too much DHEA can trigger breast cancer, and I don't want to do that.

    I read about mesenchyne, and it sounds similiar to stem cell research and growth hormones. I'm a little leary of trying Energy Flash until I've seen some clinical trials or feedback. There's too much hormonal stuff there.

    I really don't have a problem with my thyroid, believe it or not. Adrenals, maybe. Yeast, some problem. I don't get yeast infections, but I do get small round patches of tinea versicolor on my back or neck where I perspire. I've had this since I was a kid. My dad and brother had/have it, as well. Tenactin salve gets rid of it in a few days. My mother never had it. I was on a lot of antibiotics when I was a kid and had problems with allergies. I think this is yeast related.

    Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge about cortisol and DHEA. I don't like treating things willy-nilly unless I have a thorough knowledge of the processes behind them. My motto is "do no harm."

    I am also aware that although our problems are similiar, our bodies are a little different, too. I feel like I have to be my own doctor. In fact, my husband says I should have been. However, I think this research and deep introspection is a survival skill. I feel like I'm dying, and I want to live. I'm looking for a way out of this mess, and I am certainly motivated.

    I can't tell you how much I appreciate your contributions to this board. It's good to bounce scientific theories around. There's bound to be a fit for someone, or at least a piece of the puzzle.

  18. Jasmine

    Jasmine New Member

    Hi all!
    I've been under the care of the Clymer Healing Center in Quakertown, Pennsylvania for eight years now for adrenal exhaustion.

    I take licorice, 7-keto, pregnenolone, thymactiv, Seripohos, homeopathic growth hormone for sleep, Adrenal cortex extract drops.

    I take an Adrenal Stress Index Test once a year to test my DHEA and cortisol levels. I improved by 50% by this treatment and I'm also under the care of another naturopathic doctor in Connecticut who found deficiencies of Vitamin D, magesium, and iron which improved my energy levels and muscle spasms.

    Also stress reduction and pacing myself are extremely important and very difficult for me sometimes. Plus no sugar is very important but a constant struggle for me since I'm a sugar addict.

    Love, Jasmine
  19. bigmama2

    bigmama2 New Member

    I recently got hooked up with Dr. Neville at Clymer. Had one phone consultation to go over my ASI saliva test- stage 5. I felt he seemed really knowledgeable and helpful. How much help have you gotten from him, and the Clymer center?

    I've been taking adrenal glandulars (MilAdregen) and am feeling a little better. But it's too soon to tell if it's a fluke , or if it is really helping.

  20. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member


    You and I exchange notes all the time, but I realized with this message that I'm not at all sure what your main problems are. I do think that you have a deep-seated viral infection of the kind that I do, but the fact that you're at a low level of functioning at the moment suggests that there must be more "superficial" problems (e.g. adrenals, food allergies, whatever) that are going on as well.

    Part of this is that I don't understand the "remission" form of CFS anywhere near as well as I do the "steady state" one. But other than your colds, I don't have as much of a sense of your symptoms. Jolie's, for instance, are much clearer to me since I read her status reports for a while.

    If you want, maybe you could share your symptoms on a day-to-day basis for a little while too. Obviously I can't give you answers to your problems, but it might make discussions more fruitful.

    Anyway, I would bet some money that a good chunk of Jolie's problem is DHEA. (I could be wrong....obviously a test is needed to see.) I'm not at all sure whether it is yours, since I don't know your symptoms. Preferably you'd get a blood or saliva test. If you do use it without one, I'd suggest starting at the lowest possible dosage for a while and seeing if you feel better and/or get side effects (hair growth, oily skin, acne). Much better to go slowly with the hormones.

    I don't think Adrenal Flash is for everyone, and I actually was taking only 1 (or maybe 2) little pills before I went on the Famvir. I need to look up more about mesanchyme. In theory it sounds like a generally good thing, and my doctor (who's pretty much invariably right except when he prescribed immune stuff like Transfer Factor that apparently failed because it was too weak to make a dent in my huge viral infestation) seems to think it is highly appropriate for me. It's one of the few things I've taken without investigating thoroughly, though. Shame on me.

    Interesting how different our approaches are. Yours is "Do no harm"---in part, I'm sure, because you go into remission for long stretches and then have the goal of avoiding relapses. Whereas I have never had a "relapse" that's lasted more than a week or so, and thus am very inclined to push the envelope quite a lot more. Except in a few cases (developing allergies to latex and cellulose, discovering an allergy to evening primrose oil), I've never gotten any long-term bad results whatsoever.

    That includes the Famvir, at least so far. It's been hard while I've been on it, but I recover immediately when I lower the dose. Others (especially if they haven't chipped away at primary symptoms like adrenals, food allergies and yeast) obviously have much different experiences.

    Of course, it helps to have been researching this stuff intensely for 11 years and to have a doctor who knows what he's doing.


    I'm so glad to hear about your adrenal improvement! Obviously that's something that makes a huge difference for many of us.

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