Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Videos, General Health Videos

Video: What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Tired woman with Adrenal Fatigue in bed

Very few people visit their doctor because they believe they have adrenal fatigue. Some people who experience unexplained tiredness and lethargy believe it is the result of an under-active thyroid, or a hormone imbalance. Many conventional doctors do not recognize adrenal fatigue as a proven medical condition and perform no testing on the glands, so adrenal fatigue is rarely diagnosed.

In this video you will learn:

  • What are adrenals?
  • Adrenals role in the body
  • What affects the adrenals?
  • Symptoms of adrenal fatigue
  • Adrenal hormones
  • Treatment for adrenal fatigue

Hi, it’s Dr. Minkoff,
LifeWorks Wellness Center.

I want to talk to you today about a topic that is like so commonly expressed

and it’s called adrenal fatigue,
like what is adrenal fatigue?

Or the doctor says to the patient your adrenals are shot.
Or I’m an adrenal patient or what’s wrong with me, I have no energy and the doctor
says it’s your adrenals.

You probably heard this, you’ve probably been told it.

Your adrenal glands, “adrenal”, renal is kidney, adrenal is next to the kidney or near the kidney.

So the adrenal gland is a small gland, it’s probably like a walnut size that sits on top of each kidney.

So that’s back here in your back just above your ribcage.

The purpose of these glands is to produce a certain set of hormones

and these hormones are usually activated when there are stressors.

Now it could be your boss or your husband or your wife

or too much exercise
or not enough sleep

but the body is in a stress state and these hormones are pushed out.

There’s two sets of them, there’s actually two parts of the adrenal gland.

There’s an inner part
and an outer part

and they put out hormones
which are adrenaline

and noradrenaline,
that’s like fight or flight.

And usually when that happens it also puts out another hormone called hydrocortisone or cortisol.

If the adrenals are called on too often for too long, so you have chronic long-term stressors

the gland itself can get
tired, it can burn out.

Sometimes if you have an autoimmune disease the gland will be attacked by your own immune system.

Sometimes virus infections or other infections can affect the adrenal gland but basically the bottom line is the gland can’t put out hormones at an appropriate level to meet the needs of the stressors that are going on in the person’s life.

And so what they start to feel is tired, they can have low blood pressure, they can get pigmentation that can get darkening under their arms or in other parts of their skin, they can feel faint.

Their bodies can actually
start to lose salt so they need more salt and they just feel like they just can’t do it.

They may want to sleep but sometimes a sleep isn’t restful and that’s what we call adrenal fatigue.

Now when we measure hormones from the adrenal gland, usually the ones we’re looking at when the person feels this way is their cortisol levels they’re hydrocortisone levels.

And normally in a person the level is highest in the first thing in the morning when they wake up, it’s a little bit lower at noon, it’s a little bit lower in the afternoon, it’s a little bit lower at night.

We measure this usually with saliva test.

In someone who’s got adrenal fatigue
what we find is that the line is flat

there’s no morning spike, there’s no noon spike,
there’s no afternoon spike

it’s like flat and low,  their body just isn’t
putting out hydrocortisone.

Sometimes they’re also not making another adrenal hormone which is called DHEA,

that may be low as well.

So when I see this type of person sometimes if it’s not too bad

they will respond to an
adrenal type supplement.

It might be an adrenal gland ground up with some extra vitamin C, some extra B vitamins.

Sometimes that helps it’s like food for the adrenal gland and it supports them.

But sometimes it’s to the point where they just can’t do it without giving them the hormone.

So we will prescribe hydrocortisone and the person can take this and usually it takes about six months to two years in order to take the burden off their adrenal gland so that it can heal.

Meanwhile we get their cortisol levels up so they actually feel human again and they feel good.

The brain has a hormone that tells the adrenal gland to work and that hormone is called ACTH, adrenal cortical stimulating hormone.

If the blood level of cortisol is too low the brain will continually send the message to the adrenal gland to make more.

By giving very small amounts of hydrocortisone to a person who’s not making any,

we can actually get the brain to stop making so much ACTH.

That gives the adrenal gland a chance to rest and heal
while we supply the
hormone from the outside.

Then as the gland heals it will start making cortisol again and then they don’t need the other cortisol and we can wean them off.

Sometimes DHEA is low, we will supplement that as well.

Most people as I said in between six months and two years can get through this

and they can be okay but they actually have to manage their lifestyle as well.

You know if they’re not getting enough sleep, they have to sleep more.

If they have big stressors in their life, if they’re exercising too much, they’ve got to chill out so that their body can heal, the stressors go down.

Some people with sleep apnea have adrenal fatigue because they’re not breathing at night,

their body is in a stress state the whole night because they have low oxygen.

So it can be any of these things, usually it’s caused by something else.

We treat it but also at the same time we’re trying to find out what else is doing this

and then we can handle that so the adrenal gland isn’t under such stress.

So I hope this clarifies for you this whole idea of adrenal fatigue, adrenal stress and you
have an understanding of it

and it’s fixable and we
really know how to do it.

Okay, hope this helps.

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About Dr. Minkoff

Dr. David Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then completed both a Pediatric Residency and a Fellowship in Infectious Disease at the University of California at San Diego. He worked at the University of California and Children’s Hospitals in San Diego as an attending physician in infectious disease while conducting original research on Ribaviron, a broad spectrum anti-viral agent to fight disease. He also co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine. In 1992, Dr. Minkoff’s attended a lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, widely considered the father of functional medicine, during which he had a eureka moment, and began pursuing the alternative health field with a vengeance, studying under the most accomplished thought leaders on natural & integrative healing. In 1997 Dr. Minkoff and his wife set up a small clinic to help friends with their medical problems. What began as an experiment blossomed into Lifeworks Wellness Center, one of the most successful clinics for complementary medicine in the United States.