When someone is constantly in the fight, flight or freeze mode, the adrenal glands may become exhausted. Many medical doctors look only for extreme adrenal hormone problems and may resist ordering tests for low-level symptoms. Holistic practitioners are usually much more willing to consider adrenal fatigue. They may use different adrenal fatigue treatments consisting of lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements. Pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions should consult a doctor before starting any kind of adrenal fatigue treatment.
The adrenal glands control the release of 50 separate hormones including cortisol. Cortisol controls how well the immune system functions, normalizes blood glucose, and helps to regulate blood pressure. When the adrenal glands become overworked, salt cravings, mild depression, lack of energy, muscle weakness, and a host of other symptoms may occur.
Conventional medical training focuses on adrenal diseases such as Addison's and Cushing's. When a patient complains of symptoms suggesting low-level adrenal exhaustion, the doctor may dismiss it. If the doctor refuses to order laboratory tests to check adrenal gland function, an individual may purchase a cortisol test from an local or online vendor. Once obtaining necessary specimens, the individual mails them to an independent laboratory associated with the test kit. The lab tests the specimens and sends a report to the individual who can pass on the results to a conventional or alternative health provider.
A holistic practitioner may put together an adrenal fatigue treatment program consisting of lifestyle changes and dietary supplements. Lifestyle changes might include sleeping more, exercise, avoiding processed foods, eating protein and carbohydrates together, and adding sea salt to the diet. Calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, B-complex and vitamin E supplements may be part of the adrenal fatigue treatment plan.
Herbs such as licorice and Panax ginseng may also play a part in an adrenal fatigue treatment plan. Licorice, which contains glycyrrhizin, slows the breakdown of cortisol. In turn, this raises the cortisol level in the blood. Licorice should only be taken for a maximum of eight weeks. Panax or Asian ginseng may also increase energy, improve concentration, as well as help balance cortisol and DHEA levels.
Although DHEA is sometimes recommended as an adrenal fatigue treatment, it can convert to estrogen and testosterone, which may result in facial hair and menstrual problems for women and hair loss for men. 7-Keto DHEA, is derived from DHEA, but reportedly cannot be changed into sex hormones. Anecdotal evidence appears to indicate that 7-Keto DHEA is even more effective than DHEA itself, but there is not much scientific research to confirm this.
If cortisol levels are low, a physician may prescribe hydrocortisone pills. Many doctors do not prescribe this medication unless the patient has explicit adrenal disease because the adrenals make less cortisol. Hydrocortisone should be used only under a doctor's care.
In general, those who follow a adrenal fatigue treatment plan can expect six to nine months of healing for mild symptoms to abate. It may take 12-18 months for moderate adrenal fatigue symptoms to fade. In severe cases of adrenal fatigue, up to 24 months of adrenal fatigue treatment may be necessary.