• In a nutshell (er, a big one)

    I was talking to a friend recently who suspects she has adrenal fatigue, and in writing her an email outlining the steps I took to get well, I realized I should probably reiterate it on my blog for anyone else looking for similar advice. Here's my attempt at being concise.

    1. Figure out if you could have adrenal fatigue, through perusing the website www.adrenalfatigue.org and/or reading Dr. Wilson’s book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. This is the book that helped me the most. It lays out symptoms of adrenal fatigue, why your doctor can’t seem to help you, and exactly what to do, eat, drink, etc. to get well.

    2. If most of the symptoms Dr. Wilson talks about match up with yours and everything he says resonates, the next step, as he suggests, is to take a saliva test. This is the best way to measure your cortisol levels throughout the day (my blood tests were completely normal; but my saliva test showed my cortisol levels to be way under the normal range). I recommend my doctor in Atlanta, Dr. Eldred Taylor, who specializes in women’s hormonal issues and wrote the book Are Your Hormones Making You Sick? His office will send you the saliva test in the mail, you take it over the course of a day, send it in to the lab, and three weeks later Dr. Taylor can fax you the results and do a phone consultation (if you don’t live in Atlanta as I didn’t) to interpret the results. His office number is 678.443.4000.

    3. No matter whom you go to for your diagnosis, you will end up having to be your own doctor for the most part. By eating healthy, cutting out all sweets/caffeine/alcohol from my diet, exercising to exhilaration but not exhaustion, making lifestyle changes like working part-time and moving out of the city, figuring out that I had low thyroid as well and taking thyroid supplement, and taking excellent nutritional supplements religiously, I have rebuilt my adrenals and feel more “normal” than I have in years. As long as I get plenty of sleep (I still need 10 hours per night), I feel basically normal during the day. This is a LONG way from where I was two and a half years ago. But I had to make my health first priority, be willing to make big changes, spend lots of money on supplements and good food, and be “weak” before my friends.

    4. For diet changes, I refer you to Dr. Wilson’s book, which is very thorough. Basically, your diet should be “real” food: whole grains like whole wheat bread and brown rice, unprocessed meat, unprocessed everything!, veggies, fruit later in the day (when I could handle the fruit sugar better because my cortisol was higher), dairy products but milk in moderation because the lactose (milk sugar) would make my head cloudy. For example, for lunch almost every work day I treated myself to salmon and brown rice from my favorite restaurant. For dinner I might make a stir-fry dish on brown rice, with dessert as plain yogurt, toasted almonds, and strawberries. If you’re like me, you can tell immediately when you’ve put something in your mouth that drains rather than supports your energy. Listening to your body is the best way to help it.

    5. For supplements, I took a lot of different things at different times (Reliv, JuicePlus, green food, licorice tea at least once a day, vitamins, dessicated liver, whey protein, etc) and it all helped. But to maximize your time and money, here’s what I recommend: I would take Dr. Wilson’s “adrenal rebuilder” and “adrenal C” for longterm repair, Univera’s Ageless Xtra for short-term and longterm energy and repair (use my associate number 1344420 when you order or I'm happy to order it for you), and Univera’s (or somebody’s absorbent) multivitamin for general health.

    6. Keep educating yourself on your adrenals, thyroid, hormones, and general health. There are all kinds of good books out there, including the books listed here on my blog, The Metabolic Plan: Stay Younger Longer by Stephen Cherniske, and Jordan Rubin’s “Maker’s Diet” books. This is going to be a long journey back to optimal health: if it took years to get sick, it will probably take years to get better. And once there you're gonna want to take better care of your body than you did before. Hang in there. God has some pretty amazing surprises for you on this journey, if your story is anything like mine!

    7. Take the saliva test again six months or a year later and measure the strength of your adrenals. If you are not feeling significantly better, you may have another deficiency like low thyroid that is contributing to the problem. I stumbled on a book about six months after my adrenal fatigue diagnosis that said to treat all your issues simultaneously in order to get better. So that’s when I realized I had low thyroid symptoms, Dr. Taylor confirmed my suspicions based on my previous saliva test, and I started taking natural thyroid supplement from a compounding pharmacy, which as far as I know has greatly contributed to my recovery and overall energy.

    That was my attempted nutshell. Hope it's helpful!

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