Treating Adrenal Fatigue: Natural Cortisol
The two walnut-sized adrenal glands rest on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands are our stress glands and produce many powerful hormones to combat stress. You may be familiar with adrenaline, which produces the “fight or flight” syndrome in the face of a stressful condition. The adrenal glands also make several other key hormones such as cortisol, dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstendione. DHEA and androstendione have androgenic effects similar to testosterone but they are not as powerful. In women, after menopause, they may be converted in the fat cells of the body to estrogen hormones.
Cortisol is the naturally occurring adrenal steroid that is secreted in response to stress. In the face of emotional or physical stress, injury, infection, inflammation, allergies or hormonal decline the adrenal gland responds by producing cortisol. If the stress is chronic, the adrenal glands become fatigued and produce lower levels of cortisol. The adrenal glands also decline with age as do the other hormone producing glands. Cortisol potentiates the immune system’s ability to fight infections. Cortisol also promotes the assimilation of thyroid hormones and sex hormones by the cells of the body. It is also the body’s natural anti-inflammatory hormone.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue are as follows:
- Morning fatigue
- Recurrent infections
- Emotional stress
- Chronic pain or physical stress
- Low blood pressure
- Fainting spells
- Depressed moods
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Low libido
- Hair loss
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Hormonal imbalance
The hormones produced by the thyroid gland, ovaries, testicles and adrenal glands work together in synergy. If the adrenal gland is under stress and unable to produce the proper amount of cortisol, then the thyroid gland and the sex organs also become stressed. If we have the proper physiological doses of these hormones in our cells, our body will be healthy and well. If we produce or assimilate too little of these hormones, then our cells function poorly and we become unhealthy and ill. It is this decline in hormone production that causes aging and leads to a host of degenerative problems.
The drug companies make counterfeit hormones to cortisol, some of which you may be familiar, such as Cortisone, Dexamethasone, Prednisone, Deltasone, Prednisolone, to name a few. Because these hormones are counterfeit and not biologically the same as the hormones which our bodies naturally produce, their chronic use can cause dangerous side effects.
We prescribe the same biologically identical cortisol hormone produced by our bodies. When prescribing cortisol, as with any biologically identical hormone, we are balancing the cortisol levels to ensure that it remains in a physiological range. Balancing the cortisol levels relieves the stress on the adrenal gland and allows for the synergistic effect between cortisol, thyroid and sex hormones, which inevitably will promote overall health and wellness.