Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a condition that is more common than most people think. It’s isn’t  diagnosed often because it is not Addison’s Disease which is adrenal failure. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about adrenal fatigue because I was diagnosed with it by my functional MD after suffering for years with symptoms.

Prior to diagnosis I had begun learning about it because it is such a common facet of having mercury poisoning that both my children also have it. It was rampant on the forums and it was being missed by many practitioners. That’s easy to understand when it’s not something most people, even doctors know a lot about. It seems to be a modern ailment attributed to our toxic environments and stressful modern lives.

Certainly I didn’t know anything about it either until I began researching it. When I did was surprised how many symptoms it causes and how many health conditions are linked to having poor adrenal function.

I also learned how to naturally treat it which alleviates symptoms while you work on other health issues like getting that mercury out safely. (Andy Cutler chelation)

Most children and many adults with mercury toxicity have low cortisol and suffer from adrenaline related symptoms like high histamine/allergies, anxiety attacks, shortness of breath, asthma like symptoms, and panic attacks. They may also suffer from insomnia, or wake up at night sweating with their heart pounding.

Adrenal function is almost always taxed in anyone with a low thyroid, and this becomes more evident when they start thyroid medications. The symptoms they experience make them think they can’t tolerate thyroid medication but really, it’s their adrenals that need help.

Basically, life is just miserable for all involved. Having a child that melts down over nothing, is sensitive to everything just isn’t fun for anyone including the child.

My son was sensitive to light, sound, touch, taste, smell. He was prone to anxiety that would cause him to hide in a stressful situation. We called this “turtle mode” because he would just crawl under a blanket and hide. Other times we would see him completely freaked out before bed and he would not know what was wrong. He would not eat in the morning. He was either “queasy” as he said it, or simply said he didn’t feel hungry. This would go on until lunchtime and I would have to give him a bit of something sweet to alleviate the nausea enough so he could eat. I later learned what was really going on was that he was sick to his stomach in the morning.

Like all those mornings when I was in my 20’s driving to college or work with my head sticking out of the car window while driving to ward off the overwhelming urge to vomit. That was every morning. I woke up sick, every morning…. for years simply because my adrenals had tanked and no doctor I had seen recognized that.

I figured out a few months into starting chelation that both of my kids had bad adrenals, just like I did by symptoms and charting body temperatures.

We began adrenal cortex extract glandular, or “ACE” as it’s called on the forums.

Wow! Tantrums gone, no bedtime panic and he was hungry in the mornings!

I also used Bach’s Rescue Remedy for acute symptoms like that bedtime panic attack. I learned to keep this in my purse because it also soothed sensory meltdowns that would happen in noisy public places. Our primary intervention for this problem is adrenal cortex extract glandular. What adrenal cortex glandular does is provide nutrients for your own adrenal glands so they can rebuild. This improves their functioning.

My son has had several lengthy periods in our chelation journey where he was off of ACE for months and did not have any symptoms return. But unfortunately we have not been able to stay off ACE yet. He was doing well on one 350mg capsule in the morning until he entered puberty and his low thyroid status became glaring prominent.

He really seemed to be regressing slightly, his sleep was a wreck, he was tired during the day but all in all what had happened was chaos in the endocrine system with puberty. He began to need thyroid medication and more adrenal support. It took some time to get things balanced out but once you get enough thyroid medication, the need for adrenal cortex glandular is reduced but usually still needed.

Many are often afraid to use this glandular thinking it will somehow affect hormones or that it contains hormones but it is not the same as taking hydrocortisone or prednisone. I’ve often seen articles on doctors websites warning about the use of ACE and talking about it like it’s hydrocortisone. I think the key to understand is that glandular is freeze-dried animal gland, similar to eating meat. Cultures have eaten organ and gland meats for many centuries knowing they nourished the body and helped provide nutrients to rebuild and strengthened our own bodies. This is what ACE does.

I’ve found it rare to be able to skip using ACE and still effectively support adrenal fatigue in most people/children. It’s been my experience that adaptogenic herbs simply don’t work the same in everyone. They help some, but they don’t target the adrenals specifically and sometimes they cause side effects instead of alleviating the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. There are a few other support options but if they don’t cut it, ACE really should be considered. (B5, B6, vitamin C, cordyceps, rhodiola)

 

Advertisements

Puberty Setbacks…..it’s real tho

Over the years I have heard reports from many parents about “puberty regression”. I didn’t doubt them by any means and trust me, I still don’t now that we are in the throes of puberty. What I don’t understand is the mechanisms behind it (although I have some ideas now) and I’m not sure you can use the word “regression” per say, but more “an overall worsening” from where they were before puberty.

It seems that we are in the throes of that right now. I wasn’t sure I was going to write about it but then again..someone should. I don’t want any parent thinking that its smooth sailing because we did 196 rounds on him. I wish that were the case but struggles still happen even this far into it. Puberty is rough on all humans…but it is exceptionally so in autistic children.

Just the sensory implications of puberty alone are massive. Some of the protests we see involve the need to wash more often. Being unhappy about all this hair that’s growing everywhere. It itches, feels weird etc.  Addressing shaving with a kid that won’t put water on his face. Being more clumsy because they are growing faster than their balance system can keep up. This is also the time we start expecting more of our kids….”it’s high school ya know, time to buckle down”. It’s the old “what are you going to do with your life, you’re almost an adult”, except emotionally most our teens are not at this level of maturity. For whatever reason children on the spectrum often have delayed emotional maturity compared to their neurotypical peers.

We have to take a step back and remind ourselves….they are not at the same place their same age NT peers are or where you were at that age.

It’s so much pressure on changing bodies that are already overwhelmed with coping with things NT’s don’t notice.

The change in hormones is expected but this is also when kids with low adrenal and thyroid function really start struggling and need treatment for those things.  Less cortisol means more anxiety, low thyroids mean more fatigue and more anxiety as it drags the adrenals down too.

This is some of what we are seeing with my son:

  • a reappearance of anxiety. He’s been free of this and off adrenal support for quite a while…then Wham….it’s back! Turns out his thyroid went. Treating it helping the anxiety issue as well as restarting adrenal cortex glandular.
  • We are also seeing a lot of sleep disturbances, they stay up late, sleep in late. Some changes in circadian rhythm are normal at this age. It shifts back again in their 20s. However, frequent night wakings or waking up at 2am wide awake indicates they need more adrenal support.
  • Don’t think they don’t also have some teen rebellion because I’m seeing it manifest as refusing to take supplements or not wanting to stay gluten-free.
  • Expressing some fears or exacerbation of old fears: to germs, bugs etc. (this is coming from adrenal fatigue most of the time)

It’s complex….I’m learning….it’s our first run with puberty with a kid on the spectrum.*

I did his ATEC again today because I thought maybe I was imagining the transformation I’ve been seeing..but no..I’m not imagining it. His ATEC was 19….NINETEEN!  ACK! What happened?

You might recall it was Zero only two years ago (2015).  Two steps forward…one back…keep marching…..

We will get back to zero because we are addressing the endocrine problems and we keep chelating!  It’s all par for the course and we need to remind ourselves that even non-toxic teens experience shifts in their bodies during this time that may affect behavior. The key is making sure it’s not adrenal fatigue or hypothyroidism which do become more obvious during these years if they have it.

The results of our LDN and antivirals

We had our follow-up with the doctor today to go over labs and touch base on progress after changes made in March following his lab results. This time we checked his thyroid levels, CBC with Diff, DHEA, Ferritin, Insulin, Comp Metabolic 14 Panel, thyroid antibodies.

Just to refresh what’s been going on this past few months we have been treating him for a viral and low immune system issue, hypothyroidism, anemia and nutritional deficiencies.

We were very pleased with the results because he is making progress! So that long list of antivirals and immune support he’s been taking daily since March has worked. His CBC with Diff is normal for the first time since 2011. His thyroid antibodies have come down to a normal range. Would be nice to see them even lower but from a diagnostic standpoint he no longer has “Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroid”.

He is however, still hypothyroid on 1/2 grain of NatureThroid so we will be working to increase his dose slowly and repeating labs in a few months.

Ferritin came up nicely to 53 so we can cut back and phase out his iron supplement. Hopefully, he holds the levels, but if not, we might need to start it again.

DHEA is normal for his age now and ironically we never supplemented this. It isn’t really safe to use in children prior to the completion of puberty. All we did do was support his adrenal glands with adrenal cortex glandular, and give him thyroid hormone…that alone reduces the stress on the adrenal glands so they can make more DHEA!

I’m excited that our remaining supplement list is much lower now.

I also wanted to share that we have seen a significant reduction in anxiety and have been

Compounded Troches (Gummies) Image Credit: http://www.betterlivingmedical.com

able to reduce his theanine to once a day since raising thyroid meds. It is so amazing how adrenal symptoms are so often driven by low thyroid hormones and so easily corrected with a little thyroid hormone. We do need to finish out his Low dose naltrexone therapy for another 2 months though but he has no symptoms from taking it and doesn’t mind the gummies. (compounding pharmacies are a blessing, not on my wallet but eh..I’ll pick my battles!

I still have him on Citicholine for other reasons and I will continue reading about MTHFR because it my next post I talk about the problem we ran into with methylfolate.

Now we just hope these improvements stick off of the antivirals.