ADRENAL IMBALANCES, HIGH OR LOW CORTISOL
Stress related disease takes a toll
Chronic long term, low grade stress or severe, short term stress can lead to adrenal overload with high cortisol and adrenalin production. This can be followed by adrenal fatigue, meaning that the adrenal gland is under performing and cannot make the needed quantities of cortisol, DHEA and adrenalin for optimal daily functioning.
Low cortisol symptoms include fatigue, low blood pressure, depression, dizziness or light headedness, cold hands and feet, salt craving and tending to be thin and sometimes unable to gain weight.
High cortisol symptoms include being tense and anxious, depressed, unable to sleep, being overweight, especially excess truncal weight with thin arms and legs.
Low DHEA symptoms include low energy and loss of muscle mass since DHEA is a growth hormone for our muscular tissue.
The best adrenal cortisol test is 4 saliva specimens done in one day: morning, noon, 4 pm and bedtime, each in a separate vial. The daily cortisol levels vary in a normal person from highest in the morning to lowest at bedtime and each time of day has it’s own normal range. A DHEA level will also be measured.
There are many nutritional and lifestyle approaches to low or high adrenal function.
Supplements to consider:
- Adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola, ashwaganda, panax ginseng are helpful in both high and low cortisol states.
- Licorice is useful low adrenal states. Herbal licorice root (not the candy). This should not be used with high blood pressure or low potassium.
- Vitamin B5, 500mg, B6 50 to 150mg and moderately high doses of vitamin C , 1000-2000 mg twice per day can help support adrenal recovery.
- Some people need prescription low dose bioidentical cortisol replacement, either temporarily, or permanently to help support adrenal function.