What Is Adrenal Fatigue?

Many of my patients inquired about the adrenal fatigue concept and it has been discussed a lot recently so here is a short explanation:

Adrenal fatigue in functional medicine is different from the Addison disease recognized by the conventional medicine not only from a testing perspective but also in terms of treatment and goals of care. It is the difference between going through your day full of energy and feeling well versus dragging your feet, feeling exhausted especially in the afternoon or having a foggy memory.

When your adrenal glands are overworked or dysfunctional, a condition known as adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion sets in, which in turn can set a cascade of disease processes into motion. One of the most common signs of adrenal burnout is feeling chronically fatigued.

The 4 most common reasons for adrenal fatigue and dysfunction are intense emotional stress, poor diet, chronic inflammation, and underactive thyroid.

The healing path starts with the right diagnosis: a saliva test which will determine your cortisol level along with other hormones that could impact your body. Once the stage of adrenal fatigue is determined we start our patients on a strict 3-6 months protocol involving certain supplements and hormonal products. Along with that we uncover the initial ‘’trauma’’ and work on treating that whether is gut health, infection or stress management.

We use the Kalish Method which normalizes dysfunctional adrenals and restores normal adrenal function. I also like the fact that there is good evidence behind it (see below).  Healing the adrenals will have a great effect on the rest of the body including the thyroid.

The adrenal protocol calls sometimes for carefully replacing just a small portion of the exact level of the missing adrenal hormones which stimulates your body to begin producing it more naturally.

In May 2016 a research study published by two Mayo Clinic researchers confirmed the efficacy of the Kalish Method showing significant improvements in digestive health and quality of life in the study participants. The study was based on Dr. Kalish’s model of Functional Medicine based on 25 years of successful clinical results.

A research team, including Daniel  Kalish, founder of the Kalish Institute and Susanne M. Cutshall and Larry R. Bergstrom, currently practicing at Mayo Clinic, proudly release a study around functional medicine. The study shows a variety of stress, fatigue and quality of life measures can be improved through this protocol.

The 28-week study assessed the effectiveness of a specific functional medicine approach for improving stress, energy, fatigue, digestive issues, and quality of life in middle-aged women exposed to high-stress work environments. This method, known as the Kalish Method provides a systems approach to chronic illness addressing the “whole person” rather than an isolated set of symptoms, and restoring three key body systems: hormones, digestion, and detoxification.

The study, which was completed in April 2015, has been published in the May 2016 issue of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice

Happy reading!

Dana Neacsu, MD

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