Don’t Have Energy Anymore

If you look at my November posts on the calendar (to the right) you will see precious few dates showing up black. Friends have asked me, “Hey, how come you aren’t blogging anymore?” and I answer, “I N O” (I dunno), but I think I do know. I think I am suffering from adrenal fatigue, which is finally being recognized as a real, diagnosable condition. Now, my own GP did not discover this through a traditional thyroid test (mine came back in the normal range); I figured it out myself because I was having insane cravings for black licorice. Yep. Licorice. The stronger, the better. I wish there was a licorice soda or licorice syrup for ice cream – there is a licorice gum and Altoids makes a curiously stong licorice breath-mint. Curiously, I was eating bags of licorice candy after all my hard work-outs and I didn’t know why – until now. Apparently, licorice root is an herbal remedy for adrenal fatigue; it helps the body produce higher levels of cortical – the hormone that is depleted when your adrenal glands are spent.

Why are my adrenal glands spent? you ask. Well, I do think I have cumulative depletion from years and years of getting “up” for races and work-outs. Having only been injured once in 25 years, I ran cross-country, indoor and outdoor track along with road races all year round … which required a LOT of flight adrenalin (from “fight or flight”). I also drink way too much coffee – mother’s little helper (a safer drug, but a drug nonetheless) and over time my body has developed a tolerace to the caffeine, so I need stronger and srtonger espresso to produce the same high. [Well, it’s not really a high anymore – it’s baseline funtioning – the amount of caffeine needed to keep from crashing the car driving the kids to school].

What’s the solution? Perhaps Dr. Eric could chime in. Do I need to go cold turkey on the caffeine? horrors! Quit running for a spell? double horrors! Maybe I’ll start with some DHEA, whatever that is. Maybe it’s an acronym for Don’t Have Energy Anymore.

Adrenal Fatigue and the Fight or Flight Hormones

by, James M. “JimLow” Lowrance

“There is a commonly experienced health problem that is beginning to be recognized by more Doctors, called “Adrenal Fatigue”. It is also know by the names “Adrenal Exhaustion” and “Low Adrenal Reserve”.
This condition, which causes characteristic symptoms (syndrome), has become increasingly common over the past several decades. The main symptoms caused by Adrenal Fatigue, include; fatigue, low tolerance for stress, joint aches, low tolerance for exercise, irritability, anxiety, depression, low resistance to allergies and sicknesses, sugar & salt cravings, and over consumption of caffeine. The reason for the craving of these substances last mentioned, is due to the need to supply energy from other sources, due to the person’s adrenal glands having the diminished ability to do so.
This brings us to the understanding of what this syndrome actually is. It is a syndrome of the adrenals, that have become exhausted, due to prolonged, chronic stress that has been placed upon them. The adrenal glands, which are two small glands, one sitting on each of our two kidneys, are designed to give the human body, the ability to handle and spring back from stress. They do this by means of releasing hormones, that circulate throughout the body, giving it coping abilities and energies to deal with stressors. These stressors, are anything, mental or physical that put a demand of any kind on our bodies. This means stressors can be positive or negative but either type will place demands upon the adrenal glands.
The most important hormone released by the adrenals that help us deal with stress, is the one called “cortisol” or “cortical”. It, like the hormone adrenaline, is also a “fight or flight” hormone, the difference being that while adrenaline is the hormone to help us with immediate need for increased bodily functions to deal with tasks at hand needing performed, cortical, is the long-term fight or flight hormone, that gives us a steady ability to handle all of our everyday stressors.
With today’s fast paced society and the increased demands for stress-coping, it is very easy for people to overuse their adrenal reserves, giving them inadequate rest and time, to rebuild these hormone resources. Not getting enough sleep after overwork, plus adding other bodily stressors, such as bad diet and overuse of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants, including tobacco, the adrenals eventually begin to run down. Once a person reaches this state, they begin to experience the concerning symptoms that result, as listed above.
Strangely, for many years, this syndrome was unrecognized, due to Doctors only recognizing more serious adrenal conditions, the ones actually classified as diseases, rather than syndromes, that cause full-blown “adrenal insufficiency”. The main disease that is in this category, is called “Addison’s Disease” and is very severe and even life-threatening if treatment is not administered for it. These forms of full-blown adrenal insufficiencies, are not stress-caused syndromes but are actually due to diseased organs and are irreversible, unlike adrenal fatigue, which is most often reversible with treatment and care.
Conditions that can more severely influence adrenal fatigue, causing it to worsen or happen more frequently in people with it, include Thyroid Diseases, Anxiety Disorders (PTSD) and other diseases that either seriously affect the body or cause a lot of mental and emotional stress. It is also my opinion, that both CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and FMS (Fibromyalgia Syndrome), are conditions that are strongly related to adrenal fatigue. This has also been concluded by medical research, including that done by U.S. Institutes of Health.
My question to those Doctors who still do not recognize adrenal fatigue, would be this; “If other organs of the body become fatigued, from relentless overuse of them, how in the world could the adrenals escape this same reaction, when bombarded with chronic, prolonged stress?”
People suffering adrenal fatigue, are tested many times for levels of cortical and are found to have very low-normal levels and even clinically low levels. They do however, pass the ACTH Stimulation test, the one most often used to detect severe adrenal diseases and this test rules out true adrenal insufficiency. To believe a patient needs no treatment because it is not full blown adrenal hypo-function, is in my opinion a disservice to these patients, who suffer very real symptoms from this adrenal fatigue syndrome.
What treatments help patients with adrenal fatigue? The more basic treatments, are those the patient can do with some effort involving their own lifestyle. Getting more rest and sleep can be tremendously helpful, Cutting back and even eliminating stimulants from the diet, such as too much sugar, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, can also help greatly. Reducing stress, through relaxation and pursuit of enjoyable activities that allow for stress reduction, can help as well. Exercising to your tolerance level, can also help build up the adrenals and the body in general but exercise must not be overdone but increased gradually at a safe and helpful pace.
Supplements that can also be very helpful, in building up adrenal function, include good multivitamins, the “B” vitamins (especially B-12), vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. You can also take short-term over-the-counter supplements to add to your vitamins, such as DHEA, which is another adrenal hormone, that will convert into the needed cortical, adrenal glandular, which is animal based adrenal extract, containing adrenal gland tissue and licorice root extract, which helps the body produce higher levels of cortical.”

14 thoughts on “Don’t Have Energy Anymore

  1. Eric

    I’m flattered to help. I ran a quick search on Pub Med (a free site for medical searches through the NIH) and Uptodate.com (a for-fee site), and didn’t come up with anything dramatic under the term “adrenal fatigue”. And I am afraid this is a bit out of my field. But be that as it may:

    1. Taking off the doctor hat, and putting on my 40-something jogger/parent/worker hat: I know just how you feel. I’ve been pooped lately. Some other runner friends have expressed the same. It may in part reflect our record month of rainfall here in Seattle (and this being Seattle, a record rainfall means something). But all I want to do is sleep in and watch football and gain about 12 pounds. I think the body is programmed to recover in November. Anyway, if all you want to do is grab licorice Haagen-Dazs and crawl back into bed, you have my understanding and blessing. I think things will perc up in the spring.

    2. On the medical side: this is not an unreasonable question for an endocrinologist. If you visit us out here, I know several good ones. Of course, the question implies that some people do not have a measurable disease like Addison’s Disease (which John F Kennedy had) but have a symptomatic imperfection of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. And that may be true. But a good endocrinologist could give you a better quality of answer than I can, and might even tell you if something is measurably wrong. (Side note: I always have extra respect for people in a field where I am quite ignorant, like endocrinology, rheumatology, and obstetrics).

    3. Intellectually, the topic of syndromes in general is elusive. I think of a syndrome as somethng defined by its symptoms which cannot be proven by tests (blood, imaging, biopsy). Some syndromic diagnoses have been judged unhelpful forgotten, such as neurasthenia. Some are controversial with regard to how precise they are, like fibromyalgia. But a whole host of psychiatric diagnosis, even depression, could be judged syndromic and are considered more than legitimate.

    4. On coffee: remember, I’m from Seattle. If that’s a disease, then I’ll just have to stay here in the leper colony. You’re welcome to join us, we’ll put on a fresh pot for you (softly rising in the background, one begins to hear the chanting: ” . . . one of us . . . one of us . . . “).

  2. Vince A.

    I just finished reading Duel in the Sun, and I believe that is the condition that Alberto Salazar was eventually diagnosed with. After ten years he finally found an appropriate treatment and returned to running.

  3. George (Canada)

    Joan, I know where you are coming from, as I had a similar experience a few years ago. I went to a naturopath who gave me something called T-Adrenals as well as Vitamin Push (where the vitamins like B-12 are injected) I did get much better. However, I do want to suggest caution, especially if you are self-diagonising off the Internet. It sounds accurate, especially given how you have been training all these years, but get bloodwork done anyway. I did get a chuckle from the article you posted, “Exercising to your tolerance level” I don’t think it means the Joan Nesbit tolerance level 😉

  4. Marion

    Wow. Makes a lot of sense. I prescribe an immediate break. Reduce running to 2 laps, only adding an additional lap every other day. After about 2 weeks of no symptoms, you can more rapidly return to previous mileage. This would best be done, with a friend. Skip 100’s this winter and do threshold workouts instead. :

  5. squonk

    a son of mine had a similar issue…

    …I’ve felt tired “out there” and that’s when I love to change the venue. An excursion to Hanging Rock or the Tanawha Trail. …or…going so slow my pace is nearly indetecable. That’s tricky…

    …but there are things to think about.

    I’ve been dwelling recently on 3 perfect paragraphs in cormac McCarthy’s latest, The Road.

    here’s one…which I’m memorizing and reciting during runs:

    “Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

    …so…on the trails, where does my footstep land? Where would it land if there were no trails?

    squonk

  6. John

    Joan;
    And I thought it was only me. Here in the Northeast (another blue state) the weather really can’t be blamed for the general “blahs” I’ve been experiencing.

    Simply overtraining?
    Over working and over training?

    Just wasn’t happy how I was living or running.

    I visited my mystic, who happens to own a running store where I frequently visit after wearing out another pair of Sauconys. There I was precribed a new pair of Mizuno’s (don’t new shoes always seem to help!) and a slight elevation in iron.

    Within a week my red blood cells began doing a better job and a smile returned to my face. It’s not a trifecta because I still feel slow, but hey, 2 out of 3 will make you millions somewhere out there.

    Peace

  7. Nancy

    You might be interested to know that MANY hypothyroid patients find themselves with adrenal fatigue due to years and years of being undertreated with meds like Synthroid or Levoxyl. And I am one. So we understand fully. Many of us are actually using a little cortisol supplementation, such as Cortef–just enough to give our lives back and to hopefully allow our adrenals to rest. We multi-dose it, around 20 mgs, using the highest amount in the morning, followed by lowered amount. It’s not meant to be long term. We then try to wean. I personally believe that to recover and regain adrenal strength, we have to take adrenal supportive supplements and not only change the stressors in our life, but change the way we respond to them. Not easy. Check out the book called Safe Uses of Cortisol by Jeffries. Also Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue book.

  8. Arnold

    Diagnosing ‘mental disorders’ is NOT an exact science. That’s what makes it dangerous sometimes. I worked with ‘autistic’ kids in a hospital setting, and the ‘Psychiatrist’ had intense psychotropic ordered for ‘acting out behaviors.’ WBR LeoP

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  10. Joe Askew

    This article says licorice helps adrenal glands produce more cortisol. Cortisol is a vasoconstrictor, which tightens up blood vessels which result in higher blood pressure. Not sure I would want to take a supplement that would increase my blood pressure. I’m I missimg something?

  11. Joan Post author

    HI Joe,
    I haven’t written on this blog in months, but I did want to respond to your comment. Normally one would NOT want to increase his or her blood pressure, but I happen to have LOW blood pressure (so low, in fact, that during the C-section delivery of my 3rd child, it dropped to 50 over 17 and quite possibly broke a hospital record for lowest blood pressure during an operation without dying) … so, maybe, unbeknownst to me, I have been homeopathically self-medicating with licorice.

  12. Adrenals Healed - Steve

    I really hope you’re better by now.. I’d love an update. Adreanl Fatigue and Adrenal Exhaustion can be healed. I’m currently on a protocol with transderma creme and lots of supplements. If anyone has any questions about a greaty way to heal feel free to contact me.

    I avoid all sugar and stimulants as well as make sure I am getting plenty of relaxation. It sounds basic but it works. Plus taking certain hormones and supplements really does the trick. Best of luck everyone.

  13. Julie

    I had a botched gastric bypass loosing some small intestine and stomach, so I take care and listen to my body. Over the last year I have had a crazy craving for black licorice. Reading this makes total sense to me. I have to take injections of B and occassional IV of iron as my ability to absorb is difficult and I cannot digest meat. This gives me a starting point to look at and have my Doctor test. Thank you.

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