Life Enhancement with Dr. Michael Lang, ND, ABHRT
a.k.a. Cortisol Deficiency, Adrenal Insufficiency
or Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal Insufficiency is a rather archaic medical term for what these patients are actually suffering from, which is Cortisol Deficiency—better named as Hypocortisolism.
Cortisol is, in fact, the foundation of the entire endocrine system. It is essential for our adaptation to the demands of life. If a person does not have a sufficient cortisol effect, they simple cannot feel or function well. Their quality of life is low. They often cannot replace other hormones that they need. They will feel worse when taking other hormones.
Cortisol is our primary stress-response hormone. It is known to help maintain blood-sugar levels and to moderate the immune system and its reactions. However, it has many other functions that we hardly understand. Hypocortisolism causes a myriad of symptoms, such as: fatigue, aches and pains, brain fog, allergies, frequent infections, low blood pressure, low stress tolerance, anxiety, irritability, hypoglycemia, frequent nausea, PMS/PMDD, autoimmune diseases, excessive sweating, teeth grinding, restless legs, hot flashes, and insomnia. Sufferers often say that they feel like they always have the flu—it only gets slightly worse or better. Stress usually brings on a worsening of the above symptoms.
Patients can increase their own cortisol production with vigorous daily exercise, especially in the morning. Hypocortisolism is the reason why many persons must exercise vigorously every day in order to feel and function well. If they do not exercise, they suffer from hypocortisol symptoms.
Hypocortisolism promotes hypoglycemia, which causes: irritability, confusion, headaches, hot flashes, sweating, palpitations, insomnia, and panic attacks. Hypocortisolism varies from mild to severe. Many women suffer from a mild hypocortisolism. They can feel better with simple lifestyle interventions that reduce cortisol demand or increase cortisol production. To reduce demand, they must eliminate all unnecessary stress—they must learn to say “No!” They should maintain a regular schedule and always get a good night’s sleep.
Saliva testing has been proven to be the best way to assess a person’s free cortisol levels throughout the day and night. Unfortunately, the conventional approach to the diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency is extremely insensitive, deactivated within cells by certain enzymes. The only reliable guide to a person’s cortisol status is his/her symptoms. When hypocortisolism is the best explanation for their history, symptoms, and lab results, patients are offered a trial of cortisol (hydrocortisone) supplementation in physiological doses to see if it helps.
The effects of this supplementation are often dramatic, more so than with any other hormone. Many began to feel more normal after a few doses. Over a few days, their aches and muscle stiffness disappear. They can think more clearly. They feel energetic for the first time in years—sometimes decades. Their nausea disappears and their allergies improve, their inflammation subsides, their headaches disappear, they feel less anxious, they sleep better, and their digestion improves. By the simplest clinical logic, such dramatic improvements with physiological doses of cortisol proved that they had been suffering from hypocortisolism. They had an endocrine disorder that currently cannot be diagnosed by conventional endocrine practices.
Much of the hypocortisolism in the population is due to relative cortisol resistance, much in the same way we can become resistant to our thyroid hormones. For those who need it, cortisol supplementation can improve all the above symptoms, reduce allergies, and control autoimmune diseases. By definition, anyone with an active autoimmune disease is suffering from a relative cortisol deficiency. The medical profession simply has not begun to understand cortisol or cortisol replacement.
When cortisol is properly balanced by sufficient thyroid, DHEA, sex steroid, and growth hormone levels and effects, it causes no long-term health problems whatsoever. There is no blood test to determine the proper HC dose—it must be based upon symptoms and signs. The physician and patient must work together to find the doses and timing of doses that will best reduce or eliminate all symptoms of hypocortisolism 24 hours/day, without creating any signs or symptoms of cortisol excess. The goal is always to find the lowest dose that works.
Cortisol supplementation should only be attempted by those health-care providers who are willing and able to stay in close contact with patients—especially in the first few weeks of supplementation. Deciding to supplement with cortisol is a serious matter, as cortisol is the body’s major stress-response hormone. However, those suffering from hydrocortisolism are already in serious trouble!
Call Dr. Lang for an appointment at (406) 586-1100. To learn more about services, visit TheVitalLife.net. Office at 19 N. 10th Ave., Suite 2, in Bozeman.