Medical World Questions Adrenal Exhaustion

My experience has taught me that adrenal exhaustion is a real condition that causes serious problems, including exhaustion, chronic fatigue, malaise, light-headedness, stress, chronic colds, and a feeling as if life is a constant struggle of walking uphill.  Most medical “experts” feel that adrenal exhaustion is a hoax.  Even Dr. Andrew Weil rejects the idea that constant stress weakens your adrenal glands, causing health problems.

Perhaps the grandest rejection of all comes from the president of the American Institute of Stress, Dr. Paul Rosch, a clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College.  He says that adrenal fatigue or exhaustion is a worthless diagnosis, and that lavish testimonials and anecdotal claims of marked improvement following some intervention are most likely fraudulent or transient placebo effects.

In fact, the adrenals are almond-sized glands that sit atop the kidneys.  They produce hormones such as adrenal and cortisol.  They are the prime responders to chronic stress – for example, they enlarge during periods of severe stress.  And the reason most physicians have little opinion about the diagnosis of adrenal exhaustion is because they do not understand it.

Most physicians support the belief that the adrenal glands are either working or they are not.  When they are not working, the diagnosis is adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease, caused primarily by a tumor, cancer, autoimmune disease, or infection.  For most of the medical world there is no gray zone where the adrenals slowly wear down and become weak.  Even though other glands and organs routinely weaken, enlarge, shrink, or change function (such as the thyroid gland), the medical world believes that this does not pertain to the adrenal glands.  And, in fact, adrenal exhaustion is a hard thing to prove medically with standard blood tests or even saliva hormone tests.

Adrenal Exhaustion Is Real

Donna Blankenship came to me in the late nineties.  She had a high-pressure job and three children.  She explained that she had slowly changed from her super-charged self to an overtired, overstressed, anxious, depressed, dizzy, weak, sick, exhausted young woman.  Her physician prescribed antianxiety drugs and antidepressants.  These made her worse.

Suspecting adrenal exhaustion, we performed a simple Ragland’s blood pressure test.  To perform this test, you lie face p for a few minutes and have your blood pressure taken and recorded (leaving the blood pressure cuff on your arm).  You then suddenly stand up and immediately take your blood pressure again.  The act of standing suddenly from a lying-face-up-position initiates an adrenal reaction and a surge of adrenaline to constrict blood vessels quickly to get blood to your brain so you do not faint.  This causes a sudden rise in systolic (the first BP number) blood pressure.

When we performed the test with Donna, she became dizzy, felt she was going to faint, and registered a 15-point drop in her systolic pressure upon standing,  This is a highly indicative of adrenal exhaustion because the systolic BP must rise at least 5 points, preferably 10 points, upon standing to represent a healthy adrenal reaction.  I had Donna chew some Drenamin tablets from Standard Process, sit for 5 minutes, and then undergo the Ragland test again.  The taste response and her body’s ability to immediately absorb some of the Drenamin through the membranes in her mouth caused an immediate adrenal improvement.  The second time her systolic BP actually rose a couple points and she was not dizzy.  I immediately started her on adrenal support nutrition.

The rest is history as Donna continued her supplementation, got slowly better, and finally back to normal in about 6 months.  Since I have seen this hundreds of times, the whole question about whether adrenal exhaustion and its treatment is real seems ridiculous.  Donna’s response, as well as hundreds of others, represents the best of evidence-based medicine. That is, just because something does not fit the standard medical model does not mean that it is not real.  And a response that is obvious to everyone (evidence-based medicine) does not mean that it is not real.  Hans Seyle, the father of the relationship between stress and the body, defined evidence-based medicine when he said, “If I throw an apple out the window and it goes up instead of down, I know that it is significant.”

Medical Tips on Adrenal Exhaustion

Medical “experts” would have you get several blood and saliva hormone tests to help determine if you suffer from adrenal exhaustion.  This is impractical because your physician will most likely not know what you are talking about.  And it is often useless since there are few real norms for these findings.  The same “experts” suggest that if you insist that you are suffering from adrenal exhaustion, you should use herbs to try to help yourself.  While herbs are helpful, they are, for the most part, incapable of actually rebuilding the strength of a gland.  This comes primarily from lifestyle change and actual nutrition.

Finally, these same “experts” would have you avoid any alternative practitioners, and just stick with your first physician.  This won’t work for the reasons already given in this article.  And the “experts” insist that you do not take the extracts of bovine adrenal because they are useless.  This is partially true since most of these products cannot survive the digestive tract unless they are processed in a very specific, specialized and patented way.

The entire medical concept surrounding the adrenal glands – that your adrenal glands either work or they do not; that they cannot become weakened and then only partially effective like other glands in your body; that antidepressants and antianxiety drugs should be the first course of action; that hormone tests are the only valid tests for adrenal function;  that the Ragland test should be ignored;  and that the restored health of tens of thousands of patients without drugs is due only to a temporary placebo effect – is folly and tantamount to malpractice.

Every physician should have to learn the Ragland test.  And is you suffer the symptoms of adrenal exhaustion, you should do the Ragland test as well.  If you fail the Ragland test and you are sick, you can follow the usual medical tips, which will lead to drugs or a dead end.  Or you can start adrenal nutrition that really works.  You will need Drenamin (6 daily) and Cataplex B (3-6 daily) for 6-12 months.  Herbs that may be helpful with symptoms are high-grade licorice, rehmannia, and withania.

According to medical “experts,” adrenal exhaustion is a worthless diagnosis an all lavish testimonials and anecdotal claims of improvement following some holistic intervention are a fraud or due to placebo effect only.  This is obviously ridiculous!  And I imagine that none of these “experts” has performed a Ragland test on even one patient using the proper supplementation.