The adrenal glands. Do they fatigue?
There are dozens of Facebook groups dedicated to adrenal fatigue. But is this an accurate way to describe the adrenal function and what happens to the body when they don’t function well? Are we missing the forest for the trees when it comes to the use of language to describe what’s happening in the body? I think that we are.
I maintain this website in the hope of adding value with a strong understanding of the science of fatigue. To do this, I rely on my decades of clinical experience practicing functional medicine as a MD. But to do this, we need to be more precise about the science. In frequently see comments online like “my sluggish kidney hurt my adrenals” or “liver congestion hurt my detox.”
A few points on semantics:
Adrenal Fatigue? Adrenal Glands Don’t “Fatigue”
They under or over-produce cortisol depending on central instructions from the brain. We should be using the terms hypocortisolism or hypercortisolism to describe adrenal function. In rare conditions the adrenals re destroyed by an autoimmune process (Addison’s) or oversecrete cortisol due to Cushing’s syndrome (could be autoimmune, an adrenal tumor or a process in the brain).
Adrenal Glands Don’t “Give Up”. Livers Don’t “Congest”
A cirrhotic liver is a congested liver. This is an end stage of liver function, and is a primary cause for liver transplant. There’s so much scarring (cirrhosis) that the blood simply can’t pass through– it’s physically blocked. This leads to ascites, liver failure and death at this stage. And yes, a liver can become replaced with fat in fatty liver or NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease), something which is becoming epidemic with the obesity in the US. Fatty liver, in advanced stages can lead to cirrhosis and ascites–fluid in the abdominal cavity– but uncommonly.
Viruses don’t feed on sugar, toxins or heavy metals, no matter what the Medical Medium says
A virus lacks the ability to metabolize anything at all; it doesn’t have the machinery. A virus incorporates itself into a host cell’s DNA to redirect the cell’s function.
Sugar can unquestionably alter the function of the host cells. But not the virus itself.
If it Sounds Wacky, it Probably is
If your provider has told you that your “spleen is hurting your adrenals” or “mercury toxicity is activating your Lyme” or any other combination of words that seem unrelated, they more than likely are. I have done thousands of tests, and have sat with thousands of patients.
Nobody, when evaluated with good science, sound lab testing, and a provider who truly understands how to interpret the testing, has Lyme, heavy metals, mold, Candida and adrenal dysfunction concurrently. If your doctor is telling you that your diagnosis is “one of everything”, they don’t understand the science, what the lab is measuring, or how to interpret it.
The Adrenal Glands: At the Scene of The Crime, but not the Criminal
There’s a principle in medicine called “Occam’s razor” which states that we shouldn’t be looking across every potential diagnosis– more than likely everything can be explained by a single, initiating factor. And my experience shows me that this single factor stems from cortisol and stress.
I am on my soapbox here, because I want to see people get better, not continue to spin their wheels trying different providers, plans or supplements. This begins with being more precise about the language we use, and the science that supports it.
Choose you words, your providers and your interventions carefully. As it is said, the “Devil is in the details”. When we incorporate accurate science, terminology and processes into our use of language, we can then begin to see some real changes.