Adrenal Fatigue Glandular and Herbal Therapy – Part 1

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH



Overview

Some common unprocessed herbs for Adrenal FatigueGlandulars refer to raw animal glandulars and non-glandular tissues or extracts of these tissues that are normally dried and grounded.

There are many tissues, organs and glands in the bodies of animals. Commonly available glandulars include the following: thyroid glandular, adrenal glandular, thymus glandular, testes, and ovaries. Less frequently used glandulars are from the pituitary, kidney, liver, pancreas, spleen, lung, heart, brain, uterus and prostate.

An herb is a plant that is valued for flavor, scent, or other qualities. Herbs are used in cooking, as medicines, and for spiritual purposes. Certain herbs can be beneficial for recovery from Adrenal Fatigue, while other herbs can be quite detrimental, delaying or preventing the healing progress.

The use of glandulars and herbs for Adrenal Fatigue is widespread. Due to the lack of standardization and research, there is common consumer misinformation and misuse. While the proper use of glandulars and herbs has its place as part of the adrenal recovery program, its use must be under proper judicious guidance for best results because of frequent atypical responses elicited when such compounds are used. Glandulars and herbs, while exhibiting desirable adaptogenic and tonic properties, may become stimulatory in nature when entering a body whose adrenal function is compromised. The more advanced the Adrenal Fatigue, the more prominent the stimulatory effects appear. This is most commonly noted in those with advanced adrenal weakness. For this reason, what is seemingly harmless to one person can be toxic when used by another.

This article will look at the most commonly used glandulars and herbs used in the Adrenal Fatigue setting and discuss their various attributes.

Glandulars

Healers have been using tissue extracts as one armamentarium in the fight against disease. For instance, extract of bone marrow has been used for the treatment of anemia. Desiccated thyroid is still used by many alternative practitioners in the management of hypothyroidism. Many people take glandulars as a perceived source for natural hormones. In fact, the use of glandular therapy forms the foundational elements and components of modern day prescription of hormones including thyroid, prednisone, and estrogen.

Glandular therapy began with the discoveries made by Swiss physician Paul Niehans, M.D., in the 1920s. Dr. Niehans went on to develop live cell therapy at his clinic in Montreux, Switzerland. Thousands of patients came to his clinic as a last resort. His therapies became famous for rejuvenating all that came to see him: wealthy businessmen, royalty, presidents, and celebrities. Live cell therapy is still practiced in Europe. It is estimated that 5,000 German physicians utilize cell therapy and millions of patients have benefited over the last 50 years. By the mid 1930s, adrenal cell extracts in liquid and tablet forms were produced by several companies. By the late 1930s they were being used by tens of thousands of physicians. Since 1968, they are still being made by some of the leading pharmaceutical companies.

These extracts are used to replenish and eventually normalize adrenal function. An advantage over cortisol hormone replacement is that adrenal cortical extracts can be discontinued once they have done their job of repairing adrenal function.

Glandulars can theoretically come from any animal, but most often they are derived from cow (bovine), while others come from pig (porcine) and sheep (ovine).

Use and Safety

The different glandulars and glandular extracts have various properties and uses. Thymus and spleen extracts may influence the immune system. Thyroid extracts can help with low thyroid. Adrenal extracts may have anti-inflammatory activity. Testes extracts may influence androgen levels, and ovary extracts may influence estrogen levels.

One of the primary setbacks in the modern day use of glandulars is the difficulty of standardized testing and thus lack of research. Modern scientific studies involve isolation of variables into one variable to be involved in a double blind experimental setting. This is clearly not possible in the case of glandulars, which contain enzymes, vitamins, fatty acids, amino acids, minerals, neurotransmitters and a host of nutrients in addition to the tissues within the gland. Testing would not be conducted on any single substance or hormone, such as cortisol or thyroxine, but a number of different substances that are present within each glandular extract.

For example, let’s look at brain tissue. If brain tissue were consumed, one would expect to ingest hundreds of different components that are present within brain tissue. One of these components would be the long-chained fatty acids EPA and DHA. It is quite likely that the Omega-3 oils could improve brain function. I won’t even discuss the potential benefits of other components in brain glandular such as sphingomyelin, phosphatidylserine, etc.

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Glandulars contain many substances including hormones. The major problem that arises is not knowing how much of these hormones or other substances are available in these extracts since they can vary from batch to batch and animal to animal. Also, since there are so many substances within these glandulars, it is difficult to know which of the substances is having a therapeutic influence and how they interact with the myriad other substances in the body. Because they have so many substances in them, it is difficult to determine and measure what kind of effect they may have in the long run when ingested as a supplement. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that glandulars do possess healing properties if used properly based on antidotal evidence for over 80 years.

The best glandulars usually comes from freeze-dried extracts from organic cows raised in New Zealand. There has been no Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in New Zealand. Organic fed cows are raised on grass and aren’t fed any dead animal products (the source of Mad Cow Disease). They are government inspected and raised without the use of pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. Reputable glandular products are subject to in-process and finished product testing. These tests include microbial contamination tests to assure acceptable total bacteria counts and the absence of disease-causing bacteria.

1. Desiccated Thyroid Glandulars

Desiccated thyroid is the dried and powdered thyroid gland. During the process of preparing this glandular, the fat and connective tissue are removed. Desiccated thyroid is often from hogs, but may also come from cows and sheep.

Desiccated natural thyroid is available as a prescription drug for the management of low thyroid. Pharmaceutical preparation is standardized and contains both thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Two products, Armour thyroid tablets (porcine) and Thyrolar (bovine) are FDA-approved drugs.

Natural desiccated thyroid drugs have been available since the late 1800s, but fell out of favor in the 1950s, with the introduction of the heavily marketed synthetic levothyroxine. More recently, however, these drugs have become increasingly popular with patients and practitioners, in part because some patients feel better on these drugs. The primary brands are Armour Thyroid, made by Forest Laboratories, Western Pharmaceuticals’ products Naturethroid and Westhroid, and Bio-Tech’s Bio-Thyroid.

Prescription desiccated thyroid drugs are NOT the same as over-the-counter thyroid glandular supplements. There are countless over the counter thyroid extracts marketed as dietary supplements. Although many probably do not have any significant hormones in them, there are also many that do. Choosing the right product becomes a trial and error exercise for many.

Many with Adrenal Fatigue are taking prescription thyroid medication. The use of thyroid glandular in an Adrenal Fatigue setting is therefore usually not necessary. In fact, concurrent use of thyroid glandular and prescription thyroid replacement may lead to hyperthyroidism. If indeed the thyroid needs support, there are many other more gentle nutrients (such as kelp, iodine, tyrosine) which can serve as first line support to start. Low thyroid function secondary to Adrenal Fatigue usually improves by itself once adrenal function is normalized.

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2. Adrenal Glandulars

Adrenal glandulars are widely promoted and used for Adrenal Fatigue. Many report a sense of increased energy when previously fatigued while others report sense of calmness when previously anxious after taking glandular. These adaptogenic properties, however, are usually demonstrable in those with mild Adrenal Fatigue and not in those with advance adrenal weakness. Those with advanced Adrenal Fatigue are often stimulatory. While this may be considered as a desirable outcome at first as energy returns, there are significant side effects if taken long term. Taking adrenal glandulars chronically to sustain energy is one of the common reasons for adrenal recovery failures due to the addictive and withdrawal side effects of these compounds.

First and commonly, the body may develop tolerance, and over time, more glandular are needed to produce the same effect. Second, at high dose, these glandular may actually trigger and precipitate adrenal crisis as the body’s ability to handle the stimulant reaches maximum tolerance level. Sufferers may experience a “wired and tired” feeling resulting in insomnia and hyper-irritability along with extreme fatigue. Third, withdrawal and rebound symptoms may surface when the glandular are stopped, evidenced by even greater fatigue. Fourth, glandular may trigger a series of paradoxical and undesirable effect, ranging from extreme fatigue, palpitation, blood pressure sensitivity, and anxiety, among others.

Because of these possible side effects, the general consumer should use adrenal glandular on a short term basis provided that the Adrenal Fatigue is in a very mild or beginning state. The more advanced the Adrenal Fatigue, the more one should stay clear of adrenal glandular and its use is best left to the experienced clinician.

Due to the lack of standardization, there are many products on the market available to the consumer. Not all are created equal. Perhaps the most potent product is called Isocort. Isocort is a popular over-the-counter freeze-dried adrenal cortex glandular supplement containing herbs and medium chain triglycerides that may have cortisol-like properties. It’s advertised as providing a standardized, stable, and “gentle” dose of the adreno-cortical substance equivalent to 2.5 mg of cortisol per tablet. Ingredients of Isocort are listed are as follows: Freeze-Dried Adrenal Cortex (soluble fractionation) from New Zealand Sheep. Echinacea Extract (trace amount). Prunus and Lomatium dissectum root isolate (kreb concentrate-2%) in pellet base of lactose and lactase. No cortisol is actually listed in the ingredients. Clinically, if a strong steroidal effect is desired, prescription steroids such as Cortef or hydrocortisone are far more effective on a dose equivalent basis as compared to Isocort, though Isocort does seem to produce steroidal-like properties. Isocort equivalents are popular because it can stimulate the body, leading to increased energy and reduced fatigue. Long-term intake exposes the body to side effects common with other glandulars. Additionally, long term ingestion of echinacea (an Isocort component) is not indicated. Isocort should be taken with great care and under supervision of an experienced health care professional even though it is available as an over-the-counter nutritional supplement.

3. Thymus Glandular

Thymus extracts can have substances that influence the immune system, but it is very difficult to know what kind of short term and long term effect these glandular have on the immune system. There are countless immune substances in the body and it is extremely difficult to predict all the potential interactions when ingesting a thymus glandular. Furthermore, there could be wide variations in response between different people.

Read Part 2 Now!

 
© Copyright 2015 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

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68 Comments

  • jen says:

    HI, I have been taking adrenal glandular whole adrenal for 6 mts. How should I stop taking them? Is it safe to wean off?

  • Suzann says:

    Dr. Lam, what do I do when my doctor refuses any other tests than the TSH. I even went to a second doctor and they will not give me any additional testing. My thryoid was up to 8.8 in March and went down to 7.2 by May and i have been feeling worse and worse and neither doctor will do anything about it. I have all the symptoms of the adrenal fatigue and I mean everyone almost extremely. I need to do something, what can I do. Please help.

  • Allan Lamont says:

    Hi Dr lam,
    I have been having symptoms which point to having adrenal fatigue. I am healthy male who was training 4 times a week but suddenly last October I started getting very tired with dizzy and nausea spells. Took a break after that and started training in the new year but the symptoms started again in March. The dizzy spells and nausea have pretty much gone but I’m still very tired especially in the morning. I’ve been back and forth to my local gp practice but all my blood work has come back normal and they don’t seem to be taking it very seriously. Any advice would be welcome

    • Allan Lamont says:

      I should also note that I had glandular fever about 5 years ago, took a good year before I got over that but feel my immune system hasn’t been the same since

    • Dr.Lam says:

      A weak body can experience what you have. if your work up is normal, looking outside the box can be helpful. Your history is common in a setting of AFS. The glandular fever may have weaken the body significantly. Your recovery is not complete, and further stress trigger relapse of crashes, and generally , with each episode,the trigger is less and intensity can be prolonged. Like a rubber band that has been overstretched, it recovers but never quite the same. If you wish long term recovery,then using glandular is not the best idea. You need to really focus on what is the underlying issues that is triggering the weakness and support that, allowing the body to repair. I am talking in generally terms as each person is very different and each requires a comprehensive plan for long term healing.

  • Brian says:

    Thanks. With the symptoms and blood work I described, may I take a high quality fish oil with 1,000 mg of Vitamin D3? Also, before this happened, I took curcumin for lower back inflammation. It worked very well. I have since stopped taking all supplements in fear that it may make things worse. Do you think these two supplements would interfere with my thyroid or possibly help? The curcumin product was made with soy, but now they sell one that is made using sunflower. It’s a curcumin-sunflower phospholipid complex per capsule. Thanks for your advice!

  • Brian says:

    Hi Dr. Lam,

    It’s been 10 weeks since I stopped the Tongkat Ali supplement, which I only took for 8 days. I’ve experienced sleep maintenance insomnia since I stopped the supplement (which caused my sleeping problems). I finally had a stretch of two solid weeks of sleep after 8 weeks of bad insomnia. If I woke at night, I was able to fall asleep easily. All of a sudden, the insomnia kicked in again four days ago. I woke up at 5:20, then the next day 4:20, then the next day 3am. I am holding at 3am and unable to fall back asleep (waking up very warm too). Not sure what happened. I presume I am not out of the woods yet? There must be hidden cycles at work here. I did do a blood test with my doctor. The only thing that came back borderline high was my thyroid. My numbers have doubled since my blood test last year. He wants to retest me in July for hypothyroidism. Could the supplement have caused this? I know the supplement does increase metabolism, but I’ve been off it for 10 weeks and only took a trial for 8 days. I am avoiding dairy and gluten and soy in my diet hoping that helps as well as eating Brazil Nuts and salt. I guess my progress is not linear. The doctor and my naturopath have no answers for me. My doc gave me sleeping pills. I have not taken them because I do see that as solving the problem.

    Do you have advice? Will my sleep return to normal with time?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      The body’s repair mechanism does that time ,and often can be fragile with pre existing damage. Turbulance and relapses are not uncommon. Labs are normal. It reflect an underlying biological rhythm imbalance. Click Biological Rhythm Disruptions & AFS for more information. Its good you see your doctor to make sure nothing else is going on.

      Dr Lam

      • Brian says:

        Thanks. With the symptoms and blood work I described, may I take a high quality fish oil with 1,000 mg of Vitamin D3? Also, before this happened, I took curcumin for lower back inflammation. It worked very well. I have since stopped taking all supplements in fear that it may make things worse. Do you think these two supplements would interfere with my thyroid or possibly help? The curcumin product was made with soy, but now they sell one that is made using sunflower. It’s a curcumin-sunflower phospholipid complex per capsule. Thanks for your advice!

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    Is it possible for you to help me w AFS when I have 21 hydroxylase deficiency?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      It all depends on the degree of imbalance. To find out, we have to take a more detailed history by phone. no charge. You need to call my office for more details.

      Dr Lam

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    How much clinical experience do you and your center have with 21hydroxylase deficiency? How well do you understand the difference and differences, from adrenal fatigue in those without this condition? Thank you Dr lam.

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    Is it possible to get help from you?
    And that is what I was working toward, less dependency, however, when the dr saw no need to bring my test results onto normal range, I also didn’t see any concern. However, my body has been on replacement for very long, and unless its given something else to help wean it, it will not respond under stress, and indeed was not able. So now, I’m here. I’ve progressed to the point of not being able to get my own food, tho I can still prepare it. Talking is a big strain, so I avoid it, as well as even one on one interaction. It’s so overstimulating that my heart pounds and hurts, as well as my adrenals, etc.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      We have a telephone based nutritional coaching service but there are limitations on what we can and cannot help. We have a lot of calls from people and not everyone qualifies. To find out, you can call my office and my staff will guide you. YOu must make sure you continue to have your local treating doctor for all your medical issues because our work is strictly nutritional in nature in our approach.

      Dr Lam

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    Thank you Dr lam. I so agree. Can you offer any assistance in finding such a dr, as I am in abq, nm? My current endocrinologist, and others I’ve sought out in the past, only know how to treat my condition, based on what they read in the textbook. They have little if any clinical exoerience, and therefore seem to know even less than u do how to deal with my body.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Sorry I dont know anyone in the world other than ourselves that focuses only on this type of work.

      Dr Lam

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    And that is what I was working toward, less dependency, however, when the dr saw no need to bring my test results onto normal range, I also didn’t see any concern. However, my body has been on replacement for very long, and unless its given something else to help wean it, it will not respond under stress, and indeed was not able. So now, I’m here. I’ve progressed to the point of not being able to get my own food, tho I can still prepare it. Talking is a big strain, so I avoid it, as well as even one on one interaction. It’s so overstimulating that my heart pounds and hurts, as well as my adrenals, etc.

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    Yes, I have understood that, even tho drs don’t. Unfortunately, my body is now in a precarious condition. It’s true, any little change is having severe consequences. Earlier this am, my body felt the pain of like it was gonna give out. Pushing Too hard with too little..(then i dreamt i was hearing sounds on my cell phone, and wjen i looked, ot was like i was on skype watching a people walking, when I realized it was a funeral procession). What can I actually do at this point to move forward ? Thank you.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Unless you feel confident to self navigate, you should focus your effort to find someone who really knows to help you as the road to recovery from such point is laden with roadblocks and challenges requiring experience to handle. I am unable to give you specific suggestions because i dont know your body well enough and what may work for one person may backfire for another.

      Dr Lam

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    I appreciate your first reply as well. As I live at n abq, nm it has been impossible to find someone who even has clincial experience, and understands what you do.

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    Oops 21 not 31.

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    Yes it is my goal. Except that because I don’t make enough of my own cortisol, I have taken replacement for over 20years. I already explained the situation and reason I crashed, as I didn’t have enuf replacent to deal with extra stress. Are you saying there are other options for someone like me, who has 31 hydroxylase deficiency? If so I would vety much like to know what they are!

    • Dr.Lam says:

      There are various degrees of deficiency. Remember that the body has some ability to overcome on its own. it is not zero. the best is to encourage the body to do its own healing so you do not develop dependency from long term external support.

      Dr Lam

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    Sorry, I am also wondering if taking adrenal builder glandular with hormones removed would be helpful?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Its slightly better. Remember that a healthy body does not need any glandulars at all. That should be your goal. There are so many better options available that we seldom use glandulars.

      Dr Lam.

      • Neil says:

        Do glandulars with hormone removed have any healing effects at all? Or do they just replace the chemicals the body would normally produce?

        Thanks

        • Dr.Lam says:

          I am not sure what “removal” means to you. Most glandular and hormones are given to help support the body with the assumption that their production is “low” . This approach has its indications but also drawbacks.

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    BTW, I am nutritionally doing all the helpful things for my adrenals.

  • Stephanie Cohen says:

    I have 21 hydroxylase deficiency. I am in later stage of adrenal exhaustion, because when current endocrinologist got higher than normal range 17OH test results for me, she didn’t see a need to increase the cortef/dex I take, as I seemed to be doing well. Neither of us knew it would lead to exhaustion, when I encountered addit stress of a cold concurrently with visiors. Also I was hoping that my adrenals would heal as I got better, hoping I would need less replacement drugs. After taking more as Dr prescribed, to treat the exhaustion, I lost sleep 2am on, for over 3 weeks, furhter debilitating my body. I thought my liver might be reacting to the larger dose of synthetic, as I have MCS. I am looking to find a way to help my adrenals recover, not only from the current state, but the overall condition, even tho allopathic medicine would disagree with that possibility. I am reading how careful one must be in dosage when in stage 4 of AE. With my condition, I will need replacement, until my adrenals can make enough of their own cortisol, if they ever get to that point. I want a healthier way to manage my acute and chronic conditions . I appreciate your informational help with this

    • Dr.Lam says:

      you are at a point where the body is very fragile and the slightest move can cause crashes. Its not only about cortisol, but about having a very comprehensive plan for long term recovery. We deal with this on a daily basis, and that is your most important challenge, to find someone to put this together for you. Any short term patches would only backfire, including what seems to be logical attempt to help with the 21 hydroxylase deficiency. The reasons is because in advance AFS, there are many underlying issues that need to be dealt with first. Timing is critical. The right thing done at the wrong time is a common recovery failure mistake.

      Dr Lam.

  • Benson Carl McKinley says:

    Im not that fatigued , but my MD’s want to try some glandulars on me, to see how I will do with them. Do you think that is a good idea ? Could I use them for a boost when needed ?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Using glandular as a challenge can be done short term provided that you relatively health and strong. There are potential downsides which you should be aware of as well, and they are mentioned in my article. They happen to some more than others. In general, the more weak your system the greater the prevalence. I am not a fan of adding these compounds unless there is specific reason, and we seldom use them to avoid potential problems including dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms in some. There are many other ways to “test” your body .

      Dr Lam

  • Jay says:

    I am a 55 year old female.
    I am permanently on Cortef 10-15mg daily for adrenal failure; 7.5mg on very good days. I have also been taking Adrenal Start capsules one daily & I feel better on them. Do you think there are any harmful effects to taking the cortef & adaptogens, or is it ok to continue? Thank you

  • Melissa says:

    Nutritionally I am not craving any meat, but am having bone broth at least once a week with my Adrenal Exhaustion. I am on glandeular and herbal and vitamin supplements. I feel good, because I am waking up in the morning without an alarm for the first time in years. Is there more I can be doing?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Broths are very good. Your will know how your body really is holding up when you are off glandulars. Do not stop abruptly.

      Dr Lam

  • Karen says:

    Correction* I DONT feel wired and tired.

  • Karen says:

    Thank you doctor, can you give me an example of an underlying issue? Should I take a 4-part saliva test?

    I also just started on adrenal cortex extract. i dont feel wired but tired. I can still nap, not as tired and sleep fine at night

  • Karen says:

    I have had 3 blood tests usually the typical Thyroid and Overall Metabolic panel and it all comes back normal. My doctor ignored my zlabs cortisol saliva test, that was low (like really low) in the morning under the range and high at night out of the high end.
    For two year i have felt tired and drained all the time. I went from exercising 5 x times a week to napping in my car at lunch, napping when i get home from work and going to bed at 9-10 no problem.
    -my periods are regular
    -my hair has thinned
    -always cold or easily cold, my nails will turn blue if its too cold
    -salty
    -in the evening crave carbs/sweets
    – VERY irritable at night like i cant deal with the world anymore.
    – Its a weird tired and drained like not myself and no one seems to understand.
    – I have a cup of coffee in the morning
    – I can easily have coffee in the evening or afternoon and still sleep no problem.
    – I am forgetful, sometimes cant focus.
    – I was literally telling my husband how I forget things and in the middle of that I lost my train of thought.
    -So many other numbers come back normal and I eat healthy so this doesnt make any sense 🙁

    Ive taken matters into my own hands and I am taking raw thyroid but recently ordered some raw thyroid from Thailand and I am trying out Thorne’s Adrenal Cortex.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Having a reverse cortisol curve ( high at night and low in am ) often points to underlying issue that is well beyond the surface. Trying to increase metabolism with thyroid support supplement may be helpful for a short time in those who are strong. For those who are weak, do be very careful because acceptance may be an issue to start and one can become wired and tired after a while and matters get actually worse.

      Dr Lam.

  • Brian says:

    Thanks, Dr. Lam, for your observations! I am seeing a Naturopathic Doctor next week. I assume they will have a good feel for adrenal issues, hopefully. My MD is unable to see me until three weeks from now. Will my body heal itself and recalibrate over time? I hope my normal sleeping patterns will return. I am following the diet you suggest on your site, though I am not sure if I should take any herbs. As of now, I am staying away from everything except two passionflower capsules before bed. Sometimes if I get desperate and cannot sleep, I take two valerian, though nothing seems to really help. Trying to stay away from melatonin. Will melatonin delay healing? Also, I am a coffee drinker, but typically finish up before 11am. I abruptly stopped a week ago, then experienced worse sleep. Upon research, I found out that insomnia is a common withdrawal side effect. I have since resumed drinking, but only one cup before 10am. I did not want to add insult to injury. Hopefully I am making the right decision.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Every body is a bit difference, and with your history of withdrawals, you need to be careful before starting any hormones or glandulars or herbs because there may be deeper issues involved. Most naturalpathic doctors may not be aware. you may get a short term benefit that can mask the underlying problem. Melatonin has many good benefits but because the response curve is not linear, a fair amount of trial and error is needed.

      Dr Lam.

  • Brian says:

    Thanks. The symptom, I presume, is sleep maintenance insomnia, so the source of the problem would be adrenal fatigue? Is metabolic, hormonal, and cortisol part of adrenal fatigue? I never had problems sleeping before, but took a supplement for eight days, and since then, have been unable to sleep. I’ve been off it for 3 weeks now. Apparently it increases AT production (energy production). Lots of people complain about insomnia as being a side effect (Tongkat). I am still unable to sleep through the night because of this. A bit worried at this point and not sure what to do.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      The souce could be adrenal , but could also be metabolic that is trigger directly or indirectly by adrenal issues in addition to it being an independent issue. They are all interconnected because one triggers the other. Taking glandular can trigger the adrenaline release that is unable to shut off by itself. This points to underlying problem which you should now address using this opportunity. A detailed history will reveal a lot. Talk to your doctor. Make sure he knows what AFS is all about, otherwise do not be surprised if there is no answer.

      Dr Lam.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Dr. Lam,

        It’s been 10 weeks since I stopped the Tongkat Ali supplement, which I only took for 8 days. I’ve experienced sleep maintenance insomnia since I stopped the supplement (which caused my sleeping problems). I finally had a stretch of two solid weeks of sleep after 8 weeks of bad insomnia. If I woke at night, I was able to fall asleep easily. All of a sudden, the insomnia kicked in again four days ago. I woke up at 5:20, then the next day 4:20, then the next day 3am. I am holding at 3am and unable to fall back asleep (waking up very warm too). Not sure what happened. I presume I am not out of the woods yet? There must be hidden cycles at work here. I did do a blood test with my doctor. The only thing that came back borderline high was my thyroid. My numbers have doubled since my blood test last year. He wants to retest me in July for hypothyroidism. Could the supplement have caused this? I know the supplement does increase metabolism, but I’ve been off it for 10 weeks and only took a trial for 8 days. I am avoiding dairy and gluten and soy in my diet hoping that helps as well as eating Brazil Nuts and salt. I guess my progress is not linear. The doctor and my naturopath have no answers for me. My doc gave me sleeping pills. I have not taken them because I do see that as solving the problem.

        Do you have advice? Will my sleep return to normal with time?

        Thank you for your help.

  • Brian says:

    Hi Dr. Lam,

    I am dealing with adrenal issues which is causing insomnia (wake up hot at night with a wired-tired feeling). I typically fall asleep fine, but always wake up one hour later and am unable to fall back asleep. If I do, I am awake again at 3 or 4am. I am currently taking B vitamins from a whole food supplement. It contains Bovine Liver as well as Bovine Heart. The company says their products do not contain any hormones and the animals are grass fed. Will the liver and heart be good for my adrenals? Should I discontinue use until my body is back to normal?

    Thanks!

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Waking up in the middle of the night is known as sleep maintenance insomnia. it can be due to metabolic , hormonal, or cortisol imbalance. a detailed history will be able tell us more. B vitamins tend to be stimulating so if you take it, make sure it is in the morning. Bovine glandular has its place but we generally dont use because of the many potential issues long term for the adrenal and there are good alternatives that are far better. If you have been it on a long time, do not stop abruptly. Talk to your doctor.

      Dr Lam

  • Ernest says:

    What resources (books, links, etc.) can you recommend to someone who would like to learn and understand more about herbs?

  • Peppa says:

    I am quite confused by this article and a comment by Dr Lam. It would seem from a comment that there are better alternatives to glandular adrenal support, but I am not entirely clear from the article what these alternatives are exactly. My 15 year old daughter has adrenal exhaustion, she has been taking Nutri adrenal extra, and my understanding was that it would support adrenals, not stimulate them. She is still experiencing exhaustion, low blood sugar levels after 3-4 months taking the tablets. When she took her saliva test, results showed she does not seem to produce enough cortisol at night, and her levels were a bit all over the place, too much or too little at different times of the day. Can you suggest anything? Would the herbal Ashwagandha Root and Leaf help? She takes a licorice tea every now and then during the day too.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Glandulars are in theory adaptogenic, but in clinical reality, it can be quite stimulatory when a person is in advance stages of AFS. If after a few months of therapy and no significant improvement, something is wrong and you should go back to the doctor who started her on it. Saliva test ” all over the place” is not unusual, and will need correlation with clinical findings. Herbals are like glandular in characteristics. Young people and teenagers have special challenges. Do be very careful with any stimulants. They have many decades to go and starting stimulants / adaptogens too soon can limit her choices long term. Unfortunately, we deal with many in this category so we are very careful not to make matters worse which occurs frequently by the time these kids come to us for telephone coaching.

      Click Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome in Teenagers & Young Adults for more information.

      Dr Lam

  • Hope Carr says:

    What about desiccated adrenal for level 2 adrenal fatigue? I am very sensitive. Could it to attributing towards the worsening anxious wired feeling?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      If you are very sensitive, you should avoid any kind of glandular unless you take very small amount. If you force it into the body to generate more energy, your risk of crashing may increase over time if the body cannot accept. Fortunately this does not happen too often, but its always better to be safe than to be sorry. Sensitive people should have a comprehensive approach to recovery to avoid relapses. Many people focus only on short term fix and ultimately suffer setbacks which makes them worse and come to us for telephone coaching. You dont want to be in this state. Click Total Body Approach for more information.

      Dr Lam

      Dr Lam.

  • Anne says:

    I have a history of non-hormone related breast cancer but have still been told that it wouldn’t be safe to take glandulars to support my adrenal fatigue in the morning. That Cancer Treatment Centers of America have seen patients get a recurrence of cancer that was then hormone related after taking glandulars. I would like to know what would be the next best thing to nourish/support my low cortisol levels in the morning and daytime.

  • Carrie says:

    My daughter has Hashimotos and adrenal fatigue, she Just started on an Adrenal Rebuilder that has glandulars, but the hormones have been removed. Is this type of glandular safe to take to nourish the adrenals?

  • Victoria says:

    I have Hashimotos and adrenal fatigue. I recently started to take Nutri Advanced Adrenal Concentrate (from NZ bovine source). I seem to be very sensitive to any meds or supplements that I take so I began with just a fourth of a tablet (so 25mg) then waited a day and took the same dose. The next day I took 50mgs. Symptoms were not positive – leg pains, headaches, adrenal rushes and vivid dreams so I stopped and have not taken any since. Now I am experiencing low blood pressure and have to keep feet elevated plus adrenal stress. Am waiting for blood test results but think it is from starting then stopping the glandular extract. Assume this will pass and glad I did not take any more. Is there anything else I can do while I rest and wait? Would appreciate your input – thanks

    • Dr.Lam says:

      When you have both thyroid and adrenal issues, the body’s behavior tend to be unpredictable, such as what you may have experienced. Stop and seek help from the practitioner who suggested the glandular. Also some glandular purity may be an issue that has to be factored in .
      Read Adrenal Fatigue Glandular & Herbal Therapy for more information. We are very careful with use of glandulars, and you should too. They have their places, but overall, there are many better alternatives available.

      Dr Lam.

  • mike says:

    If very high levels of heavy metals and candida are causing my adrenals to crash, is it safe to assume that’s why my naturopath started me on the adrenal glandular temporarily?

  • mike says:

    I am seeing a nutritionist for many problems. Heavy metals, candida, and severe adrenal problems. He is starting me on a glandular to take some stress off of the adrenals. Should I be worried about starting them. It seems everything I read from you is against glandulars. Or are they sometimes needed?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Glandulars has its place, but before you embark, an exit plan should be in place. That will force you to think more before you start because these compounds are easy to start and hard to stop. We have found that they are seldom needed, even in very advance cases because these are people who need long term solutions and not short term fixes. The concept of glandular taking stress of adrenal works mostly in milder cases fyi and not in advance cases. Read Adrenal Fatigue Glandular & Herbal Therapy for more information.

      Dr Lam

      Dr Lam

  • pat seiler says:

    I have been taking hydrocort (17 1/2 mg/day) for the last 9 years. in your opinion, what are my chances of weaning off of it w/ the help of adrenal extracts?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Getting off steroid by replacing with adrenal extract is not the best approach to start because you will likely end up, even if successful, addicted to extracts which can cause another set of problems. The best way to get off is to give the body the raw material for the adrenals to self heal and put out the necessary steroids internally, thereby reducing external steroid. It can be done in most cases provided you have the right plan that is uniquely tailored for your body, lots of patience, and a good follower of instructions.

      Dr Lam.

  • Kendra says:

    How would I know what herbs would be detrimental to me while having Adrenal Fatigue?

    • Dr. Lam says:

      Each herbs have its own pros and cons, and knowing the properties of each one is the key in your educational process. Once you know, you will better be able to make that decision. There is no “BAD” herbs provided you know how to use, when to use, and the proper delivery system. Generally speaking, the more advance your condition, the more “detrimental” risk it carries.

      Dr Lam