Body Constitution and Recovery from Adrenal Fatigue

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


Read Part 1 | Part 2

Excessive Use of Natural Stimulatory Compounds

Excessive use of Natural Stimulatory Compounds depends on your Body ConstitutionWhat is body constitution, and how does it play a role in your health and healing? While the use of natural compounds such as certain herbs and glandular to facilitate adrenal recovery can be of great help in mild Adrenal Fatigue (Stage 1 and 2), those with adrenal exhaustion (Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue) pursuing this strategy can meet disastrous results if not professionally guided. It is important to learn all aspects of Adrenal Fatigue including, understanding how to eat for your blood type and how body constitution may play a role in adrenal fatigue.

After the initial adrenal crash into Stage 3C Adrenal Fatigue, recovery results are promising at first. Recovery is fast and furious as the body’s energy level is propped up and sustained with natural compounds. The adrenals are put to overdrive to increase their hormone output and energy returns. Sometimes, the energy level may even return to that above the AST and the sufferer becomes asymptomatic. While the overall energy level may not be the same as the pre-crash, unpleasant symptoms are at least not prevalent. The sufferer is misled into thinking that his problem is resolved. The adrenal glands, however, have a blunted response over time to such continued stimulation strategy. More natural compounds are needed to have the same sustained energy level. In time, overall energy level plateaus and fails to increase even with increasing dosages. Soon the maximum stimulatory level is reached, at which time the body starts to decompensate. Eventually, the adrenals start to fail, and a stressor, triggering the first major crash after the plateau is reached, usually precipitates this.  Knowing and recognizing your body constitution could potentially assist you in continued healing after plateau.

Adrenal Fatigue recovery pattern with excessive use of natural stimulants with out Body Constitution

After the first major follow-up crash, even more, stimulants are usually taken as a follow-up. There again may be a period of recovery, but the duration is shorter, and the level of recovery is mild at best. This is only to be followed by further crashes. With each subsequent crash, the crash intensity is increased. The body’s ability to mount a recovery is blunted, and in fact may slowly decompensate and roll into subsequent crashes, with one crash followed by another. This progression can happen quickly, not far behind those with the very weak body constitution mentioned earlier.

Needless to say this is an undesirable recovery pattern even for those with normal or strong body constitution. Over time, this is a recipe for failure. What the adrenal needs are gentle nutrients to nurture itself back to health, not to be continually put on overdrive without rest as what some of these natural compounds may do for those with advanced Adrenal Fatigue. It comes as no surprise that this undesirable recovery pattern can only get worse if the constitution state is weak, or very weak, as shown clearly below:

Adrenal Fatigue recovery pattern with excessive use of natural stimulants vs body constitution

As the above diagram shown, the weaker the body constitution, the worse the recovery outlook. Those with very weak body constitution fare the worst. They never get a chance to have any sort of meaningful recovery, with rolling crashes that end poorly in adrenal failure quickly. Administration of stimulatory natural compounds should, therefore, be avoided unless under expert guidance in those with adrenal exhaustion (Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue).

Aggressive Use of Prescription Medications

Physicians commonly use thyroid and steroid medications in Adrenal Fatigue during the recovery process. While these potent drugs have their roles to play and can be very helpful, aggressive use over time can pose a significant risk and worsen adrenal exhaustion worse for some.

The most common are thyroid medication and this is usually prescribed after the sufferer has visited his physician. Recovery usually tends to be steady and going well at first. With each increase in medication potency, dosage or delivery system, there appears to be a corresponding increase in energy level immediately following-thus making the physician feel encouraged. Fatigue conditions appear to be getting better and laboratory test results appear to be improving. The sufferer may be asymptomatic as long as medicine is taken regularly. There may also be a peak effect when the sufferer feels like the body is almost back to normal. This can go on for a few years. The only problem is that strong medication is needed to keep this energy level sustained. Over time, steroids may be added as well, with an ever-increasing dose and potency. While this may go on for some time, eventually the body reaches its maximum stimulatory level. The adrenals simply cannot be stimulated any further and refuse to cooperate. Eventually, a stressor will come, and a major crash follows as shown below.

Adrenal Fatigue recovery pattern with aggressive use of prescription medications with out Body Constitution

More medication is normally administered but the response is blunted. Crash intensity is increased and recovery effort is marred, only to be followed by more crashes. Eventually, the physician may be lost on what to do as the major arsenal of drugs has become exhausted and backfired as the patient gets worse. The sufferer is then abandoned to self-navigate, which often ends disastrously at Adrenal Fatigue Stage 3D. After a brief but heroic attempt to reverse this unsuccessfully, adrenal failure risk remains high.

Aggressive use of prescription medications may be used only under proper professional guidance. They have a function in adrenal recovery.

Those with strong body constitutions tend to fair the best, and those with weak constitution tend to fair worse. The worst of all worlds falls on those with a very weak constitution whose body is unable to tolerate prescription medications. They tend to decompensate the fastest and have the highest risk of adrenal failure. Those who are not getting better with prescription medication need to be alerted and seek further professional advice.

Adrenal Fatigue recovery pattern with aggressive use of prescription medications vs body constitution

Optimum Recovery Program

A personalized recovery program using optimum gentle nutrients can often bypass all the above undesirable patterns, regardless of body constitution. By using gentle natural compounds, the body is given the natural tools it needs to heal itself. Crash intensity can be reduced significantly, with a soft landing and minor unpleasantness of symptoms at most. This is followed by a rhythmic recovery back into the asymptomatic zone shown below.

Adrenal Fatigue recovery pattern graph of optimum recovery with out Body Constitution

Total crash and recovery cycle time will be reduced greatly. In some cases, a crash can even be avoided. In others, a crash to honeymoon cycle may be achieved. Under normal situation, the recovery is smooth and steady. There will be provisions made for small setbacks that do not affect the normal daily living. As the body reaches the recovery plateau well above the asymptomatic level but not at the pre-crash level, the body is allowed to rest. Using gentle natural compounds that are carefully dosed and delivered to fit the body’s needs, the professional approach provides a window of opportunity to help build up the body’s reserve and get it ready for the next recovery phase. As the body is resetting itself at a higher level of function, the opportunity is there to be seized to propel the body upwards towards a higher energy level that is even higher than that of pre-crash. Risk of follow-up crashes will, therefore, become minimal. This should be the goal of every recovery program.

Needless to say, those with strong body constitutions and optimized recovery programs tend to excel in their recovery. The weaker the constitution, the slower will the recovery be even if optimized. Even with various body constitutional types factored in, the recovery curve, when optimized, is still far superior.

Adrenal Fatigue recovery pattern graph of optimum recovery vs body constitution

Summary on Body Constitution

Our internal body type or biological constitution is what we are born with. It tells us how strong our body is to be able to withstand illness and directly affect the clinical expression of Adrenal Fatigue. There are no laboratory tests to determine the constitution. An astute clinician best derives it after a detailed history. One’s body constitution greatly affects the risk and subsequent recovery pattern of Adrenal Fatigue. The stronger the constitution, the lower the risk of Adrenal Fatigue and the better the chances of recovery. This is particularly true of Stage 3C Adrenal Fatigue, where the steepest decline in function occurs. The following graph summarizes the various patterns based on constitutional types for comparison purposes:

Adrenal Fatigue ACRC AE Recovery Pattern with out Body Constitution

The natural progression for those who have a normal body constitution and suffer Adrenal Fatigue is one of slow deterioration over a period of time (Pattern 5). However, the time can be lengthened if the intrinsic body constitution is strong (Pattern 6). Those with a weak constitution (Pattern 3) do poorly. Those with a very weak constitution (Pattern 1) do the worst. Excessive and inappropriate use of natural stimulatory compounds commonly employed by those who are in self-navigating mode (Pattern 3), compromises the normal recovery process. Aggressive use of prescription medications (Pattern 4) can worsen the outcome, especially in the presence of a weak constitution. Both could be worse than if nothing is being done and lets nature take its course (Pattern 5). In other words, matters are often made even worse. If this is superimposed with a weak or very constitution, the end results can be disastrous.

The goal of any recovery program is to reduce crash intensity, affect a sustained recovery that is full and asymptomatic, and reduce the risk of subsequent crashes. This is best achieved by an optimized and personalized recovery program (Pattern 7).

The key is to mimic the recovery curve as close as possible to Pattern 7, regardless of constitutional type.

The key characteristics of each pattern in summarized in the table below:

Adrenal Fatigue ACRC AE Recovery Pattern Summary with Body Constitution

Fortunately, regardless of which recovery pattern is being followed, the body is generally forgiving, unless the damage is advance. With the right program designed to match the constitutional type, the damaged adrenal glands can often be reversed and nurtured back to health.

Read Part 1 | Part 2

© Copyright 2013 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Body constitution




6 Comments

  • Betty H Wright says:

    I have had adrenal exhaustion for several years, recovering, then crashing. Each crash coming sooner and lasting longer. I have many of the mentioned symptoms, but one of the worst is nausea, which I rarely see mentioned. Never any other stomach complaints. My last saliva test showed cortisol off the chart at 33, but rest of day was 2. Can you address this, please?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      As the body gets weaker, the intensity and frequency increases and threshold reduces. Nausea is a lat sign. Cortsiol curve needs to be correlated with clinical condition for accurate interpretation Click Laboratory Testing for more information. .

      Dr Lam

  • Casey says:

    Hi Dr. Lam, what are the gentle supplements you’re referring to? Would you please give some idea? For someone in advanced adrenal fatigue, what would be too powerful or potent? I seem to be sensitive to many of the supplements that are normally prescribed. Also, where is your office and if you are able to work with clients remotely, how do you do that? Thank you!

  • oceana says:

    Your information is invaluable. I am recovering from adrenal fatigue, and your articles help to better comprehend what is happening. I have experienced a “honeymoon” period followed by plateau for several years, though I seem to be continuing to step “Up” in progress. I will continue to visit your site and pass it on to others. Thank you for the work you do and for sharing.