Weak Constitution and Adrenal Fatigue Recovery

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

Read Part 1 | Part 3

Very Weak Constitution

A weak constitution affects the way Adrenal Fatigue impacts your healthWhile only a small percent of the general population has a very weak constitution, they are the most desperate when afflicted with Adrenal Fatigue. The following diagram shows why:

After an adrenal crash, there is no noticeable recovery. The body may go through a period of stabilization, but even this is marred with multiple minor crashes along with intermittent major ones, where energy drops 30% or more compared to the immediate pre-crash level.

Adrenal Fatigue recovery pattern in population with very weak constitution

Severe symptoms such as hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, and insomnia continue to persist and get worse over time. Normal daily activities are severely disrupted. It is not unusual to spend much of one’s time in bed or on the couch. Many are bedridden after a long time, especially those with a weak constitution.. Not only has recovery failed, but also the energy level continues on a sloping downhill path. Ultimately there will be some form of crash that pushes the key adrenal hormones and functions below that which is necessary for basic normal adrenal function. The time frame varies, but this is usually a matter of months if no attention is given to nurture the adrenals back to health quickly. The body then enters into a state of emergency that keeps only the most basic functions going while the rest (like gastrointestinal, reproductive function) are compromised. Any use of stimulatory natural compounds or prescription drugs may result in a brief sense of well being at best, but this quickly backfires and makes the situation even worse unless under expert professional guidance is solicited.

Weak Constitution

Those with weak constitutions are likely to experience a noticeable but mild recovery after a major crash into Stage 3C. The graph below shows the general recovery pattern of an Adrenal Fatigue sufferer with a weak constitution.

Adrenal Fatigue recover graph seen in people with weak constitution

There might be a sustained period of gradual improvement, but progress is generally slow. Minor crashes and setbacks are expected along the way. After a while, a plateau is reached. The body does not seem to be able to do any better and more rest does not seem to increase the energy level of the body. Normal daily activities may be carried out on good days, but bad days are common and rest is needed. The body is marginally functional at best. When a new stressor hits, there will be inevitable follow-up crashes, lowering the adrenal functions along the way, like series of small steps going down. With each crash, there is a period of stabilization. These periods of stabilization may be accompanied by a slow gradual reduction in energy level, or at best, maintain the same energy level. Follow-up crashes tend to be more and more intense and severe, with longer recovery times each time. Invariably, the body will experience a major crash and enter into Adrenal Fatigue Stage 3D. After a brief pause and declining stabilization period, adrenal failure may ensue. Compare to those with very weak constitution, those here can consider themselves fortunate as the natural progression of the condition is somewhat slower with intermittent periods of functionality. Unfortunately, there is no escape from the ultimate outcome if nothing is done to help the recovery process.

Normal Constitution

Most people fall into this category. Adrenal Fatigue comes on slowly and gradually over years or decades. Most are not aware that they have Adrenal Fatigue until they enter Stage 3. If a crash does occur, they are likely to be able to mount a reasonable and moderate level of recovery over time. Unfortunately, this cannot be sustained, as shown below:

Adrenal Fatigue recover graph seen in people with normal not weak constitution

This recovery pattern after a major crash into Stage 3C is characterized by significant improvement in energy over time. Rest is welcomed but sometimes not required as the body’s biological constitution is strong enough to sustain some setbacks. Minor crashes surface periodically, but are still manageable to handle. The setbacks tend to be rhythmic in nature. Taking afternoon naps and sleeping early helps tremendously. A full recovery back to the asymptomatic level above the Adrenal Symptoms Threshold (AST) is usually not possible, though it could be close. They remain symptomatic below the AST, but are far better than they were at the peak of the crash. There is always some discomfort, though the unpleasantness can be reduced with proper rest and lifestyle adjustments.

The body needs frequent rest to cope with fatigue, but is not permitted to because these people, with normal constitutions, are used to full and active lifestyles. Most of them are usually in denial for a extended period of time that the body is in trouble. As compared to those who has been constitutionally weak all their life and used to slowing down and taking naps during the day, these are fully productive individuals and are not used to giving the body rest other than at the end of the day.

Balancing between work and rest becomes a constant struggle. Compliance becomes a major issue even when under professional care. With insufficient time spent nurturing the body back to health; this is a set up for inevitable crashes to follow. With each crash, the body tries to mount a recovery effort. At first the recovery effort brings relief, but over time as the adrenals get weaker with continued crashes, the recovery curve tends to be stable at best. Ultimately, the many crashes followed by the flat stabilizations resemble stairs going down. This process can last for months and even years. Eventually, the body’s reserve is so low that it crashes and enters into Stage 3D Adrenal Fatigue. After a final stabilization period, adrenal failure risk becomes high.

Strong Constitution

Those with a strong adrenal constitution usually are able to mount a significant recovery steadily from Stage 3C. The recovery curve is smoother than those with normal constitution because the body is better able to absorb setbacks. Eventually, the body is able to return to the level of function above the adrenal threshold level (AST) and become asymptomatic. Those who are fortunate will have a sustained period of symptom free. Ultimately, however, this fails with time, as shown below:

Adrenal Fatigue recover graph seen in people with strong rather than weak constitutions

Compared to those with weaker constitution, those here do recover on their own to a point that normal daily function is uninterrupted. This asymptomatic period may be sustained for years. On the outside, they appear cured and totally normal. On the inside, the body is struggling to stay asymptomatic as it stays marginally above the Adrenal Symptoms Threshold.

There may be occasional minor crashes but recovery is relatively fast. During these crashes, symptoms are unpleasant, but tolerable. They may be able to continue full time employment. This can go on for decades. Some try to self-administer natural compounds to stimulate energy production when fatigued. Because the symptoms are marginal, they do not see a need to visit their physician for help until quite late.

Eventually, with aging, and if stressors are not removed, a major stress event may come, such as the death of a loved one. Due to the lack of preparation, this normally comes as a surprise. Sufferers tend to push themselves more when this happen as they deny Adrenal Fatigue exists. The fact that conventional western medicine does not recognize this condition complicates the matter further. Sufferers lose valuable time that should be used to nurture the body to rebuild the adrenal reserve that is slowly but surely dwindling. Eventually, crashes become more frequent and intense. Recovery becomes less successful, and the inability to stay asymptomatic after a crash eventually becomes the standard. Eventually, the body crashes into Adrenal Fatigue Stage 3D and ultimately ends in adrenal failure.

Read Part 1 | Part 3

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

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