Paradoxical Reaction: When To Take Adrenal Support Supplements
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is a condition of impaired adrenal function where the adrenal glands have been overworked and worn down. In the advanced stages especially, adrenal function is severely compromised, so wouldn’t adrenal supplements help? What is a paradoxical reaction and what causes it? Let’s explore some of the physiology of the late stages of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome to get a clearer picture of what’s going on.
Once the adrenal glands have begun to give up the fight and drop in function, a few things happen that retard the normal housekeeping functions of the body. Energy expenditure is curtailed as the body down-regulates to conserve energy for vital functions. This has the knock-on effect of slowing liver function and extracellular matrix (ECM) activity, both critical components of the body’s natural detoxification pathways. Other housekeeping functions are also retarded, and the body’s internal processes start to go in slow motion.
As a result of this system wide slowdown, toxic metabolic byproducts start to build up in the body and congest the ECM. Unresolved congestion can lead to unpleasant retoxification reaction and trigger adrenal crashes. This toxic buildup stresses the body, which puts more pressure on the adrenals, causing further decompensation in a feedback loop. This is the kind of condition the body is in when paradoxical reactions start to appear. For example, fermented herbs properly formulated normally acts to support liver function can turn negative and cause more fatigue and brain fog.
Paradoxical reactions are effects contrary to what would normally be expected for a treatment. For example, a sense of fatigue or malaise instead of a sense of calm when taking steroids, feeling more toxic instead of better, when going through a detoxification program like juice fasting, or a temporary sense of well-being after taking nutritional supplements, only to be followed by a “crash”.
So what causes these paradoxical reactions? We see above that the body’s operation is severely retarded; when we introduce pharmacological or physiological agents into the body, such as medication or nutritional supplements, they stimulate or fuel physiological functions in the body. But in its congested state, the body is unable to sustain these functions with any sort of pace, and these agents are not effectively utilized. Instead, they become mired in the ECM with the rest of the detritus and byproducts of bodily function that are not yet cleared away. What little of these agents are put into action are themselves converted into toxic byproducts that further compounds the congestion and stresses the body further. The reaction to this increased stress is the paradoxical reaction where the body feels more tired when taking stimulants, or feeling constipated when taking large doses of vitamin C.
Let’s look at a further example of adrenal extract, which some people take in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome to try and kickstart their impaired adrenal function. The adrenal glands are already tired and their function is retarded. The powerful stimulatory compounds in adrenal extract push the adrenals to suddenly try and increase their output, but it has neither the energy nor functional integrity to do so, and the body instead shuts them down further to prevent damage and conserve more energy. We get a paradoxical reaction where taking a supplement to improve adrenal health instead has the opposite effect of further retarding function.
So what should sufferers in the advanced stages of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome do? While severely impaired and retarded, the body’s functions are still crawling along, including the detoxification pathways. The best thing to do is let the body follow its own pace while supporting the internal homeostasis with macro and micro nutrients. The key comes down to proper delivery system, dosage, and timing. The best nutrients will backfire if the body is not ready to take it in and assimilate it. Instead of stimulating and pushing the body to heal faster, it needs to be left alone and gently supported with the proper nutrition, and allowed to rest and relax without stress. The body will naturally begin to rebuild some of its strength and regain function with this gentle approach, provided that it is closely monitored. Eventually, it will recover by itself to the point that supplements can be introduced very gradually. It is very important to not do this before the body is ready, and the best way to make sure is to consult a health professional experienced in dealing with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.
An Important Note About Paradoxical Reaction
It isn’t that one shouldn’t take supplements for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, but the timing has to be right to match the condition and readiness of the body.
Thank you so much Dr Lam for the mini book of fatigued out of life. It was great information as I have just discovered and been diagnosed with this. I felt I was going mad and had no answers and this information pin pointed my symptoms and feelings to a tea! Thank you once again! Connie