Paradoxical Reaction: When To Take Adrenal Support Supplements

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Adrenal supplements and paradoxical reactionAdrenal 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 reaction feeling badParadoxical 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.

Make sure you understand how supplements relate to paradoxical reactionSo 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.


Paradoxical reaction

DrLam.com
5 -
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




24 Comments

  • leighah beadle-darcy says:

    Hello Dr Lam, I scored 11 on your adrenal fatigue test. Is this considered ‘advanced’ and therefore to be careful taking supplements for adrenal fatigue, or is it a score where still considered OK to take some of the supplements you have designed? Best Wishes, Leighah Beadle-Darcy

    • Dr.Lam says:

      The score is considered high but needs to be correlated clinically by telephone interview to make the best assessment and strategy going forward. Not everyone needs supplements.

      Dr.Lam

  • Julie Carlisle says:

    Hi Dr Lam
    Prior to being properly diagnosed, my GP was giving me IV injections of neurobion (Vit B). I phoned him several times after the injections as I was in extreme pain – my back and down my legs. I suspect that this may have had something to do with my Adrenals? Possibly this paradoxical response?
    Thank you for your remarkable work.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      There are multiple possibilities. Some people do not tolerate vitamin B well, especially in late stages of AFS.

      Dr.Lam

  • Gina says:

    Dr. Lam,
    I have been seeing a DO since September. I have adrenal fatigue as well as had an Epstein Barr flare 3 weeks after starting the acupuncture and supplements for the adrenal fatigue. My DO is frustrated because her go-to supplement to help me heal, ashwanada, makes me vomit violently for 6-8 hours, even taken with food. She doesn’t have an explanation for why. Is this a peridoxical reaction?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      It could be though others can present like this, including hypersensitivity. Usually, when this happens it means something is wrong deeper down. We need a more detailed history to ascertain that.

      Dr.Lam

  • Karen Del says:

    Dr. Lam,
    Your book, Web site, and other adrenal exhaustion information have been the only sources that have helped me keep my daughter afloat during these past three years, between doctors who just can’t seem to determine the path of health for her. Her past medical history is quite involved. We are awaiting a first appointment with a new functional/integrative medicine doctor. But in the meantime, I have a concern. For about a year, my daughter has had a strange odor. I would describe it as a sweet, sickening smell. I am concerned that it’s an indication of some sort of wasting. Do you have any recommendations?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Strange smell can be due to a variety of reasons. I dont have a detailed history so I cannot ell because much of it has to come down to detailed history. if you cannot find the help you really need, then caou can call my office . I hate to see young people suffer and you need to be very careful with testin. there is no shortage of ways to find something wrong when a body is weak. sometimes the “treatment” may make youu sorse. good news is nothing you tell me is surprising so far.

      Dr Lam

  • Susanne N. says:

    Dr. Lam – What is your opinion on using zeolite as a way of gently detoxing your liver and your Extracellular Matrix, if one is suffering from AFS stage 3C/3D? Do you think it will lessen the burden of the liver in this crucial stage of gentle moving the body away from the metabolic chaos it suffers from, or will it do the opposite?

    And btw, thank you so much for sharing your insights and knowledge regarding AFS. I am currently reading your books on the subject and they have given me a completely new insight into and understanding of my “illness”. These books are truly potential lifesavers…

    best,
    Susanne – Denmark

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Zeolite has its place when used properly at the right time. Unfortunately, what is ‘gentle” for one person may not be for another, so you have to have to be very careful.

      Dr Lam

      • Susanne N. says:

        Thanks for answering my question so fast, Dr. Lam

        In what way may zeolite not be a gentle way of detoxification for some people (probably those suffering from sever AFS)?

        I guess I was wondering whether or not zeolite universally safely transports the toxins out of the body due to its “cage structure” and therefore doesn’t place an extra burden on the liver, even though (as far as I understand) the liver is a part of zeolite’s route of excretion?

        • Dr.Lam says:

          After toxins are trapped, they still have to be transported out of the body through the extra cellular matrix and this can be one major places where existing congestion can worsen.

          Dr Lam

          • Susanne N. says:

            Aaah, I think I understand: Zeolite may bind to intracellular toxins and move them from the cell and out into the extra cellular matrix (ECM), which may already be congested with toxins and therefore further burden the toxic load of the ECM – is that correctly understood?

            I hope me dwelling on this issue is okay – hopefully your answer can help other AFS sufferers 🙂

          • Dr.Lam says:

            That is part of the factors involved.

            Dr Lam

  • Leslie Cox says:

    Dr Lam my wife has been suffering with adrenal for what must be many years now especially over the last 4 yearz. I would say that she is currently in stage 3 b or c. Can we consult with you long distance as we live in the middle east.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      We do service middle east and you are not alone. you have to speak relatively fluent english. Call my office for more detail on how to qualify.

      Dr Lam

  • toral mehta says:

    Hi
    I was extremely fatigue for 2 months couldn’t concentrate even i couldn’tmove my body and speak. My lab tests were normal. But my naturopath gave me high dose of magnesium and adrenoenhance. Since last week i have noticed change in my health. I m more positivd and happier.
    However i m bit concerned after i come back to normal nd stop medications will i hve side effects. Due to extreme traumas in my life i cant copd with stress and my condition gets severd if someone raises voice at me.
    Please suggest.
    Toral

  • Jane Wassen says:

    Dr. Lam,
    I recently worked with a naturopath doc for my adrenal fatigue. After reading many of your articles and recognizing my reactions and lack of progress I made from the supplements he recommended, I realize that my body cannot handle too much Vit C, salted H2O or especially 10 mg of pregnenalone. After a few weeks I started feeling horrible. Is it best for me to just focus on healing through good nutrition at this point and what are your thoughts on eating dairy, esp yogurt with AF?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Good nutrition alone may not be sufficient especially if you are reacting negatively to what you described because these are foundational nutrients that everyone needs, so your body can become very sensitive. Unfortunately, we have many in our telephone coaching program preseent with the same, and that usually comes after the body has gotten supplements that it does not want and is experiencing collateral damage. It can be reversed, with care and a comprehensive recovery program.

      Dr Lam

  • jen says:

    I am resting my adrenals. Under the wing of a nutritionist. Completed a 2 day detox and now on a strict metabolic balance diet for 14 days before the next phase. She intends to introduce some siberian ginseng and prebiotics and probiotics, but not for a few weeks

  • Anna says:

    This is me exactly. I have even cut my supplements down to just one type every few days alternating and my body seems to be ok with that. But how do I know when the right time is? Will my body show me some signs to look for?
    PS…loving your vitamin C delivery system options!

    • Dr.Lam says:

      When a person is in a state of hypersensitivity, the body internally is usually quite fragile. Its a balancing act, as too little is not effective, and too much can trigger crash. The body does sent you signals, but unless you are very experienced, most are missed or wrongly read because they are so subtle. I suggest when you get to this stage to get experienced professional help because the signs of today will be different from tomorrow as the body’s recovery pathway is often like a moving target. You dont want to make mistakes which can worsen the situation, or waste precious recovery time when the body is ready to go but lacking nutrients for proper support.

      Dr Lam