Located just above the kidneys, the adrenal glands are responsible for the production of hormones crucial to regulating stress, blood pressure, and other bodily functions. In patients with Addison’s disease, the adrenal glands don’t make enough of these vital hormones. Individuals with this condition are likely to suffer a range of symptoms, including chronic fatigue, weight loss, hyperpigmentation, and depression. If you think you might be suffering from Addison’s disease or another form of adrenal insufficiency, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for a check up.
What Is Adrenal Insufficiency?
A hormonal disorder, adrenal insufficiency results when the adrenal glands fail to produce the right amount of hormones. The adrenal gland consists of two sections. While the interior component creates adrenaline-like hormones, the outer component releases a group of hormones known as corticosteroids. With primary adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison’s disease, the adrenal glands have suffered damage that renders them incapable of producing a sufficient quantity of the adrenal hormone cortisol, which is responsible for regulating numerous bodily functions.
Symptoms of Adrenal Insufficiency
Adrenal insufficiency can result in numerous symptoms that affect patients’ health and quality of life. Here are some of the most commonly reported effects of this condition.
Patients with adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s may also experience mental health symptoms like depression, irritability, anxiety, and loss of interest in sex. According to the National Institutes of Health, Addison’s disease impacts more than 100 of every 1 million people in developed countries.
Causes of Addison’s Disease
While many cases of Addison’s disease result from adrenal gland damage, the condition can also develop as a result of an underlying illness. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, less-common causes of Addison’s include chronic fungal infections, amyloidosis, tuberculosis, AIDS-related infections, genetic defects, and cancer cells spreading to the adrenal glands from other body parts.
It’s important to know that adrenal insufficiency (AI) can be either permanent or temporary. Patients with permanent AI will likely require lifelong treatment to stay healthy.
Treating Adrenal Insufficiency and Addison’s Disease
Because adrenal insufficiency typically results from a lack of cortisol, most AI/Addison’s patients receive some form of hormone replacement therapy to correct their steroid levels. If you have a diagnosis of Addison’s, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids such as prednisone, hydrocortisone, cortisone acetate, or corticosteroid injections. The latter treatment is common among patients who are experiencing nausea and vomiting.
Unfortunately, corticosteroids don’t always resolve all the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. Because the body naturally produces more hydrocortisone in response to stress factors like fever, infection, and trauma, patients may need to to take more than their usual replacement dose under these circumstances. If you’re sick with a fever or experiencing an increase in the severity of symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor about adjusting your dose. You may want pursue additional treatments to mitigate the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency and improve quality of life moving forward.
Adrenal Insufficiency and Amino Acid Therapy
Amino acids are organic compounds that join together to form proteins. While the body creates some amino acids on its own, others can only be sourced through food. These essential amino acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, and methionine, all necessary components of an effective restorative adrenal program.
Cortisol regulates the synthesis of the PNMT enzyme, which in turn controls the synthesis of epinephrine and norepinephrine in the adrenal glands. However, increasing the amount of cortisol in the body won’t necessarily resolve all the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. If patients want to optimize the whole dopamine to epinephrine pathway, they may need to take a more comprehensive treatment approach that involves a carefully curated balance of amino acids.
According to David S. Klein, M.D., of the Pain Center of Orlando, adrenal fatigue is most often caused by stress. Because amino acids like L-theanine encourage the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA),which promotes the release of relaxation neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, amino acids may be able to reduce stress levels and, as a result, alleviate adrenal fatigue symptoms.
Klein isn’t the only medical professional to believe in the power of amino acids to help treat adrenal fatigue. At the Amino Co., we have developed customized amino acid formulas to help a wide range of individuals, including astronauts, athletes, and hospital patients. Along with researching the ways in which amino acids can help adrenal insufficiency patients, we are developing treatments for patients with heart failure, liver problems, and even mental illness. If you’re suffering from one of these conditions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
You can also find out more about amino acid support for adrenal fatigue in this article.