Adrenal Insufficiency


Treating Adrenal Fatigue with Functional Medicine from Toronto

About our integrative and functional care for adrenal concerns

Adrenal fatigue can trigger low energy levels, stress, anxiety, and brain fog – however, functional medicine from our Toronto private practice could help you combat this health issue.

Understanding Adrenal Glands: The Integrative Functional Medicine View

Here’s an interesting fact: the body relies on the adrenal glands for hormonal functioning and adapting to stress. This means that when your adrenal glands are unsteady, your quality of life could be affected.

What exactly are the adrenal glands? They’re small triangular glands situated over the kidneys. They assist with regulating a wide range of hormones, but one of the adrenal glands’ major roles is to regulate cortisol.

As a hormone, cortisol is important for many reasons:

  • It regulates the sleep-wake cycle;
  • Helps with reducing inflammation;
  • It supports blood pressure;
  • And regulates how the body uses fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Cortisol is crucial for when we are faced with stress. When we respond to stress, one of the hormones released by the adrenals is cortisol; in turn, cortisol can trigger our blood pressure and blood sugar to increase so that we can “survive” a particular stressor. Once the stressor is gone though, cortisol levels decline, which also reduces both blood pressure and blood sugar. This is how the body is supposed to handle “normal” stress.

But when there’s chronic stress (i.e. from the workplace), cortisol continues being released at high levels. In other words, the body cannot press the “off button” on releasing cortisol. Occasionally this can lead to the overworking of the adrenal glands, possibly resulting in the body not producing enough cortisol. This uneven amount of cortisol from the adrenals is what functional medicine practitioners refer to as “adrenal fatigue.”

TAKE NOTE: The information on this page focuses on adrenal fatigue and treating adrenal fatigue only. If you have questions or concerns about another condition called adrenal insufficiency, please contact us to discuss personalized treatment plans using the appropriate medications.

What is Adrenal Fatigue? The Toronto Functional Medicine Centre Explains

Simply speaking, adrenal fatigue is when the adrenal hormones and cortisol levels are imbalanced; low levels of cortisol are present when there should be high levels, or vice versa. Cortisol levels are either excessively high or excessively low.

According to functional medicine wisdom, the body systems are interconnected; when one system is not functioning properly, it destabilizes the rest of the body. Adrenal fatigue is related to the brain because it’s your brain that instructs the adrenal glands to release cortisol. In particular, the brain’s messages to the adrenals are conducted through the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis). When adrenal fatigue occurs, the HPA axis is directly affected because it cannot communicate properly due to the deregulated amounts of released cortisol. Thus adrenal fatigue goes beyond the adrenal glands – it also connects to brain health.

So what causes adrenal fatigue? Chronic stressors include: excessive workouts; exposure to toxins; viral or bacterial infections; autoimmune conditions; food intolerances; gut/microbiome troubles; emotional stress.

The symptoms of adrenal fatigue vary among individuals, though they commonly include:

  • Issues with managing blood sugar;
  • Can’t stay asleep through the night;
  • Brittle hair and nails;
  • Mood swings;
  • Can’t seem to lose weight;
  • Getting dizzy when you stand up fast;
  • Salt and sugar cravings;
  • Chronic inflammation;
  • Energy “crashes” in the afternoons and evenings.

Please understand that, when compared to adrenal insufficiency, adrenal fatigue is a different health issue that requires distinctive treatments. Functional medicine practitioners address adrenal fatigue as a concern within a singular patient; patients are individually treated according to their own biology and health needs.

With that, a functional medicine consultation is critical for understanding what is happening with your biology (i.e. determining whether or not you have adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue). For example, “When too little hormone is secreted, it may be because of a problem with the adrenal gland itself (a primary disorder, such as Addison disease),” explains the Merck Manual. However, adrenal concerns could also be related to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, which could likely hinder the adrenal glands from releasing hormones.

If you suspect that adrenal fatigue is behind your current health issues, rest assured that the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre (TFMC) is here to help with functional medicine lab testing and custom treatments.

How Our Toronto Restorative Medicine Clinic Addresses Adrenal Fatigue

From integrative medicine, naturopathy and IV therapy to western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the TFMC offers personalized medicine for patients with adrenal fatigue. Our Toronto health care providers may offer treatment plans for optimizing adrenal health, such as:

Strategies for adjusting lifestyle factors

In order to reach optimal wellness, our functional medicine and integrative approach to adrenal health includes lifestyle modifications. Stress cannot be eradicated completely – but we can help you adjust to stress-related conditions.

Methods for stress reduction could help with regulating cortisol levels, reducing blood pressure and promoting optimal adrenal function. Thus, adrenal fatigue treatments may include improving your sleep quality with a revised bedtime routine, mindfulness, deep breathing, and learning how to say “no” for the sake of your physical health and emotional wellness.

Supplements that target adrenal fatigue

Our integrative and functional medicine healthcare providers may mention supplements for addressing adrenal fatigue. Because each patient is a unique entity, as per functional medicine wisdom, certain supplements are recommended for your biology and health goals. For example, a patient diagnosed with brain-adrenal dysfunction could be prescribed DHEA and a supplemental form of pregnenolone, a hormone that the adrenal glands naturally produce.

There are natural supplements in Toronto to consider for targeting adrenal fatigue. These may include adaptogens, a group of herbs that are shown to help with adapting to stress, improving resilience and reducing stress.  “Modern studies have shown that adaptogens can non-specifically enhance the resistance of human body under a wide range of external stress conditions with a multi-targeted and multi-channel network-like manner, especially by affect the immune-neuro-endocrine system and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis,” confirms the journal Chinese Medicine.

Our Toronto functional medicine providers may recommend certain adaptogens to help regulate cortisol levels, such as ashwagandha, shilajit, panax, rhodiola or ginseng. To learn about adaptogens, click here to read “Functional Medicine Approach: 5 Stress-Busting Adaptogens for Toronto Patients.”

Functional medicine laboratory testing

Our Toronto functional medicine practitioners will recommend lab tests for diagnosing adrenal fatigue. These tests can provide a well-rounded picture of your biology. Adrenal fatigue symptoms can be far-reaching; sometimes they’re related to other issues (i.e. fibromyalgia or an autoimmune disease), so lab tests can help us precisely diagnose patients.

TAKE NOTE: The information on this page focuses on adrenal fatigue and treating adrenal fatigue only. If you have questions or concerns about another condition called adrenal insufficiency, please contact us to discuss personalized treatment plans using the appropriate medications.

If you visit us for adrenal fatigue concerns, conventional blood tests will be requested, as well as either one or both of these tests:

  • DUTCH Adrenal: This test has an elevated accuracy rate for measuring free cortisol and cortisone patterns and metabolites, as well as DHEA. Measurements are conducted using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). Dried urine samples must be collected four times within a 24-hour period. Take note: this test cannot be conducted on patients with compromised kidney functions.
  • Adrenocortext Stress Profile (ASP): This test consists of scheduled saliva samples used to measure DHEA and cortisol. In particular, this test is non-invasive and provides insight into your HPA axis resiliency, and Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR). Take note that the following medical conditions have been shown to be linked to HPA axis issues:
    • Hypertension
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Chronic pain
    • Diabetes
    • Metabolic Syndrome
    • Cognitive decline
    • Dysregulations of gastrointestinal and immune systems
    • Neurodegenerative conditions

So what’s stopping you from upgrading your wellness? Visit us to determine if adrenal fatigue is the cause of your health concern. Let’s build a distinctive health care plan for you today.

Alleviate Adrenal Fatigue at the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre

The TFMC’s functional medicine approach is an option for reaching optimal wellness due to adrenal fatigue.

According to functional medicine wisdom, no two patients are alike; thus, each treatment from the TFMC is unique because it caters to only one patient’s biology, not a group of people. Our clinical therapies can be applied to a wide range of health issues: adrenal fatigue, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue, infertility, chronic conditions, gluten sensitivity, nutritional deficiencies, and other concerns.

Can’t make it to our Toronto clinic? No problem – our integrative approach to health care can be conducted in-person or through encrypted virtual consultations.

Tell us about your adrenal health issues so that we can boost your quality of life! Contact us to discuss adrenal fatigue and functional medicine with our Toronto clinic.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.

 

References:

Overview of the Adrenal Glands,” By Ashley B. Grossman , MD, University of Oxford; Fellow, Green-Templeton College, Merck Manual, reviewed October 2020, viewed on February 9, 2022.

Liao LY, He YF, Li L, et al. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018;13:57. Published 2018 Nov 16. doi:10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9

Ramaholimihaso Tahiana, Bouazzaoui Fayçal, Kaladjian Arthur, Curcumin in Depression: Potential 

Mechanisms of Action and Current Evidence—A Narrative Review, Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol. 11, 2020, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.572533

Stachowicz, M., Lebiedzińska, A. The effect of diet components on the level of cortisol. Eur Food Res Technol 242, 2001–2009 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-016-2772-3

recent blog posts