Geared toward those who have already had a hair or neurotransmitter test and may be having difficulty understanding the philosophy of the program.
Q: What is the cause of adrenal burnout and what could possibly prevent and treat it?
A: Most often, the cause is chronic and unresolved stress. Poor diet, genetics and other environmental factors can also play a role. Accutane, an acne drug which has caused adrenal imbalances in some patients, may have been a factor as well. Here's a link to a message board on that subject:
The fact that it is stress-induced complicates the situation for many people because quitting a high paying job may not be an attractive option. If high stress is unavoidable, changes in diet such as a reduction of sugar consumption will ultimately improve your symptoms and certain high quality supplements are designed to help escape burnout and are more effective than prescriptions. Again, a hair test is the best tool to determine what supplements to take. I cannot be absolutely certain but I have a strong feeling that I was vulnerable to adrenal burnout from birth because I had a few of the symptoms from a very young age but no significant loss of energy until late high school. There are plenty of people that take on far more stress than I ever did but never develop adrenal exhaustion. Even when my stress level was reduced after landing a job, my symptoms did not improve until I was a few months into the treatment. If your adrenals have been weak from birth as I and my doctor suspect was the case in my situation, supplements may be as important to your recovery as a change in lifestyle and reduction of stress.
Q: My family, friends and doctor do not believe that there is anything wrong. How do I handle that?
A: This is fairly common. For example, Gail Devers suffered through 2-3 years of Grave’s disease (severely overactive thyroid) and was told that it was “probably just stress” by the doctors. Women may find it even more difficult to convince others that there really is something wrong. She went through an extremely difficult time but won an Olympic gold in the 100 meters two years later. The fact that nobody believed that I had a physical illness caused me a lot of emotional pain. However, you need to judge those people according to their intentions rather than their actions. Understand that in the vast majority of cases, they love you and you have no idea how much they desire for you to be healthy and happy again. The difficulty is that their solutions to your problem may not be best for you and may even do you harm. Be patient and keep a reasonable tone when explaining why you are convinced that there is something physically wrong. When the truth does come out and you are vindicated by a hair or neurotransmitter test, saying “I told you so” serves no other purpose other than to cause those who love you to feel worse than they already do.
Q:. The doctor followed standard procedure and gave me an anti-depressant and a referral for psychological counseling. Is this advice worth taking?
A: The success rate for prescription anti-depressants is about 30%. Consider also that different people define success differently so if your goal is perfect health, it is possible but unlikely that prescription anti-depressants are the answer. Consider any lab values that are close to the edge of “normal” before starting antidepressant drugs and understand that it may be difficult to quit the medication once you have started it. Depression may be caused by mineral and/or neurotransmitter deficiencies. If you get your hair and neurotransmitters tested, you will have a better idea of the cause of your depression and what treatments will be effective. As far as counseling, every person is different and it may increase the success rate but I will say that it did me zero good. Chemical imbalances are the cause of your physical and emotional pain and counseling will do nothing so solve that underlying problem. Even if your circumstances improve or you view them in a different light, you are unlikely to feel better physically. It doesn’t matter how good your attitude is, if you have serious neurotransmitter deficiencies and/or mineral imbalances, your work/school performance and relationships will suffer to a point. There is no way around it so don’t beat yourself up. Even in my darkest days, I refused to believe that it was impossible for me to feel well physically once again. After all, I was only a few months removed from some pretty fast runs (sub 5:30 mile). The psychologist’s aim is for you to accept that you will have to live with chronic pain for the rest of your life and learn to cope. That’s the exact opposite of part 2 of this website’s mission. In my case, I re-dedicated myself to Christ, met an encouraging new friend and accepted a job offer and a fresh start in the same week. My attitude greatly improved but I still felt lousy physically and experienced some bad moods as a result. Correct the imbalances and you will feel better.
Q: You have recommended supplements for depression and neurotransmitter deficiencies but seem hesitant to recommend any specific pills for thyroid/adrenal issues here. Why?
A: With all my heart, I wish that there was simply a magic pill to take that would put an end to everyone’s pain. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. Keep in mind that excitatory neurotransmitter support (adrenaline and dopamine) will stimulate your thyroid and adrenal glands and thus complicate your treatment plan especially if your glandular activity is overactive. You may need to take four or more different pills at varying doses and even the best doctors cannot determine what formula is best for you without a lot of information. Understand that even though your symptoms may be similar to mine, your body chemistry may be completely different, thus necessitating a completely different treatment plan. The bottom line is that pills that were poison for me could work like magic for you and vice versa. My purpose is to increase awareness about alternative medicine and to provide links with health care professionals who are qualified make recommendations. I re-iterate that I do NOT recommend that you try to solve these issues on your own but if you feel that you are forced to rely on trial and error, it is my hope and prayer that the information on this site and the many links will give you some direction about what may be effective and what certainly will not work.
Q: The Adrenal Boost was a “temporary miracle” for you. Could it benefit me?
A: The active ingredient is glycyrrhizin acid (licorice root extract). It also contained large amounts of adrenal glandular substance. Some health food stores do sell similar products. Although I do not recommend it, I recognize that it is a viable option for those in the middle of an extremely stressful period such as an extraordinarily difficult semester or a period of heavy overtime at work. You do not have the luxury of waiting several months for your symptoms to improve. Make use of the links on this site and do not take it unless you are sure that you have adrenal disease. You may see immediate progress but do not count on it as a permanent solution. On the contrary, it may very well leave you worse than you were originally if taken for an extended period of time. Similar products now contain a warning label that it is not to be taken at a high level for an extended period of time. The warning was not listed when I first ordered it. At the time, I was not aware of hair testing and simply did what I had to do to get through school and there was no way that I could have graduated without it. You might think that it is not possible to feel any worse but unfortunately I learned from experience that no matter how bad you feel, it is possible to get worse if you mismanage this disease.
Q: The blood test showed that I am borderline hypothyroid and am showing the symptoms but I cannot find a doctor that will give me a prescription, what must I do?
A: I am not surprised at all. The good news is that do not have to live with these symptoms. You do have options. I have posted a link for thyroid “top docs” in the Flaws of Traditional Medicine Section who are much more likely to help you. They may opt for prescriptions, natural means or some combination of the two. Unfortunately, the waiting list for the best doctors may be a few months. Thyroid supplements can be purchased at you local health foods store or online but again, make sure that you can trust that the product is top quality. I would strongly recommend a tissue mineral analysis in which the key ratios are zinc/copper and calcium/potassium. Your doctor or health coach will instruct you about what must be done to balance the ratios and thus eliminate your symptoms. I do not recommend any thyroid supplements until you get your hair test results, which may reveal that the supplement that you had planned to take is no good for your condition.
Q: I have been diagnosed with adrenal disease and am committed to treating it by natural means, how soon can I expect improvement?
A: This varies from person to person and much of it depends on the amount of time that you were ill. In my case, I was significantly better within 3-4 months of starting the program, which was far faster than what the doctor expected. I cannot overstate that it is very important to stick with the program even if you do not immediately improve or even feel slightly worse after a month or two. The doctor told me that it often takes 1-3 years to correct every chemical imbalance. Expect ups and downs and get retested every few months especially early in the program to track your progress.
Q: I've used saliva testing for my adrenals. How does that differ from hair testing?
A: Actually, I have never had a saliva test but I'll bet that it would have shown some type of adrenal dysfunction. Based on what I have read and discussions with others, saliva testing measures hormones such as cortisol and DHEA at the cellular level at a specific point in time. Since the testing is done at the cellular level, saliva testing is a superior diagnostic tool to standard blood tests and may be useful in your treatment program and in some cases sufficient to acheive your health goals. However, it does not seem to be as comprehensive as a hair test, which tests minerals associated with those hormones over a period of time. It seems as if most naturopaths rely on saliva tests to determine what supplements would work best and generally suggest strong adrenal glandulars. This is unfortunate because the test may not reveal complexities that are shown on a hair test such as the oxidation rate, determined by the thyroid and adrenal ratios. Burned out fast oxidizers (hyperthyroid/hyperadrenal) or mixed oxidizers (hyperthyroid/hypoadrenia) will become more overstimulated and therefore less energized by taking strong glandulars for adrenal fatigue. By following Analytical Research Labs' program based on the hair test, you can reduce or eliminate thyroid overactivity and allow your adrenals to rest and then eventually rebuild.
Q: I know that caffeine and other stimulants are bad for the adrenal glands but I cannot get through a morning without it, what must I do?
A: Do not try to stop all of a sudden especially if you are dependent on caffeine. One can of Coke per day is unlikely to do any serious damage even if you are borderline diabetic as I was. Take as much as you absolutely need to get through the day and no more, and then try to step down gradually when the treatment begins. It will get easier in time and soon, your cravings for sugar and caffeine will lessen and you will be able to quit or significantly reduce your caffeine consumption.
Q: According to my tissue mineral test, my biggest problems seem to be low levels of calcium and zinc, why does my doctor not recommend simple supplementation with calcium and zinc to improve those values?
A: This is merely an example and applies to every mineral and ratio. Although, the tissue value is low, your body may not be in “position” to make use of the extra zinc or calcium because other conditions or imbalances. High tissue levels may be a case of bio-unavailability. That is, the mineral is present but cannot be properly utilized. You will be disappointed to see that the values that you specifically target do not significantly improve on the retest and other imbalances may worsen. As an example, zinc supplementation raises your potassium level and can decrease sodium, which will throw other ratios such as sodium/potassium (adrenal burnout), sodium/magnesium (adrenal) and calcium/potassium (thyroid) further out of balance. Calcium, without magnesium, can throw your blood sugar value out of balance. It is difficult to correct one imbalance without adversely affecting another. Your healthcare provider will recommend supplements containing multiple minerals that will produce a synergistic effect. As an illustration, consider a large set of scales that are out of balance. Attempts to target one scale by adding weight will cause further imbalances on many other related scales and thus overall poorer health. Your health coach will set you on a path to get all of the scales in balance. Again, I wish it were simpler.
Q: I have been diagnosed with many mineral and neurotransmitter imbalances but I have gotten much worse immediately after the treatment plan began. What must I do?
A: Most likely, there are one or two ingredients in your supplements that your body cannot tolerate. Allergies are the most likely culprit. Fast oxidizers may have difficulty taking high doses of B-vitamins. I was in a catch-22 situation in which I needed to take a particular supplement to slow my system down but I could not take it because I was allergic to one of the key ingredients (B6). Fortunately, proper supplementation can reduce your allergic reaction and allow you to take all of the supplements that you need. The key ratio for allergies is sodium/calcium which may not be listed on your test results but can easily be determined. The ideal ratio is 1.60 (40/25). If that ratio remains below 1.00 for an extended period of time, you may have an allergic reaction. Although my ratio has never been higher than 1.6, it is probably true that a ratio higher than 2.5 may cause different allergic reactions. Do not be discouraged. It is reversible with proper supplementation (Thym-Adren worked for me). A last option is DNA reprogramming. I have not tried DNA reprogramming but did speak with a doctor with experience in that area. Here is the link:
Q: Lab tests show that my thyroid or adrenal glands are overactive but I feel better when they are overactive than when they are balanced. Why?
A: I used to post messages on an online thyroid message board. I was one of several people who felt better when their TSH was around 0.25 (ideal is about 1.5, low normal is 0.4 or 0.5). When I came off the thyroid medication, my TSH normalized but I felt awful. For the life of me, I could not understand why I felt better (not 100%) when hyperthyroid. Now, I know what caused me to feel the way I did. Such a phenomenon strongly suggests that your body is compensating for neurotransmitter deficiencies. More recently, my calcium/potassium ratio has revealed overactive thyroid activity. Supplements that were recommended to reduce the over-activity made me feel much worse. Whenever a tissue mineral analysis indicates that you need to slow your thyroid and adrenal glandular activity but you feel awful when you attempt to do so, I strongly recommend a neurotransmitter test as well as a hair test. If you do not address the neurotransmitter imbalances, the best that you can hope for is about 90% of your former energy level and you need to be very careful not to take too much or too little of what is necessary to feel fairly well. Because of my low neurotransmitters, I needed almost exactly 250 mgs. of adrenal substance every day. If I took less than 200 mgs or more than 300 mgs for even one day, I would feel lousy. More recently, my deficiencies in chromium and manganese caused symptoms associated with slow oxidation, which quickly reversed itself when I supplemented those minerals. Bottom line? Don’t settle for 90% but strive for 100%.
Q: Pain from an old injury has flared up recently. Is this related to adrenal dysfunction and will it diminish as I get closer to balance?
A: Poor connective tissue healing is a common symptom so yes, there is a good chance that it is related to adrenal dysfunction especially if the area has not sustained any abnormal trauma just before the recurrence of pain. In most cases, yes, that pain will diminish as you get closer to balance because your body’s connective tissue healing is no longer compromised. However, if you sustained an injury when you were already unbalanced and that issue was not properly addressed for a number of years, there is a risk of lingering chronic pain. If that is the case, prolotherapy claims a success rate of over 80 %.
Q: What is the long-term success rate for this type of treatment?
A: According to neurorelief.com, the success rate is 85-90%. Split the difference between those percentages and figure that it is successful for 7 out of 8 people so in all likelihood, you will see at least some noticeable improvement. You might think: “With my luck, I am probably the “eighth person.” Maybe so, but I am betting that in the vast majority of cases, the “eighth person” either did not strictly follow the prescribed treatment plan or gave up on it after he or she experienced a rough patch or two. Again, I cannot emphasize this point loudly enough: DO NOT GIVE UP!
Q: Is it safe to exercise with adrenal disease?
A: That question is best left between you and your doctor or health coach. If you have moderate to severe adrenal exhaustion, the answer is to limit yourself to walking early in the program. Even with my training background, I did not exercise at all for two months in the early part of my treatment and began to get back into it very slowly (walk/jog) only after my second tissue mineral analysis showed that my adrenal burnout ratio had improved significantly. As far as the types of exercise, I recommend swimming, cycling, running or a combination of all three. Listen to your body. If you can tolerate the exercise and your times are improving, in all likelihood, moderate exercise is beneficial. I was in good enough shape to finish a half-marathon just 8 months into the treatment program largely because I was not far removed from excellent physical condition when my symptoms were masked by other treatments. If after listening to your body, you determine that you can handle intense exercise again, be careful! Set a range of intensity that you can handle and aim for the middle or low end of the range and gradually increase it only if you feel good. Too much exercise can be as harmful as lack of exercise.
I have been criticized for over-emphasizing the importance of being able to run regularly. My response is that it is known that running stimulates production of neurotransmitter adrenaline, noradrenalin, dopamine and serotonin, all of which reduce the symptoms of depression that are often associated with adrenal disease. Again, my adrenaline was less than 50% of ideal while serotonin and dopamine were not much better. I can only imagine how low those levels would have been and thus how severe my symptoms would have been if I had not been physically active. Moreover, it is an excellent way to track your progress without a lab test. If you are suddenly much slower after adjusting your dosage and have had sufficient rest, it is a good bet that you are on the wrong track and you will make the necessary corrections before your school/work performance is adversely affected. Even after I finished my first half-marathon, I had setbacks that were so painful that I could not even finish one lap around the track (1/4 mile) even though I had not exercised for several days. Each time, I was eventually able to recognize the problem (sometimes on my own, sometimes with the doctor’s help) and make the adjustment to my dosage. When I did that, I was soon feeling better and able to run as well as I had been accustomed to before the setback.
Q: I have successfully reduced my dosage of anti-depressants but I cannot quit altogether without experiencing severe and unrelenting withdrawal symptoms, what should I do?
A: First, consult your physician beforehand. You may want to try one of the amino acids that I have listed to manage the transition. Some will work better for some people than others. Sam-e was most effective for me because it targeted adrenaline. Do not take Sam-e if you are bi-polar. Long-term, your best option is Targeted Amino Acid Therapy (TAAT) after a neurotransmitter test. Very often, after starting Neuroscience products, patients are able to quit their prescriptions without withdrawal symptoms.
Q: The cost of this treatment seems to be considerable. Is there any chance that insurance will cover a portion of the costs?
A: You may be covered for a neurotransmitter test but it is unlikely that the tissue mineral analysis or the supplements themselves are covered by insurance even if you take them under the direction of a healthcare professional. It breaks my heart that some people may not be able to afford potentially life changing treatment. I personally view it as an investment. Unless I am nearly 100% healthy, I would not be able to handle the stress that comes with a higher paying job that I deserve based on my skills and education. Furthermore, considering what I have gone through, I cannot put a price tag on good health especially being as young as I am. I have read from a reliable source that people who take high quality supplements correctly take far less prescription drugs during the course of aging and generally have a much higher quality of life. Also, if your treatment is successful, you will be able to reduce the number of pills that you take every day and you will not re-test as frequently, which will lower your costs considerably. In the meantime, if you have a caring health care provider, he or she may provide a flexible payment plan. I know that my parents would help me if I could not afford the treatment (I am blessed there). I made myself a promise that if I ever knew someone personally that would certainly benefit from this treatment; I would not permit them to be denied treatment because of inability to pay. I encourage others to do the same. I predict that you will be blessed as a result.
Q: Is it safe to take multiple amino acids as OTC anti-depressants?
A: Yes. Doing so is much safer than taking a mix of prescription anti-depressants. In fact, some amino acids such as 5-HTP and Sam-e have been sold together. Neuroscience products combine many amino acids, which contain the same potent ingredients as OTC. One of my products contained 5-HTP and taurine to increase GABA and serotonin, which I took in the evening. Two other products, which I took in the morning and early afternoon contained tyrosine and mucuna prueines to increase adrenaline and dopamine.
Q: I am feeling better but the doctor says that I should quit all my supplements and switch to others with very different ingredients. Why?
A: The recommended supplementation program is usually determined by your oxidation rate, which is classified as fast, mixed or slow by your thyroid and adrenal ratios. Most adults are slow oxidizers. That is, the thyroid and adrenal glands are under-active which causes a loss of energy. You may feel a bit jittery at first when your oxidation speeds up to normal but your energy will improve over a period of time. Conversely, if your oxidation rate is fast, you may feel a bit drowsy when your oxidation rate slows to normal but again, your energy level will improve in time. These ill-effects should not last more than a week or two. When a re-test shows that a slow oxidizer has become a fast oxidizer, the patient should take supplements to slow down thyroid and adrenal activity. If your oxidation rate remains fast for an extended period of time, you will eventually feel as bad as a very slow oxidizer unless you make the adjustments. It is probably not a good idea to simply reduce the dosage because a lower dose will still speed your oxidation. However, the rate of increase will be less. One last important point to remember is that if your oxidation rate is fast and a supplementation program designed to slow your system makes your feel depressed and overall much worse, it strongly suggests neurotransmitter or serious mineral deficiencies.
Q: I have been told that the most important ratio is sodium/potassium. I had previously escaped adrenal burnout but a subsequent test showed that my ratio is back in the adrenal burnout range. Also, some neurotransmitters, which had been nearly ideal, have fallen far out of the optimal range. Yet, I feel better. Should I be concerned?
A: No. Most likely, you feel better because other ratios which had previously been out of balance have improved. If a ratio or neurotransmitter has only been out of balance for a short period of time, you should not have any ill-effects. Simply make the adjustments suggested by your health care provider before the symptoms re-appear. Unless you have other complexities and you have been feeling better, you will continue to get better after the adjustment is made. A setback is inevitable if you continue with what caused you to slip back into adrenal burnout. However, if you have escaped adrenal burnout before, you can do it again and it will be much easier to do so this time.
Q: The sodium/magnesium ratio measures the degree of adrenal insufficiency while the sodium/potassium ratio measures the degree of adrenal burnout. What is the difference between these two conditions?
A: Both can be serious but adrenal exhaustion is most important to correct simply because it can lead to so many chronic diseases. Yes, it is possible to have both adrenal insufficiency and adrenal burnout. It is also possible to have overactive adrenal glands and be in burnout. Yes, hyperactive adrenal glands also cause energy loss and other health problems, some of which can be serious if not treated properly. In short, adrenal insufficiency refers to insufficient production of certain hormones while adrenal burnout refers to an inability to cope with stress. Overactive adrenal glands can become exhausted during chronic stress and become under-active. The treatments of the two conditions are very different and it takes a lot of information about your body chemistry to determine the best course of action. Quite often, one ratio improves on a retest while the other gets worse. In time, both ratios can be balanced at the same time and remain balanced indefinitely.
Q: Is there any relationship between a hair test and a neurotransmitter test?
A: Quite often, the answer is yes. It is possible to have severe deficiencies on your neurotransmitter test and a relative lack of imbalances on your hair test and vice versa. However, it is true that body and brain chemistry are often inter-related. For example, neurotransmitter adrenaline, dopamine and noradrenaline are all synthesized from the adrenal glands. Thus, it naturally follows that if you are in a state of adrenal exhaustion or insufficiency, you are likely to have low levels of these neurotransmitters. Unbalanced thyroid function has also been associated with low serotonin levels. Since neurotransmitter support stimulates your glandular activity, your path to perfect health is likely to be smoother if you have low neurotransmitters and slow thyroid/adrenal function.
Q: You have posted a lot of information about clinical depression. Do you know anything about bipolar disorder?
A: I am not bipolar and have never been bipolar so my expertise is limited on the subject. Neurotransmitter support may help you manage the disease and/or reduce your dependence on drugs. I have been taking OTC Lithium for hyperthyroidism, which has been used to treat bipolar disorder. Since Lithium suppresses thyroid function, it naturally follows that a patient with an overactive thyroid will do well on Lithium while a patient with normal or sub-optimal thyroid function will become hypothyroid after taking the drug. Nasty side effects such as weight gain, fatigue and depression will result. Supplements to boost thyroid function may very well mitigate these side effects. Try a Google search for "thyroid" and "bipolar" and you will see the relationship.
Q: Can you suggest other brands of supplements in addition to Neuro Science and Endo Met Labs?
A: More than 100 supplement brands exist on the market. In most cases, the quality leaves much to be desired. As a rule of thumb, avoid most “bargain” supplements at Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. Health Food stores carry brands that are of higher quality and most of the workers are knowledgeable but the formulations are sometimes inferior to the top brands. However, there are several different avenues that you can take to get yourself back in balance. You may take certain herbs, synergistic mineral supplements, glandular supplements, amino acids or a combination of all of these approaches. If have a good doctor, he or she will be able to tell based on your body and brain chemistry which approach is most likely to be best for you. If you are considering other options in addition to EndoMet Labs and seek the best choice, I have had success with Biotics Research Corporation, Juice Plus, Douglas Laboratories and Shaklee. I know someone who was even sicker that I had been at a young age but thanks largely to Shaklee, she was able to quit 19 of 20 prescriptions and now feels as well as she did in high school.
Below are two links that will give you an idea of the treatments that are out there. If you do not respond well to Endo Met or NeuroScience, hope is by no means lost.
Q: Okay, you don’t feel great but your job performance is satisfactory, you can handle some exercise and you are getting along with most people, can’t you just leave well enough alone and stick with what you had been doing?
A: This question was posed to me around the time I started neurotransmitter support and hit my first rough patch. My answer was “Absolutely not!” First of all, satisfactory or average performance never has and never will be acceptable for me. To quote Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland (please excuse the poor grammar):
“I ain’t settling for just getting by. I’ve had enough so-so for the rest of my life. I’m tired of shooting too low so raise the bar high.” I had planned on saving all Scripture for the verse and message section but the following verse is extremely relevant here:John 10:10. See Message #7-Life to the full.