Tag Archives: adrenal exhaustion symptoms

What a Little Spit’ll Tellya

The test results are in! Yesterday I got the results of all the spitting I did 2-1/2 weeks ago. The news is both very bad and very good. But first, what was all the spitting about anyway? It was for a test that determines how well the adrenal glands are functioning. (For more information on adrenal glands, what they are and what they do, click here.) In brief, the adrenals produce the hormones that handle stress. That sounds simple, but understand that they handle every kind of stress the body encounters, so that means illness, injury, pollution, bad food, life changes like weddings, funerals, breakups or job loss, new relationships, jobs or homes, chronic pain, chronic pains in the ass … you get it. Whatever happens that upsets our worlds – whether seemingly positive or negative – it causes stress on our bodies. When they’re working right, the adrenals handle it for us. The correct currently accepted marker of adrenal health is the cortisol levels that can be measured in spit. In an adrenal-healthy person, cortisol levels are high in the morning and slowly fall throughout the day. During a good night’s sleep (the “sweet spot” is 10pm to 6am), the adrenals work to repair and restore the body to a peaceful, stress-free state, and upon waking a healthy person is alert, optimistic, motivated and ready for action (please don’t get me involved in a lark/owl discussion here! As a bonafide, died-in-the-wool owl, I admit I have trouble believing any of this part!).

Okay, now for the bad news: according to my four spit samples (collected first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, late afternoon and at bedtime of the same day), my adrenal glands are virtually non-functioning. My graph was almost a flat line. In the morning, my cortisol level was a mere 10% of what it should be. As the day progressed, that minuscule level slid slowly downward until, at 10pm, it matched the lowest acceptable level for a normal person, way down there at the very bottom of the graph. What this means for me is that there is actually a very good reason why I wake up every morning exhausted, crabby, swollen eyed, aching, unmotivated and confused as to why I’m bothering to get out of bed in the first place, and why the day doesn’t improve a whole lot until late afternoon, when I may or may not feel slightly better for a minute. It means there’s a reason I have serious memory problems (which I have mostly refused to either talk or think about, they’ve scared me so much as I’ve watched my dad’s side into dementia), and it’s why my thinking is often muddled and fuzzy and I have a hard time comprehending what I read.

The good news is, I’m not just a lazy good-for-nothing bum! I actually, physically have virtually zero reserves of resilience against the daily stresses of life (and the past eight months have been swamped with more-than-normal stresses, believe me!). The great news is that it’s entirely treatable! Not only that, but I should start feeling better within a week or so now that I’m on the protocol. However, my case is extreme, so I need to be prepared to follow the protocol for at least a year to bring my faithful adrenal glands back to full health. But once I’ve achieved that, I won’t need to keep supplementing with the (vile) drops (in 3 astonishing flavors: Yuck, Ralph, and I-May-never-Taste-Again) and the additional 2-pills-three-times-a-day. I’m also supposed to be more careful than ever about avoiding dairy, sugars, grains, caffeine and (si-i-igh) any and all alcohol, even red wine. I’m to do my best to “eat a rainbow” every day: pack as many different (natural) colors into my meals as I possibly can. Another part of the protocol, one that may be the very most challenging for me, is that I am really, truly, no joke supposed to actually be in bed doing my best to be asleep every night from 10pm – 6am. 

Between taking care of my gut (which should have a marked effect on my emotions) and my adrenals (which should have an equally exciting effect on my energies), within six months to a year I may hardly recognize myself. Honestly, I can barely even imagine what it would be like to wake up feeling good both physically and mentally, to have energy and motivation and plans and ideas that excite me. Its been so long since I felt passionate about anything, I can barely remember what it’s like. And I may be resisting some of the tight strictures, but as for leaving behind these life-long problems and taking hold of something new? By golly I am ready!!