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Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress. Discover how these type of conditions are healed.
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey, there! This is Dr. Justin Marchegiani and today’s video is gonna be on leaky gut and adrenal fatigue, and this is a topic really near and dear my heart. I see dozens of patients every week with chronic gut issues, whether it’s ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, autoimmune diseases, or the thyroid or other tissues of the body, bloating, gas, constipation and it is one–there’s one unifying principle with all those different conditions and that is inflammation.
Alright, inflammation is this chronic breakdown of the body. So we have homeostasis where we have this constant building up and breaking down. That’s–that’s normal. That’s life. That’s homeostasis. And with extra stress in our lives, conventional medicine calls it allostatic load. I just call it stress from physical, chemical, and emotional sources that will start causing our body to break down faster than you build up. So now we’re in this breaking down accelerated aging type of pattern. Again anyone that has gone to their physician and they have been told, “Well, it’s all in your head,” or “You’re just getting older.” That’s what I’m talking about. It’s this inflammatory breakdown.
Dangers of Medications
Again, in conventional medicine the only option really is dangerous medications, right? Ibuprofen, Vioxx, Celebrex. Ibuprofen kills 20,000 people taken properly a year. Vioxx killed 60,000 in the early 2000’s according to all the released documents. We have Vicodin, Percocets. We have all of these Morphine-like compounds that are highly addictive, and then we have things like ibuprofen, Aleve, like I already mentioned, but they actually drop down glutathione levels, too. So they’re gonna decrease your liver’s ability to deal with stress and environmental toxins. So lots of options in the conventional community that don’t sound too pleasant and none of them really address the underlying cause.
So when we talk about adrenal fatigue, it’s really important. We’re talking about functional imbalances, alright. So I always tell patients, “Imagine health on a spectrum of 1 through 10.” Alright, 10 being optimal health, 1 being disease pathology. This is where you go into your doctor’s office and they’re like, “Whoa! You got this disease or that disease, or that-it is whatever.” So imagine the functional imbalance is somewhere on that, not 10, probably somewhere between 5 and 2 if you will. You’re not sick enough to be picked up by conventional lab work or conventional doctor’s visit, but again you’re not feeling great enough where you’re motivated to be doing or you’re feeling worse enough so you’re motivated to be doing this lab work. People that are 7, 8, 9, they’re feeling pretty good. They’re probably not gonna be motivated enough to dig in. So somewhere on that spectrum of 6 through 2 where my functional imbalances kinda live if you will. So most patients that think we talk about adrenal fatigue, we’re not talking about Addison’s disease which is a extreme low version of cortisol, but we’re talking about functional imbalances and one of the key functional imbalances here is HPA. Hypothalamus, pituitary–your brain–hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal axis and this is what happens when we have chronic stress.
Cortisol and Adrenal Fatigue
So let’s talk about this here. We have cortisol. This is a stress hormone. Cortisol’s really, really important. Cortisol is glucocorticosteroid. Let’s break it down. Anytime you–you don’t understand a word. You just draw it out and you break it up because it makes so much more sense. Gluco–gluco meaning pertaining to blood glucose and energy. So we have the energy side of the cortisol spectrum. We need energy for healthy energy. We’ll run cortisol rhythms on all my patients and typically cortisol is higher in the morning and it slopes down like a rollercoaster throughout the day. So cortisol’s there, it responds to sunlight, so right around 6 to 7 AM–6 to 7 AM in the morning, cortisol is really high and what we’ll see is if cortisol is low on that cortisol rhythm. Imagine here is the natural slope, right? If someone’s coming in here and they’re flatter, typically what we’re gonna see are energy problems, right? We’re gonna see massive energy issues in the morning if our cortisol’s lower. So we need cortisol for energy. Cortisol’s mobilizing blood glucose. That glucose then goes into the Kreb cycle and it spits out ATP. ATP is the currency for our body. Our mitochondrias need it, alright, and we also–hormones, alright. We need cortisol for healthy hormone production as well. If we’re too stressed and our body is burning up cortisol, one the biggest imbalances we see off the bat is we see lower progesterone in relationship to estrogen.
The Functions of Hormones
Now again typically we have about 23 to 25 times more progesterone than estrogen. But one of the starting points of PMS or any mood disorder is progesterone starts to drop and why does it drop? Because it’s actually going downhill to cortisol. So we need healthy cortisol balance. So it’s like Goldilocks, right? You don’t want the porridge too hot, you don’t want it too cold; holding that bar of soap, you grip it too, it squirts out; too loose, it falls out. So if we’re too stressed, our progesterone goes downstream. Any woman that has PMS, this is one of the underlying driving factors. That’s why the cortisol being a glucocorticosteroid–that’s why watching your blood sugar and eating healthy glycemic foods, right? Not eating extra refined sugar, maybe even avoiding fruits and starches that are too sweet as well, this can be really important to helping to balance PMS, because progesterone will go downhill to cortisol. So you can see cortisol is really helpful for hormones, right? Not too much stress or we go estrogen-dominant. Again, if we don’t have enough cortisol, we’re gonna be low in energy. We’re not gonna be able to create enough ATP and our mitochondria won’t be able to create enough energy. So it’s this fine balance, but the gluco part of the corticosteroid because cortisol is a glucocorticosteroid, is the energy part.
Corticosteroids and Anti-Inflammatory Precautions
Now the other part over here is the inflammation, so corticosteroid–so a lot of people hear corticosteroids may be in their inhaler or corticosteroids for a cream to rub on an achy joint, right? Maybe even heard of a cortisone injection. These are really important. These are anti-inflammatory components. The problem when we expose joints or tissues to extra cortisol in medication form too long, it’s gonna start breaking down ligaments, tendons, cartilage, soft tissue. That’s why if you go to a–a internist or an orthopedic person, they’re gonna tell you, “I can only give you a couple of injections of this cortisone,” before it starts breaking down their tissue. So they only can give you one or two shots. Again, seeing lots of athletes–I see many of them say, “Well, I’m just gonna get this injection,” and I tell them and I say, “You’re gonna make the problem worse in the long run.” They come back in 3 to 6 months almost always and they’re feeling worse than they did in the first place. So again not the best situation to be in if we’re ignoring the underlying cause of a problem. So this is really important. Where does inflammation come from? We always have to ask, right? The underlying cause. Well, what’s driving that? Well, chronic pain. Do you have chronic back pain, neck pain, old surgeries, old injuries, right? This pain is gonna drive extra cortisol. So it’s kinda like having a leak in the boat, right? Water is gonna come in slowly. In other words, cortisol’s gonna be leaking out slowly because of all this extra pain.
Food Allergens and Leaky Gut
Next is food. A lot of people ignore food allergens. Now this is really important because when we’re dealing with leaky gut. Anytime your gut’s leaky, right? Anytime you have extra intestinal symptoms, your bloating, your gas, you have fatigue, you have migraines, you’re just not feeling good, almost always there’s gonna be leaky gut in there. And if you’re eating–if you’re eating gluten, you can almost always make the assumption there’s leaky gut. And just for any new listeners here, leaky gut is nothing more than the gastrointestinal tight junctions. So really simple, take your fingers. Put them right together like this, hold them tight. This is your tight junctions here, alright? This is the inside of your tummy where the food is. The outside here is where the blood is. Just dropped my pen. So again, take your fingers like this. Open them up just a little bit and you can pop your fingers through, that’s like the undigested food particles going through into the bloodstream and our immune system is not used to seeing all these undigested food particles and even bacteria like LPS, et cetera. So when these are in there, it’s stressing out our immune system. So anything that you eat frequently enough, you’re gonna develop food allergens, too. So there’s the old expression, if you love it, rotate it. And part of healing from a healing gut is obviously cutting out all of the junky food and going on an autoimmune type of diet. No nuts, no seeds, no nightshades–tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers–potentially even low FODMAPs and eggs–say that 10 times fast, that’s a–that’s quite a-leave your head spin in there. But again, foods are so important and again it’s different for every person. Sometimes we have to cut off FODMAPs. Sometimes we have to be really strict on eggs. Sometimes we need more of a bone broth type of GAPs approach. Some time we need to cut out salicylates or phenols. Again, it’s different for every person. So having a kind of a baseline template that–where you can customize, that’s gonna be the best way to go.
Infections and Stress in the Body
Infections, a lot of people that have these chronic leaky gut, chronic stress in their tummies, well, their hydrochloric acid levels tend to drop and that’s partly because they’re autonomic nervous system is favoring the sympathetic side. So the sympathetic is the–is the fight-or-flight mechanism and if you open up your Guyton’s physiology textbook, any medical physician has to read that in–in doctorate school. What you’re gonna see there is the fight-or-flight mechanism is actually antagonistic for enzyme and hydrochloric acid production, alright. Big fancy words, all it means is that you’re stressed, digestion goes down, alright? That’s why the parasympathetic, that’s the opposite side of the sympathetic nervous system branch, is nicknamed the rest and digest. So parasympathetic stimulates hydrochloric acid secretion. Hydrochloric acid’s the first domino that then activates the enzymes, the protein-digesting enzymes in our stomach such as pepsin and these help break down protein. The acidic chyme in our stomach then hits–it flows out into the small intestine and it hits the duodenum where then bicarbonate is now secreted. The gallbladder then produces bile salts, the pancreas produces more protease and lipase, more digestion occurs, and then reabsorption in the colon. So we need is healthy domino reaction that has to form and if we’re in a sympathetic state because of all this inflammation, we have pain, we’re eating food allergens, and we have chronic infections and if we add on emotions to it, and one simple emotion that almost anyone has that’s chronically sick or not feeling good, well, they’re just sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. And I almost always see that. That in and of itself is a major stress. So again, pain, food, infections, managing emotions. Again there are good things you can do with meditation, just communicating about emotions. There are different tapping techniques that you can do in such, very helpful to reducing that sympathetic amygdalan type of brainstem sympathetic stress response and we also have exercise.
Too Much Exercise
Again a lot of people are exercising too much. I can’t tell you how many CrossFit patients I have. They’re just doing too much CrossFit. CrossFit’s a great modality especially when it’s–when it’s ramped up for the people–for people in the right way at the right dosage in time. It’s gonna be a modality. But some people are going at it too hard and they’re doing it too frequent and it’s causing their body to break down and we’re making too much of this cortisol, too much of the corticosteroid side, and we’re becoming significantly inflamed.
So all of these things, if we have inflammation on one side, if we have energy issues on the other side, this is creating major, major problems and it’s setting us up for leaky gut, alright? It’s setting us up. Now the more–the longer our gut’s leaky, the more we start losing tolerance to self, meaning our immune system’s getting exposed to all kinds of food, even bugs, right? Lipopolysaccharide from the bacteria in our tummy is going into our bloodstream. It’s creating lots and lots of stress and the longer we have our gut leaky, the greater chance we have of creating an autoimmune condition. And there’s even a lot of research out there by Fasano, et al saying that it’s almost impossible to have an autoimmune condition without having a leaky gut. It’s like a prerequisite.
Treatment for Leaky Gut with the 5R Approach
So really simple, 5R approach is essential to healing the guts. I’m gonna go through it real quick. We have to remove all of the bad foods. Removing all of the bad foods is essential. Part 1. Number two is replacing enzymes and hydrochloric acid. That’s number two. Number three is we have to repair. When we repair, it’s adding extra nutrients to help soothe and heal the gut but we also need to be on an adrenal support, because the healthy cortisol from our adrenal glands helps put out the fire in our gut. So I really wanna underline and star that, the fact that we are on an adrenal program as part of that third R, that repair. The fourth R is where we remove the infections. That tends to get mixed up. That tends to go first in a lot of doctor’s programs and people tend to have a healing crisis or a Herxheimer’s or die-off reaction. And then number five is reinoculation. We put all of the good bacteria at the end, right? We don’t drop down seeds until we pull out the weeds, right? We remove the infections. We pull out the weeds then we reinoculate or drop down the seeds. Weeds before seeds.
Again this is Dr. Justin here, lots of great information. You may have to watch this video twice. If you have a chronic tummy issue, chronic fatigue, even a thyroid issue, 90% of thyroids are autoimmune in nature, this information has to be applied to your health plan for you to get better. If you have any questions or you want to reach out and start taking the right step to–to heal, click onscreen or click below. I look forward to helping you out.
Thanks. Have a great day!