Adrenal Cell Extracts and Their Value for Adrenal Fatigue Sufferers
Adrenal cell extracts are often used for treating adrenal fatigue. Find out about their benefits and potential side effects, and learn how they compare with synthetic cortisol.
One of the most distressing long-term effects of hypoadrenia – a condition more commonly referred to as adrenal fatigue – is the damage that it does to the adrenal glands. Even when patients follow the best advice and dramatically alter their lifestyles to minimize stress on the adrenals, those glands can sometimes take years to fully recover.
During that period, even seemingly minor stressors can result in setbacks. For many of those patients, diet, exercise, and nutritional supplements are simply not enough to provide the adrenals with everything they need for consistent recovery. That’s where adrenal cell extracts can prove invaluable.
While many in the modern medical community today decry the need for these extracts, the fact is that they were once considered the premiere treatment for hypoadrenia. In fact, they were once part of the treatment plans for a wide variety of adrenal-related ailments ranging from asthma to low blood pressure, tuberculosis, and the early stages of Addison’s disease. Because of the nature of these extracts, however, their most striking benefits were realized during use as a therapy for severe fatigue.
What Are Adrenal Extracts and How to Use Them for Adrenal Fatigue Relief
Adrenal cell extracts are sometimes also referred to as adrenal cortical extracts, and are derived from the adrenal cortex of both cows and pigs. Both the liquid and powder form of this extract are useful for reinforcing the adrenal glands and aiding them in their role as the chief regulators and producers of the body’s natural hormones. These extracts are effective in helping to rejuvenate the adrenals precisely because they contain the critical components found in the cells of the adrenal glands. That includes nucleic acids, as well as the essential nutrients that the adrenals need to power their activity. These extracts are made available in pill form.
It is important to note that the processing is designed in a way that removes virtually all trace of the previously existing hormones from the extract. This is important, since extracts are not designed to replace your body’s natural hormones, but rather to affect a positive impact on your adrenal recovery. The introduction of outside hormones can suppress that healing by shutting down normal adrenal function. And, as we will discuss in greater depth later, that suppression of normal adrenal activity can have dramatic and far-reaching consequences for the patient.
Manufacturing techniques can vary, as some producers use the entire adrenal gland in their process, while others rely on the extract of only the adrenal cortex. According to most sources, there are no known negative interactions with medications. That doesn’t mean that such reactions are impossible, of course, but it does indicate that they are generally a safe way to aid the adrenal healing process. It should still be noted, however, that patients should still be alert to any noticeable changes to their health during periods where they are taking extracts alongside other medications, and report any such changes to their physicians.
There are, however, some side effects that users need to be aware of. Since hypoadrenia patients already begin their therapy in a weakened and exhausted state, these extracts often produce a stimulatory effect. This effect can be manifested as heightened anxiety, or insomnia. This is especially true in the more potent extracts. In addition, some patients have reported nausea and other digestive troubles during periods in which they are taking high doses of these extracts.
Because of the nature of this treatment, it is recommended that you consult with your physician prior to beginning any adrenal cell extract therapy. While it is true that most doctors today are unfamiliar with adrenal fatigue and the usefulness of these extracts – and will thus be skeptical about their use, you should still never undertake any program of this kind without first consulting your physician to determine whether you have any other medical conditions that may be impacted by your adrenal recovery plan.
Most experts recommend taking these extracts about thirty minutes prior to retiring for the evening so that they can do their work while you rest.
History of Use
Few critics of adrenal cell extracts ever spend much time focusing on the history of success this treatment methodology has enjoyed. History acknowledges that the first time these extracts gained the medical community’s attention was when Sir William Osler successfully used them to treat an Addison’s patient in 1898. In the United States, extracts first rose to prominence during the influenza epidemic in 1918, after which they began to be produced in larger volumes and used with more regularity.
That 1918 epidemic seemed the perfect testing laboratory for this form of treatment, since those types of serious respiratory problems place the immune system and the adrenals under tremendous stress. Obviously, that stress quickly leads to the type of fatigue we see in hypoadrenia sufferers. Studies of adrenal activity during that period demonstrated that the influenza severely damaged the adrenal glands of more than 84 percent of the patients whose bodies were examined.
That information coincides well with what we now know about how the adrenals respond to infections. In their effort to fight off the invading ailment, the adrenals attempt to produce higher and higher levels of critical hormones. This leads to greater demands on those glands than they can manage, weakening them over time. As they weaken, the infection gains strength, which places new demands on the adrenals for more hormones. As the cycle continues, the adrenal glands become progressively weaker and weaker, and exhaustion takes firm root in the body’s systems.
In that early testing ground, the patients that received extracts were recorded as having experienced far more rapid recoveries than those who were treated in the more traditional manner. As news of these results spread, physicians began to realize that this treatment regimen could be useful for managing a variety of different adrenal-related ailments typified by varying degrees of fatigue. Within two decades, the extracts were being mass produced by pharmaceutical companies, and used in thousands of doctor’s offices and hospitals. That widespread use continued for several decades after the 1930s.
That began to change after synthetic options became available in the 1950s. Synthetic cortisol appeared on the market, and its first impact appeared to be a positive one. In fact, it even appeared to be more beneficial for adrenal-impaired patients than the natural extracts they had been previously using. By the time the side effects of these synthetic alternatives began to be noticed, the parties involved in the treatment had become so accustomed to the higher profit margins derived from synthetics that there was no collective will to return to the natural adrenal cell extracts.
Natural vs Synthetic Treatment: Adrenal Cell Extracts and Synthetic Cortisol
It is impossible to compare the advantages and drawbacks of natural adrenal cell extracts with the synthetic cortisol that has generally taken its place without first understanding their similarities and differences. Natural adrenal cell extracts are derived from the cerebral cortex and used to provide nourishment for your body’s adrenal cells. This aids those cells in their recovery from the effects of fatigue, and enables them to regain their natural function and usefulness over time. Because these extracts are stripped of most of the hormone traces that they originally contained, they are able to provide these benefits without unnatural interruption of the body’s own hormone-producing process.
Corticosteroids such as synthetic cortisol (or even natural hormones used in replacement therapies) actually inhibit normal adrenal gland activities. This occurs for one simple reason: when your brain receives the signal that these hormones have been introduced into your body, it fails to signal the adrenals to manufacture and deliver the hormones those glands would otherwise produce. That upsets the natural balance between the brain, the adrenals, and the hormones by disrupting the flow of information between the brain and the adrenals required for the hormone regulatory process.
This is just part of the reason why patients who receive these replacement therapies often seem to improve so dramatically in the beginning of the process, only to regress later. This effect is most commonly seen during periods when patients are being removed from the hormonal treatments. The interruption of normal communication between the brain and the adrenals leaves their normal systems in an unbalanced state, and reliant on the replacement hormone source.
That reliance is only natural, given the strength of most of these corticosteroids. The synthetic hormones are as much as seventeen times stronger than the cortisol produced naturally by the body. These hormones are often taken in doses that far exceed what the body would actually need and manufacture even with healthy adrenals. That creates a dependency on the synthetics, while at the same time causing the adrenals to further weaken from disuse.
The end result is the crash that patients see as their doctors attempt to remove them from the corticosteroids after they appear to be recovered from their fatigue. Once the outside hormone source is eliminated, the body is left only with its own severely weakened and never-fully-recovered adrenal glands to supply the hormones it needs. Sadly, the very synthetic hormones that appear to do such an effective job in dealing with the symptoms of hypoadrenia instead do little more than suppress those symptoms and depress the normal functioning of the adrenal glands.
That creates a situation in which the actual treatment can end up being worse than the condition it is designed to treat. In some cases, the damage caused by the long-term suppression of normal adrenal function leaves the patient’s adrenals so badly damaged that they are never able to fully heal.
Natural adrenal cell extracts, on the other hand, are designed to reinforce the body’s ability to produce natural cortisol and other hormones. Rather than replacing those hormones and thereby disrupting the body’s natural system for hormonal regulation, cell extracts work at the cellular level to increase adrenal health, restore overall glandular vitality, and return the adrenals to their proper role as healthy regulators of the body’s critical hormone supply.
Remember the Goal
Because of the way hypoadrenia makes the average patient feel, it can be extremely tempting to look for the type of shortcut to better health that synthetic cortisol seems to offer. Given the inherent problems associated with the use of corticosteroids, however, that shortcut can often turn out to be a recipe for disaster. Remember the goal: you want to recover fully. To do that, you need to do more than just temporarily suppress the symptoms associated with your adrenal fatigue. You need to address the underlying issues that are causing the exhaustion.
That means, above all else, working on those issues that most directly impact the health of the adrenal glands. And again, lifestyle changes are an important part of that process. But when those changes still prove insufficient for meeting your recovery goals, you often need to look for additional steps that can be taken to provide your adrenals with the help they need to return to full health – because that restoration of the adrenals has to be a major priority if you are to ever again enjoy optimal health.
That can and in many cases should include therapies designed to enhance the adrenal glands’ ability to naturally produce the hormones your body needs. Adrenal cell extracts work to help adrenals heal, and do so without suppressing (and thereby further weakening) normal adrenal function. That better comports with your overall goal for adrenal health than any system of hormone replacements that can end up eroding adrenal strength over time.
By choosing the right extracts and using them in combination with a well-balanced system of stress-reducing lifestyle changes, you can begin to better manage your health and your recovery. The key is to always remember exactly what you are trying to accomplish, and then make all your decisions with that end goal in mind. Including adrenal cell extracts as part of your overall adrenal recovery plan is one of the best decisions you can make in that regard, and one of the most effective ways to ensure that your recovery involves real adrenal healing rather than mere masking of your fatigue symptoms.
You might also be interested in:
- Adrenal Fatigue - the 21st Century Stress Syndrome. James L . Wilson
- Adrenal Supplements: Adrenal Glandulars for Treating Adrenal Fatigue. http://www.adrenalfatiguerecovery.com/adrenal-supplements.html
- Adrenal Fatigue Glandular and Herbal Therapy. http://www.drlam.com/articles/adrenal_fatigue_glandular_and_herbal_therapy.asp
- Adrenal Extract. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/adrenal-extract
- Adrenal Extract. http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2797004