After writing my last post about my chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue theories, a friend of mine messaged me on Facebook. I hadn’t talked to her much since moving from Seattle, when she was setting up her practice as a naturopath, and was bewildered with myself why I hadn’t asked her for advice sooner.

Our conversation was brief but informative, and I wanted to share it here in case anyone else is suffering from similar symptoms (basically tired all the time except when it’s time to go to bed, then can’t sleep, repeat) and doesn’t know where to start, or is getting the apologies and shrugging shoulders I got from doctors for years.

Hi Sarah, I treat adrenal fatigue/CFS every day. 

To treat your adrenals and get your circadian rhythm back on track, I recommend you go to Amazon: get ADR Formula and take 1-2 in the morning (start with one, it can make you crawl the walls). 

Me: Crawling the walls would be a welcome change for my mornings!

Haha. well start with one and if you feel nothing, take 2 the next day. If after 3 days of 2 in the morning you have no improvement in energy, add one at noon. If after 3 weeks you don’t feel ANY improvement, I’ll suggest something else.

Next, get Cortisol Manager and take 1-2 at bedtime. I recommend biting it in half or chewing it for fast action. 

The ADR raises a.m. Cortisol (which is what wakes us and imparts energy) and cortisol manger lowers it ( to sleep). Cortisol manager might make you groggy at first. Punch through it, give it a week or 2.

If you’ve had mono, ask your doctor to get the EBV “early antigen” antibody (not viral capsid or nuclear antigen, everybody has those) checked. If it’s positive, that’s an old or recurrent activation of the Epstein Barr virus (causes mono in 9 out of 10 cases, but then it stays forever either dormant or active, but no longer with the mono symptoms, just fatigue and frequent colds/flus and often other infections.) For that, take Monolaurin (600mg) twice daily for three months. It dissolves the virus enough to put it back into dormancy. 

Me: I *did* have mono in my teens — is that related?

Yes, mono is a clinical reaction to the initial infection of (typically) Epstein Barr Virus (it’s in the herpes family, like chickenpox. Spread the same way as a cold). It’s the cause of chronic adrenal fatigue in many of my patients.

Also, check your old thryoid results, if your TSH is over 2.5, I consider it hypothyroidism, albeit mild. 

Me: TSH was tested recently, doc said it was normal

“Normal” TSH to most docs is 0.4-5.0. Optimal TSH is 0.3-2.5. If it walks, talks, and acts like hypothyroidism and is over 2.5, I recommend thyroid replacement. It helps energy in about 15- 25% of the tired people.

Me: Let’s see… it was 3.150

That is hypothyroidism. Mild. Ask for natural thyroid replacement (NP thyroid, Armor thyroid — they are the same thing). 

Have your doc order anti TPO and Anti thyroglobulin antibodies. If you have those antibodies, it’s an autoimmune cause of the low thyroid function (Hashimoto’s disease) autoimmune diseases can be triggered by — guess what — Epstein Barr virus. And they cause a LOT of hidden inflammation all throughout the body. Inflammation can also cause adrenal fatigue because the adrenals have to pump out lots more cortisol to suppress the inflammation.

If you do have antibodies and your TSH is from more than 6 months ago, get a new TSH done. Hashimotos fluctuates a lot. More on that later if that’s the case for you. 

I was then pulled into meetings and she was offline by the time I returned to my desk, but my head was reeling. First of all, nothing I had read about adrenal fatigue suggested there were any pills you could take to get your energy and sleep cycles on track. I read about people who worked to get their circadian rhythm back on schedule through weeks of scheduling meals and bedtime and wearing dark glasses in the evenings. I had read about some herbs that may help, and many of them are in these formulas, so I figure it’s worth a try.

Then the stuff about mono and Epstein Barr virus being a potential cause of chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, and hypothyroidism. If that’s true, this has been plaguing me for my entire adult life, and to hear it can be dissolved in three months of treatment brings on a conflicting whirlwind of emotions — hope that it might work, disappointment that it was never mentioned in all the tests and doctor visits of my past, relief that this could be on its way to recovery soon, frustration at how much I’ve struggled with my symptoms throughout my life.

When thinking about Hashimoto’s disease, I feel a bit of trepidation. I don’t know much about it specifically, but I recently read about autoimmune diseases somewhat by accident when I picked up The Paleo Approach, thinking it would be a Paleo cookbook and a bit about the science behind the Paleo diet (I was curious.) Instead, I got a book about these frightening and obscure autoimmune diseases and collections of symptoms, some sounding a lot like what I had. This was my initial intro to adrenal fatigue. The author describes the road to recovery as long (years) and arduous, involving a diet even more restrictive than Paleo (basically paleo without nuts, seeds, or nightshades as well. So no tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and most spices, in addition to no grains, no dairy.) She also explains how autoimmune diseases have a genetic component, and I started connecting the dots about my aunt’s recent lupus diagnosis and the possibility that I’m headed down that path myself.

Reading that, I felt a similar collision of conflicting emotions — I want to feel happy to have more than a doctor’s “we don’t know what’s wrong with you” and to actually be able to put a name to it and a treatment plan, but when the treatment is an extremely difficult to follow diet that you must follow to the letter, as one little slip could put you back where you started, it’s easy to lose hope.

Luckily I have a friend to give me a bit of direction so I can at least start getting some answers. I’ve got the supplements on order and have gotten prices from my doctor’s office for the first few suggested tests. The bad news is the EBV test could cost me up to $500 and is not covered by my insurance, so I have a few phone calls to make to clarify the exact cost on that one. In the meantime, I’m beginning to take steps towards going gluten free. I don’t react in any noticeable way to gluten, even when I go off it for a while then reintroduce, so I’ve never made it a priority (and I love bread and pasta!), but if I have the genes that predispose me towards autoimmune disease, gluten is probably going to get me there faster. (Dr. Kharrazian agrees in a brief explanation of the restrictive diet I mention earlier, as connected to Hashimoto’s.)