Thank you for this thorough review of so many of the approaches taken for adrenal fatigue. I'm new to this and to CureZone. The reason I'm even here is that I feel like I'm going in circles with one set of "bad advice" or misinformation after another.
Here's the deal and I welcome any insight.
I've had AF for (I think) a couple of years. Exhaustion, extreme brain fog, worsening digestion, joint pain, insomnia, emotional burn-out/volatility, etc.
I just got my results of the 4-sample salivary cortisol and female hormone panel. I *think* the lab is reputable (this is Rocky Mountain Labs in Alberta, Canada) but I can't confirm that. I've hunted for buzz about them -- positive or negative -- and found nothing.
In any case, my cortisol is at the bottom of the "normal" range, and I know from how I've felt that if I'd done the test 3 weeks earlier, it may well have been far below the normal range. My pattern is that I go from feeling god awful and pretty much non-functional for 3-4 weeks at a time to feeling slightly better for several months. Then a stressor comes along and it kicks me back down again. Anyway, my results were as follows:
Morning cortisol: 4.1ng/mL (range is 2-11 ng/mL) so not too bad
Noon cortisol is 1.6 on range of 1.0 - 7.0, so significant drop.
Late afternoon cortisol is 0.95 on range of 0.50 - 3.5.
Bedtime cortisol is 0.36 on range of 0.20 - 1.3.
Here's where it gets tricky to understand, and by the way the samples were taken during midluteal phase.
DHEAS is listed as "above range": 11 ng/mL on range of 3.0 - 11.
Testosterone is listed as low: 19 pg/mL on range of 15-45.
Progesterone is listed as normal -- 140 on range of 50-250 pm/mL.
Estradiol is listed as normal -- 3.9 on rage 1.0 - 9.0.
So I'm trying to figure out why I have low corstisol and testosterone with high DHEAS. The only literature I've seen to discuss high DHEAS mentions tumors on or near the adrenal glands, or PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). No idea about the possibility of a tumor, but I do not have symptoms of PCOS as far as I can tell.
I have a naturopath (new) who ordered these tests for me but I don't have a lot of faith in her. She prescribed Relora-Plex, AdrenaSense (contains 3 adaptogens) and vitamin B12. No vitamin C mentioned and of course now I learn (from your post and subsequent research!) that Relora indeed lowers cortisol and that the adaptogens likely do the same. Like you, I am skeptical of the idea that an adaptogenic herb can either raise or lower anything -- that it can be magically targeted to whatever particular issue you have. Most research implies that Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola and Ashwaghanda lower cortisol. NOT what I need.
So supplement-wise, I have no idea what to do other than probably get a really good quality vitamin C supplement and slowly get going with it. I feel like I should toss out the AdrenaSense and Relora, and the licorice tincture, and just go with diet and a slow introduction of vitamins A, B, C, D, and E plus magnesium, calcium and zinc.
As for diet, I'm even more confused. I have had years of food sensitivities that I could never really identify and have recently embarked on a paleo diet -- no grains. This makes a lot of sense for me and I feel better digestion-wise, but I've read that AF folks need to be cautious about low-carb diets.... My naturopath is not much help. She recommended an "elimination diet" that includes things like snow peas and sorghum flour and bell peppers. Uh, I don't think that sounds like a good gut cleanse/elimination diet.
Anyway, there you have it. Thanks again for your fantastic post. No one person seems to have all the answers, yet through your trial and error I sense some hard kernels of truth that I will take over the vague claims made by all kinds of people about adaptogens and other routes to recovery. I recognize that this will be a long road. I just want to make the right choices.