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Greetings and welcome to my Lyme disease blog, a comfy cozy (and sometimes crazy!) place for cutting-edge information, encouragement and insight into the fastest-growing epidemic disease in the United States. In this blog you will find everything from bug-killing strategies to immune system and hormone help, as well as lifestyle and spiritual suggestions for healing from chronic illness involving Lyme disease. The information contained within this blog is based upon my own healing journey and what I have learned over the past eight years as I have been diligently digging and researching my way back to a better state of health. May you find it to be a source of hope, inspiration and wisdom in your own journey towards wellness.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Is It Lyme Or Just Adrenal Fatigue?

I've been spending a fair amount of time these days on adrenal-thyroid boards. My latest Jarisch-Herx reaction got me suspicious about what's been really causing the majority of my symptoms, and what I've learned may be of benefit to you, too.

After a full moon herx filled with aches, chills and fatigue (chills and flu-like aches are a crystal clear sign that JH is operating), my whole body catapulted into major dysfunction the following week, far and beyond what tends to be the norm for me these days. And being that the symptoms came as an aftermath of the herx led me to conclude that these were not a result of Lyme, but rather adrenal fatigue. When Jarisch had done its work, my adrenals were left wiped out.

Further, since my bug load has been reduced by about 80% at this stage, I have to conclude that my symptoms aren't as much Borrelia's fault as they are the result of sputtering adrenals.

And this latest, clear-cut turn of events has me wondering for how many Lymies, adrenal fatigue is primary, and the Borrelia infection, secondary?

Okay, so Lyme causes adrenal fatigue, but what if the adrenal fatigue preceded the infection and instead allowed the infection to get a foothold in the body? It would mean that treating the fatigue, alongside the infection, would be of vital importance.

I don't know about you, but I feel that all of the natural adrenal supports short of cortisol are adequate only for the beginning stages of adrenal fatigue, which is not what most Lymie's have. Those of us who have catapulted into chronic fatigue are likely to need hormonal support, namely, cortisol, if the adrenals are to be restored to normal function.

But much controversy surrounds the use of cortisol to treat adrenal fatigue, and with good reason. Moderate and high doses of natural cortisol (above 15 mg), such as that found in Isocort, have been known to send the adrenals into shutdown mode, for good, and especially when the hormone is given every day.
Some schools of thought, however, such as that found on: www.stopthethyroidmadness.com, would contend that low doses of natural cortisol (15mg or under) which are pulsed, pose little danger of adrenal shutdown, and, contrary to popular belief, actually aid the immune system rather than suppress it.

But for many, 15mg of natural cortisol is insufficient for restoring the immune system, and neither is it enough to resolve the symptoms caused by adrenal fatigue. Higher doses may be needed, but the sufferer will have to decide if it's worth it to play roulette with his/her adrenal function. Some may even require synthetic hydrocortisone, which is more powerful but also riskier to the body.

It's not a decision to be taken lightly.
But what if, in the end, living a functional life depended upon you taking the risk?

I don't know about you, but the more rounds of sleeplessness and fatigue I endure, and the more of my life that gets filled by inactivity, the more appealing cortisol seems.

Taking a saliva cortisol test can provide some indication of adrenal function, as can pupil dilation tests and an overall symptom evaluation. If you've been treating Lyme a long while with only minor to moderate improvement, and you feel that bug load is no longer the primary cause behind your symptoms, consider that adrenal fatigue may be playing a larger role, and hence require treatment alongside Lyme.


paul garzillo said...

I have come to the same conclusion re the lyme/ adrenal connection.
I can tell you though, that i have been on 20mg/day of hydrocortisone for 10 yrs and it does not make me all better. It is better than NOT being on cortisone though, since i haver weaned myself off several times only to go back because of terrible fatigue during stress.
If you dont feel refreshed from sleep, feel worse in the afternoon, and then fell your best after 8pm, you have exhausted adrenals. Mine are so bad that i cannot have sex because it wipes me out for weeks after orgasm.
After having lyme for 25yrs now,[misdiagnosed for 23 yrs] the conclusion to this point is this: 1] I have lyme, 2] i have exhausted adreals for years of my body fighting the lyme, and 3] i have systemic yeast,[which i am now defeating].I truly believe if i can address all 3 areas with success, i can lick this thing! Your aricle on adrenals is right on the mark---and i think overlooked by many lyme sufferers. a great piece of info that can help lymies worldwide!
Paul Garzillo

paul garzillo said...

Forgot to add> Dont discount the yeast connection here in lyme disease. Yeast[candida] has a profound effect on your hormones and actually tricks the body at the receptor sites. The hormones dont lock into the receptors and cannot be utilized by the body even though your body is producing them. for this reason, your bloodwork will show normal testosterone, estrogen,thyroid, cortisol levels etc but you cannot utilize them. what doctor can figure that out??? Get rid of the yeast, and you may help your hormones work better.

Connie Strasheim (aka Killabugger) said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your thoughts.
Yes, I agree that addressing the yeast issue is so important.
That is interesting what you write about yeast using hormonal receptor sites. I did not know that.

It sounds like the cortisol has helped you some but not been a miracle drug. I hope, however, that it allows you to be functional.

Reducing stress, as you mentioned, is also so vital. I think stress (esp. emotional) has a bigger impact on adrenals than some people realize.

I wish you well in your healing and pray that you get the Lyme and candida under control, so that in turn, your adrenals will be stronger!

kirktalon said...

Wow Paul thanks. I have had a problem with Candida and adrenal fatigue and am now exploring Lyme.
Didn't know that about the receptors.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest looking into Adrenal cytrophin (glandular) supplements of high quality? i.e. Standard Process or what I use - Simply Adrenal by Doctors Research:

I take two in the morning, two with lunch and one with dinner. It keeps me from having chills and less exhausted.

Mary said...

I have been reading the book about Adrenal Fatigue by James Wilson. I've found it to be an invaluable resource and a program designed to heal the adrenals and restore you to health. He explains what to do and what not to do and why. He talks about a very strict diet and supplements, which I am ready to do. I am tired of feeling this way.