How I overcame adrenal fatigue

by

Soooo, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update on what’s going on with me and I’ve learned so much this year about the body, and more importantly, my body. After all my testing last December that showed I was deficient in vitamins D and B12 along with a slower than “normal” thyroid and major adrenal fatigue I think I’ve finally begun to get a handle on it this fall.

I know so many of you have the same symptoms I do, and while our causes may or may not be the same, I thought I’d finally share a few things I’ve figured out in hopes that it might lead to some inspiration for you as well.

Healing adrenal fatigue, a personal story

photo credit – IOFOTO on canva.com

Let’s recap real quick where I’ve been, as I know a lot of you are new.

I was diagnosed (based on symptoms) with PCOS when I was about 23, ovulating only once or twice a year if I was lucky. It took a year to get pregnant with our first and we almost lost him due to low progesterone. And no, I was never given any supplementation, yet only found out about it last year when I asked for my medical records.

Side note – it is REALLY important to have a copy of your medical records or to get specific numbers from your doctors when you have any testing done.

After he was born I began to do a lot more reading and researching and found information about increasing fertility with a whole foods diet. I began transitioning to eating 90-95% whole foods and every symptom of PCOS that I had began to disappear, I lost weight, and the most important for me was that my ovaries began working regularly for the first time ever! And this led to our second baby.

After her birth I came under some personal and business related stress that lasted for over a year and began to deal with mild adrenal fatigue and I had to work hard with diet, supplements, and chiropractic care after she weaned to get back on track.

With my body healthy and strong again we soon found that we were expecting our third baby, a baby we had to say goodbye to when I was 11 weeks pregnant. And the physical, hormonal, and emotional stress I went through for a few months sent me right back in to adrenal fatigue again, this time even worse. So I spent a good six months resting, de-stressing, and did a cleanse to help facilitate healing. I was eating well and taking my supplements and yet I was still dealing with insomnia and major fatigue. Eight months after my miscarriage I put a call in to my OB, hoping to get some thyroid testing done.

And I had to end up canceling the appointment and she couldn’t see me for another 10 weeks. So I made an appointment with my family doctor six weeks later.

He got sick that day.

So I counted my pennies, sucked it up, and called a holistic DO in town (not covered by my insurance) and was able to see her the following week. I’m really glad my other appointments had failed because she was the one that ordered the tests I really needed and wouldn’t have thought of asking for. (and the other two wouldn’t have ordered)

I was put on a methyl B12 and folate supplement which is taken sublingually (under the tongue – absorbs better) and I began to sleep well for the first time in over a year. The really cool thing was that I began to dream again as I had noticed that I never remembered my dreams anymore after a lifetime of crazy dreams every night. I had no idea that B vitamins could be associated with dreaming! I also felt my hormones shifting and that was also a good sign.

(The sublingual supplement I use I purchased from my DO’s office, but you can also find it on Amazon – Douglas Laboratories B12 Plus*)

Finally the healing began as the sleep was much-needed. It had been over a year at that point where I had gotten over 5 hours of sleep at night as I had only been sleeping from about 2am to 6 or 7 am, not helpful in healing at all. I began to have a bit more energy and things were looking up. I did the Thyroid Detox in January and my own cleanse later that spring.

We also tested my adrenals with a 24 hour saliva test and found that my cortisol levels were drastically low all day long, never rising enough to have energy at all. So I also purchased the book Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. James Wilson (available on Amazon) and began focusing on adrenal health.

 

My healing adrenal fatigue protocol:

  • Slept as much at night as I could, meaning I’d go to bed an hour earlier, take a nap mid-day when I could, and sleep in whenever possible, especially until nine AM if I could convince Todd to get up earlier with the kids.
  • If I couldn’t nap, I took at least 15 minutes each day to lay down with my feet up while I read a book (or played on my phone….)
  • Worked a LOT less, cutting my writing/blogging time easily in half.
  • Weekends and Wednesdays were no work days and very little social media.
  • I took Dr. Wilson’s supplements religiously, even buying one of those pills boxes and scheduling reminders on my phone
  • I also drank salt water everyday, especially in the morning, about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon per 12-16 ounces of water
  • Giving up coffee was not my idea of fun since I used it each day as a mood booster, but it had to go in order to give my adrenals a break.
  • Good food was pivotal, but so was not stressing about food. So I ate as well as I could manage (hard to do when you’re constantly exhausted and overwhelmed) yet allowed myself plenty of grace when we ate something that wasn’t “real food approved”.

And then it stopped getting better. No worse per se, but I knew I wasn’t feeling as good as I should and my hormones were still not behaving correctly. I also noticed that I was not dreaming as much as I had in previous months. We experimented with progesterone supplementation which wasn’t helpful. i tried adding more supplements to no avail. I tried reducing my supplements which REALLY wasn’t helpful! I was finding that even after five or six months of major supplementation that the supplements were just keeping me going each day, and I had to keep taking them or be exhausted.

Over the summer I also mentioned that I began to see a massage therapist who worked with Mayan Abdominal Massage as well as Medical Massage and Manual Therapy with Mind-Body Integration. I went about 6 times over the course of a few months and found the changes in my body fabulous. There were things that were tight and misplaced that I never knew were tight or misplaced! I also learned about the many parts of the body that were associated with different organs and even different emotions, which was quite interesting and eye-opening. Christine also works with herbs and I began taking one of her tinctures, which was horribly gross as many tinctures are! My body felt good, but my hormones were still not playing along.

Enter MTHFR.

(No, that’s not an acronym for a swear word like I originally thought. I first found out about MTHFR on infertility forums years ago and I thought the ladies were just really mad at this specific gene mutation!)

Since last fall I’ve wanted to get tested for the MTHFR gene mutation, but the costs of working with my holistic DO had put that one test on the back burner until July when I finally sent in my saliva test. (I ordered it from 23andme.com* for $99.00.)

While I was waiting for the results (they take about a month) I began to do a bit more reading on the subject and found out an important little piece of information about the sublingual vitamin B supplement I was taking. Many people with certain versions of the MTHFR mutation don’t absorb or use B vitamins well, women are often times given large doses of folic acid to help sustain a pregnancy as these mutations are common in miscarriage/multiple miscarriage, so there is a lot of information out there about Vitamin B and MTHFR. But the important little part I learned while researching was that when you take sublingual vitamins you’re supposed to let it sit for at least 30 minutes under the tongue!

I had started out with maybe 10 minutes and slowly began to let it sit under my tongue less and less, down to only a minute or two.

The next day I put it under my tongue the moment the alarm went off for Todd and I went back to sleep and let it dissolve on its own. Within a week I could feel my hormones shifting. I obviously really needed this! So each morning. without fail, I made sure to take my sublingual methyl B’s (available on Amazon) for 30-60 minutes each time. And then I got my genetic test results from 23andme.com (you can buy your own test here) and ran them through Genetic Genie to get my results in a “common person can understand this” way.

Turns out I have 1 heterozygous mutation on the MTHFR C677T gene.

This means that while it’s not the “bad” variation since only one part of the gene is mutated (genes come in pairs)(some doctors don’t even consider this one an issue which is really unfortunate), that it could reduce the way my body uses B vitamins (as well as other nutrients) by 10-40 percent depending on how the rest of my genes are functioning. I also have other genetic mutations (Which is one reason I liked the 23andme.com test – it tells you all sorts of stuff!) but at this point I don’t think they are causing me problems, I’m just glad I know so I can look into it if need be.

MTHFR basics:

MTHFR is a genetic mutation that causes the enzyme that drives a process called methylation to be reduced. This can impair the methylation cycle by approximately 15 to 80%, depending on the type and severity of the mutation.

What the methylation process does:

  • Turns on and off genes (gene regulation)
  • Processes chemicals and toxins (detoxification)
  • Builds neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, etc.)
  • Processes hormones (estrogen)
  • Builds immune cells (T cells, NK cells) -DNA and RNA syntheses
  • Produces energy (by producing CoQ10, carnitine, ATP)
  • Produces/repairs protective coating on nerves (myelin)

MTHFR associated conditions:

  • repeated miscarriage
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • anemia
  • autism/sensory disfunction
  • high blood pressure
  • delayed speech
  • muscle pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • tremor
  • memory loss
  • brain fog
  • tingling or numbness in extremeties (neuropathy)
  • migraines (especially with aura)
  • Parkinson’s
  • Raynaud’s
  • autoimmune disorders
  • heavy metal accumulation
  • insomnia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • tumors/cancers
  • chronic infections
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • embolism
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • digestive disorders
  • having a MTHFR gene mutation also means that the body cannot properly absorb and utilize B vitamins.

Within a month or so after taking my methyl Bs “properly” I finally felt great and was able to reduce and then stop taking all of my adrenal supplements within about six weeks. I began sleeping really well almost every night (with dreams again!) and began to not only have more energy (enough to finally start working out again!) but I began remembering things that I had previously forgotten to do, like pay people the money I owed them….

I don’t know exactly when my MTHFR gene became “expressed” or if it’s always been an issue for me (just because you have a gene mutation doesn’t mean it’s causing you problems), but I do know that I have a variation of it and the methyl B12 and folate (available on Amazon) is working well for me.

So far my update ends with really great news as well.  (Please stop here if you’re in a tough spot due to infertility and/or loss and need to stay away from announcements)

 

I’m really beyond excited to say that we’re expecting a baby come May. I’ve shed a lot of happy tears over the last few months, everything has been going well up to this point, and we have our 20 week ultrasound next week already. It’s still kind of surreal at this point.

This baby is due exactly two years after our miscarried baby was due, so it’s also been extra anxiety inducing to be experiencing all of the same fall activities during the same exact weeks as last time. I was sicker than normal this time around due to bioidentical progesterone supplementation and it also caused once, if not twice weekly migraines which put me out of commission for at least six weeks this fall. (Thank goodness for contributors or the blog may have very well gone silent during that time.) But it’s also been a joyous time as well, we feel very blessed to be used yet again to facilitate the creation of a new life.

pregnancy

It’s really hard to know when to say something or mention this at all. Many times over the last eight or nine years, I’ve struggled with pregnancy announcements. Especially over the last two years, many times it throwing me into full-blown panic attacks and increased anxiety, and I so want to shield people from that type of pain. And yet I also want to share my story with others so that maybe it can provide hope that while healing may take a long time, that it can be possible to overcome health and hormone issues.

My story hasn’t ended yet and I’m sure at some point I might be “back to the drawing board” with one health issue or another as I move through different stages and circumstances of life, but I’m so pleased that I’ve found a way to feel like myself again.

 

 

 

 

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
I believe women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, I have a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. My personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and I started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information I found helpful in my journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Many of the links on this site are affiliate links, which mean that the owner of the site may earn a small commission from your purchase through the company. We will not recommend a company that we do not purchase from ourselves and we thank you for your support. No contributor or author on this site is a medical doctor and the statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Read our privacy policy and full disclosure here.

16 Comments

  1. Laura

    Congrats to you! Wow, what a journey you’ve been on. You have really accumulated a wealth of knowledge that I’m sure will help someone else.

  2. Michelle

    I too suffered from adrenal exhaustion, estrogen dominance (endometriosis), and frequent illness among other things. My diagnosis of MTHFR in addition to a whole boat load of other defects was life altering for me at the beginning of this year! I feel so much better, adrenal exhaustion gone, periods a breeze etc. Still no pregnancy but I’m praying… Still So so so thankful to feel soooo much better!!

  3. Jodi

    Congratulations on the wonderful news! So very exciting, even more so after all the trials getting there! Praying I can some day have the same good news. 🙂 The body is so complicated. Take care and let us know if there are certain things you take/eat during pregnancy that are helpful.

  4. Merissa @ Little House Living

    So that test on 23andme will screen for MTHFR? My doctor suspected that for me but then said without insurance it would cost us $6000 to get tested so we couldn’t do it.

    • Donielle Baker

      Yes, plus much more! Once you get the results you have to run it through Genetic Genie (which is free but they ask for a $10 donation) to get easy to read results. I’ve had a few friends now that have used 23andme for testing and had great luck figuring out they either had MTHFR or another gene mutation that was disrupting their health.

      • Merissa @ Little House Living

        Thank you! I’m going to show it to my hubby. There are some other things I’ve been wondering about as well and it looks like this tests for those as well so it would be helpful to know. Much cheaper than going to the doctor without insurance!

  5. Heather Hollis

    I so appreciate the all information I’ve received on your page throughout the last couple years. I have been through years of infertility, 1 son and 2 miscarriages this year. I’ve just started the Douglas labs folate myself because I had read about the MTHFR mutation. I’m super glad to hear about the relatively inexpensive testing I can have done on 23andme.com I am so genuinely happy to hear of your pregnancy and wish you the best!

  6. Christina

    Not sure if it will help, but I have read a lot about how low levels of magnesium can contribute to morning sickness… and a limiting factor in how much magnesium you can absorb is Vit B. Magnesium is harder to absorb while pregnant and not super abundant in our diets anyway. All that to say I’m not sure but now that you’re absorbing more Vit B you may want to try some CalMag or other magnesium supplement so see if that helps with the nausea!

    • Donielle Baker

      I love using magnesium! A few years ago I dealt with migraines every time the weather changed and a friend told me to try mag. I’ve used both supplements and the oil and had great luck with both keeping my migraines away! I use it almost daily and try to do Epsom salt baths at least once every two weeks if not more. Unfortunately, even with supplementation before pregnancy and during the first trimester, it didn’t help. But I also think that now I’m getting my B’s, that healing is still taking place so maybe mag would have been more helpful if certain healing had taken place first…? Maybe!

  7. anonymous

    Just wanted to say that I too was battling fatigue, adrenal issues, needing methyl donors and the like, too, … like many ppl.

    The best thing I ever did was stumble upon Dr. Larry Wilson’s website (a different Dr Wilson than the one that wrote the adrenal book, and sells the supplements). drlwilson.com

    I had a hair analysis done and have beeing doing Nutritional Balancing. Which is amazing.

    I would warn you against using the Adrenal Supplements … most people don’t know this but they are not as great as we think. I’ll give myself as an example. I was in something called “four lows”, but not knowing that (and having all the signs for Adrenal Fatigue, and Type 2 Hypothyroidism) I took vitamins and glandulars (adrenal & thyroid) faithfully for the better part of a year, as well as lifestyle changes etc. When I had my hair tested this past year I found out that I was not a slow oxidizer, but a fast oxidizer, and, actually, my adrenals were working too hard, and my thyroid was fine. I also found that with my use of Glandulars I was further distorting my body chemistry! It pushed up my Sodium levels, which forced my already low Magnesium and Calcium levels down even lower. In Nutritional Balancing it is explained that we can’t just take a supplement if we are low, for instance, becaue it won’t necessarily raise that, but cause a chain reaction that is likely going to be be detrimental, unless we know what we’re doing. The glandulars were causing me to go into 3-lows, in stead of 4-lows, and generally not helping long term, but actually making things bad in a different way. You can google those terms, or check out drlwilson.com … you can also check out some videos on youtube about Nutritional Balancing, but I would stick with an approved practitioner from dr wilson’s site If you decide to go for it. We must properly balance the Mineral Levels and Ratios in our body for optimal Glandular Function.
    Please read this: http://freedom-school.com/health/healthview-newsletter-27-29.pdf

    anyway … I also found that Chakra healing, addressing any past traumas/wounds, was also beneficial to energy. Sometimes fatigue can occur with false beliefs that blow out our Root Chakra, for instance.
    http://www.chakrahealing.com/blog/root-chakra-healing/

    AND … parasites! We kind of all have them, and they can make us tired. Parasite Cleanse will surely help with energy. Sometimes we just focus on Gut Flora, or Yeast/Candida, and forget about the other parasites many people battle … some of which are worms or flukes, but there are hundreds of types and about 70% are microscopic. Anyway, a parsite cleanse is important for most everyone. Check out curezone.com or Hulda Clark info about that.
    https://humaworm.com/symptoms.html

    Also Coffee Enemas have been a LIFE SAVER. Boosts energy, and helps eliminate toxins, metals, parasites … etc.

    Also here are some other thoughts I came across online….

    Best to you and your family!

    Other Metals (such as Copper)

    Perhaps consider psychotherapy to increase Self Knowledge & Self-Love.
    Dr. Margaret Pauls Inner-Bonding is a wonderful source.
    Also, enneagram, myers-briggs, and energy profiling (with carol tuttle) are great

    And perhaps consider Etheric Parasites, or entity attachment, as they drain energy and are very common. Some people use Energy Healing, or Chakra Healing.

    Perhaps you have undealt with traumas, or ptsd. Helpful tools to recover are:
    EFT
    EMDR
    Somatic Experiencing
    Brainspotting

    • Donielle Baker

      I have heard of the other Dr. Wilson and done a bit of reading, though not as indepth as I would have liked to have the time to. But I’m not a big believer in supplements, especially not long term, which was why I started looking a bit deeper after finding that I wasn’t weaning off of them how I had liked! I don’t like taking supplements much at all and hadn’t planned on taking them for more than a few months. But they were helpful in the short term for me, to recover some semblance of energy so that I had enough gumption to do more research! Eventually I would love to have hair analysis done, but doing it all out of pocket means I have to space all my tests out a bit. 😉

      Addressing traumas is also important and was actually something I worked with my massage therapist on. I was really amazed at how emotions and different lifestyle experiences (good or bad) were “stored” in different places of the body and it was really eye opening for me!

      And yes – parasites! I actually did a parasite cleanse as part of my cleansing routine on January and again in April. I actually used the humaworm you linked to! I was so thankful that I had no flukes or worms big enough to see! :shudder: I may have run from the house screaming. 😀 But I did love how I felt after taking the herbs for a month.

      Thanks for all the research and links! I’m so glad there are other people out there with such a wealth of knowledge, I learn so much from the readers here. 🙂

  8. Becky @ Rooted Blessings

    CONGRATULATIONS! SO much amazing stuff you have learned along the way though! I want to read up on this more!

  9. Abby

    I have been trying to conceive for over 4 months now. I have the double MTHFR mutation, and after reading your article in February, ordered the methyl B12 and have been letting it dissolve for 30 minutes. My doctor recently put me on 10 mg of methyl-folate as well and told me to keep taking the B12 (he is the one who tested for the MTHFR mutation). I have tried tracking my cycles a bit, and seem to have a short luteal phase (really short, as in 6 or 7 days!). I read B6 can help lengthen that. Do you think taking such a high dose of B12 depleted my B6 stores? Do you think adding in a B6 supplement could be helpful? I eat a lot of butter, coconut oil, raw cheese, raw, grassfed milk, pastured meat and liver, fermented foods, some soaked grains, etc…
    Thank you for your help! I love your website, and appreciate what you are doing to help so many couples.

  10. megan

    I’m late finding this article, but congratulations on this baby!! I was intrigued by this MTHFR and am now wondering if this is something I’m suffering with. It took us three years to conceive my 15 month old son and how we long to have another one. I also suffered a miscarriage exactly two years before we conceived my son. I checked out the link for the 23andMe website, but this message appears: “23andMe provides ancestry-related genetic reports and uninterpreted raw genetic data. We no longer offer our health-related genetic reports. If you are a current customer please go to the health page for more information.” I’m just wondering if the current test available on this website would provide me the information it did for you or if it needs to be the specific “health-related” test? Thanks for the hard work you put into informing people like myself. Thanks!!

    • Donielle Baker

      Yes, they still provide the data needed to run through a site like Genetic Genie to find out about gene mutations. What they can’t do any longer is tell you if you’re at risk for certain diseases.

Fix your fertility naturally

Fix Your Fertility ebook
empowered charting ebook