An overview of adreno-cortical fatigue and resulting hyperestrogenism
Caroline D. Levin RN
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When adrenal glands become exhausted by chronic irritation, they no longer produce cortisol. Precursors such as progesterone accumulate and “spilled over” into the adjacent hormone pathway. This results in elevated levels of adrenal estrogen. In other words, when one path is blocked, hormone activity is rerouted down another pathway. A good analogy would be boating down a river. If a dam were built across the river, the water would back up and you would have to steer your boat down a different branch of the river to continue on your trip.
Signs/symptoms of elevated adrenal estrogen closely resemble those of excess cortisol including, fatigue, confusion, depression, incontinence, irritability, seizures, and darkening of the skin. Elevated estrogen raises liver/pancreas enzymes (serum amylase/alkaline phosphatase), cholesterol, and triglycerides. Elevated estrogen also results in kidney degeneration, bone marrow and immunoglobulin suppression (anemia, cancer, infections, GI upset), increased histamine activity (allergies/itching), and thyroid binding.
Elevated levels of hormone precursors, such as progesterones and androgens cause impaired glucose tolerance (high blood glucose levels), obesity, increased body core temperature (heat intolerance/panting), increased appetite, aggression, thick coats, acne (small flesh-colored bumps), and bald patches.
Depleted cortisol levels cause anorexia, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weakness, organ failure, and death. Low-dose glucocorticoid replacement therapy has been reported to reduce excess sex-hormone production in both humans and dogs. The hypothalamus recognizes the presence of the oral cortisol replacement hormone, which decreases chronic ACTH stimulation. This in turn reduces the excessive production of adrenal sex-hormones.
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