Addison’s Disease

Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, in some cases, the hormone aldosterone (from the kidney). The disease is also called adrenal insufficiency, or hypocortisolism. It occurs in all age groups and afflicts men and women equally. The disease is characterized by weight loss (loss of appetite), muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, low blood pressure, crave salty foods and sometimes darkening of the skin (see photo) in both exposed and nonexposed parts of the body. 50% of the time a person will notice nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It is considered an autoimmune disorder where the immune system makes antibodies that attack and slowly destroy the adrenal cortex. Adrenal insufficiency occurs when 90% of the cortex has been destroyed. Sometimes only the adrenal gland is affected, as in idiopathic adrenal insufficiency; sometimes other glands also are affected, as in the polyendocrine deficiency syndrome.

Because cortisol is so vital to health, the amount of cortisol produced by the adrenals is precisely balanced. Like many other hormones, cortisol is regulated by the brain's hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. First, the hypothalamus sends "releasing hormones" to the pituitary gland. One of the pituitary's main functions is to secrete ACTH (adrenocorticotropin), a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands. When the adrenals receive the pituitary's signal in the form of ACTH, they respond by producing cortisol.

Aldosterone, also produced by the adrenal glands, helps maintain blood pressure and water and salt balance in the body by helping the kidney retain sodium and excrete potassium. When aldosterone production falls too low, the kidneys are not able to regulate salt and water balance, causing blood volume and blood pressure to drop. Because the symptoms progress slowly, they are usually ignored until a stressful event like an illness or an accident causes them to become worse. This is called an addisonian crisis, or acute adrenal insufficiency. In most cases, symptoms are severe enough that people seek medical treatment before a crisis occurs. However, in about 25 percent of patients, symptoms first appear during an addisonian crisis. Left untreated, an addisonian crisis can be fatal.

  • Symptoms of an addisonian crisis include:
  • sudden penetrating pain in the lower back, abdomen, or legs
  • severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • low blood pressure
  • loss of consciousness

Causes of Addison's Disease include: tuberculosis, infections (particularly fungal), metastatic tumor, long term use of anti-inflammatory steroids like prednisone and surgical removal of adrenal gland, hypothalamus or pituitary.

NOTE: If you have had any of these glands removed, you may use the remedies listed with no negative side effect, but I am not sure they will do what you seek. The remedies are designed to work with the body. When parts are missing, that task becomes difficult. If you still have all your body parts, Use the protocol listed, but you may also need to find a natural supplement called an Adrenal Glandular to go with it.