Pregnenolone : A Different Approach to Adrenal Problems

I put this together after getting an email from someone I know about a kind of unusual treatment that worked very well for her.

Junes adrenal glands werent just low - they were shot. In fact her cortisol levels were low enough to get her diagnosed with Addisons disease; a disease characterized by low cortisol levels (hypocortisolism) and adrenal insufficiency. That got her searching Addisons groups to see what they were trying.

Addisons disease - (Hypocortisolism ) - is characterized by a suite of symptoms very similar to those found in ME/CFS. They iclude fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, weight loss, difficulty in standing up, anxiety, diarrhea, headache, sweating, changes in mood and personality, sudden drops in blood pressure especially when going from a seated position to standing, and joint and muscle pains.
Interestingly, given the craving for salt many CFS patients exhibit Addison's disease patients also display marked cravings for salt or salty foods (due to the urinary losses of sodium.

Of course low CFS patients often exhibit mildly low cortisol levels. Dr. Holtorf, - a CFS/FM specialist focusing on endocrine issues, however, thinks most cortisol tests understate the degree of hypocortisolism present. By any marker , however, June had very low cortisol levels - her adrenal glands were hardly functioning.

Searching the Message Boards - Addisons message groups got her to try things like Ashwagandha and Licorice root. Ashwaganda helped June but it wasn't enough for a severely depleted adrenal gland. Focus on Ashwaganda - Ashwaganda is an adaptogen that is believed to help normalize endocrine functioning, increased energy and mental functioning and assist in sleep at night. Adaptogens are believed to have normalizing rather than curative effects; ie they appear to help rebalance the complex systems of the body rather than boost one or the other up.

Pregnenolone is synthesized from cholesterol (any low cholesterol levels out there?). Interestingly, its also produced in small quantities in the brain where it has neuro- protective effects and enhances synaptic transmission. Its currently being studied for its effects on cognitive functioning. Dr. Ray Sahelian calls pregnenolone the feel good hormone.

Alternative to Cortisol? - June needed something curative not restorative. She didn't want to take cortisol but as she investigated alternative treatments for Addison's she learned of pregnenolone, a steroid prohormone found upstream of cortisol in the HPA axis. Pregnenolone provides the building blocks for many of the hormones in the body including cortisol , estrogen, progesterone and other hormones and other steroid hormones. First it is converted into DHEA and/or progesterone and then its converted into testosterone and the estrogens or to the estrogens, cortisol and aldosterone.

Early studies suggested pregnenolone had energizing and anti-stress capabilities. Later studies suggested it may be able to help with mood elevation, relaxation and sleep.

Caution - Pregnenolone can be obtained over-the-counter but June cautions that she had numerous endocrine and other tests done before she took it. Hormones can have strong and sometimes very negative, longlasting effects when taken inappropriately. Hormonal supplementation in ME/CFS is controversial; many doctors will not prescribe them unless they have clear and strong evidence of significant adrenal gland dysfunction. Even with Junes test results, her endocrinologist would not monitor her on pregnenolone because information on proper dosing levels for the hormone is so scanty. June had to go to her gynecologist before she found someone willing to monitor her on it.

Pregnenolone, however, worked and her energy levels increased significantly in the year she's been on it. She still has to be careful about crashing from too much activity and she just got a horrendous infection that it took several months to get over; ie shes not well but she is much better. She also knows of other women with ME/CFS who have benefited.

Comments

I don't know. Its a kind of odd bird in the ME/CFS Community. June, as I noted,found out about it in the Addison's community. It is a precursor for several other hormones; be sure to talk to your doctor or gynecologist before trying it because hormones are powerful agents. You definitely don't want to screw up with them. On the other hand HPA axis problems seem to be pretty endemic in the CFS population.
 
Good news! Thanks for posting. I have low cholesterol. Also, Rhodiola Rosea and tyrosine helped my adrenals. Thanks for this info.
 
Yeah, I'm scared to take any hormones beyond 7 Keto DHEA. It doesn't seem to have any side effects for me, besides a mild increase in energy. I'm getting some results from sea salt as well, more so now that I'm eating caplets of it, not just adding it to food. Have to eat rice or something with it though to keep it down. Adrenals seem to be my major problem.
 
about 10 yrs ago (10 yrs into my cfs journey) i took pegnenolone and 12 minutes later i was hallucinating . a first for me. i forced myself to throw up (to get anything i could out) and never went back on it.
 
This is such a scary system to navigate. I seem to be trying new "natural" medications all the time as my doctor is not willing to help me. I try something as low a dose as possible and then slowly add more to see if I feel any better.

On one site a natural path suggested that you give the medication one month to see results and if you don't then to discontinue. I must say I usually buy enough at a time for three months and then look to see if I have any good results either alone or in combinations with a few things. So far I have not found much working. I did try DHEA not the 7 Keto type, but on its own (just DHEA) my breasts hurt so bad I had to go off of it. I will order the 7 Keto type and see how that works.

I just know that I have unusual blood results and the doctor really does not understand, and she is not willing to look into it further. I have been waiting to see a fibro/chronic fatigue specialist for a year and still don't know when I will get in or if I even want this doctor. I am currently living in the UK and this doctor won't even tell me where she has sent the referral to so that I can find out if I want to spend the energy going to this doctor. I called and spoke to the secretary and even she won't give me the referred doctors name. Don't like this system. I go back to Canada next year where I will get better care and a choice of who I want to see.

I am taking Adrenasense, thyrosense, digestive enzymes, vitamin C, iordoral, along with my levothyroxine, gabapentin.

My energy is so low, I would do anything to feel better. If I could even feel like I did 2 years ago that would be better and I thought that was the worst. Some days you wonder how you can go on feeling this bad. My poor husband now knows when he comes home most days that I will be in my p.j.'s, need to find something as comfortable so I look better for him and my own self esteem.

If anyone knows anything about a high iron and low thyroid please pass on the information.

Thanks,
 
cruzgirl;bt2492 said:
This is such a scary system to navigate. I seem to be trying new "natural" medications all the time as my doctor is not willing to help me. I try something as low a dose as possible and then slowly add more to see if I feel any better.

On one site a natural path suggested that you give the medication one month to see results and if you don't then to discontinue. I must say I usually buy enough at a time for three months and then look to see if I have any good results either alone or in combinations with a few things. So far I have not found much working. I did try DHEA not the 7 Keto type, but on its own (just DHEA) my breasts hurt so bad I had to go off of it. I will order the 7 Keto type and see how that works.

I just know that I have unusual blood results and the doctor really does not understand, and she is not willing to look into it further. I have been waiting to see a fibro/chronic fatigue specialist for a year and still don't know when I will get in or if I even want this doctor. I am currently living in the UK and this doctor won't even tell me where she has sent the referral to so that I can find out if I want to spend the energy going to this doctor. I called and spoke to the secretary and even she won't give me the referred doctors name. Don't like this system. I go back to Canada next year where I will get better care and a choice of who I want to see.

I am taking Adrenasense, thyrosense, digestive enzymes, vitamin C, iordoral, along with my levothyroxine, gabapentin.

My energy is so low, I would do anything to feel better. If I could even feel like I did 2 years ago that would be better and I thought that was the worst. Some days you wonder how you can go on feeling this bad. My poor husband now knows when he comes home most days that I will be in my p.j.'s, need to find something as comfortable so I look better for him and my own self esteem.

If anyone knows anything about a high iron and low thyroid please pass on the information.

Thanks,
The levothyroxine you're taking only has T3, one of the thyroid hormones, whereas products like Armour thyroid (or Westhroid or Naturethroid - dessicated thyroid) all have T3 and T4. Many many people need both T3 and T4 and many who switch from levothyroxine to Armour etc. do much better. Check out stopthethyroidmadness.com for more info --

Mary
 
I sympathize with your cruzgirl - its so hard to have to figure this stuff out on your own. Keep looking, though and hopefully something good will come of it. That's what happened with June. Good luck!
 
i dont know if this thread is still active, but i have used isocort (hydrocortisone) low dosage for over a year now and it has helped me alot !
 
It took me some time to digg this up as old links don't work anymore.. But interesting!!
 

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