How Adrenal Fatigue May Be Behind Your CIDP and Autoimmune Disease
Many doctors won’t tell you that treating your adrenal fatigue can help manage your CIDP and autoimmune symptoms.
By Shiraz Abbas
An autoimmune disease is a dysfunction of the immune system. The immune system attacks healthy tissues in the body by seeing them as foreign and dangerous.
Have you ever seen people get allergies to certain foods? Imagine your body has an allergy to itself! Your immune system is sending antibodies to attack your healthy tissue.
Ulcerative colitis is when your immune system attacks your colon; Crohn’s disease is when it attacks your small intestine; MS (multiple sclerosis) is when your antibodies attack your central nervous system; CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) is when your immune system attacks your peripheral nerves. This happens in the form of inflammation.
People who have CIDP give different reasons as to when they got it. They will say, for example, that it came as a result of an infection of the nerves. This is also what people with GBS say.
But people with CIDP or other autoimmune diseases will often say that their disease started after a very stressful or traumatic event, such as a divorce, death in the family, loss of a job etc. If the stress is hard and long enough, it may trigger a dysfunction in the immune system.
The common reaction of physicians is to prescribe anti-inflammatory steroid medication in the form of cortisol or prednisone. Cortisol and prednisone are adrenal hormones. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by your adrenal gland as a response to stress. Its function, among other things, is to suppress inflammation in the body and regulate your blood pressure.
The consistent activation and production of cortisol in the body can damage the adrenal gland. If the adrenal gland is constantly working in response to stress, it gets damaged and there is a decrease in cortisol in your body which makes inflammation worse.
This is called adrenal fatigue. When you are treated with cortisol, your body eventually develops cortisol resistance thereby requiring you to consume more and more cortisol in order to tame the inflammation.
Sometimes doctors prescribe corticosteroids because the inflammation in the body is simply too much for your own body’s cortisol to deal with. Why does this happen? One theory states that our bodies were simply not designed for this much stress which seems to be a unique phenomenon.
There are some theories as to why else your body decreases cortisol. It is thought that cortisol damages cells in the body, so your body decreases it so as to protect you from it, but the down side is that inflammation goes back up.
Through this ‘damping down’ action, cortisol modulates the immune response to help reduce the amount of potentially toxic chemicals secreted by white blood cells that produce tissue inflammation. Healthy adrenal function and cortisol output is therefore essential for minimizing damage from uncontrolled inflammation brought about by autoimmune processes. During adrenal fatigue, it is less likely that your adrenal glands can produce enough cortisol to adequately counter these autoimmune inflammatory reactions.
Solution to Adrenal Fatigue?
So what can we do to have a healthy adrenal function? Our recommendations are the following:
Sleep: quality sleep is the primary regulator of cortisol and the adrenal gland in your body. Make sure to sleep eight hours a day and keep your sleep schedule consistent.
Exercise: exercise is an important de-stressor. It has been shown to be more effective than anti-depressants. By reducing stress, you reduce adrenal activity. Light exercise like walking can also help reduce cortisol in your body.
Cut Out the Sugar and Carbs: Sugars and carbs create sudden spikes and drops in blood sugar which can make adrenal fatigue worse. Carbs and sugars also raise inflammation in the body thereby activating cortisol. A better plan, especially if you have CIDP, is to follow a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting.
Supplements: It is important that you have your vitamin B complex (from whole food sources) and cortisol support supplements. These vitamins and nutrients are important in regulating stress and cortisol. B vitamins are good for stress and anxiety, and cortisol support supplements are useful as they contain elements like phosphatidylserine which lower cortisol.
Shiraz Abbas is the founder and manager of the CIDP Neuropathy Support Group. He is also one of the main community educators of IVIG therapy. He resides in Fresno, California. Shiraz can be contacted through our free CIDP advice service at 1-855-782-0574.