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Addison's Disease, Autoimmune Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy Addison's disease is an uncommon autoimmune disease, characterized by chronic and insufficient functioning of the outer layer of the adrenal gland. The adrenal glands are located atop each kidney and produce vital glucocorticoid hormones. Because of this chronic under-functioning of the adrenal glands, persons with Addison's disease have a deficiency in the production of glucocorticoid hormones. Glucocorticoid hormones are involved in how the body utilizes and stores carbohydrates, protein, fat and blood sugar.

The adrenal gland also plays a role in the immune response. A deficiency in glucocorticoid hormones causes an increase in the release of sodium and a decreased release of potassium in the urine, sweat, saliva, stomach and intestines. These changes can cause low blood pressure and increased water excretion that can in some cases lead to severe dehydration.

Although there are many underlying factors in the development of adrenal insufficiencies, most cases of Addison's disease are thought to be autoimmune in nature.

The diagnosis of Addison's disease is made through various blood hormone level tests, most commonly cortisol which is made by the adrenal cortex. Also, the ACTH stimulation test is used to show the adrenal gland's inability to respond to the pituitary gland's hormone made for the express purpose of stimulating the adrenals. (ACTH stands for adrenocorticotrophic hormone.)

The treatment of Addison's disease is the administration, ideally of ACE (adrenal cortical extract). However, because many state medical boards are worse than backwards, and prosecute doctors for using ACE, your doctor may have to prescribe plain cortisol, which is not a bad choice, but definitely second to ACE. ACE is a blend of all 50 or so hormones made by the adrenal cortex and is the most natural choice available. The doctor who practices nutritional medicine is the only specialist from whom you have a prayer of receiving ACE.

The most famous individual with Addison's disease was John Kennedy whose political career was made possible by the administration of cortisol. Otherwise, he would have been to fatigued to give all those inspiring speeches.



The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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