Addison's Disease, Autoimmune
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
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.