By Dr. James L. Wilson
I am often asked why I formulated dietary supplements for adrenal fatigue. During my practice, the idea had been on my mind for a number of years. I saw early in my clinical work that most people suffering from adrenal fatigue need more than just lifestyle changes and alterations in their food intake. When the adrenals respond to stress, cell metabolism has to speed up, burning through many times the number of nutrients normally needed. By the time the adrenals reach the state of adrenal fatigue, the cells have used up much of the body’s store of certain nutrients and are in desperate need of new supplies to continue to minimally function, let alone recover. Normally, good quality food is the best source of these nutrients, but once depleted, the adrenals need more than diet alone is likely to provide. I found, clinically, that supplementing with specific concentrated nutrients markedly increased my patients’ ability to strengthen adrenal function and
recover their health.
I began using adrenal extract tablets with my patients with adrenal fatigue and found that they slowly improved over time, but their progress was too slow for my liking, no matter which adrenal concentrate they took. However, by combining concentrated, hormone-free extracts of the glands most involved in the stress response, we were able to achieve much better outcomes than we had using them singly. Applying my knowledge of nutrition, I started adding specific nutrients one at a time, and through trial and error discovered that most people suffering from adrenal fatigue and similar stress related health problems need much more of some nutrients than others. As nutrient after nutrient was added, people began responding and recovering more and more quickly, and then recovering more fully. At first, I treated each person individually, trying to determine their optimum dosage for each nutrient. Over time, though, it became apparent that most people with adrenal fatigue need the same nutrients, only varying in quantity depending upon severity. The more severe the adrenal fatigue, the more of these specific nutrients they needed to sustain themselves, function well and recover fully.
At the time, the dietary supplements on the market that focused on adrenal health lacked the clinical effectiveness I wanted and deemed necessary for my patients. To obtain adequate nutritional support for sustained improvement, it was often necessary for my patients to take 17 to 24 different supplements (60 to 80 tablets or capsules) per day – a regime that became very frustrating for both them and me to manage and maintain. Frequently, I would prescribe a particular supplement but my patient would walk out of the drugstore or health food store with a different one that was on sale or promoted by an employee or another customer. Inconsistencies among different brands in ingredients, potency, quality, raw materials sources, processing methods and other factors that affect clinical effectiveness undermined the reliability of results I was after. I was frustrated in general by the inconsistency of dietary supplements from one bottle to the next of the same product from the same company. Even formulas that appeared to be excellent, from reputable companies, often performed unreliably. In any recovery program, it is important to limit variables to clearly track the program’s effectiveness and make meaningful improvements. To better do this, I soon began carrying supplements in my office as a way of controlling which products my patients were taking and monitoring their compliance with the program by checking their reorder rates. This improved our results, but also made me aware that some companies change their formulas periodically, often without notice, and that my patients’ progress and recovery varied with these changes.
I decided to formulate a single dietary supplement and an herbal supplement specifically to support patients with adrenal fatigue. From my previous years of formulating, I knew that it is not just the individual ingredients, but how they act synergistically that produces the best and most effective supplements. Drawing on this formulating expertise, scientific research and years of clinical experience, I incorporated the ingredients that I found to be most useful for my patients in forms and proportions that enhanced their effectiveness. My goal was to create adrenal fatigue supplements that would work comprehensively in the body, show improved clinical effectiveness, significantly help recovery, and be compatible with a daily program that was easy for patients to consistently maintain.
The resulting supplements were Adrenal Exhaustion Formula and Herbal Adrenal Support Formula®, which I formulated while writing Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome and mention in the book. Through the book I wanted to help people understand the effects of stress on their bodies and adrenal glands, show them how to determine if they were experiencing adrenal fatigue, and provide a comprehensive self-help guide for recovery. By making Adrenal Exhaustion Formula and Herbal Adrenal Support Formula® available in addition to the book, I hoped to optimize the ability of people to fully recover from varying degrees of adrenal fatigue and increase their stress hardiness.
To make Herbal Adrenal Support Formula®, I drew on scientific research, my years of clinical experience with natural medicine and my formulating skills to combine four high quality, organically grown, adaptogenic herbs that each offer benefits to the stressed body. Taken together two to three times a day and once before bedtime, they help balance functioning of the hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal (HPA) axis that regulates the stress response and adrenal activity. The result of this balance is an increased inner calmness and steadiness that allows people under stress or with adrenal fatigue to function on a more even keel during the day and sleep more soundly at night.
Unfortunately, just before the book came out in November, 2001, the company that was to manufacture and distribute Adrenal Exhaustion Formula opted out. This was a problem as the book had already gone to press and I could not find another company to handle the supplement. To keep my commitment to with the people who would read and use my book, I decided to produce it myself. After considerable searching, I found a small company willing to manufacture 200 bottles of Adrenal Exhaustion Formula at a time. I placed my first order in the early spring of 2002, paying for it with my personal credit card. I thought most of the 200 bottles would end up sitting on the shelf until the expiry date, and that would be the end of it – but at least I had maintained the integrity of what I said in the book.
Surprisingly, Adrenal Exhaustion Formula began to sell. My wife and I have reflected on this and to this day we do not know how that happened. Only a few copies of the book had sold, the shopping cart on the website did not work, and the phone seldom rang, but somehow those first 200 bottles disappeared from the shelf. I ordered 200 more and, low and behold, those sold too, so I ordered 500 more thinking that would be the last order. When I saw that these were selling, I realized that this formula was meeting a real need, and I began to look at what more I could do to create and provide the best products and program that would allow doctors to deal effectively with adrenal fatigue and help the many people who suffered needlessly from it.
I decided to split Adrenal Exhaustion Formula into two supplements: a nutrient formula and a glandular. This would make it easier to adapt to individual requirements. Some people experiencing the effects of stress only need nutritional support, and proper nutritional support will keep them from slipping into adrenal fatigue. Whereas people who have already developed adrenal fatigue would get the most benefit from the glandular extract component of the product plus the nutrient portion. So after those 500 bottles of Adrenal Exhaustion Formula sold, I split it into two products: Adrenal Rebuilder® and Super Adrenal Stress Formula®.
Adrenal Rebuilder® contains concentrated glandular extracts, processed to have their hormones removed, that provide bioavailable building blocks to strengthen structure and vitalize function at a fundamental level in the adrenals, hypothalamus, pituitary and gonads – the main endocrine glands involved in the stress response. The glandular extracts work so deeply that it usually takes several weeks, or even months, to notice their effects, but these effects are profound and form the foundation for lasting results.
Super Adrenal Stress Formula® contains specific nutrients required in adrenal hormone production and needed by cells throughout the body to maintain healthy function and recover when under stress. The actions of these nutrients are much quicker to produce effects and people tend to notice a difference within a few days.
By creating two separate supplements out of Adrenal Exhaustion Formula, the quantities of the nutrients and/or glandular extracts could be adjusted more precisely to individual needs. My intention was that when adrenal fatigue was present, doctors could use the Adrenal Rebuilder® to help their patients’ run-down adrenal glands build up strength, sound structure and function along with the Super Adrenal Stress Formula® to supply the nutrients needed for healthy adrenal hormone production. If their patients were under stress but adrenal function was adequate, they could use just Super Adrenal Stress Formula® to replenish the nutrients rapidly used up during stress, thus helping to maintain adrenal function and avoid adrenal fatigue.
I found the two formulas together worked beautifully for adrenal fatigue, and Super Adrenal Stress Formula® soon proved to be a stand-alone supplement that supported people under stress better than anything else I had ever used. Observing their effects, I began to refer to Adrenal Rebuilder® as the “mechanic” and Super Adrenal Stress Formula® as the “accelerator” for the adrenals. While Adrenal Rebuilder® works down in the “engine” repairing and tuning, Super Adrenal Stress Formula® provides the nutrient “fuel” input that speeds up adrenal output. In most cases, taking Super Adrenal Stress Formula® made people feel much more in balance and calm. If they took too much, the B vitamins made some people a little jittery or speedy, but in those cases it was simple to reduce the dose until they felt balanced. People started writing and calling to tell us how much they were benefitting from these two products, and this became the most important reason, to me, for forming a company that could continue and expand this work. I realized that if we did not, there was nowhere else people could get products that worked like these. Since I had seen the suffering of people experiencing stress disorders and adrenal fatigue for many years, I became even more committed to establishing a successful company that would never compromise on quality or effectiveness. I wanted people to be able to always count on us to provide them with products that worked harmoniously with the natural processes of their bodies to maintain and noticeably reinvigorate their health. It was – and is – important to me to help as many people as possible to once again be in balance and know sustainable health, regardless of how long they have experienced the discouragement of struggling alone with adrenal fatigue or related health problems.
As I began looking at what else I could do to support this rapidly growing group of stressed people, I noticed an interesting paradox. The adrenal glands use more vitamin C per cell than any other organ or gland in the body, especially during stress, but people with adrenal fatigue are mildly acidic and vitamin C is acidic in its most common ascorbic acid form. The adrenals do not need more acid, but they do need more vitamin C. So the question was how to resolve this dilemma. I soon realized that if I balanced the pH of the ascorbic acid with minerals needed for adrenal hormone production and the stress response, I could not only balance the pH of the vitamin C supplement but also provide a valuable source of minerals essential to adrenal function. In addition, bioflavonoids could be added to the formula in a 2:1 ratio of ascorbic acid to bioflavonoids that is similar to the ratio found in nature. Bioflavonoids in this ratio almost double the activity of the vitamin C and also have their own wonderful uses in helping modulate stress. This formula provided a unique vitamin C designed for people experiencing stress and/or adrenal fatigue that was pH-balanced, provided needed minerals and the bioflavonoids that enhance and always appear with ascorbic acid in nature. The resulting supplement, Adrenal C Formula®, is the complete stress vitamin C that I mention in the book and has proved to also be a superior vitamin C that can be taken by anyone. People soon began reporting another advantage – it did not burn their stomachs like other vitamin C supplements had. Some said it was the only form of vitamin C they could take, and took it even though they did not have adrenal fatigue. This was welcome, but unexpected.
As I reviewed the supplements, it struck me that both the Super Adrenal Stress Formula® and Adrenal C Formula® contained water soluble vitamins. I knew from my studies in nutrition that when a large amount of water soluble vitamins are consumed at once, the body spills the excess out into the urine and sweat. This elimination happens as a reflex response, often before the cells can absorb as much of these nutrients as they may need. My challenge was to convert both the Adrenal C and Stress Formula into a sustained release format that would make the nutrients more bio-available at the cellular level. After several months of research and collaboration with a new, more knowledgeable manufacturer, we developed an integrated sustained release mechanism that allowed the nutrients to be absorbed gradually over four to five hours and the caplet to retain its sustained release properties even when it was cut into smaller pieces (as some people liked to do). It was more expensive to manufacture and took more work to develop, but was worth it because we now had two products that facilitated better cell saturation for optimal availability and performance.
This completed what we now call the Adrenal Quartet: Adrenal Rebuilder® is the deep acting restorer that provides bioavailable raw material for the glands of stress to build and strengthen their structure and function; Super Adrenal Stress Formula® is the energy controller that provides an optimal balance of sustained release nutrients essential for more energy through better adrenal hormone production and for healthy cellular stress recovery throughout the body; Adrenal C Formula® is the protective antioxidant that provides pH balanced, sustained release vitamin C optimally enhanced by bioflavonoids and minerals needed during stress; and Herbal Adrenal Stress Formula® is the calm, steady balancer and sleep soother that combines herbs specially selected to help balance the HPA axis, which is central to the stress response and healthy adrenal function.
As I worked with various people taking these supplements, I developed protocols for their combined use that maximizes their therapeutic value, and codified these protocols as my Program for Adrenal Fatigue and Stress. Together these four supplements used according to the guidelines of this program achieved my goal to create adrenal fatigue supplements that would work comprehensively in the body, show improved clinical effectiveness, significantly help recovery, and be compatible with a daily program that was easy for patients to consistently maintain. This program, accompanied by the lifestyle improvements and dietary changes
described in detail in the book, has been the best way I have found to help people with adrenal fatigue – making recovery from adrenal fatigue is not only possible, but probable. The benefits of strong, healthy adrenals include steady energy, sound sleep, responsive immune function, proper hormonal balance, the ability to concentrate, and the ability to handle and rebound from stress.
For more than 20 years in my practice, I witnessed the impact of helping people recover from adrenal fatigue on many levels. My intention with these formulas was to facilitate my patients’ recovery from adrenal fatigue, and provide a better, easier way for them to receive the highest quality, targeted nutritional support on a deep and effective level. Never did I imagine the demand was such that those original formulas would actually grow into what has now come to be known as the Future Formulations brand of dietary supplements. My desire is to use my knowledge and experience to help others put their health into their own hands – which is why the Future Formulations mission reads, “To help people help themselves to health with doctor designed dietary supplements that enhance the body’s own natural processes for health.” I continue to pursue this mission through educating health care professionals and developing equally unique and effective formulas targeted to areas of health that are currently underserved, such as blood sugar balance and long-term immune enhancement.
Yours in health,
Dr. James L. Wilson
Here are a few of the many comments received from various patients in response to this article
Your formulas certainly work for me! Better than anything else.
Thank you for your dedication and for the excellent book which I have given out several times.
Posted @ Monday, February 22, 2010 3:26 PM by Annette Orton
I was diagnosed with Addisons disease and hypothyroid, many years ago. I love these products! Under doctor supervision, I was able to decrease the hydrocortisone I take from 20 mg a day to 6.25.
Posted @ Monday, February 22, 2010 7:44 PM by Lorrie Sandel
Dear Dr. Wilson,
I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the work you have done with adrenal fatigue. I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease initially, but I soon became suspicious, especially after further testing and research, that my poorly functioning adrenal glands were the underlying cause of my condition. When I discovered adrenalfatigue.com and your supplements, I literally cried tears of joy, because I had finally found safe, effective adrenal supplements with the perfect combination of nutrients, along with a recovery program that I could match to my needs and start getting better. My doctor happily approved the program and I started immediately. That was a year and a half ago, and I’m so happy to say that I feel so much better now and have learned how to manage my condition with your supplements as well as other natural supplements for my thyroid condition, all without any side effects. I’ve also learned how to better handle the stresses in my life, all of this, thanks to you!
Posted @ Monday, February 22, 2010 10:45 PM by Stacy