Addison’s disease

What is Addison’s disease?

Addison’s disease is a rare condition of the adrenal glands that’s estimated to affect about one in 40,000 people.

What are the Symptoms of Addison’s disease?

People with Addison’s disease feel weak, lethargic, lose their appetite and weight, and may suffer recurrent abdominal pain and vomiting.

Other symptoms include falling blood pressure, rising blood potassium levels and falling sodium levels in the blood.

These problems develop over time, usually weeks or months, and often it takes a while before the diagnosis is made.

A characteristic feature of Addison’s disease is a change in pigmentation on certain parts of the body. The skin creases of the palms become hyperpigmented. This colour change may also occur on the knuckles, elbows and knees. The inside of the mouth may also darken.

What are the Causes of Addison’s disease?

Around four out of five cases Addison’s disease are believed to occur when the body attacks its own adrenal glands for some unknown reason. This is called an autoimmune reaction.

Other causes include tuberculosis, HIV, cancer and sudden severe low-blood pressure.

Traditional Medical Treatments for Addison’s disease

When possible, the underlying cause of the Addison’s disease is treated.

Oral corticosteroid drugs are taken to replace those hormones not being produced in sufficient quantities by the adrenal glands.

Occasionally, the dose of treatment may need to be increased, such as during times of infection. Patients with Addison’s are always given clear advice about these issues, about the importance of always letting a doctor or dentist giving them treatment know they’re taking steroid medication, and not to stop treatment suddenly.

People with Addison’s disease are encouraged to carry a steroid card or wear an identification bracelet so people know they’re taking steroid therapy if problems arise.

With treatment and regular specialist monitoring, people with Addison’s disease can expect to live long and active lives.

Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Addison’s disease

Treatments for Addison’s disease include natural and holistic remedies which can be effective in assisting with the relief of symptoms as well as addressing the individual’s overall health and well being.

Herbal and homeopathic remedies are gentle, yet effective – without the harmful side effects of conventional medicine. A combination of herbs such as Borago officinalis (Borage), Eleutherococcus senticosis (Siberian Ginseng) and Astragalus membranaceous (Huang Qi) supports the functioning of the adrenal glands and helps to assist the body to fight the stress of modern day living.

Ginger (which stimulates digestion and acts as an anti-nausea aid to treat symptoms of nausea and vomiting) can be beneficial in lessening the symptoms of Addison’s disease. Siberian ginger is particularly effective as a general tonic and helps to relieve physical and emotional stress, while liquorice enhances the activity of mineralocorticoids. Consult a homeopath or herbalist about remedies for your symptoms.