In contrast to adrenal glandulars that help boost your adrenal glands' function, a cortisol supplement actually supresses your adrenal glands' production of cortisol, and takes over the job completely. While prescribing a cortisol (hydrocortisone) supplement is likely to be a conventional physician's first step, and may get you results you think you like, those results will be deceiving. Taking the hormone directly is far more difficult to regulate, and you will spend a fair amount of time feeling like a rubber ball, bouncing all around as you try to figure out exactly how much to take, and how often to take it. But more importantly, shutting down your adrenal glands also affects production of other hormones, and weakens your immune system. Messing with your hormones like that is never a good first choice, and usually leads to a whole different set of problems.
That said, cortisol supplements can be useful as a short-term therapy, allowing your adrenals time to completely rest and "reset" themselves, similar to the way your electronic devices need to be unplugged and reset occasionally. Generally, cortisol treatment is not necessary except in the most extreme cases, and then only as a temporary measure. Long-term shut-down of the adrenal glands may actually prevent your adrenal glands from ever being able to function on their own again.
Cortisol (hydrocortisone) supplements are typically only available by prescription, and cortisol treatment should be monitored by a physician skilled in treating adrenal fatigue using bioidentical hormones. The only hormone supplements you should take are bio identical hormones prepared fresh specifically for you by a compounding pharmacy. Synthetic hormones are not utilized by your body in exactly the same way as bio identical hormones are, and are usually prescribed at doses way above the physiological dose that your body would naturally produce. Using bio identical hormones in physiological doses will be less stressful to your system than using synthetic hormones.
After you have been taking a cortisol supplement, it is necessary to taper off of the supplement gradually, to give your adrenals time to ease back into production again. The longer you have been taking them, the longer your weaning process needs to take. It may be helpful to add in an adrenal glandular as you taper off, to help stimulate your adrenal glands to begin their production of cortisol again. This too is something that should be monitored by a physician skilled in the use of natural hormone therapies.
For most cases, adrenal glandulars are a better first choice for treating adrenal fatigue, because they do not have the complications and side effects of cortisol treatment, and are available without a prescription.