Nectar Slider Post Type Disabled - please reanble in the Salient options panel > General Settings > Toggle Theme Features tab.

*Adrenal Exhaustion & Adrenal Fatigue

Hormones of the Adrenal Cortex

The adrenal cortex consists of three different regions, with each region producing a different group or type of hormones. Chemically, all the cortical hormones are considered steroids.

  1. Mineralocorticoids are secreted by the outermost region. The principal mineralocorticoid is aldosterone, which acts to conserve sodium ions and water in the body.
  2. Glucocorticoids are secreted by the middle region. The principal glucocorticoid is cortisol, which increases blood glucose levels.
  3. Gonadocorticoids, or sex hormones, is secreted by the innermost region.

Male hormones, androgens, and female hormones, estrogens, are secreted in minimal amounts in both sexes by the adrenal cortex, but their effect is usually masked by the hormones from the testes and ovaries. In females, the masculinization effect of androgen secretion may become evident after menopause, when estrogen levels from the ovaries decrease.

Hormones of the Adrenal Medulla

The adrenal medulla develops from neural tissue and secretes two hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These two hormones are secreted in response to stimulation by sympathetic nerve, particularly during stressful situations. A lack of hormones from the adrenal medulla produces no significant effects. Hypersecretion, usually from a tumor, causes prolonged or continual sympathetic responses.

Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue?

  • Balance Your Blood Sugar With Your Diet
  • Other Supplements That Help
  • About the Adrenal Glands

Your two adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped endocrine glands located on the top of each kidney. Each adrenal gland is approximately 3 inches wide, and a half inch high.

Each gland is divided into an outer cortex and an inner medulla. The cortex and medulla of the adrenal gland secrete different hormones. The adrenal cortex is essential to life, but the medulla may be removed with no life-threatening effects.

When the adrenal glands are not functioning optimally, you can have a condition that is known as adrenal fatigue, or adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue often develops after periods of intense or lengthy physical or emotional stress, when over stimulation if the glands leave them unable to meet your body’s needs.

Some other names for the syndrome include non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, sub-clinical hypoadrenia, hypoadrenalism, and neurasthenia.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

• Excessive fatigue and exhaustion
• Non-refreshing sleep (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake fatigued)
• Overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors
• Feeling rundown or overwhelmed
• Craving salty and sweet foods
• You feel most energetic in the evening
• A feeling of not being restored after a full night’s sleep or having sleep disturbances
• Low stamina, slow to recover from exercise
• Slow to recover from injury, illness or stress
• Difficulty concentrating, brain fog
• Poor digestion
• Low immune function
• Premenstrual syndrome or difficulties that develop during menopause
• Consistent low blood pressure
• Extreme sensitivity to cold

Dr. Bruce Rind has a helpful chart, Metabolic Scorecard: Symptom Matrix with information on how to evaluate your symptoms in greater detail.

The adrenals produce hormones that help to balance your blood sugar, helping your body manage your daily ebbs and flows of energy. When blood sugar drops, the adrenals release hormones that cause the blood sugar to rise, and increases energy. The adrenals also release hormones when under stress, releasing energy. It’s the “fight or flight” response from the days when we needed to run away from wild animals, which now kick in for everyday stressors, such as traffic jams, arguments, and work pressures. But being consistently under stress takes a toll on the adrenal glands, and eventually, they run out of steam and stop producing sufficient hormones.

Conventional tests cannot diagnose adrenal fatigue, only extreme dysfunction in the adrenals, such as Addison’s disease, a potentially fatal condition where the adrenals essentially shut down.  However, a saliva cortisol test can be done to evaluate your adrenal function to diagnose more subtle dysfunctions in your adrenal glands.

In many cases, Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders get mistaken for one another due to a similarity in symptoms. If you have not yet been diagnosed, click here to read our page that will help you recognize the Difference Between Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders.

Tips for Adrenal Fatigue

Physiologic Replacement Dose of Hydorcortisone (Cortef)

Some people with adrenal fatigue or unresponsive hypothyroidism have found that low-dose hydrocortisone at physiologic doses can help their immune system, and resolve many symptoms of adrenal fatigue. You will need a more open-minded, aware doctor to obtain this sort of treatment.

Progesterone and Pregnenolone

Progesterone and pregnenolone are steroid hormones manufactured by the adrenals, ovaries and testicles.

  • Progesterone is made from pregnenolone
  • Both are metabolized into DHEA
  • Pregnenolone is the first hormone to be made from cholesterol
  • Progesterone is the second to be made from cholesterol
  • Both can be converted into several other adrenal hormones, including aldosterone and cortisol

Hormones like pregnenolone and progesterone are incredibly versatile, letting your body choose which other hormones it will make from them based on your individual needs.

With adrenal fatigue, sex hormone levels often fall because your adrenal glands are not able to manufacture adequate amounts. One key function sex hormones serve is to act as antioxidants that help prevent the damage caused by cortisol. The lower the levels of sex hormones, the more damage there is to tissues, especially when stress levels are high. This oxidative damage is one of the key factors contributing to rapid aging.

Both pregnenolone and progesterone can be used to raise the hormonal levels in both men and women, and decrease some aspects of adrenal fatigue. Bypassing the very complex and energy consuming steps required to make pregnenolone or progesterone from cholesterol means fatigued adrenals do not have to work nearly so hard to keep hormone levels adequate. Using hormone replacement therapy for adrenal fatigue is an area that requires skill.

Avoid Stimulants

As much as you may want them, stimulants are the equivalent of giving too much gas and “flooding the engine” in a car. It puts further stress on the adrenals to work harder and produce more energy, and ends up further depleting the adrenal glands.


  • Caffeine
  • Ephedra
  • Guarana
  • Kola nut
  • Prescription stimulants, such as ADHD medication

Balance Your Blood Sugar With Your Diet

To minimize stress on the adrenal system, and ensure maximum energy, you should consider a low-glycemic (low-sugar) diet, consisting of sufficient protein and fat, low-glycemic carbohydrates, eaten in smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Sugar and simple carbohydrates put stress on the adrenal glands due by rapidly shifting blood sugar levels. By switching to vegetables, fruits and proteins, and high fiber carbohydrates, blood sugar remains more stable, providing less strain on the adrenal glands causing the risk of adrenal fatigue or failure to decrease dramatically.

Use Adaptogenic Herbs for Energy

In the book Living Well With Hypothyroidism, herbal and aromatherapy expert Mindy Green of the Herbal Research Foundation offered some interesting recommendations about the use of herbs for energy, stimulation or adrenal support:

We live in a society that runs on stimulation — whether it’s coffee, or violence on television — things that make us live on that edge. So while there are some excellent herbs and essential oils for adrenal support, people need to take care not to try these products along with other stimulants. When you’re trying to tone your adrenal glands, you don’t want to drink caffeine, or watch horror movies or violent news stories, for example. Instead of the simulating effect of aerobics, do something more calming, like yoga or tai chi. It’s almost as if you need to train your body to run more on internal energy than outside energy and stimulation.

The way Mindy described it was that taking excessive stimulants when your endocrine or adrenal systems are depleted is like “like kicking a dead horse.”

From an herbal standpoint, Mindy recommends Siberian ginseng, as opposed to regular ginseng, and astragalus, which is also good for immune support, as key tonics for the adrenal and endocrine systems.

In their book Herbal Defense, herbalists Robyn Landis and K.P. Khalsa discusses the benefits of Siberian Ginseng and astragalus, and also recommend several other herbs for adrenal support:

  • Fo-ti root (Ho Shou Wu) a Chinese herb that’s broader and slower in action than — but similar to — ginseng
  • The Ayurvedic remedy Triphala, as a long-term glandular tonic
  • Black cohosh root, as a long-term glandular tonic

Herbal Teas and Mate — NOT Coffee

The Herb Research Foundation’s Mindy Green recommends the tea forms of several herbs, including chamomile, and melissa, which is also known as lemon balm, as relaxing herbal tonics. Mindy recommends that an easy way for a beginner with a relaxing tea is to get something like “Sleepytime Tea,” by Celestial Seasonings. She also recommends mate, pronounced, “mah-tay,” an herbal tea native to South America. Mate is considered far more nutritious than black tea or coffee, and though it also has some caffeine, its effects are energizing, rather than making people jittery. On the scale of bad to good, coffee should be your last choice, followed by black tea, then green tea, with mate being the best option.

Other Supplements

Basic Multivitamin/ B Complex — You will want to take a strong, balanced formula that provides decent amounts of key factors for adrenal and metabolic health. One formula I personally recommend is Lipotropic injections which can give you the complete array of essential B vitamins along with other benefits, such as amino acids.

Adrenal Glandulars — Desiccated adrenal gland can be helpful to some people in supporting the gland, and replacing some missing adrenal hormones. Be sure to get a reputable brand from a reputable supplier, to ensure quality, potency and safety.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of supplements or solutions. Your best option is to come in for a free consultation and we can begin to diagnose your adrenal fatigue, and to develop a customized treatment program that will help resolve this condition.