Is Stress Exhausting Your Adrenal System?

Do you have times where it's like a light switch goes off, and your friends know that they have 3 minutes to feed you or you will kill them? Do you crave sugar? These are symptoms suggesting that your body’s adrenal gland stress handling system is getting exhausted. Here’s how you can support your adrenal “stress handler" so that you can feel better.

Do you have times where it's like a light switch goes off, and your friends know that they have 3 minutes to feed you or you will kill them? Do you crave sugar? These are symptoms suggesting that your body’s adrenal gland stress handling system is getting exhausted. Here’s how you can support your adrenal “stress handler" so that you can feel better.


Symptoms of Adrenal Exhaustion
If your adrenal glands are underactive, what might you be experiencing? Low adrenal function can cause, among other symptoms:


  • Fatigue
  • Recurrent infections
  • Difficulty shaking off infections
  • Poor response and "crashing" during stress
  • Achiness
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar with irritability when hungry)
  • Low blood pressure and dizziness upon first standing

Blood tests will not pick up adrenal exhaustion until it is so severe that it is life threatening.

Causes of Adrenal Insufficiency

  1. Excess stress. Dr. Hans Selye, one of the first doctors to research stress reactions, found that if an animal becomes severely overstressed, its adrenal glands bleed and develop signs of adrenal destruction before the animal finally dies from the stress. I suspect that many people suffer exhaustion of their adrenal glands, but without the adrenal gland destruction that Hans Selye saw in his experimental animals.
  2. Excess caffeine. This has been shown to amplify your body's reaction to low blood sugar.
  3. Nutritional deficiencies. Especially vitamin C, chromium and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).

Treating Adrenal Insufficiency

  1. Cut out sugar — except for chocolate. Small amounts of dark chocolate will give you an energy boost and also has a natural mood elevator. Ditch the “energy drinks” which are loan sharks for energy and worsen stress. For a real energy drink, use a vitamin powder and a special sugar called “ribose.”
  2. Cut down on caffeine. Switch to green tea, which has enough caffeine to give you a boost without crashing you. It also contains theanine, which helps calm you while leaving your mind clear. I tease that it is only a matter of time until the barista at your local coffee shop asks if you would like one pump of theanine or two added to your coffee.
  3. Eat a high-protein low carbohydrate diet.
  4. The news media tries to get your attention by making believe that everything is a crisis. It is not! When you find yourself stressing, ask yourself a simple question: "Am I in imminent danger?"  If you do not like what you're seeing on the news, turn it off. If you think that what you are watching on the news is an accurate and balanced reflection of what is happening in the world, there are many people who would like to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn!

Natural Adrenal Support
Below are several things that can be very helpful in supporting your adrenal glands to heal:

  1. Adrenal glandulars.
  2. Vitamin C is critical for adrenal function. Your body's highest levels of vitamin C are found in the adrenal glands and brain tissues, and the urinary excretion of vitamin C is increased during stress. Optimizing vitamin C intake by taking 500-1,000 mg a day will also help immune function.
  3. Pantothenic acid, a B vitamin, also supports adrenal function, and Pantothenic acid deficiency causes shrinking of your adrenal glands. Optimal levels are approximately 100-150 mg daily, although some physicians use even higher levels for adrenal support.
  4. Licorice also slows down the breakdown of adrenal hormones in your body, helping to maintain optimal levels. Because of this, there is no licorice in licorice candies in the United States. Another beneficial effect of the licorice is that it helps in the treatment of indigestion, and it is even as effective as the prescription heartburn medication Tagamet (see my article on Eliminating indigestion Naturally).
  5. Chromium also helps decrease the symptoms of low blood sugar. Take 200 mcg a day.

For an in depth discussion of adrenal problems and how to treat them, see my book "From Fatigued to Fantastic!" (available at my website).

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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