Recommendations: Early Adrenal Fatigue

Concentration Area: Weight and Metabolic Syndrome


Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include:

Difficulty awakening from sleep in the morning.

Requiring coffee in the morning in order to approach the day.

Increased weight with increased waist circumference.

Lower immunity to colds or flu viruses.

Difficulty dealing with stress.

Drop in libido.

Lightheadedness on standing quickly.

Poor memory or “brain fog”.

Feeling of being tired in the morning, or between 3 to 5pm.

Feeling the need to snack.

Feeling tired in the mornings and afternoons between 3-5pm. Feeling tired between 7 to 10pm, and surge of energy later in the evening.

Craving salty foods.

Pre menstrual syndrome, moodiness and fatigue.

Pain in upper back and/or neck without identifiable cause.

Improvement in symptoms above when on vacation.

Mild depression or anxiety

Multiple allergies

General lethargy and lack of energy (more advanced stages)

Increased effort to perform daily tasks

Decreased ability to handle stress

Dry and thin skin

Low blood sugar

Low body temperature


Unexplained hair loss

Alternating diarrhea or constipation

Food intolerances

The adrenal glands secrete cortisol epinephrine, DHEA, progesterone and testosterone

They are responsible for:.

Energy production, through carbohydrate conversion to blood glucose for energy.

Fluid and electrolyte balance.

Fat Storage


Regulates blood sugar.

Regulates blood pressure and electrolyte balance.

Helps to regulate the immune system.

Elevated cortisol levels weaken the immune system.

Low cortisol levels increase the risk of autoimmune disease.

Continued stress on the adrenal glands, through life stressors, may lead to dysfunction or “fatigue”.

Adrenal fatigue is more common and increasingly recognized due to lifestyle factors such as constant stress, lack of sleep, lack of relaxation, poor eating habits, environmental toxins, allergens, caffeine and smoking.

Stage II Adrenal Fatigue

Hormones are produced as required to respond to life and body stressors, however DHEA and other sex hormones begin to drop in stage II adrenal fatigue. This is because precursors to sex hormones are being used in priority to produce cortisol and other necessary stress hormones in the adrenal gland.

A common feeling may be described as “wired but tired”, maintenance of alertness during the day but extreme fatigue in the evening.

The body may need more rest to recover from the day. Anxiety and irritability may increase.

Insomnia may be more common.

Infections may be more common.

Premenstrual syndrome symptoms may be more common.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as feeling cold, sluggish, slow metabolism, central weight gain despite exercise are more common.

At this stage thyroid replacement as well as progesterone or estrogen may be prescribed, but may not be effective. Antidepressants, or stimulants may be prescribed and also have limited effectiveness.

Metabolic syndrome can develop, along with hypoglycemia and glucose intolerance.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by:

Insulin resistance

Central weight gain

Low HDL cholesterol

Elevated triglycerides.

Hypoglycemia may develop from low cortisol and high insulin levels.

The stress response is to increase glucose through elevated cortisol.

In stage 1 and 2 adrenal fatigue, cortisol is elevated and results in elevated glucose. As adrenal dysfuntion continues and the cortisol levels are dropping off, the blood glucose levels fall. Dysregulation occurs as cortisol levels are dropping and insulin levels are increased, leading to hypoglycemia. This hypoglycemia then leads to proteins and fats of the body being used as energy sources.

Low blood sugar levels are typically around 10AM, 2PM, 4Pm.

Type II diabetes may result from prolonged adrenal fatigue.

Body detoxification methods may begin to be compromised, including: liver, kidney, skin and gut.

The liver clears alcohol, pesticides, herbicides and food additives.

As the liver is compromised, toxins can accumulate in the body.

This may lead to “brain fog”, joint pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, muscle pain, neurologic symptoms such as abnormal reflexes and tingling of hands.

In this phase of adrenal fatigue unclear thinking, concentration problems, anxiety, food allergies, chemical sensitivities, food intolerances, pain of unknown origin, yeast infections, irritable bowel, interstitial cystitis may develop.

Detoxification regimens may be undertaken, with limited success.

The chronic pain that may develop with adrenal fatigue unchecked, may lead to the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and /or chronic fatigue.

Chronically elevated cortisol levels, can lead to a state of catabolism or breakdown of proteins.

Loss of muscle mass can occur.

Advanced adrenal dysfunction can lead to breakdown of collagen, and therefore breakdown of skin and gut. This can lead to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome.

Support of the GI tract may be achieved through digestive enzymes and hydrolyzed collagen.

Neurologic dysfunction may be manifested as insomnia, brain fog, anxiety and tremors.

Inappropriate cortisol levels, either high or low, may lead to sleep disturbances.

Waking between 1am and 3am may be an indicator of glucose levels that are too low during sleep.

Low glucose levels may also lead to heart palpitations, anxiety attacks and sweats.

Lack of restorative sleep can lead to additional adrenal dysfunction.

Lack of restorative sleep can lead to decreased immunity, glucose intolerance, decreased morning cortisol levels, increased estrogen levels, decreased alertness and concentration.

Brain fog usually resolves, after the adrenal dysfunction improves.

Detoxification strategies may lead to more stress in the adrenals and then worsening symptoms.

Nutritional supplements that are meant to enhance liver function, can make symptoms worse.

Hormone imbalances may result.

Estrogen dominant issues may arise such as: PMS, PCOS, cystic breast disease, and irregular periods.

Estrogen can increase thyroid binding proteins, and may lead to sub-clinical hypothyroidism.

Elevated estrogen levels may alter the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands.

Elevated estrogen levels can increase cortisol binding globulin, and thus inadequate levels of free cortisol.

Estrogen dominance can lead to adrenal dysfunction.

Adrenal dysfunction can lead to estrogen dominance. Cortisol is made in the adrenal cortex from progesterone. If the adrenals are not working well, progesterone is sacrificed in order to support cortisol production. Estrogen dominance ensues and forms a cycle.

Excessive estrogen affects not only the adrenals, but also the thyroid function.

Thyroid dysfunction ensues from adrenal dysfunction that is refractory to thyroid hormone replacement.

Thyroid binding globulin is increased, this leads to lower levels of the thyroid hormones free T3 and free T4. T4 to T3 conversion is also decreased. Adrenal dysfunction can also lead to more reverse T3, thus slowing down metabolism by binding thyroid receptors.

Androgen imbalance may result from adrenal dysfunction.

In women this may lead to: seborrhea, acne, hirsuitism, hair loss.

Aconathosis nigrans can develop from elevated insulin levels.

Libido is lowered.

Immune system dysfunction can result from adrenal dysfunction. Auto-immune responses can evolve.

Susceptibility to infections can develop.

Dysbiosis can develop.

Systemic candidiasis can develop.

Interstitial cystitis can develop.

Aldosterone levels may be affected leading to salt craving and low blood pressure. This is usually pronounced in more advanced stages of adrenal fatigue.

What to do about increased waist circumference and weight gain? Rebalance cortisol.

Reduce appetite.

Drink water with lemon slices, when feeling hungry.

Eat five small-portioned meals a day. This controls appetite and allows the body to process the food better.

Eat vegetables, small amounts of whole grains (such as quinoa, barley, millet, and buckwheat), and meats at three meals to help control hunger. Use fruits, nuts, and seeds for snacks.

Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This helps allow more time for the brain to process the satisfaction of hunger.

Avoid sugar in foods. This helps prevent elevation in blood sugar levels in many people, which increases appetite. It also prevents tiredness, which can help control weight levels because you stay active.

Consider supplements Supplements help focus in on the elements that lead to hunger.

Saffron helps suppress the appetite by increasing serotonin levels, leading to the control of appetite. It also helps with emotional eating.

Caralluma fimbriata helps suppress the appetite by controlling the hunger sensitivity of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, located within the brain, is used to send signals, which tells the body that it is full. Caralluma fimbriata promotes this signal, leading to the suppression of the appetite.

 Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is common with Adrenal Fatigue. This is normally due to the combination of low cortisol and high insulin levels when the body is under stress. One of the hallmarks of Adrenal Fatigue is a state called reactive hypoglycemia, when the serum blood sugar is normal but symptoms of hypoglycemia can be severe. In the presence of increased insulin and decreased cortisol, the blood sugar level drops rapidly, and frequent small meals are needed to replenish the body’s energy needs. Hypoglycemia itself is a significant stress on the entire body, and especially on the adrenals.

Increase Metabolism

Metabolism plays a partial role in weight control and weight loss. Reducing food consumption to a starving level is not healthy because it reduces metabolism. Starving can trigger undesirable adrenal crashes as well. Low levels of metabolism only burn so many calories, and the rest is converted to fat. A higher metabolism is also generated by strength training and exercise. Muscle burns calories faster than fat, so exercise and workouts can contribute to your weight loss success. Too high a metabolic rate, however, can lead to anxiety, nervousness, and trigger adrenal crashes as well. A proper balance is key.

Supplements to consider: (a customized program is best to allow the body to process and use the nutrients effectively).

Chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin, which is critical for the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body.

Iodine is needed for the normal metabolism of cells. It helps with theproduction of thyroid hormones. Ashwagandha may boost the function of the thyroid hormones that may help with increasing energy levels.

Maca also contains iodine and promotes using glucose in your blood to create energy instead of storing in fat. Maca balances hormone levels, which prevents the feeling of a crash.

Green tea is rich in many polyphenols that can activate the body’s thermogenic fat-busting activity.

Licorice root helps increase the liver’s ability to remove toxic metabolic substances, maintains acid levels in the stomach and improves the stomach lining, which helps to slow the digestion of start and keep the insulin levels balanced.

Fiber helps by linking with bile to help get the excess cholesterol out of the body. Fiber also reduces digestion rates, to help control the levels of blood glucose, which therefore reduce metabolic syndrome symptoms.

Reduce Fat Cell Production

Fat cells store toxins and other unusable metabolites are stored there. The more fat that is consumed, the more waste there is, leading to more mass in fat cells. Fat cells can either grow in numbers or grow in mass. Knowing how to reduce fat cell production is important.

Reducing fat cell production is important to weight loss success. There are several ways to help with the reduction.

Watch what you eat and pay close attention to the ingredients.

Eat in moderation to control fat cell growth.

Exercise and stay active. Diet combined with exercise and with staying active, reduces the size in fat cells significantly.

Supplements to Consider for Reducing Fat Cell Production:

Raspberry Ketones help reduce fat cell production by stimulating the release of adiponectin, which metabolizes and burns calories.

African Mango helps reduce fat cell production by reducing the secretions of leptin hormones within fat cells. It also increases adiponectin secretions within fat cells. African Mango helps the body distinguish between muscle cells and fat cells, thus targeting only the burn of fat cells.

Capsicum frutescens (Cayenne peppers) help reduce fat cell production by heating up the body and forcing it to burn fat cells. This burning of fat cells is turned into heat. It also helps the body burn a higher amount of calories than it normally would.

Successful weight management must start with ensuring optimal liver function.

Since the liver is sensitive to being overburdened in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, rotating supplements is important. This allows the body and the liver to clear out all the different nutrients more effectively and efficiently.

Eat well for healthy adrenal glands

What you eat matters. Eat healthy foods at regular intervals. Since cortisol helps regulate blood sugar, keeping glucose levels balanced will take some of the stress off the adrenal glands. Three nutritious meals and two healthy snacks spread out across the day will keep our adrenal glands steady.

When you eat matters. Our natural circadian rhythms can help us know when our bodies need nourishment and fuel. Cortisol’s cycle complements our body’s own rhythms, although highest in the morning and declines gradually throughout the day. When we eat we elevate our cortisol, so it’s ideal to consume larger meals earlier in the day, which also helps our body prepare itself for restful sleep at night.

Have healthy foods on hand. It may be easy to reach for sweets and caffeine for quick energy, but these actually backfire on us, dropping our blood sugar levels rapidly. Reaching for micronutrient-rich foods, such as lean protein, avocado, fresh fruits and vegetables, garlic, and ginger will more adequately support adrenal functioning.

Pace yourself to heal

Our fast-paced world is never unplugged. We rarely have time to disconnect from technology.

When stress levels are high and our adrenals are working overtime, we will stay in a perpetuating cycle of adding pounds.

Sleep. An upside down circadian rhythm affects cortisol levels, causing irregular sleep patterns. You can correct these by eating less food late in the day, turning off all technology including television, by 8 p.m., and by trying to be in bed and asleep by 10 p.m. The goal is to have at least eight hours of sleep, so our bodies can rest and regulate our hormonal cycles.

Exercise. Our adrenals respond to stress, even if we think it is positive. Exercise is positive, and can help us reduce stress, but only if it does not make us feel tired. When we are exhausted, our adrenals are already working hard, and exercise can put added strain on them. The goal is to keep your heart rate under 90 beats per minute when working out. If you don’t regularly exercise, walking 15 minutes once or twice a day after meals, outside in fresh air, makes our adrenal glands, and our mind and body, very happy.

Be mindful.

When we live with continually elevated levels of stress, our body adjusts to the “crisis mode” and sometimes needs help learning how to live in a calmer state. The first step is to heal your adrenals. Meditation and paced breathing can be helpful. Have fun. Don’t forget that having fun, laughing, and enjoying your time is a very important way to relax.