1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Adrenal Fatigue / Adrenal Exhaustion


Updated August 11, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Adrenal Fatigue / Adrenal Exhaustion
Physiologic Replacement Dose of Hydorcortisone

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. Consider finding an integrative physician with expertise in diagnosing adrenal fatigue, providing supplement, nutrition and lifestyle support, and prescribing hydrocortisone when necessary.

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. Things to avoid include: caffeine, ephedra, guarana, kola nut, and prescription stimulants.

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 and proteins, blood sugar remains more stable, providing less strain on the adrenal glands.

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 adrenals, 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 thyroid 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, it's 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 Jacob Teitelbaum’s “Daily Energy Revitalization" from Enzymatic Therapies, which replaces 30 different pills with one powder that you can mix into a drink.

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. These should only be taken under the guidance of a practitioner.

Pregnenolone, DHEA -- Pregnenolone and DHEA are hormones that can help resolve adrenal fatigue. Use of over-the-counter hormones is recommended only under the guidance of your practitioner.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of supplements or solutions. Your best option is to work with a practitioner to diagnose your adrenal fatigue, and to develop a customized treatment program that will help resolve this condition.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.