Imagine if you awakened every morning feeling completely inadequate to meet the demands of the day. How would you feel if even small amounts of physical or mental stress left you feeling drained? Problems such as this have an enormous negative impact on relationships, careers, and personal happiness. And the root cause is very often impaired adrenal and/or thyroid function. In fact, I have probably been asked more questions about the adrenal and thyroid glandular systems, and the symptoms of underactive adrenal and thyroid function, than just about any other health topic. So many people feel helpless to deal with their exhaustion following any “fight or flight” stress response. We know that adrenal burnout and an underactive thyroid can have long-term, serious consequences. Are you wondering if your adrenal glands are less than optimal? It is more widespread than you may think. Keep reading to take a self-assessment test to determine your degree of adrenal dysfunction, as well as to learn how to solve the problems of adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism.
The adrenal glands are two small glands about the size of an acorn, one sitting on top of each kidney. The adrenals produce many hormones that keep us healthy, both physically and mentally. As early as 1898, Emile Sergent, the great French physician, described the two prime functions of the adrenals as antitoxic and angiotonic. His description of the detoxifying functions of the adrenals was brilliant. “Should these glands happen to be damaged, a condition of depression and muscular fatigue is seen to appear which, in man, we shall find in the form of the earlier symptoms of adrenal insufficiency-asthenia” (physical weakness and loss of strength). Functional adrenal insufficiency is due to a number of factors: inadequate development from birth, exhaustion by fatigue, senile degeneration, chronic stress or any factor which, without provoking organic disease of the glands, is capable of reducing their normal activity. Other symptoms which may occur are sensitivity to cold, hypotension, weak cardiac action and pulse, anorexia, slow metabolism, and constipation. People with adrenal insufficiency usually have many symptoms associated with upper respiratory problems. They are the ones who always have a cold, allergies, hives and usually anything that goes around. There are many other subclinical signs and symptoms of adrenal dysfunction, and at the end of this article I will give you a self analysis to determine your degree of adrenal insufficiency. With strong adrenal activity, you will be healthy both mentally and physically. People with strongly functioning adrenals enjoy friendly confrontation, fear nothing, and many of them become business entrepreneurs or enjoy taking risks in other areas of their lives. An example of a person that I consider having strong adrenal function, based on his muscular build, thick curly hair, and his mental and physical strength, is Pastor Joel Osteen. I believe that Joel’s strength comes from God, but outside of his relationship to God I believe all of his characteristics are due to his strong glandular function. It is hard to believe, but Joel weighs no more than 150 to 160 pounds and has been reported to bench press over 300 pounds. That is double his body weight. Just being able to press body weight is above average. I believe Joel is filled with courage and has a positive attitude. People like Joel, who have a strong adrenal function, eventually become successful business and sales people and are not afraid to take risks to get where they want to go. Those with weak adrenals, depending on the degree of insufficiency, have weak muscles, are filled with fear and are afraid to tackle huge projects. They’re afraid to speak up in front of others and would rather die than give a public speech. They are usually content just getting by and would prefer working in an occupation that allows them to be in an office by themselves with the door closed and not have to bother confronting their co-workers. They are usually shy. They dislike anyone looking over their shoulder, and when this happens, they become nervous and tense. If they have to confront someone either physically or mentally, they will have to lie down later due to the exhaustion caused by the confrontation.
Low Blood Pressure
I caution you regarding hypotension (low blood pressure), since doctors are so concerned with high blood pressure, low blood pressure may be considered healthy. It is not. Nature always has a balance and high or low is abnormal. It is true that high-performing athletes may have lower blood pressure because they have developed such an enormous cardiac capacity. But if you are not a super-athlete, low blood pressure can be a problem signal! I have seen individuals with low blood pressure in the range of 105 to 110 over 60 to 70 and they may wonder why they are always sick. Adrenal insufficiency is probably the number one factor underlying many health disorders that no one has an answer for. Adrenal insufficiency often begins after a period of prolonged stress. The stress can either be emotional or metabolic. The main symptom is fatigue which is most frequently severe in the morning. It is often the individual who describes himself as a slow starter or says he is not a morning person. The opinion of medical experts is that the ability to resist infections is more a function of the adrenal’s integrity than the immune system. The adrenal patient will have recurrent minor infections while the immune deficient patient will have more prolonged and deep seated infections that often respond poorly to standard antibiotic treatment. Very typical of adrenal insufficiency is post viral fatigue. After clearance of an infection or viral outbreak, the individual is usually exhausted. Most of the so-called chronic fatigue syndrome cases begin after significant stress such as surgery, viral infection, trauma or accident. The inability to recover is in large part due to adrenal exhaustion that has been developing due to underlying stress such as poor nutrition, mental and physical stress, overwork and lack of sleep. Allergies, especially in the individual, are often a manifestation of adrenal insufficiency. Recurrent sneezing can be a subtle clue of adrenal weakness. In nearly every case of multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, low adrenal function has been the underlying cause of the condition. Those who have less severe forms of sensitivities have proportionately less severe adrenal insufficiency. Many people today are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Usually when their fatigue began they were suffering from a viral infection or other major stress that challenged their adrenal glands. You will often find that rejuvenating the adrenals will provide substantial improvement.
Low Thyroid Function (Hypothyroidism)
Hypothyroidism also plays a significant part in this complex condition. Stiffness upon rising, especially of the low back, is often a complaint of the individual. Usually after a hot shower the back pain subsides. Another common finding is a sore throat in the morning. As the day progresses the sore throat resolves. Although the thyroid is often the first gland that comes to mind in patients with fatigue, I would recommend deferring any thyroid stimulation until you are certain of the integrity and normal function of the adrenals. If you first stimulate thyroid function without regard to the adrenal glands, you will increase the metabolism, and therefore, increase the demands placed on the adrenals. The ideal solution is to first support and repair adrenal function, and then support thyroid function if required. Many people who undergo thyroid therapy and initially have outstanding results, but then deteriorate back to their original state of health, should think about the adrenal function and its support.
Repairing the Adrenal Glands
To correct adrenal insufficiency, there are a number of necessary nutritional factors that the adrenals require to function at their peak optimal level. B vitamins are necessary, particularly vitamin B6 (P5P, the biologically active form of B6) and pantothenic acid. L-tyrosine is required to produce epinephrine and norepinephrine. The only place in the body that vitamin C is temporarily stored is in the adrenal glands. DHEA and pregnenolone are two adrenal hormones that are precursors for all other hormones. I believe it is very necessary to support the adrenal function with freeze dried adrenal extract. There are also two herbs that I would heavily rely on to support adrenal function; licorice root extract (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and Rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa). Both support liver function and restore adrenal function. They also facilitate the body’s normal response to occasional stress.
The ideal diet for someone experiencing adrenal insufficiency would be similar to the diet for the hypoglycemic person; low carbohydrates with an emphasis on proteins and high quality fats. Sodium is a critical factor and should not be avoided. However, the salt should be of high quality and not refined white salt or white sea salt. I would highly recommend Celtic sea salt, usually ½ teaspoon of salt to a quart of water, three quarts of the salt and water combination per day. You will also find this to be an excellent detoxifying method.
The following questionnaire will help determine whether or not you could possibly be experiencing adrenal insufficiency (underactive function). Circle the number that is most appropriate for you. If the indication does not apply to you then just leave it blank. If you experience that indication in a mild way circle #1. That means you may experience that indication once or twice a month. Circle #2 for moderate symptoms which means they may occur several times a month. Circle #3 for severe symptoms which are symptoms that you are aware of almost constantly. Do not agonize over whether or not you have one of the following problems. Do not ask family members and friends if they think you have these problems. Do not overthink–answer these questions instantly. You should know at once if you have one of these indications. After you’ve circled the correct numbers, add your score. If you have a score of 5-8, you may have a mild case of adrenal insufficiency. A score of 8-12 may indicate a moderate case and 12 or over is highly indicative of a severe case of adrenal insufficiency.
|Low blood pressure||1||2||3|
|Weak, rigid nails||1||2||3|
|Brown spots or bronzing of the skin especially on the shins||1||2||3|
|Muscular and nervous exhaustion||1||2||3|
|Swollen ankles, especially in the P.M.||1||2||3|
|Weakness after colds and flu||1||2||3|
|Terry recommends this formula to improve adrenal function. Look for it at your local health food store.|
|Vitamin C||200 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxal 5-Phosphate)||10 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid (Calcium Pantothenate)||100 mg|
|Adrenal Extract (Freeze dried adrenal powder)||450 mg|
|Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Root (5:1) Extract||125 mg|
|Rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa) Root (5:1) Extract||
Terry recommends a formula for those who want to support and restore their adrenal function. The following herbal formulation would be suitable for vegetarians. Look for it at your local health food store.
|Proprietary Formula 750 mg|
|Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) Root Extract standardized to contain >5% rosavins (rosavins and salidrosides), Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) Root Extract standardized to contain >0.8% eleuthorosides, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract standardized to contain 2.5% withanolides, Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) Fruit and Seed Extract standardized to contain >9% schisandrins|