Imagine if you awakened every morning feeling completely inadequate to meet the demands of the day. How would you feel if even a little physical or mental stress left you feeling drained? Problems such as these 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 in dealing 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. I also know the symptoms can be confusing regarding whether the issue is with the thyroid or adrenal. Are you wondering if your adrenal glands are less than optimal? It is more widespread than you may think.
Fortunately, there are amazing ingredients that can rejuvenate the adrenal glands and help you live the kind of life you may have only imagined. The adrenal glands – and how to heal them – are the subject of this Terry Talks Nutrition®.
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, age related 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, low blood pressure, weak heart action and pulse, anorexia, slow metabolism, and constipation. People with adrenal insufficiency often have many symptoms associated with upper respiratory problems. They are the ones who always have a cold, allergies, hives and catch any illness that is making the rounds.
There are many other subclinical signs and symptoms of adrenal dysfunction. You’ll find a self-analysis to determine your degree of adrenal insufficiency at the end of this article. 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 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 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 can be unusually 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 – Not a Healthy State
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 signal a problem! I have seen individuals with low blood pressure in the range of 100 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. It usually begins after a period of prolonged stress – emotional or metabolic. Severe fatigue in the morning is the main symptom. Usually, people with adrenal insufficiency describe themselves as “slow starters.”
Interestingly, the ability to resist infections is a function of the adrenal’s integrity even more than the immune system. People with exhausted adrenal glands typically have recurrent minor infections. Post-viral fatigue is common in this case as well. In fact, more than half of chronic fatigue syndrome cases begin after significant stress such as surgery, viral infection, trauma or accident. This inability to recover is in large part due to adrenal exhaustion that has developed due to underlying stress such as poor nutrition, mental and physical stress, overwork and lack of sleep.
Allergies are very often a manifestation of adrenal insufficiency, too. 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. Those who have less severe sensitivities have proportionately less severe adrenal insufficiency. Because their condition began with a viral infection and other stressful challenges to the adrenal glands, people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome generally improve when their adrenal glands are rejuvenated.
Low Thyroid (Hypothyroidism): Similar, but Not the Same
Hypothyroidism can also play a significant part in this complex condition. Stiffness upon rising, especially of the low back, is often a complaint, which usually subsides after a hot shower. Sore throats in the morning are common as well, usually resolving later in the day. Sound like common symptoms? Then you may want to consider supporting both the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland.
You CAN Repair the Adrenal Glands
The Right Diet
The ideal diet for someone experiencing adrenal insufficiency would be similar to the diet for the hypoglycemic person – or almost anyone, really. It should be low in carbohydrates (no refined carbs and no sugar) and emphasize whole, unprocessed proteins and high quality fats, including olive oil and butter. For adrenal repair, 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. For truly excellent diets rich in natural fats and proteins, I strongly recommend you take a look at www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com. For great grain-free and gluten-free meal plans and the science behind them, explore www.drperlmutter.com. Both sites provide a wealth of recipes and solid information that can help you regain energy and peace of mind.
The Right Nutrients
I recommend specific nutrients to help repair adrenal insufficiency. For instance, B vitamins -- particularly vitamin B6 (P-5-P, the biologically active form of B6) and pantothenic acid are a must. L-tyrosine helps produce the adrenal hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. You need vitamin C because 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 also precursors for all other hormones. I believe it is critical 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 (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa). Both support liver function and restore adrenal function. They also facilitate the body’s normal response to stress, and help keep adrenal hormones active longer.
With these nutrients and the right diet, you can bounce back from adrenal exhaustion and begin living a vibrant, full, and fearless life!
To prevent adrenal burnout and keep your adrenal glands healthy, I recommend adrenal gland extract daily combined with vitamin C, vitamin B6 in its active form (P-5-P), pantothenic acid, adrenal extract, l-tyrosine, licorice extract, rehmannia extract, pregnenolone, and DHEA.
*Percentage of people with adrenal insufficiency who exhibit this condition