Identifying and Treating Adrenal Stress

Home Forums Adrenal Fatigue Identifying and Treating Adrenal Stress

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  lindseylee 4 years, 8 months ago.



Chronically abnormal levels of stress hormones are a pretty common thing nowadays, even for people without any other identifiable health problems. We’re a busy species, bustling from day to day, just hoping to get half of everything we need to do done, often not sleeping, eating, or exercising in a healthy manner along the way. If you’ve got an autoimmune disease wreaking havoc on any of your other hormones, especially your thyroid or sex hormones, then your adrenals are almost definitely going to suffer, too. And, unfortunately, wonky adrenals can interfere with your thyroid treatment, making you feel hyperthyroid or hypothyroid even when you’re not. Symptoms of high stress hormones can include:

-Insomnia, feeling “wired”
-Fatigue, exhaustion
-Abnormal heart rate, blood pressure, and/or body temperature
-Poor digestion
-Poor stress management
-Frequent illness
-Anxiety, restlessness, mood swings
-Sensitivity to light, noises, and temperature changes
-A dip in blood pressure upon standing
-Craving for salty foods or sweets

There’s a great self-assessment, and more information about adrenal fatigue, here:

Unless you’ve got a great doctor, yours probably won’t test for adrenal issues without suspecting Addison’s or Cushing’s. You’d either have to find a new doctor or order the test yourself via a lab like Canary Club or Diagnos-Techs. Ideally, you’d get a 24-hour saliva-based cortisol test, and take a look at your DHEA, thyroid, and sex hormones while you’re at it. Most insurance-care doctors will only do a one-time blood draw, which isn’t the best way to get an idea of what your cortisol levels are up to throughout the day. They may be completely normal when you go to the doctor, but sky-high at night, keeping you awake, or rock-bottom at 3 P.M., making you exhausted well before bedtime.

What’s the benefit of getting tested? Prescription drugs are usually given only in severe cases of low cortisol (as they are not without significant side-effects), leaving those with mild or moderate cases dependent on lifestyle measures. Supplements to calm, boost, or balance the adrenals could be taken depending on what your cortisol is up to, but often contain ingredients like rice or nightshades that could aggravate other conditions. The safest place to start, whether you’ve been tested or not, would be to take adrenal-balancing adaptogens like rhodiola or licorice root. If you’ve got thyroid disease, you may consider trying the circadian T3 method to treat low morning cortisol, too.

However, testing isn’t entirely necessary. The most effective treatments for adrenal stress are, unfortunately, the diet and lifestyle changes that your symptoms are affecting. Most books on the subject spend more time discussing diet, exercise, and sleep than they do testing and medicating. Which is good, right? I know we all want to be able to solve all of our problems with a pill, but the reality is that lifestyle and diet changes will keep us healthier longer than anything in a bottle will.

-Get some gentle exercise every day, but not within the last five hours before you go to sleep or during times your cortisol is high. Take a walk in the morning or early afternoon, or, if you’re up for it, do some light yoga or mild resistance exercise. Don’t get your heart rate up or exhaust yourself, but do get moving.
-Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, and try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. This is really hard with insomnia and fatigue keeping you up all night and urging you to nap in the afternoon, but do it. It took me about six months to get my sleep hygiene in order, and it made a world of difference. Avoid bright lights and stimulating experiences in the hour or two before bed. Do something relaxing, like reading, listening to music, gentle yoga, or talking with loved ones at the end of the day. If you have trouble keeping your brain quiet, turn on some relaxing music to focus on. Try not to toss and turn, even if you’re restless. Gluing yourself to one position for 15 minutes or so should be long enough to send you off to sleep, especially if you’re listening to something soothing or thinking relaxed thoughts. Unless you have to for medical reasons, don’t eat large meals before bed and avoid stimulating foods like spices and citrus in the evenings. Use your bed only for sleep. If you often read or watch TV in bed, your brain will switch into “entertainment” mode instead of “sleep” mode whenever you crawl under the covers. Unless you find sex relaxing, it may also benefit you to have sex somewhere other than the bed.
-Your circadian rhythm is regulated by your exposure to light. Get plenty of non-burning sunlight exposure during the day, and avoid bright lights after dark.
-Do an elimination diet. I can’t, can’t, can’t stress this enough, but since this entire site is dedicated to it, I won’t go into a lot of depth. Avoid foods your body doesn’t react well to, and especially avoid added sugars, alcohol, and caffeine. Any food, even fruits and starchy veggies, can spike your adrenals, so take note of how a food makes you feel before you consume it willy-nilly. Heart palpitations and other adrenal symptoms after eating are a good sign that something you ate sent your stress hormones into overdrive, and should be avoided in the future.

  • This topic was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by  1947L7.
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