Adrenal Fatigue: Supplements, Hormones, and Testing

Uncategorized May 25, 2015

Part 1 of this article discussed what adrenal fatigue is and how it affects your gut health and overall health. You were also provided with some recommendations that you can implement immediately to support your adrenals.

Below are some of the helpful diet and lifestyle changes you can begin to make.

  • Eliminate sugar and processed food. Processed carbs and sugar put a lot of stress on the adrenals. It’s important to cut these items out of your diet to strengthen your adrenals.
  • Incorporate a natural, whole foods-based diet. Eat clean, animal protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Eliminate gluten, dairy, and soy as these foods tend to cause inflammation.
  • Get quality sleep. We all need 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. In order to strengthen your adrenals, you must get sufficient sleep. Make it your goal to go to bed by 10pm every night.
  • Quit the coffee habit. I know this might seem like an impossible task, but coffee wears out your adrenals. Drink plenty of fresh water and herbal tea in place of coffee for 30 days. Then stick to no more than one cup of coffee in the morning.

Restoring your adrenals is possible through lifestyle modifications, diet, and supplementation. I feel it’s necessary to state that supplementation without lifestyle changes will not work. It is critical that you implement healthy lifestyle changes to promote balance and reduce stress.

You can implement diet and lifestyle changes immediately, but if you decide to incorporate supplements, I do recommend that you work with a practitioner.

In part 1, I described the differences between stage 1, 2, and 3 adrenal fatigue. All stages of adrenal fatigue make you more prone to gut infections and other ailments. Along with diet and lifestyle changes, supplementation to support your adrenals can be very helpful and often times necessary.

At the risk of getting scientific, I’m going to explain some of the vitamins and hormones that support the adrenals.

  • Pregnenolone is considered the mother hormone because just about every other hormone gets made from pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is converted to progesterone and progesterone is converted into cortisol.
  • Pregnenolone is also made into DHEA, and DHEA makes testosterone and estradiol, 2 main sex hormones. Therefore, if you don’t have enough DHEA, you can’t make enough testosterone or estradiol.
  • 2 wonderful supplements to support the adrenals are pregnenolone and DHEA. Again, working with a practitioner to understand the state of your adrenals is important in order to determine the need and the dosing for these 2 supplements.

Additional supplements that support the adrenals are listed below.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is directly related to cortisol output. In fact, Vitamin C is found in its highest concentration in the adrenal glands. Choosing a Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids can help aid in the absorption of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a relatively safe supplement with minimal side effects. It’s difficult to overdose on Vitamin C, and if you do, the side effect is loose stools (diarrhea).

B Vitamins
Pantothenic Acid, or B5 plays a role in creating every hormone in the body, so it is very important for the adrenal glands. B5 helps with anxiety, stress and the production of cortisol. B vitamins are necessary for gut health and overall well-being, so I recommend taking a high quality B-Complex.

Adaptogenic herbs
Certain herbs can be taken to support adrenal health. Herbs such as rhodiola, ginseng, cordyceps, and ashwagandha are all known to support your adrenals and support your hormones. These herbs are considered adaptogenic because they adapt to the state of your body and improve it. They will raise cortisol if your cortisol is too low and lower cortisol if it is too high.

These herbs have been used in Chinese medicine for ages, and now they’re being used by functional medicine practitioners and those who use a more western style approach.

Again, while these supplements are considered safe, I recommend that you work with a skilled practitioner to determine dosing and to make sure it doesn’t interact with any medications you may be on.

You may be wondering how you know if your adrenals are fatigued and how bad it really is. For my clients, I use a lab called Biohealth to run an adrenal profile. The test I recommend is the Biohealth 205. This is a 1-day saliva test that will measure your cortisol output throughout the day, your DHEA levels, as well as some of your sex hormones. You may have had blood testing done before for cortisol, but saliva testing is actually much more accurate. This is because only the free, or active, forms of these hormones get into the saliva, so it gives a very accurate picture of the levels of hormones available for your body to use.

If you’ve experienced any type of chronic stress (physical, mental, emotional) for a prolonged period of time, then I suggest getting your adrenals tested. Once you support your adrenals through diet, lifestyle, and supplementation you can begin to heal your body, regain your energy, and feel vibrant again.


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