Adrenal insufficiency refers to the
inability of the adrenal glands to produce a normal quantity of hormones. It
may also be defined as a reduced ability to cope with stress. It is one of the
most common imbalances in our population today.
Adrenal insufficiency is not
to be confused with Addison's disease.
Addison's disease is more or less a total adrenal gland shutdown. Adrenal insufficiency is also different from adrenal burnout. The latter is a more
severe derangement of the energy-producing mechanisms of the body. In burnout,
the body is basically unable to cope with stress. The symptoms of burnout are
similar to those of adrenal insufficiency, but are more extreme and require
longer to correct.
ADRENAL EXHAUSTION AND INSUFFICIENCY ARE NOT RECOGNIZED
medical profession is far behind when it comes to understanding adrenal gland
problems. In 2011, they still do not
recognize adrenal insufficiency, adrenal
exhaustion or adrenal burnout as real health conditions. This is very sad, as the situation is so
common. The official allopathic medical
beliefs about the adrenal glands are:
1. Either the adrenals work fine or they do not work at all. This is the
prevailing viewpoint, even though it makes no sense. Doctors are well aware, for example, that
most other glands such as the thyroid, pancreas, pituitary, ovaries, and testes
can have many degrees of dysfunctions.
Why should the same not be true of the adrenal glands?
adrenals don’t function well at all, doctors call it Addison’s disease, for
which they give cortisol or cortisone for life.
With nutritional balancing, this is usually not needed at all and
recovery is very possible using natural methods alone.)
2. If you are tired, depressed, or have low blood sugar, the
best idea is to take anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs or other drugs. This is also ridiculous. The first course of action should be to
assess and then heal your adrenal glands, in most cases.
3. Serum, urine or saliva hormone tests for the adrenals are
adequate tests. This is also
totally incorrect, from my experience.I find that a
properly performed and properly interpreted hair mineral analysis is just as
good, and usually far better than any hormone tests. The hormone tests are not sensitive enough,
and do not give the same information as a correctly interpreted hair mineral
analysis. The mineral analysis not only
tells a great deal about the status of the adrenal glands with mathematical
precision, but it often tells us why the adrenals are not functioning
properly. The test also tells a lot
about the sympathetic nervous system, which is intimately connected to the
adrenal glands and their functioning.
4. The medical answer for adrenal problems is usually a
drug. This is unfortunate. Usually, we find, the answer is not any drug,
but elimination of all the drugs one has taken for one’s entire lifetime. In addition, one must remove many toxic metals,
toxic chemicals, and renourish the entire body.
Then the adrenals begin to function normally and one’s energy returns.
5. Doctors ignore a simple adrenal test they could do in
their offices called the Ragland Test or Ragland Sign. This is a very simple test in which the
doctor takes your blood pressure while you are lying down and relaxed. Then the patient suddenly stands up and the
doctor or assistant takes your blood pressure again. The pressure should go up. In those with weak adrenals, it often goes
down and the patient feels weak, shaky and/or a little dizzy. It is a crude test, but it would be better
than doing nothing, and putting people on more drugs that do not address
adrenal insufficiency at all.
Several other simple tests can be done to check your
adrenals in a crude way. One is to look
in the mirror and shine a strong light like a flashlight in one eye. The pupil of the eye (the black part in the
middle) should contract quickly. If it
does not, the adrenals are most likely fairly weak. Another crude test you can do at home is to
gently run the tines or spikes of a fork or similar object across the inside of
your forearm. They should leave little
lines on your forearm that should turn red quickly. If they do not turn red within about 10
seconds, this is another crude indicator of weak adrenals. These tests are not that accurate, but can be
done safely at home with no formal instruction or training.
ABOUT THE ADRENAL GLANDS
The adrenal glands are two almond-sized
objects that sit atop the kidneys, near the middle of your back, one on each
side. The gland is divided into two
parts, the cortex and the medulla. Each
produces different hormones that are absolutely essential for life.
The stress glands or the fight-or-flight glands. The
fight-or-flight response is mediated by the adrenal medulla, a part of the
adrenal glands. The fight-or-flight
response is the body’s way of responding to stress.
response prepares the body to run or fight. Blood pressure, pulse rate and
blood sugar levels increase. Blood is
shunted away from the digestive organs and toward the muscles and brain. The pupils dilate and the speed of reflexes
increases. Part of the stress response is due to the action of the adrenal
hormones. Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency can be directly traced to a reduced
secretion of these hormones when under stress.
Adrenal hormones are divided into two groups. Some are produced in the adrenal medulla, while the others are produced in the adrenal cortex.
produced in the medulla are epinephrine
and norepinephrine. These are powerful, fast-acting
neurotransmitters which initiate the fight-flight response. They are also
sometimes called adrenalin and noradrenalin.
produced by the adrenal cortex include many such as aldosterone, cortisol and cortisone. The cortex also produces some sex hormones as
well, particularly in women after menopause.
The cortical hormones have a slower, more prolonged action.
Aldosterone is called a mineralocorticoid hormone. Its primary function is to increase sodium
retention by the kidneys. Aldosterone is
a pro-inflammatory hormone required to initiate a healing reaction.
Cortisol and cortisone are referred to as
glucocorticoid hormones because they cause conversion of amino acids and
glycogen to glucose. The corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory and provide a
mild sense of euphoria.
between aldosterone and cortisol is necessary to maintain one's health. This
balance is very roughly associated with the ratio of sodium to potassium on a
hair analysis. If aldosterone secretion
is high ratio-wise to cortisol, inflammatory conditions such as gastritis,
colitis, arthritis, bursitis and sinusitis prevail. This often corresponds with a high ratio of
sodium to potassium on a hair analysis.
secretion is high ratio-wise to aldosterone, diseases such as diabetes,
immune-deficiency syndromes, chronic infections, malignancy, arteriosclerosis,
atherosclerosis, cataracts, glaucoma, coronary heart disease or cardiomyopathy
may eventually occur. This corresponds
to a low ratio of sodium to potassium on a hair analysis. Dr. Eck found the ideal sodium/potassium
ratio is about 2.5:1 in an unwashed sample of head hair.
SYMPTOMS OF ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY
insufficiency is commonly associated with the following symptoms, which can vary
from mild to extreme.
* decreased tolerance to cold
* poor circulation
* low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia)
* low blood pressure
* apathy or depression
* low stamina
* low self-esteem due to low energy output
* joint aches and pains
* low levels of gastric hydrochloric acid
* tendency to constipation
* muscle weakness
* need for excessive amounts of sleep
* fears, due to low energy and secondary copper toxicity
* lowered resistance to infection
* subnormal body temperature
CAUSES OF ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY
Causes of adrenal insufficiency may
- Genetics. Genetics can
affect the adrenal glands. Also, genetic defects can be a cause of physical and
emotional stress that can weaken the adrenals.
Congenital means present at birth. However, a congential condition may not be
genetic. It may be caused by nutritional deficiencies of the mother that are
passed on to the child. It may also be caused by toxic metals or other toxins
passed on from the mother's body that interfere with the functioning of the
adrenal glands. This is a very common cause of adrenal insufficiency today.
These can begin early in childhood with inadequate diets, diet inappropriate
for one's oxidation type, poor food quality or digestive problems that prevent
proper nutrition. Even natural foods today often are low in vital minerals and
do not provide adequate nutrition. Pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, solvents
and other organic chemicals can all act as stressors that weaken the adrenal
- Emotional or
Psychological Stress. Responding to emotional stress over and over will
eventually deplete the adrenal glands. A single overwhelming shock such as
death of a loved one can also deplete the adrenals. Emotional stress can begin
in childhood or at any time in life. It is actually the resistance or fear of a
situation that causes the stress response. A loving response will cause much
less of a reaction, no matter what the situation. Other possible
stressors include pressures from family, school, work, social pressure,
financial stress and others. People who force their bodies to "run or
fight" all the time by any means will tend to exhaust their adrenal
glands. The 'fight-or-flight' response must be balanced by adequate rest and
- The use of
Most stimulants whip the adrenals. This may cause one to feel better for a
while, but the long-term effect is to weaken the adrenal glands. Stimulants
include sugar, alcohol, caffeine, theobromine in chocolate, amphetamines and
other medical drugs, cocaine, heroine and others. Other
stimulants can include loud noise, loud music, light stimulation such as strobe
lights in night clubs, excessive exercise and excessive vibration. Anger, fear
and worry can act as stimulants as well.
- Note that
stimulant use can be a result, as
well as a cause of adrenal insufficiency. A person who is tired due to weak
adrenals may be attracted to stimulants such as drugs, loud music or anger to
feel better temporarily.
energetic and structural Imbalances. These are all internal stressors that,
if left uncorrected, can eventually weaken the adrenals by forcing the body to
mount a chronic stress response to these irritants.
These may include chlorine in water, polluted air, mercury from dental
fillings, household chemicals, food additives, pesticide exposure, dusts, molds
and pollens. These often cause allergies that can be controlled with adrenalin
or cortisone, the adrenal hormones.
Medical therapy, particularly
cortisone or prednisone therapy, weakens the adrenals by creating hormone
- An imbalanced
mental attitude. One's attitude makes a great difference in determining the
stress response. Worry, fear, anger and resentment tend to increase the stress
response. An attitude of gratitude and compassion for oneself and others tends
to diminish the stress response. Understanding the impermanence of the body and
the world we live in, emotional detachment and detachment from all form, and a
single-minded desire to extend love can greatly diminish the stress response.
DETECTING ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY
is often possible to assess adrenal insufficiency based upon symptoms. Anyone who is tired, allergic, intolerant to
cold, with symptoms of low blood sugar such as craving sweets or starches, or
who is weak, or has low blood pressure most likely has some degree of adrenal
Blood tests. These are variable and are often absolutely
normal. However, it is possible that the
serum sodium level is less than 130 mEq/L and a serum potassium greater than 5
mEq/L. A low glucose levels and elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) may also be
present. Other factors, however, can affect the serum readings.
A blood test
for adrenal function involves measuring 17-ketosteroids, a breakdown product of
the adrenal hormones. Measuring the ketosteroids alone is not considered
accurate. To perform the test properly, an injection of ACTH (adreno-cortical
stimulating hormone) is given first. Then urine is collected and measured for
17-hydroxycorticosteroids (17-OHCS) and 17-ketogenic steroids (17-KGS).
17-OHCS and 17-KGS without the ACTH loading is not useful and may be
misleading. The loading dose of ACTH measures how well the adrenals respond to
the pituitary. Many people with adrenal insufficiency have no symptoms if the
adrenals are not called upon to respond to a stressor.
Hair mineral analysis is an excellent assessment tool
for adrenal insufficiency when the test is properly performed. It is often much
more significant, reliable and sensitive than blood or most other tests
provided the test is done correctly and one knows how to interpret it. The hair must not be washed at the
laboratory. Washing the hair at the
laboratory erratically removes sodium and potassium, critical minerals for
adrenal assessment. According to the
research of Dr. Paul Eck, the following are indicators of adrenal insufficiency
on a hair analysis:
Sodium level less than 25 mg%
* Potassium level less than 10 mg%
* Sodium/potassium ratio less than 2.5:1
* Sodium/magnesium ratio less than 4.17:1
* Calcium/potassium ratio greater than 10:1
one indicator need be present for the pattern to be likely. The more of these indicators that are
present, the greater the evidence of adrenal insufficiency. Also, the more extreme the values, the more
suggestive of adrenal insufficiency problems.
CORRECTING ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY
only medical treatment for adrenal insufficiency is cortisone replacement
therapy. While low dose cortisone is
used by some physicians, this therapy always causes serious side effects. In contrast, nutritional balancing science
will correct most cases of adrenal insufficiency quite easily. The program involves: