Burn-Out Syndrome

Adrenal Fatigue Affects Brain Activity

Burn-Out Syndrome. Healthy Living Magazine

Burn-Out Syndrome. Healthy Living Magazine

The adrenals, located on top of the kidneys, produce cortisol, adrenaline, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), fight-or-flight hormones that regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and brain activity, When we get stressed out, the adrenals work overtime to adjust the body to the higher needs for these hormones. When under stress, the body is evolutionarily programmed to elevate blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Why? Because it’s stuck in caveman days, believing it’s about to suffer physical attack from a wild animal, so it’s increasing the delivery of nutrients to the muscles.

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This works great if you’re being attacked, but chronic psychological stress creates a chronic inflammatory state. Over the years with stressful situations, continual secretions exhaust the gland’s resources; they can’t produce enough for health. That’s when the body undergoes adrenal burnout. Addison’s disease is an example of a condition that afflicted President Kennedy and for which he required his own Dr Feel Good shots.

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“In adrenal fatigue your adrenal glands function, but not enough to maintain your normal, healthy homeostasis,” writes Dr James Wilson, author of Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.


Subtle changes occur at first: “Salt and sugar cravings may give you occasional relief. You may constantly need a caffeine fix via coffee or cola, you may become absentminded, have weak muscles, have low sex drive, feel that you cannot get enough sleep, you also may have constipation alternating with diarrhea,” says Alexander Mostovoy, HD, DHMS, an expert in homeopathic medicine and clinical director of the North York Medical Thermography Centre in Toronto. “You eventually reduce activity and try to avoid any stressful situation because you feel overwhelmed. Unless your situation is addressed properly, you may develop adult onset diabetes, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, hypoglycemia (in fact most people suffering from hypoglycemia have low adrenal function) and even fibromyalgia. Many people will suffer from anxiety and depression and have problems with concentration with periods of confusion, searching for words, making mistakes with names and simple math. Most women with sub-optimal adrenals will complain of PMS [premenstrual syndrome], terrible menopausal symptoms and a decrease in immune function.”

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stimulant addiction

“People suffering from adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day,” says Dr Wilson. “In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day.”

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6 Adrenal Herbs

Indian Ginseng

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian Ginseng, is used for convalescence, nervous exhaustion, fatigue, geriatric debility, physical and mental stress and insomnia, says James Rouse, ND in Clinical Nutrition Insights.

Anyone who has used ashwagandha knows, however, its effects differ from ginseng in that it is immediately relaxing and somewhat euphoric in effect; it impacts the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). Ashwagandha increases brain nerve activity.

Siberian Ginseng

Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and American (Panax quinquefolius) ginseng roots are useful when the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is depleted; they regulate sugar levels and renew adrenal cells.

Panax Ginseng

In the December 2003 issue of the Journal of Pharmacological Science, researchers from the Division of Pharmacology, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India, state that Panax Ginseng extracts “possess significant anti-stress properties and can be used for the treatment of stress-induced disorders.”


The mycelia of the mushroom Cordyceps sinensis are known to directly affect coritsol levels and to re-establish balance.


Rhodiola rosea affects depletion of adrenal catecholamines induced by acute stress.

Holy Basil

A study using holy basil with diabetics found it reduced fasting glucose levels by 20.8%, cholesterol by 11% and triglycerides by 16%, demonstrating its effects on adrenal gland regulatory activities over blood sugar.

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MegaFood Daily Energy Booster Powder combines ashwagandha with Siberian and American ginseng and is added to smoothies and juice. Adrenal Strength also from Megafood combines ginseng, ashwagandha and rhodiola with cleansing herbs like beets and minerals and vitamins for adrenal hormone production. Himalaya Herbal Healthcare has introduced StressCare with clinical studies to back up its claims for antioxidant actions. Gaia Herbs’ Adrenal Health features rhodiola, ashwagandha, schizandra and holy basil to increase resistance to non-specific, free-floating stress. Enzymatic Therapy has worked with Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic!, to highlight their glandular-herbal supplement Adrenal Stress-End.

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