Sunday, February 7, 2021

Adrenal Axis-Stress the Cortisol Connection

Adrenal Axis-Stress

Adrenal Axis-Stress the Cortisol Connection

You will likely find the most help in pursuing adrenal axis problems with your alternative medicine practitioner. Alternative medicine routinely gives a lot more attention to the nutritional and lifestyle issues that are associated with stress and the adrenal cortisol connection.

The adrenal glands are two small glands one of each which sits on the top of each kidney. They secrete a number of hormones, the most well known being adrenaline which you will remember is the emergency hormone which enables people to do miraculous feats of strength such as lifting a car off a child. The adrenals also are involved in secretion of DHEA, and get involved in the cycling of sex hormones as well. They are a primary gland in metabolism of sugar and can be involved in hypoglycemia. The problem is, they are capable of becoming stressed out with their function becoming “insufficient” or even “exhausted”. The scope of severity can range from a simple excessive craving of sugar to full blown anxiety attacks. The type of stress that leads to adrenal problems is usually more of a chronic nature as opposed to some type of high stress emergency. For example, long-term stress such as financial troubles, marital troubles, work troubles, or chronic physical illness, long term use of Prednisone or physical disability can cause a constant drain on the adrenals leading to stress related symptoms. The adrenals can also be over stressed by severe physical trauma such as severe burns or automobile accidents.

The symptoms of adrenal axis stress and cortisol imbalance are very similar to hypoglycemia and are typically characterized by:

  • Adult attention deficit disorder or adult ADD or adult ADHD
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue with a mid morning or mid-afternoon let down.
  • Craving of sweets, caffeine or soda.
  • Over consumption of sweets, caffeine or soda.
  • Shakiness or lightheadedness.
  • Lightheadedness upon standing.
  • Constant hunger.
  • Headaches and muscle tension.
  • Feeling better after eating.
  • Frequent heart pounding.
  • Anxiety, anxiety attack, panic attack, depression.
  • Family history of diabetes.

There are a number of diagnostic tests available to your physician for detection of adrenal axis stress. Please see the Laboratories page of this site. They include:

Five hour glucose tolerance test. Be sure your practitioner knows all the interpretations of the results of this test as they relate to the adrenals.

Adrenal Stress Index test from Diagnos Tech Lab.

Cortisol and DHEA from Great Smokies Lab.

The pupils constrict upon exposure to light followed by immediate dilation. Normally, they should remain constricted without fluctuating open and closed.

Upon standing from the lying position, the blood pressure should increase 10mm. If not, it's suggestive of poor adrenal function.

The typical nutritional approach for adrenal stress is a low sugar, complex carbohydrate diet similar to that of hypoglycemia. Supplementation usually includes B complex, especially B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6. Vitamin C is important as well as herbal support for the adrenals such as glycyrrhinized licorice.


There are a number of other conditions which can contribute to adrenal axis stress and the myriad of symptoms caused by it. A Comprehensive Health Assessment found at d oes a very good differentiation of your symptoms of adrenal axis stress versus other conditions which produce similar symptoms. Please study carefully the related conditions listed below for additional information.


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