Sunday, October 9, 2011

Adrenal Fatigue

This is a subject that I wish I knew nothing about. Unfortunately, I know a whole lot about it, having experienced varying degrees of adrenal fatigue over the years, from mild to I-can-barely-function severe. This is something that so many people are dealing with and, having recently suffered a bout of it, I thought I'd give it a proper post.

Adrenal fatigue creeps into our lives via so many different avenues. Stress, over-work, trauma, lack of sleep, major life changes, surgeries, infections, autoimmune disease, over-training, blood sugar fluctuations (these stress the adrenals), vegetarian/vegan diets (high in copper/low in zinc, as well as high in carbs that can cause blood sugar swings), Leaky Gut Syndrome, pregnancy... the list of contributing factors just goes on and on.

My own adventures in adrenal fatigue began with major knee surgery when I was 14, followed by years of poor sleep habits and hypoglycemia, coupled with a high-carb, low protein vegetarian diet, which made the hypoglycemia worse. I treated myself with vitamins and herbs with varying degrees of success (I never really corrected my poor sleep habits, which is critical. I can't stress this enough!).
By the time I was 31, I had a pretty severe case of adrenal fatigue going on. As a result, my reproductive hormones and cortisol had taken a major nosedive (as well as my fertility) I had to quit my stressful job, do a lot of lifestyle and diet changes, as well as alternative therapies (acupuncture and medical qigong) to get back on my feet.

To illustrate how easy it can be to end up with adrenal fatigue, let me tell you a little story: back in August, I went on vacation to my hometown. Though fun, while I was there, I got little sleep, ate more sugar than usual and had a stressful family situation occur. By the time I got back home, after the 11 hour drive, I was the most exhausted that I've been in years. I had scheduled an extra day to recover from my drive but then a coworker got sick and I had to immediately rush back to work and work several extra long days in a row while already feeling exhausted from my trip. By the weekend, I was fighting off a summer cold. About a month later, I got a nasty respiratory thing that was making the rounds and it really took the wind out of my sails and it felt like it took FOREVER to fully recover! Through all of this, I had really slacked off on my qigong practice, which didn't help matters!
All of that left me feeling fatigued and draggy and flabby (6+ weeks of not being able to work out due to fatigue/illness, coupled with whacked out adrenal hormones= a noticeable increase in belly fat!) I also had a very short and extremely painful menstrual cycle that month.

I went to my holistic doc and did an Adrenal Stress Index and it came back showing that my morning cortisol was very low, my progesterone was low and my DHEA was borderline low. My doc gave me an herbal formula to take in the morning and at noon to raise cortisol levels and he put me on a low dose of pregnenolone- the hormone precursor to progesterone and DHEA. I took coenzymated B vitamins with extra B5 as well as extra vitamin C.
I'm happy to report that my energy levels are really bouncing back. Also, my last menstrual cycle was longer and much more comfortable than the previous one.

We always hear about stress-induced high cortisol, which does all kinds of not-fun things like increasing belly fat and killing brain cells! But what happens when you've cranked out the stress hormones for so long that you've exhausted your adrenals? You start experiencing hormone cascade disruption in the form of "pregenolone steal":

What happens is that, instead of converting pregenolone into DHEA and then into sex hormones, it gets shifted toward cortisol production (cortisol is more vital to our existence than sex hormones are and so it gets prioritized. Cortisol is a major steroid hormone and too little of it really drives up inflammation).

Here's a little video discussing pregnenolone steal:

Effects of Stress - Pregnenolone Steal from Dr. Bryan Walsh on Vimeo.

There are 4 stages of adrenal fatigue:

Stage 1: Alarm Response/Fight-or-Flight (Increase in cortisol is still within the body's output capacity).

Stage 2: Resistance Response/chronic stress (The adrenals are not able to keep up with cortisol demand. Fatigue is present. Ability to handle stress is decreased. Sleep disruption occurs. Thyroid hormone conversion is affected.)

Stage 3: Adrenal Exhaustion (Low cortisol. Hormone production suffers and clinical symptoms appear. Muscle breakdown. Chronic fatigue. Increased pain).

Stage 4: Adrenal crash/failure

For a more detailed look at the stages of adrenal fatigue, please read Dr. Lam's informative article.

So, what are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue? Could I have it?

Morning fatigue/morning headache.
Not really feeling awake until around 10 a.m.
Afternoon “low” (feelings of sleepiness or clouded thinking) from 2 to 4 p.m.
A burst of energy at 6 p.m. when you finally feel better from your afternoon lull
Sleepiness around 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. However, you resist going to sleep
A “second wind” at 11 p.m. that lasts until about 1 a.m.
Never feeling rested, no matter how much sleep you get
Cravings for foods high in salt and fats
Increased thirst/frequent urination (water goes right through you)
Chronic low blood pressure
Sensitivity to cold and feeling chilled
Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
Mild depression
Mood swings
Mental fog
Memory problems
A decreased ability to handle stress
A decreased ability to recover from illness/injury
Heat intolerance
Light-headedness when getting up from a sitting or lying down position
Decreased sex drive
Frequent sighing
Inability to handle foods high in potassium or carbohydrates unless they’re combined with fats and protein
Sugar cravings
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Increased food/seasonal allergies
Increased sensitivity to sunlight
Low progesterone/DHEA and possibly estrogen
Hot flashes
General inflammation
Achiness or joint pain
Poor exercise recovery
Difficulty losing weight/belly fat
Difficulty in changing body composition/hard gainer
Muscular weakness
Purple or blue under-eye circles
Vertical lines in the fingertips
Ringing in the ears
Heart palpitations or tachycardia
Thyroid hormone (T3) conversion impairment

You can fill out this questionnaire if you suspect adrenal fatigue.

A lot of these are symptoms of other health issues (and there's a lot of overlap between adrenal fatigue and other issues, as well) but if you score high on the questionnaire I recommend getting an Adrenal Stress Index. You don't need a doctor's prescription, although it's preferable to work with a doc or practitioner who is familiar with saliva tests and adrenal fatigue.
NOTE: Many conventional doctors do not recognize adrenal fatigue as a medical condition, nor utilize saliva hormone panels. They are trained to only recognize full-blown Addison's Disease. If your doctor falls into this category, you're going to have to find another practitioner to help you.

Once you know that you have adrenal fatigue, you have to be willing to commit to lifestyle changes in order to heal. If you have mild adrenal fatigue, you can recovery quickly with the right tools and changes. If it's more severe, realistically it will take a minimum of several months and it's highly recommended to seek the care of a good practitioner (someone who practices Functional Medicine/FunctionalEndocrinology or even a skilled acupuncturist/OMD). There may be underlying factors that need addressing that are beyond your ability to identify or address.

Be aware that for more advanced adrenal fatigue, the healing process is not a linear one. You might start to feel good and then feel not so great again for a little while. Be patient!

Some helpful things for healing adrenal fatigue:

-SLEEP! As much as possible, get 9+ hours. Yes, this is a lot, but you need that much to heal. Don't make the mistake I did by skimping on sleep!

-Get to bed early! Getting to bed before 10 is preferable. You want to go to sleep in that window of sleepiness before your second wind hits. That second wind is a surge of cortisol (not good!) and will work against your progress.

-Eat a diet (preferably Paleo/Primal!) that's easy on your blood sugar. Eat lots of protein and fat and to avoid blood sugar fluctuations and eat carbs like sweet potatoes or berries that are easier on your blood sugar. The cold, hard truth (that I learned the cold, hard way) is that it's a lot harder to heal adrenal fatigue on vegetarian/vegan diets (as per Dr. James Wilson, one of the most experienced in his field).

-Don't exercise too hard. You'll only set back your progress. Learn to gauge what you can actually handle. If you can't recover quickly or feel worse the next day, it's too much. I recommend sticking to short walks, gentle yoga and esp. tai chi or qigong (qigong really helped my healing!) Now is not the time to be trying to get buff (you won't be able get buff anyway until your cortisol/sex hormone levels are healthy!)

-Add 1/4-1/2 tsp. unrefined salt (any salt with color like Redmond Real Salt or Pink Himalayan) to your water. This sounds odd, but when you're in a state of pregnenolone steal, you're not making much aldosterone (see the chart), the hormone that regulates sodium/potassium levels and the balance of these minerals is upset, causing sodium loss, which is made worse by drinking large amounts of water, which further dilutes blood sodium levels (hence the low blood pressure/dizziness upon standing/muscle weakness/heat intolerance.) The salt will quickly correct those symptoms.

-Read "Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome" by James Wilson. This is a fantastic book and it covers ALL aspects of healing adrenal fatigue.

-Be kind and patient with yourself. Give yourself permission to not get stuff done if it's not immediately pressing. Let go of perfectionism. Get help from others when possible.

-To help with mental stress, try L-Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and it helps the brain make alpha waves, which will put you into a calmer, more focused state. 100-400 mgs at a time is the dose. It can be a sanity saver!

-Deep breathing. Such a fundamental thing, but most of us don't even know HOW to breathe properly! Get yourself into the habit of doing a few minutes of deep breathing upon waking, before meals and before bed. I promise you will feel a difference!

Here's my favorite video illustrating proper breathing (qigong style!):

-Meditation. Meditation doesn't have to be complicated and you don't have to do it for an hour to reap the benefits. I like to do a meditation called the "5-8 Meditation", which is a simple breath awareness technique. All you have to do is sit in a comfortable position and breath into your relaxed belly through your nose for 5 counts, pause, and exhale slowly through your nose for 8 counts. Just be aware of how your breath feels and allow any thoughts to pass through you.
If you'd like to add a visualization, you can imagine cool, white light or water flowing down through the center of the top of your head and washing through you, taking any tension and stress with it. You can start with 5 minutes. Doing this in the morning before you start your day can have a profound effect on your whole day. It's also a great way to end the day.

For those who suspect mild adrenal fatigue or just need a little extra help with handling stress:

Besides taking advantage of the suggestions above, you can use supplements for a little extra help:

-Himalaya Stress Care is one of my favorite adaptogenic, adrenal supplements. It's been extensively researched over the decades (see Geriforte research papers) and is proven to reduce cortisol and boost adrenal function (it's also a great antioxidant!) You can take the recommended dose for maintenance or take a higher dose during periods of stress and/or fatigue.

I truly hope this info will help those that are feeling less than good due to the effects of adrenal fatigue!



  1. Following Paleo, but want to address some adrenal issues. Found this interesting article on timing meals and snacks with body's natural cortisol production as a way to heal AF. http://www.womentowomen.com/adrenalhealth/adrenalglandfunction-nutrition.aspx Do you follow this?

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    2. লাব্লি আক্তার ঢাকা ভার্সিটি ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ২০ টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতে হবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open --------------------?

      সপ্না রানী যশোর পতিতা লয় ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ১০ টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open--------------------- ?

      পারবতি ঘোষ কুষ্টিয়া পতিতা লয় ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ৩০ টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open --------------------?

      মুক্তা আক্তার মীম ঢাকা ভার্সিটি ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ৫০ টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open------------------------?

      দিপালি মিরজা খুলনা ভার্সিটি ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ৪০টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open---------------------------?

      হিরা আক্তার যশোর পতিতা লয় ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ২০ টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open-------------------------?

      জরনা বেগম কুষ্টিয়া পতিতা লয় ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ২০ টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open------------------------ ?

      রত্না আক্তার রানী টাঙ্গাইল পতিতা লয় ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ১০টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open----------------------- ?

      সারমিন সীমা বরি সাল বাড়ি ঢাকা থাকে সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ২০ টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকারপরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর=chick here open--------------------------?

      তানিয়া কুষ্টিয়া দউলদিয়া পতিতা লয় ঢাকা ভার্সিটি ফোন সেক্স করতে চাইলে ঘণ্টা ৪০ টাকা রিয়েল সেক্স করতে চাইলে ফোনে টাকার পরিমান যেনে নিতেহবে ফোন নম্বর =chick here open----------------------?

    3. Why is this in a foreign language not English

  2. Hi Jacqueline!
    My schedule lately has been later than what she recommends, so my meal times have been later than those. I'm trying to shift them to earlier times, but it's a work in progress;)
    In general, I eat a pretty big breakfast, though that had slipped during the time I developed the adrenal fatigue. I don't usually snack, since I eat a Primal-type paleo diet (higher fat) I don't have blood sugar swings and I do try not to eat later at night, for hormone release reasons.

    I really like Jack Kruse's leptin reset meal timing guidelines:


  3. Great post. Had to read it a few times.
    It's amazing to think where you would be now if you had continued to eat as you had been. I know if I had not changed it would be ugly right now.
    I wonder if most people on primal consume any alcohol. Nora G refers to it as gasoline on the fire but few primal proponents don't specifically state that they don't drink ever.


  4. Just found your site via a link from a search about GAPS diet and camu powder. Love this post and will link to it when I next post a health update. Have a lot in common with you and look forward to reading more! And I hope we both feel better soon!

  5. Wow, This has helped me so much. I am trying to switch to Paleo to help with my PCOS. Over half my hair has fallen out and I am only 25. Did you find any supplements that helped with your hair loss. Did it stop falling out?
    Thank you so much for this wealth of knowledge.

  6. Found you on Dr. Jack's site. I just took the adrenal questionnaire and scored 142! Eee gads. I keep trying to do the leptin reset, but keep failing.

    I'll try again.

  7. @ Anonymous: I'm a pretty infrequent drinker. I have a glass of wine once in awhile, but I feel better not drinking on a regular basis. Nora is def. on the low end of the carb spectrum in the Primal/Paleo world. I'd say most Primal/Paleo people do consume alcohol to varying degrees.

  8. @Whitney: Fo-ti/he shou wu helped my hair to stop shedding and grow back.
    PCOS is a compicated issue, often with an autoimmune component (Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and PCOS coexist together about 40% of the time).
    If you could work with one of the functional health prectitioners listed at www.thyroidbook.com it would be good, as they can look at the big picture. Many of them work distance.

  9. @Deborah: getting the adrenals fixed is so important as far as helping the leptin reset to be successful:-) I'm just amazed at how I can start gaining belly fat when my adrenals are fatigued (it makes it harder to lose, too!)My pants are feeling a little looser after a month of working on my adrenals, though!

  10. Thank you so much for the advice.

  11. I can so relate to this. Rest, rest and more rest + major diet changes have helped. I've also been working w/ Theresa Vernon to correct the copper/zinc imbalance, (thus adrenal burnout) problem.

  12. Good post. Reading your thoughts on adrenal fatigue may be useful for those who are experiencing the same kind of symptoms. Thank you.

  13. I love this and the various links you've posted! I am finding out more and more that I have all the symptoms of severe adrenal fatigue!

    My question to you is this- I am allergic to seafood. What Omega-3 supplements would you or could you recommend? I see all sorts of things for fish oil, krill oil, etc, but I'm severely allergic and concerned that I'll get sick.

    1. Are you allergic to fish or to the iodine in seafood/shellfish? If it's to all fish, then you could possibly take algae-based DHA but if it's just to shellfish/iodine, you could take freshwater fish oil like salmon (New Chapter Wholemega is very good).

  14. I suffered from adrenal fatigue a few years ago. I actually had a lot of health issues and it took me years to work out what caused them all. It was quite a journey. A few of my symptoms were:
    -adrenal fatigue
    -digestive issues
    -sensitivity to light and sound

    In the end, I discovered they were all caused by Pyroluria. Have you ever been tested?

    Anyway, I blog about living life with Pyroluria at: http://pyrolurialife.com

    1. Hi Harry!
      I'm familiar with Pyroluria and its symptoms and, though I haven't been tested, I don't have the symptoms nor do I fit the profile.

      However, I do think it's an extremely important and overlooked health issue and anyone with a history of things like anxiety, depression, sensory disorders, difficult protein digestion and certain skin problems should be tested.

      Thanks for your input- it could be very valuable to some people!

    2. HI! This has been extremely helpful as I do have Adrenal Exhaustion. I read this and it was like I wrote it LOL.
      My question is, Can someone being vegetarian recover from this with the right protein supplements?

    3. Hello!
      I think it's possible. I love undenatured grass-fed whey (Source Naturals True Whey is excellent), as it's a very high biological value protein and has a lot of great immune factors, as well as helping the liver to make glutathione, our master antioxidant.
      Plant proteins are not as well absorbed. I learned this the hard way in my raw vegan days- all that hemp protein did nothing to prevent muscle loss, yet adding back eggs and some fish allowed me to put the muscle back on in a matter of weeks. It was a valuable lesson.

      It would be good if you could also eat pasture raised organic eggs and, if possible, fermented or raw grass-fed dairy for protein. Aim for at least 70 gms/day of total protein; people with adrenal fatigue need extra protein and I found I actually felt best with up to 90 gms for awhile.

      Cutting down on high-glycemic carbs (esp. all wheat) might really help too, as low blood sugar is hard on the adrenals. Sweet potatoes and fruit like berries and stone fruit are a more blood sugar friendly source of carbs than grains.
      Make sure to get enough fat to keep your blood sugar stable (and make sure it's saturated or monounsaturated and not inflammation causing veggie or seed oils!)

      Ultimately, lifestyle changes are just as important, if not even more so, than diet changes when it comes to healing adrenal fatigue. Don't be afraid to really take it easy and be patient and gentle with yourself. It's not a quick fix.

      Good luck!

    4. Erin, this post and comment are so helpful to me. I've been a vegan for a couple months, a vegetarian for about a year and a half. My muscles are just wasting away and I have no energy. I was tested, via the saliva test, and found to have stage 3 adrenal failure. Now, I'm doing anything to get back to health, starting with taking a period of sick leave from work. I've added fish back in and I think that I'm going to add back in eggs next. This is so helpful. I'm going to talk to my nutritionist about it. -Erin W.

    5. I feel for you, as I can relate all too well! Good luck on your healing journey and be patient with and kind to yourself:)


  15. Thanks so much for your reply! Im struggling here! I do eat eggs but thought about stopping. I will continue to eat them for my healing. I am not able to have dairy due to candida so whey protein is out. Im taking lifes Basics unsweetened plant protein and I like it but I have NOOOO muscle :( Having Candida and Adrenal Fatigue is horrible. Im treating the Candida but I dont seem to be healing fast enough!
    I also work in retail so it is very stressful! I do need to make some changes. How long did it take you to heal?

  16. Honestly, I struggled for years with varying degrees of adrenal fatigue. It wasn't until I switched to a Paleo/Primal diet and cut grains and added meat that I started to heal. Qigong was helpful, too. It's hard to say how long it took. I've also had mini-relapses because of stress or illness, but I've been able to bounce back, unlike before.

    Re: whey- I don't think that the whey would feed candida, as it's low carb. I really had to rethink being vegetarian. I know that's not an easy thing. Grains make healing leaky gut and candida a LOT harder and it's pretty hard to find enough to eat on a vegetarian diet with no grains, esp. if you can't do dairy.

    It got to the point where I had to choose between my ideology and what my body required to heal and stay healthy. There is no easy answer there, but, in my case, I'm really glad I chose to go with what my body needed. My health overall is so much better as a result:)

  17. Several of my friends struggle with adrenal fatigue. They have found help at the Women to Women clinic in Yarmouth, Maine (www.womentowomen.com). I recently finished reading "Are You Tired and Wired?", written by Marcelle Pick co-founder of the clinic. It's excellent! I highly recommend.

  18. Just imagine the difference between the requirements of driving of your car around town at 30 miles an hour and around a racetrack at 180 miles an hour.

  19. Wow, I feel like my psychic twin made a blog...lol.

    Thanks! I love your writing and you are so obviously helping people to find their way....I'm a distributor for Dr. Wilson and so fully on board with the adrenal fatigue protocol..it's done wonders for me and so many people I've interacted with!

    I am a follower of Jack Kruse as well and consider CT and the leptin reset critical to my own regime...nice to see some honest critique.

  20. Thank you for this post. It has truly been helpful.

  21. thanks for sharing! I have adrenal fatigue and I am always looking for more advice/people with similar issues, so that I can learn to improve my wellness and get over this stupid condition

  22. Good post :), i found it after searching Pyroluria and Adrenal Fatigue. Pyroluria which turned out to be my root cause of my Adrenal Exhaustion also.

    If its ok to share my site, i created a Pyroluria Forum.

  23. I just recently started taking the stresscare supplement by himalayan herbal healthcare. I took one capsule today and my lymph nodes are now extremely swollen, i have a terrible headache, and i'm highly irritable. Is it possible the stresscare is causing a dieoff/herxheimer reaction? I might have candida...i wonder if this supplements contains sugar.

  24. Thanks SO much for this great information~ I actually know a lot of these things, but you tied this together in a way that actually makes more sense than the knowledge I have. Thank you again!

  25. Does anyone have suggestions on doctors or naturopaths to try to figure out if i'm suffering from this! I have a gut instinct that i have been for years but don't know how to find the help i think i need! anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Hi Connie!
      I would look into a functional medicine practitioner:

      The practitioners listed at www.thyroidbook.com are also functional medicine practitioners and will be able to help adrenal fatigue.


  26. Curious if you knoq anything about the himalaya supplement and breastfeeding?

    1. I don't personally know about that, but you can contact Himalaya USA. They have a scientific adviser on staff (Dr. Grace Ormstein) who would be able to answer your question.


  27. Thanks for the great info. I'm right in the middle of a crash and everyone here will know what that's like. Trying to stabilise is like trying to steer a car on black ice - hard to figure out what's going on and what direction to take to steer out of it. Logic seems to go out of the window when you're in the middle of the hurricane because of the fight flight alarm doing a number on your brain.

    That's why it is great to read this. It reinforces what we know: get a plan, stick to it and eventually the sea will calm.

    I've started to keep a diary for the first time and I can see patterns of food and lifestyle triggers already. Having previously been heavily into athletics I am programmed to try to fight my way out of this. Wrong. Trying to fight this has been a real mistake. This may well be were chi gong comes in. Going with the flow is a better way.

    Thanks again


    1. Good luck with your healing, Joe! Remember: be kind to yourself and be patient, too! And I def. can't recommend qigong enough (esp. any "kidney" focused movements- those are very healing for the adrenals).


  28. Hi hope you can answer my questions about qigong. Ive had mild now moderate af for a little while. Ive been doing my own qigong practice for a while and recently i attended a class which is wonderful. My question is they do alot of movements that involve bending over and stretching the lower back and kidneys. Is this too stimulating for adrenals? Also i end up standing for long period and i get tired. I read something about restorative yoga for adrenals too not do back bending and standing postures. Could you tell me what qigong and yoga exercises to avoid. Please and thank you love your article by the way very helpful.

    1. Hi Nick!
      The qigong exercises that you describe are perfect for depleted adrenals. You can add a visualization element of inhaling dark blue light/energy (dark blue is the color associated with kidney qi) into the kidneys and feeling them soak it up like sponges- this assists the qi flow into the kidney/adrenals.

      Most qigong can be done seated. If you are feeling really tired during your practice, do it sitting on a chair or low stool. Also, doing some qigong kidney meditation where you imagine inhaling dark blue light, feel it flow downward and saturate the kidneys (they may feel faintly tingly) for 36 breaths 2x/day can be very helpful. Incorporating visualization really amps up any qigong practice. As my teacher says: "Where the mind goes, the qi follows."

      Another important tip, if you're not already doing it, is to lightly contract your sphincter during practice. This seals the qi and keeps it from draining out the Hui Yin gate. This is a little detail that many teachers don't teach until students are more advanced, but it makes a big difference.

      If you are able to, getting a clinical medical qigong treatment can be amazing. Some people are so qi depleted that it helps to receive external qi treatments. A good qigong doctor can also prescribe exercises specifically for your condition. Here is a clinical directory (you can also google Medical Qigong Practitioner in your area):

      I hope this helps!

  29. What are some qigong exercises you really recommend im having trouble finding the right exercises for adrenal fatigue

  30. Dear Erin! I have low cortisol (throughout the day) and low DHEA after long term stress. My period is a mess, with short cycles etc. Just wanted to ask you about the dose of pregnenolone - how much did you take? Thankful for an answer! Kind regards Maja

    1. Hi Maja!
      You could start with a low dose, like 5 or 10 mg. and slowly add more, monitoring how you feel. I can't advise as to an exact dose, as it will be different for everyone. I've seen that some people take as much as 100 mg. so it's a pretty wide range.


    2. Thank you so much for your reply! I´ve understood that it it a very wide range, read somewhere that the recommended dose is somewhere between 30 and 700 mg! :O Is there any specific brand you can recommend? Thanks again! Best regards, Maja.

    3. I do not know exactly why, but the chemist PhD author of "Amalgam Illness" - which I have been studying for treating my recent mercury poisoning - lists 100mg for women and 300 mg for men, split up into two doses (1/2 in the morning, and 1/2 at night).

      This is specifically written for mercury poisoned people but could potentially be extrapolated onto the general population.

      Bear in mind that hormonal needs are different between females and males - especially in things like amounts of DHEA or pregnenolone.

      DHEA is also sometimes taken directly (25-50 mg for a female adult; I don't recall how much for a male).

      If you take things like cortisol or thyroid hormone or other hormones, also bear in mind that many hormones are produced much more upon waking and taper off at night, so supplementation should mirror that.

      All the best,


    4. Wow!!! This is amaging tips for losing weigth.
      It is as good as the previous site which i follow
      to lose my weight. Anyone can follow it.

  31. Hi, thank you so much for putting this together!! Can I ask which herbals you were given to increase cortisol? I'm researching before my next doc appt.
    Much appreciated, xo Julie

    1. Hi Julie.
      I wasn't given herbals to raise cortisol (usually licorice is given for that)- instead, I was given Seriphos (phosphorylated serine) and Apex Energetics Adrenacalm cream in the evenings to shift my cortisol rhythm. Apex also makes another transdermal cream called Adrenastim that is use for low cortisol.

  32. Thank you SO much Erin, for contributing to my healing!! Much love & happiness to you in 2014 <3 !!!

  33. Adrenal fatigue is common nowadays due to too much stress. One should be aware of the most effective & efficient way to relieve it. Read: http://www.amchara.co.uk/adrenal-stress/

  34. By the way, a random tip about breathing.

    It's commonly said that many people only breathe into the belly, but the back and sides are "dead".

    Proper breathing which I've experienced/seen seems to involve much more relaxation ("chi/qi", not "li" - or effort) - not "forcing" - and also is much more like inflating a balloon on all sides.

    So, placing hands on the sides of one's waist, or directly behind the dan tien, one should also feel movement (even if it's subtle).

    Zen practitioners (who originated from the Shaolin monks - doing martial arts, health qigong, AND sitting - but now are often criticized for primarily sitting and lacking "exercise" aspects) were criticized by a well-known qigong person as having breathing which is "dead" in the back.

    Interesting to see someone else with adrenal fatigue who also has done qigong/taiji.

    I've been learning, as well, and the body truly is amazing. The extent of pain and misuse of the body in modern society abounds.

    A book which I found very, very, very helpful was "The New Rules of Posture" by Mary Bond, as well as the concepts of "Rolfing" and "grounding".

    All the best,


    1. Another note of import is that everyone's body is slightly different (not in some complex genetic/biological way, but also simply in physical structure - some bones and joints are longer or shaped differently), and everyone's personalities are different.

      So, "proper" breathing or posture or whatever-body-technique will have some similarities between humans but also be different from person to person.

      Some peoples' breathing seems very physically inflative, while some people barely look like they're breathing at all.

      Useful thoughts to keep in mind regarding learning how to use and move one's body.



  35. Hi Erin, I loved your article above, great information. My question is: why do I get such bad craving attacks 2 weeks before my periods sometimes it's 3 weeks before - I am 45 yrs old and hardly have any period just a small amount of spotting but I get them every 28 - 35 days (this has been for the last 6 mths). I am on BHRT (thyroid, DHEA, Bi-est, Progesterone and Testosterone) could this be screwing everything up. Anyways, my thing is that once my periods come I'm a totally different person I have some energy and can cope with all the yelling, scheduling, driving, finances, work, etc. that a mother has to deal with, but as soon as those 2 or 3 weeks come before the period I am every person's nightmare I can barely stand myself and I just don't understand how things can change so drastically, it's very frustrating and I so look forward to the week of my period so that I feel like my old self. Thank you for reading my post. Giselle

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  41. I have been taking stresscare and it is making me extremely drowsy, do this mean I need something to increase cortisol, now that I am in severe AF.? Thank you in advance!

    1. I'm not really sure what that means. Sometimes when a supplement does the opposite of what it's supposed to do, it can have to do with the wrong neuron pathway being stimulated. I'd say if it consistently makes you drowsy, then it's probably not the right formula for you. Have you had an saliva adrenal stress index done?

  42. I have been taking stresscare and it is making me extremely drowsy, do this mean I need something to increase cortisol, now that I am in severe AF.? Thank you in advance!

  43. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.