5 symptoms of poor Adrenal health and how to recognise them.

Many health issues stem from times of high stress when normal coping mechanisms become impossible to implement. Sustained high levels of cortisol lead to a breakdown of immune function which in turn can lead to the development of chronic degenerative conditions. In this article we look at this complex topic in more detail.


The 3 main sources of stress are:

Emotional, psychological issues   •   Dietary, allergies, organ issues   •   Pain and inflammation

The 5 most common symptoms are:

1. Weight gain 85%, Weight loss 10-15%.

  • Cortisol, the main adrenal hormone, is a ‘Gluco-Corticosteroid’. In other words, one of cortisol major functions is to work with insulin to keep your blood sugar stable. 
  • If cortisol is out of balance, your body will store body fat rather than burn fat for fuel, (or vice versa).
  • When your cortisol is out of balance, you have what we call a ‘damaged metabolism’ meaning that your normal fat burning or building mechanism is broken. Sleep is usually delayed due to the imbalance of cortisol during the sleep hours of 10pm – 6am. Restless sleep, waking between the hours of 1-3am are typical signs of adrenal burn out.
  • If you over-train during exercise, if you drink too much coffee/tea, if you skip/delay a meal, eat too many carbs without sufficient protein, eat sweets or over eat, if you watch a horror movie, experience a near traffic accident, eat an allergen, drink a stimulant, or if you over-stimulate your body with a lack of sleep, your cortisol will be out of balance and you will damage your metabolism.
  • We can test and correct your cortisol and repair your broken metabolism with an adrenal stress profile from Genova Laboratories in the USA.

2. Exhaustion and fatigue.

  • The most common cause for fatigue is adrenal exhaustion or adrenal burnout. This means that due to some long-term period of stress, your cortisol levels became depleted. Even if this stress was in the past, you could still be suffering from exhausted adrenal glands. Fibromyalgia (from chronic muscular pain_ and Myalgic Encephalitis (ME), as well as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are all linked to adrenal burn-out and hormone decline. 
  • If you are under stress now from one of three areas your adrenal glands could be burned out. These three main sources of stress are emotional, dietary, and pain/inflammatory. A lot of our clients have all three.
  • Emotional stress like the death of someone you are close to, or work or financial related stress can add up and deplete your adrenal glands, causing fatigue.
  • Long-term pain depletes cortisol and causes fatigue and adrenal burnout.
  • Having a first, second or third pregnancy/child is often a significant source of stress for women and can be a time when the adrenal glands burn out (pregnenalone, DHEA, and progesterone levels drop) and fatigue starts. 
  • If you have a long term fatigue, we can test and correct your cortisol levels with an adrenal stress test and then bring your energy levels back to normal with a lab based supplement programme.

3. Depression  and low mood.

  • When the adrenal hormones cortisol and DHEA are depleted or low, we become depressed from the physical exhaustion that takes place.
  • Erratic moods and irritability are often an indication of unstable cortisol levels.
  • People feel what we call ‘Wired and Tired’ from adrenal exhaustion – they can get steamed up and even anxious but at the same time have burned out highs and lows throughout the day as their cortisol levels bounce up and down.
  • Low DHEA levels = hypothyroidism, constipation, loss of the lateral 3rd eyebrow (outer hair on eyebrow). 
  • With a urine adrenal stress test we can measure these hormones and correct any imbalance to create more energy, stable moods, and a general sense of well being that many of us have lost as we struggle with the impact of chronic stress.

4. Male and Female hormone imbalance.

  • Cortisol, the main adrenal hormone, is made from progesterone, so every molecule of cortisol you produce when you are under stress depletes your progesterone and DHEA levels drop too.
  • The more stress you are under the more male and female hormone imbalances will occur.
  • Issues for men: vertebral disc problems, cartilage pain, disc disease, heart problems, prostate enlargement, mood swings, Type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, Alzheimers disease, high cholesterol and hair loss.
  • Issues for women: PMS Symptoms like cramping, sweet cravings, ovarian cysts, fibroids, heavy periods and irritability. Younger women will respond really well to a lab based adrenal hormone programme.
  • Issues for older women: hot flashes, dry skin (poor sebum production), dry hair, sleep issues, vaginal dryness, low sex drive. As we normalise cortisol, progesterone levels will improve.
  • Progesterone is the pro-gestational hormone, it keeps the uterine lining intact through the second half of the menstrual cycle.
  • Peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, memory problems, mood swings are often caused by a drop in oestrogen.
  • Having a first, second or third child, once again is often a significant source of  stress for mostly women (and some men) and can be a time when the adrenal glands burn out and fatigue starts.
  • Oestrogen is made from DHEA, one of the major adrenal hormones, so the more exhausted the adrenal glands become the more low oestrogen symptoms women develop.
  • Testosterone is made from DHEA, the weaker the adrenal glands, the lower the testosterone levels. 
  • If we test and correct your cortisol and DHEA levels with an adrenal stress test, your female hormone related symptoms will improve significantly. For many patients, they go away completely.

5. Gastro intestinal problems.

  • The immune cells that line our digestive tract are regulated by cortisol, so if your cortisol is out of balance you become prone to develop digestive symptoms like bloating, heart-burn, acid reflux, gallstones, migraines and headaches, IBS, constipation or diarrhoea. Anxiety and gut problems are linked through the cortisol pathway. 
  • The more stress we are under, the more out of range our cortisol becomes, and as our cortisol is depleted, the digestive system starts to react poorly to foods and we run the risk of creating allergies and picking up pathogens like candida (a fungal organism), or helico-bacter pylori (bacterial ulcers) or even a nasty parasite (amoeba). This can follow through with skin and kidney disorders.
  • If we can start an anti-inflammatory diet and cut out gluten and other allergic foods, then test and correct your cortisol levels as we can start to get your digestive system on the road to healing.