How Low Cortisol Levels Adrenal Fatigue And Weight Gain Are Connected
Do you feel a constant sense of fatigue that wont go away? Even with a proper diet and regular exercise, do you still have a belly that wont seem to shrink?
If yes, and if your doctor cant diagnose you with any specific condition, you may have a case of adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is a condition where the adrenal glands are no longer functioning optimally. Its often a follow-up of an episode of chronic stress, but it can also follow conditions such as flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia.
Adrenal fatigue symptoms are often caused by adrenal insufficiency, depression, among other health problems. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal glands dont make enough of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol levels tend to be low in cases of adrenal fatigue, which may also be referred to as underactive adrenal glands. This is because the adrenal glands are unable to produce cortisol that is needed in stressful conditions.
This, in turn, leaves your body vulnerable to illnesses and infections. In essence, if youre fatigued and sluggish, your adrenals may be to blame.
Lets explore how low cortisol levels and weight gain affect each other.
Read Also: Best Books On Adrenal Fatigue
The Major Adrenal Hormones:
Here is a review of what these key hormones do for the body:
Epinephrine: Also called adrenalin, made in the adrenal medulla, this helps to dilate blood vessels, increase heart rate, blood sugar and blood pressure so we can move and react quickly. This is necessary for emergencies and times when we are exercising or performing (such as giving a speech or performing in an athletic event.
Norepinephrine: This is a chemical made in the adrenal medulla that activates our sympathetic nervous system to help our body adapt to stress through fight or flight. It has very similar activity as epinephrine but is classified as a neurotransmitter in that it interacts with the brain and nervous system more than epinephrine which is classified as a stress hormone.
Cortisol: This is made in the adrenal cortex and is called a glucocorticoid, because of the cortex origin and how it functions to increase circulating glucose levels. Cortisol helps maintain blood sugar levels during times of stress. It also acts to reduce inflammation in the body.
Aldosterone: This is called a mineralocorticoid hormone because of its production in the adrenal cortex and its role in maintaining electrolyte balance to raise blood pressure. When secreted it acts on the kidney to reabsorb sodium, excrete potassium and increase fluid volume. Drugs are often used to lower aldosterone levels in individuals with hypertension.
Treatment For Adrenal Fatigue
As incapacitating and severe as adrenal fatigue can be and as bad as it can make people feel, its saving grace is that the right kind of therapy is nearly always successful. Fortunately, most aspects of this therapy are already used by many conscientious practitioners: lifestyle modification, stress management techniques, adjustments to diet, and nutritional supplementation. When targeted specifically for adrenal fatigue in a cohesive programme and implemented for an adequate time period, these
Recommended Reading: Can Dogs Take Human Melatonin
Pay Attention To Your Coffee Intake
Coffee is misunderstood when it come to adrenal fatigue. The standard advice is to avoid it entirely because it spikes cortisol. The reality is a little more complicated than that.
Coffee does spike cortisol if you only drink it occasionally. If you drink it every morning, though , you build tolerance to the cortisol release, but not to coffees wakefulness boost.
But in order to build tolerance to the cortisol, you have to drink coffee every morning. If you only drink it occasionally, your body wont adjust, and the coffee will cause a big cortisol spike that isnt good for adrenal fatigue.
Basically, when it comes to adrenal fatigue and coffee, you should take an all-or-nothing approach:
- Drink coffee every morning, or
- Cut out coffee entirely
If you do decide to drink coffee, I suggest Bulletproof Coffee for extra mental clarity and effortless focus, which is crucial when dealing with adrenal fatigue.
Is Cortisol A Stress Hormone
Cortisol is widely known as the stress hormone. However, it has many important effects and functions throughout your body aside from regulating your bodys stress response.
Its also important to remember that, biologically speaking, there are multiple different kinds of stress, including:
- Acute stress: Acute stress happens when youre in sudden danger within a short period of time. For example, barely avoiding a car accident or being chased by an animal are situations that cause acute stress.
- Chronic stress: Chronic stress happens when you experience ongoing situations that cause frustration or anxiety. For example, having a difficult or frustrating job or having a chronic illness can cause chronic stress.
- Traumatic stress: Traumatic stress happens when you experience a life-threatening event that induces fear and a feeling of helplessness. For example, experiencing an extreme weather event, such as a tornado, or experiencing war or sexual assault can cause traumatic stress. In some cases, these events can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder .
Your body releases cortisol when you experience any of these types of stress.
Read Also: Do I Have Low Estrogen
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue
So many women endure stress all day and often long into the night! Were caring for families, pursuing careers, trying to keep up in an increasingly digital world where people can reach you any time of day or night with the touch of a button. When the sun goes down, we dont relax and get ready for sleep like our ancestors did we turn on the lights and clean the house, do the laundry, watch tv or respond to email.
Stress can be mundane or traumatic, the emergency real or perceived. Whatever the source, your body will respond the same way your survival response will kick in and your adrenal glands will increase their output of adrenaline and cortisol. Lets go further into what causes adrenal fatigue for so many women.
How Is Adrenal Insufficiency Treated
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
Your age, overall health, and past health
How sick you are
How well you can handle certain medicines, procedures, or therapies
How long the condition is expected to last
Your opinion or preference
You will need to take hormones to replace those that your adrenal glands are not making. That mainly means cortisol. But if you have Addison’s disease, you may need to take aldosterone as well.
Addison’s disease can be deadly. Treatment often starts with IV fluids and medicines called corticosteroids. You may take these medicines by mouth or by IV. You may have to take them for the rest of your life. You may also need to take other medicines . These can help keep your body’s sodium and potassium levels normal.
Don’t Miss: Can High Cortisol Cause Weight Gain
Is It A Myth
Thereâs no science to back it up. The Endocrine Society, the world’s largest organization of endocrinologists , flatly says that adrenal fatigue is not a real disease. And it says the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are so general, they can apply to many diseases or conditions or stem from everyday life.
And the society says some of the treatments can be dangerous. Improving your diet will probably make you feel better, no matter what ailment you have, but taking unidentified supplements to help your body produce extra cortisol if you don’t need them may cause your adrenal glands to stop working, it warns.
Using A Cortisol Supplement For Treating Adrenal Fatigue
In contrast to adrenal glandulars that help boost your adrenal glands’ function, a cortisol supplement actually supresses your adrenal glands’ production of cortisol, and takes over the job completely. While prescribing a cortisol supplement is likely to be a conventional physician’s first step, and may get you results you think you like, those results will be deceiving. Taking the hormone directly is far more difficult to regulate, and you will spend a fair amount of time feeling like a rubber ball, bouncing all around as you try to figure out exactly how much to take, and how often to take it. But more importantly, shutting down your adrenal glands also affects production of other hormones, and weakens your immune system. Messing with your hormones like that is never a good first choice, and usually leads to a whole different set of problems.
That said, cortisol supplements can be useful as a short-term therapy, allowing your adrenals time to completely rest and “reset” themselves, similar to the way your electronic devices need to be unplugged and reset occasionally. Generally, cortisol treatment is not necessary except in the most extreme cases, and then only as a temporary measure. Long-term shut-down of the adrenal glands may actually prevent your adrenal glands from ever being able to function on their own again.
Also Check: Metabolic Renewal Hormone Type 7
Eat Healthy Fats Every Day
Avocados contain beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that boost neurotransmitter production and brain health. This fatty superfruit also contains potassium, which naturally helps to lower blood pressure.
Bacterial imbalances in your gut can contribute to brain problems because the gut and brain talk to each other through the vagus nerve. Kefir is rich in beneficial bacteria for your microbiome and also has fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2, which are important for brain health, so it helps out from both ends of this critical connection.
Coconut oil is super versatile you can cook with it, put it in smoothies, or just eat it off a spoon as I do. It offers good fats like medium-chain triglycerides that can help with brain function.
Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon can help decrease inflammation, which is crucial for brain and hormonal health.
How Do I Find Out More About Adrenal Fatigue
Call the Health & Vitality Center at or We are one of the leading centers for natural medicine in Los Angeles. Holistic doctor Shiva Lalezar not only treats adrenal fatigue, she employs methods that prevent it from negatively impacting your everyday life.
Our practice uses an integrative approach, combining the best conventional therapies with the latest techniques and treatments in Functional Medicine for optimal results.
Stage 3 Of Adrenal Fatigue Occurs When Adrenals Fail To Meet The Demands And Are No Longer Able To Produce Cortisol
In this crash phase, evening cortisol level is also very low. Several other hormonal imbalances occur in this stage as well. In this phase chronic fatigue occurs and the individual is unable to perform routine daily activities or work-related duties.
This diagram illustrates the common pattern of the hormone cortisol through the stages of adrenal exhaustion. The total cortisol sum as measured in nano molars is shown to rise then fall as the stages of exhaustion progress from left to right.
Consult A Medical Professional To Treat The Root Causes Of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors, but regardless of the origin, controlling your cortisol levels play an important role in alleviating this condition.
Insufficient cortisol levels are linked to weight fluctuation because it makes you feel hungry even if your body doesnt need extra energy.
The trained staff at Paramount Mens Medical Center in St. Louis can provide a medical consultation and treatment plan to best support adrenal fatigue, erectile dysfunction, hormone therapy, and overall health. We will tailor the plan to your unique needs, history, and circumstances so you can get the best results possible. Give us a call today to set an appointment with our expert medical team.
Don’t Miss: Getting Rid Of Hormonal Belly
Give Functional Medicine A Try
Depending on your individual brain-adrenal dysfunction, you may need to work with a qualified practitioner to assess your condition and carefully replace a small portion of the levels of the missing adrenal hormones for a period of time. Thats where functional medicine comes in. Specific amounts of DHEA and the precursor to cortisol, called pregnenolone, can stimulate your body to begin producing it naturally. It is necessary to find professional guidance to determine how much and how often, in order to really nip that adrenal fatigue in the bud in the healthiest way possible.
As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
Our content may include products that have been independently chosen and recommended by Dr. Will Cole and our editors. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.
BY DR. WILL COLE
Evidence-based reviewed article
Why Does Adrenal Fatigue Happen
Adrenal fatigue might be attributed to prolonged physical, emotional, and mental stress. In turn, this can give rise to a variety of health issues like poor sleep quality, inflammation, or even blood sugar spikes. Adrenal fatigue is believed to be caused when the adrenal glands become incapable of meeting the demands of a constant fight or flight response attributable to chronic stress. When you are subjected to stressful situations, your adrenals react by releasing cortisol to help your body prepare for a dangerous predicament. However, if such a situation is for one reason or the other prolonged, your adrenals will in the long run become worn down. This makes them unable to respond to stressful circumstances.
Also Check: How Many 5mg Melatonin Pills Should I Take
Distinction From Addisons Disease
Adrenal fatigue is closely related to, but not to be confused with, Addisons Disease, a disorder characterized by insufficient cortisol production due either to a pathology directly affecting the adrenals or a disruption of signaling between the brain and the adrenals. While symptoms of Addisons Disease are similar to adrenal fatigue, the primary difference is that adrenal fatigue is considered a possible result of the overuse of otherwise healthy adrenal glands due to stress.
The adrenals are necessary to have gluconeogenesis to take place in the liver, as well as the glycogen storage where it stimulates the production of blood glucose, says Dr. Wilson. So, most of the major symptoms of either adrenal fatigue or Addisons Disease are a result of either a lack of cortisol or a lack of blood glucose and the many effects that it has systematically throughout the body.
He theorizes, Unlike Addisons, adrenal fatigue doesnt have a pathological origin, with the exception of the overuse of antibiotics which may partially shut down the use of the adrenal glands. So, you do get different symptoms with versus adrenal fatigue, because youre talking about the difference between a body that cant secrete cortisol versus a body that isnt secreting sufficient cortisol.
How To Overcome Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue can be a debilitating disease that often takes a long time to cure.
Consulting with a medical clinic about diagnosing and treating adrenal fatigue is the first step to understanding the root causes of adrenal fatigue, such as how your adrenal glands release cortisol into your bloodstream and what your blood sugar level fluctuations may be. This initial testing helps doctors to better understand how to prepare a medical treatment suitable for each patients specific set of circumstances.
In combination with a medical diagnosis, lifestyle changes are a useful consideration to support a monitored professional treatment plan.
Don’t Miss: Testosterone Booster With Estrogen Blocker
The Two Tests To Rule Out Real Adrenal Organ Issues Are:
The above information is in ALL of my books.
The term Adrenal Fatigue is discussed all over the Internet. It is even present in some cortisol saliva test companies test results. In terms of cortisol saliva test results, I am one of the biggest fans of doing these. It is just the term that I think is misleading.
When people talk of stages of adrenal fatigue, it simply means stages of failure to produce cortisol and Dhea . It is not just nomenclature or giving things the right name. It is about understanding what is really causing the problems.
Nursing the adrenals back to health by supporting with adrenal glandulars or adrenal cortex, is not going to fix the fundamental issue with low cortisol.
I realise that a lot of these comments may cause consternation, but I believe them to be true, based on the research I have done, the incredibly smart people that I have spoken with, and the experience I have had with working with many low cortisol patients.
I hope you found this helpful.
What Causes High Levels Of Cortisol
Experiencing abnormally high levels of cortisol for an extended period of time is usually considered Cushings syndrome, which is a rare condition. Causes of higher-than-normal cortisol levels and Cushings syndrome include:
- Taking large amounts of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, prednisolone or dexamethasone, for treatment of other conditions.
- Tumors that produce adrenocorticotropic hormone . These are usually found in your pituitary gland. More rarely, neuroendocrine tumors in other parts of your body such as your lungs can cause high cortisol levels.
- Adrenal gland tumors or excessive growth of adrenal tissue , which cause excess production of cortisol.
What are the symptoms of high cortisol levels?
The symptoms of Cushings syndrome depend on how elevated your cortisol levels are. Common signs and symptoms of higher-than-normal cortisol levels include:
- Weight gain, especially in your face and abdomen.
- Fatty deposits between your shoulder blades.
- Wide, purple stretch marks on your abdomen .
- Muscle weakness in your upper arms and thighs.
- High blood sugar, which often turns into Type 2 diabetes.
- Weak bones and fractures.
You May Like: How To Get Cortisol Levels Checked