Your adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys and produce a range of important hormones. Cortisol being one of the most notable. Adrenal insufficiency happens when your adrenal glands don’t make enough cortisol leading to severe weakness and confusion. Adrenal exhaustion, also called adrenal fatigue, isn’t an official medical diagnosis but is thought to be a milder form of adrenal insufficiency brought on by constant stress depleting important hormones leading to chronic fatigue, weakness, and cravings.

In the following excerpt from the book Real Cause, Real Cure by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD and Bill Gottlieb, CHC the authors explain how to treat adrenal exhaustion through diet and nutritional supplementation.

Adrenal Exhaustion

Real Causes

•Nutritional Deficiencies. A lack of nutrients—particularly vitamin C and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)—prevents the adrenal glands from recovering.

•Happiness Deficiency. Chronic stress exhausts the adrenal glands.

•Hormonal Imbalances. The nutrient deficiencies trigger imbalances in the hormonal system.

•Sleep Problems. Lack of sleep makes exhausted adrenal glands even more exhausted.

Let’s review some of the ways that your adrenal glands let you know they’re worn out. Do any of these descriptions fit you?

•You’re fatigued first thing in the morning and find it hard to get out of bed.

•You’re tired all the time—and when you’re under stress, you’re even more tired.

•You like the energy you feel when you’re dealing with a crisis because it’s one of the few times you actually feel energetic.

•When you’re hungry, you feel intensely irritable. (“Feed me now, or I’ll kill you!” is a thought you might be having. Candy bar advertisers have promoted the term “Hangry.” A good term, but candy bars are one of the worst things you can eat when you are Hangry!)

•You have frequent viral infections such as sore throats and colds, and they take quite a while to clear up.

•Sometimes you feel dizzy when you stand up.

You can find a complete description of this common condition (it afflicts millions of people, the majority of them women) in Hormonal Imbalances on page. There you’ll discover what your adrenal glands do—how they can become exhausted, the many health problems caused by adrenal exhaustion, and how you can tell if you might have the problem.

But what you won’t find in that chapter, and will find in this one, is even better: the Real Cure Regimen to solve the problem of adrenal exhaustion (which I also call adrenal burnout). Like all my Real Cure Regimens, it’s easy to implement and (if the experience of thousands of patients is any guide) likely to be very effective.

Ready to start feeling energetic again?

Real Cure Regimen

The regimen consists of three parts that address the real causes of adrenal exhaustion: (1) a diet that normalizes low blood sugar (glucose), a main feature of adrenal exhaustion; (2) nutrients to help your adrenal glands strengthen and recover; and (3) mental and emotional attitudes that reduce adrenal-exhausting stress.

The Adrenal-Strengthening Diet

The first part of this diet is the foods you don’t eat—because these foods fatigue your adrenals.

•Swear off sweets. Yes, a candy bar and other types of sugar-laden sweets can lift your spirits—for a little while. Sugary sweets first pump up and then deflate your blood sugar levels, and that rapid and repeated rise and fall exhausts your glucose-controlling adrenal glands. However…

When blood sugar levels are low—when you feel particularly tired and irritable—try eating just a little sugar to help your levels normalize: one-half packet (half a teaspoon) of table sugar. (That’s about the amount of sugar in four Tic Tacs.) Place the sugar under your tongue for fast absorption. You’ll find just that little bit is enough to increase blood sugar levels and eliminate anxiety and irritability quickly without a ride on the roller coaster of glucose spikes and dips. For sugary sweetness, use natural, nonsugar sweeteners such as stevia (I like NOW foods BetterStevia and Stevia Select) or stevia combined with erythritol (Truvia and Pure Via).

•Cut the caffeine. Like sugar, caffeine forces the adrenal glands into action—and eventual exhaustion. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee in the morning, then decaf the rest of the day. Better yet, switch to good-for-you green tea, which has unique components that don’t stimulate adrenals—and it contains theanine, a compound that increases both calmness and concentration. One cup contains 25 milligrams of caffeine, so you don’t have to worry about overdoing it on the caffeine. (But don’t drink more than 10 cups per day—a level of intake you’re unlikely to even get close to.)

•Pig out on protein. I’m not recommending you overeat, but I am encouraging you to enthusiastically consume protein-rich foods, such as poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, beans, and nuts. They help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Wait a minute: Did I just advise you to eat more eggs, the cholesterol criminal? Here’s the breaking news about eggs: Numerous studies show that eating two eggs a day doesn’t raise cholesterol levels. Eggs deliver the most balanced protein on Mother Nature’s menu. Enjoy them!

And speaking of balance: Include plenty of vegetables (particularly nutrient-dense leafy greens) with your high-protein meals.

•Eat a little, and eat often. Three squares aren’t the right gastronomic geometry for a person with adrenal exhaustion. Go for five (or even six) smaller, high-protein, low-sugar meals, a style of eating known as grazing. But don’t increase your total daily calorie intake.

•Drink more water, eat more salt. Here’s why. Your adrenal glands are responsible for not only maintaining blood sugar levels, but also regulating blood volume and blood pressure— tasks that require plenty of water and salt. But if you have weakened adrenal glands, your body doesn’t adequately retain either water or salt. In fact, two signs of adrenal exhaustion are (1) feeling thirsty and urinating more, and (2) craving salt.

A Meal Plan for Your Adrenal Glands

A day of adrenal-healing foods should look something like this:

•Breakfast. Good news for those with weak adrenals: Eggs, meat, and cheese—in a delicious dish such as a ham and cheese omelet—are a great way to start the day. So are moderate amounts of foods such as milk, yogurt, and other dairy products. But avoid high-carbohydrate foods like pancakes, potatoes, and white bread. (One slice of whole grain bread is okay.)

•Midmorning snack. A cube of cheese. A handful of mixed nuts. A hard-boiled egg. You get the high-protein picture.

•Lunch. Meat is on the menu again—fish, chicken, or a hamburger (skip the bun). Include a vegetable salad, or better yet, have a green salad liberally topped with tuna or chicken.

•Afternoon snack. Eat this snack two or three hours after lunch. Use the same types of high-protein foods you munched on midmorning. In fact, make sure to keep them handy!

•Dinner. Meat meal number three, with plenty of vegetables on the side. Or have a bean dish. Fresh fruit is a wonderful dessert.

•Bedtime snack. A glass of protein-rich warm milk (or almond milk) is soothing and promotes sleep. Add an egg, some cheese, or an ounce or two of nuts. Good night—and good health!

The simple solution: To assist your exhausted adrenals, you need to drink more water and eat more salt. About this time, you might be asking yourself, “Isn’t salt like, well, like eggs?” Exactly—it’s not bad for you, even though just about everybody says it is. Studies link higher intakes of salt to increased life span. (The exception: If you have high blood pressure or heart failure, don’t increase your salt intake without your physician’s okay.)

Exactly how much water and salt is more water and salt? I’m not one for driving yourself crazy by trying to keep perfect track of mealtime measurements such as grams and servings that are so beloved by academics and government officials. If you’re thirsty, drink. If you crave salt, add a dash of it to your foods. Let your body tell you what’s good for you.

Adrenal-Supporting Supplements

The supplements in the Real Cure Regimen have three purposes: They supply the health supporting factors your exhausted adrenals can’t; they help normalize blood sugar levels; and they help your dog-tired glands start wagging their hormonal tails again.

I think you’ll find that taking these supplements boosts your energy levels and once your adrenals are healed, you’ll find that you’re sick less often. They also smooth out your moods, perhaps saving you thousands of dollars you might have spent on a therapist or divorce attorney!

Here are the supplements I recommend. For simplicity’s sake, take Adrenaplex from Terry Naturally. It contains all the nutrients below and is dramatically helpful in countering adrenal exhaustion. However, if you are a woman with a condition that creates high testosterone (polycystic ovary syndrome or diabetes), or you have breast cancer or are a breast cancer survivor, use Adrenal Stress End from Nature’s Way instead. It doesn’t contain DHEA or pregnenolone, which are contraindicated for those conditions.

•Adrenal extracts: 200 milligrams to 500 milligrams daily. An adrenal extract or “glandular” supplement is a nutrient-rich portion of tissue from the adrenal gland of a cow or pig. In my experience with patients, taking an adrenal glandular is one of the fastest ways to supply exhausted glands with the raw material they need to revive and thrive. It’s as if your adrenal glands are starving and you feed them—until they’re strong enough to start making their own bountiful supply of glucose-balancing, energy-giving hormones. But not all adrenal extracts are equal in purity or potency. In addition to the ones made by Terry Naturally and Nature’s Way, Cortisol Manager from Integrative Therapeutics and Adrenal Complex from Standard Process are other glandular products I suggest to patients.

•Licorice root: 125 milligrams to 400 milligrams daily. This herb helps out the adrenals by slowing the body’s breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol. As a result, the already weary adrenals don’t need to make as much.

•Chromium: 200 micrograms daily. This mineral helps normalize blood sugar, particularly in people under stress—and people with exhausted adrenals always feel under stress.

•Vitamin C: 200 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams daily. Your adrenal glands are the spot in the body that contains more vitamin C than any other. (Your brain contains a lot, too.)

The vitamin C is crucial in the manufacture of cortisol and other adrenal hormones—and more vitamin C helps.

•Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 100 milligrams to 300 milligrams daily. This B vitamin also helps boost the production of cortisol. In fact, a diet deficient in pantothenic acid can make your adrenals shrink!

•Tyrosine: 450 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams daily. Your body uses this amino acid to make noradrenaline.

•Pregnenolone: 15 mg. The raw material for all the other adrenal hormones

Bioidentical Adrenal Hormones

As you can read in the chapter on Hormonal Imbalances (page 84), I’m a great believer in correcting hormonal imbalances with bioidentical hormones—natural and exact replicas of the chemical structure of your own hormones. If the diet and supplements in the Real Cure Regimen for adrenal exhaustion don’t solve the problem, then it’s time to sit down with a holistic-minded doctor and consider taking bioidentical adrenal hormones. There are two…

•Cortisol. This adrenal hormone is available by prescription: hydrocortisone from a compounding pharmacy (which creates customized medications on site), or Cortef from a standard pharmacy. When I supplement in my patients, I recommend 5 milligrams to 20 milligrams of hydrocortisone or Cortef. Higher doses can be toxic. I find that these dosages are quite safe for my patients. However, long-term use of higher dosages can be very dangerous: They can suppress the adrenal gland (supplied with too much cortisol, it stops working), causing diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or osteoporosis.

•DHEA is a key adrenal hormone linked to energy, youthfulness, and good health. It is available without a prescription. But if you take more than 10 milligrams a day, I recommend you use this hormone with the guidance and supervision of a holistic physician, who can order a test for your blood level of DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, a version of DHEA), to help guide dosage.

General guidelines when using this test to determine dosage are…

For my patients, I find that an optimal dose is usually 5 milligrams to 10 milligrams for women and 25 milligrams to 50 milligrams for men. As with many supplements, quality is not consistent in the marketplace. I recommend the brand from Nature’s Way, which is available in 5 milligram and 25 milligram dosages.

There are several cautions when using DHEA. Too-high doses can cause acne or darkening of facial hair. If you have a hormone-sensitive cancer, such as prostate or breast, don’t use this hormone without your doctor’s permission.

For more ways to fix root causes of common health problems, purchase Real Cause, Real Cure from

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