Updated: Nov 17, 2021
If you are suffering from adrenal dysfunction, you are not alone.
We treat hundreds of patients each year with adrenal dysfunction at our Portland Naturopathic clinic.
In this guide, we will cover:
The cause and symptoms of adrenal dysfunction; and
How to treat adrenal function naturally
Table of Contents
What Is Adrenal Dysfunction?
Sometimes called adrenal fatigue or hypoadrenia, this condition is becoming all too common in today's modern society.
Your adrenal glands are your "stress glands", they're about the size of your thumbs and sit on top of your kidneys (also called the suprarenal glands), and are responsible for producing several hormones:
Neurohormones: Such as adrenaline
Mineralocorticoids: Such as aldosterone
Glucocorticoids: Such as cortisol
Sex Hormones: Such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
These hormones work together to regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and stress response.
Adrenal fatigue or dysfunction at its extreme form is referred to as Addison's disease, which is the complete failure of the adrenal glands. This is an autoimmune condition where the immune system has destroyed the glands to the point they can no longer function.
This can be life-threatening and requires immediate hospitalization and treatment (1).
What Causes Adrenal Dysfunction?
Stress is the largest cause. As these glands are responsible for the hormone production that allows us to survive stressful events, they're the ones under fire when we have significant stressful events (i.e. surgery, death in the family, car accidents, etc.) as well as chronic, lower level stressors.
These can include:
Daily traffic stress
At some point, the body can't keep up with these demands and something has to give (2).
Today's modern society is nothing but stress — we're rushing to work, have to deal with deadlines and expectations there then need to get home, sit in traffic again, make a meal for the family before it's too late, deal with relationship issues, balance the checkbook and deal with debts, make sure we get some exercise and sleep in at some point — and do it all while looking great and making it look easy.
This isn't realistic and isn't what our bodies were designed for. As a result, we see changes in our …
Hormone balance; and
Our response to these stressors
… which often includes increased anxiety and/or panic attacks.
Adrenal Dysfunction Symptoms
Symptoms of adrenal dysfunction can include:
Fatigue and weakness, especially in the afternoon (when cortisol levels are naturally lower)
Depression and anxiety
Low blood pressure