Adrenal Fatigue: Symptoms & Healing Alternatives

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.


Adrenal fatigue is characterized by relentless, debilitating fatigue. The adrenal glands are your body’s primary “shock absorbers.” These two little thumb-sized glands sitting on top of your kidneys produce hormones including norepinephrine, cortisol and DHEA that allow you to respond to the conditions of your daily life in healthy and flexible ways.

I will discuss adrenal fatigue symptoms and adrenal fatigue treatments below, but first, you should know about the hormones that are involved in adrenal insufficiency.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?

Norepinephrine (also called adrenaline) is commonly thought of as the fight-or-flight hormone. It’s produced when something is (or you think it is) threatening.

This hormone makes your heart pound, your blood rush to your heart and large muscle groups, your pupils widen, your brain sharpen, and your tolerance for pain increase—basically, it prepares you for battle.

Modern-day battles are most likely things like pushing your body to keep going when it’s fatigued, dealing with a stressful job, and reacting with quick reflexes to avoid a traffic accident.

Think of these adrenaline surges as withdrawals from a bank, to help you get through life’s rough spots. If you have gotten into the habit of withdrawing adrenaline from your account too often, you’ll eventually be overdrawn and your adrenal glands will be overwhelmed. Then, you’ll have too little adrenaline when you actually need it.

Cortisol increases your appetite and energy level while toning down your immune system’s allergic and inflammatory responses. This hormone stimulates the storage and release of energy in the body, helps the body resist the stressful effects of infections, trauma, and temperature extremes, and helps you maintain stable emotions. Synthetic versions of cortisol — prednisone and cortisone, for example — are often prescribed to help people perk up and feel better so they will eat, drink, and move around more and therefore be better able to fight off illness or heal from an injury.

Ideally, cortisol is released into the system only on an occasional basis, rather than in response to chronic stress. If cortisol levels become too high for too long, they may have undesirable side effects, including loss of bone density, muscle wasting, thinning of the skin, decreased ability to build protein, kidney damage, fluid retention, spiking blood sugar levels, weight gain, and increased vulnerability to bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeasts, allergies, parasites, and even cancer.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an androgen that is produced by both the adrenal glands and the ovaries. DHEA helps to neutralize cortisol’s immune-suppressant effect, thereby improving resistance to disease. (Cortisol and DHEA are inversely proportional to each other. When one is up, the other goes down.) DHEA also helps to protect and increase bone density, guards cardiovascular health by keeping “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels under control, provides vitality and energy, sharpens the mind, and helps maintain normal sleep patterns.

Like norepinephrine and cortisol, DHEA also improves your ability to recover from episodes of stress and trauma, overwork, temperature extremes, etc. And if a woman is experiencing a decline in libido due to falling testosterone levels, often it is declining DHEA levels that are at the root of the testosterone deficiency, as DHEA is the main ingredient the body uses to manufacture testosterone.

If the intensity and frequency of the stresses in your life — either those internally driven (such as your perceptions about your life) or those externally driven (such as having surgery or working the night shift) — become too great, then over time your adrenal glands will begin to become exhausted. This will mean that you are much more likely to suffer from fatigue and menopausal symptoms. And a woman in a state of adrenal fatigue is likely to find herself at a distinct disadvantage when entering perimenopause, because perimenopause itself is an additional form of stress.

Adrenal insufficiency usually suggests that there are long-standing life problems in need of resolution. These issues will loom all the larger when seen with the no-nonsense mental clarity of perimenopause, but not only will adrenal exhaustion make the transition needlessly unpleasant, it also can deprive a woman of the resources she needs to address those issues and to take full advantage of the creative promise of the second half of her life.

Abnormal adrenaline and cortisol levels can result in mood disorders, sleep disturbances, reduced resistance to disease, and changes in vital circulation. Because these side effects are not uncomfortable enough to be intolerable, a self-destructive, adrenal-depleting lifestyle often continues. DHEA, which helps the body recover from this sort of chronic abuse, gets revved up full time instead of only episodically.

Gradually the adrenal glands become seriously exhausted, with the first and most profound effect being their waning ability to produce DHEA. As levels of this restorative hormone fall, cortisol and adrenaline levels begin to fluctuate as well, as the adrenal glands attempt to fill increasingly impossible orders for more support.

The result is often relentless, debilitating fatigue that is the hallmark of adrenal insufficiency. Though this fatigue is often accompanied by depressed mood, irritability, and loss of interest in life, this doesn’t mean that the adrenal exhaustion is necessarily the cause of the mood change, any more than similar problems are always caused by thyroid malfunction. That is why these emotional symptoms do not always go away with treatment — the underlying issues remain unresolved until they are specifically addressed by behavior and lifestyle changes.

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

Here are some typical signs that you have adrenal exhaustion: You awaken feeling groggy and have difficulty dragging yourself out of bed. You can’t get going without that first cup or two of caffeinated coffee or tea. You not only rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get through the day but find you actually crave sweets, particularly in the late morning or afternoon. (Perhaps you’ve even been diagnosed with hypoglycemia.) Your thinking is foggy and you have memory problems. You suffer from recurrent infections, headaches and depression. At night, though exhausted, you have trouble falling asleep as the worries of the day replay in your head and you suffer from insomnia. Ordinary stresses have an impact that is out of proportion to their importance. You wonder what happened to your interest in sex. If this description fits you, your adrenals may be running on empty, even if all your conventional medical tests are normal.

Conventional blood tests, taken at whatever time your doctor has scheduled your appointment, might indicate that your adrenals are normal. However, a better diagnostic approach will test your levels at different times of the day, which is much more likely to reveal an out-of-whack pattern of cortisol or DHEA secretion. Adrenal fatigue is characterized by cortisol levels that are too high at night and not high enough in the morning.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue

Unabated stress over long periods of time that is not addressed, combined with a nutrient-poor diet, is what usually leads to adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal Fatigue Treatment: Healing Alternatives

If an adrenal test shows that you are producing inadequate levels of adrenal hormones, several routes are available for increasing either DHEA, cortisol, or both.

First, you can take the hormone directly. If you take DHEA, opt for small doses of pharmaceutical grade DHEA (5–10 mg/day, but possibly up to 25 mg once or twice a day).1

Have your levels retested every three months, and when levels return to the normal range, the dose should be gradually tapered until you’re off the hormone completely.

Some individuals require very small doses of hydrocortisone, which can be used safely and effectively if prescribed by a health care provider knowledgeable about how and when to use it.

Be aware that if you supplement your adrenal hormones in dosages that are too high, or if you take supplements for too long, the result can be permanent depression of adrenal function.

Spiritual and Holistic Options

A far better option for healing adrenal fatigue over the long run is to restore adrenal health and function so your adrenals can eventually produce the hormones you need on their own. That will require making changes in the lifestyle that caused the adrenal insufficiency. Here are some suggestions:

  • Focus more on loving thoughts. Thoughts that bring you pleasure (like thinking about people you love, favorite pets, a delicious meal, or even a sweet memory) short-circuit the harm done by the body’s physiological reaction to stress. This learning to “think with your heart” may be challenging at first, but it’s definitely worth it. If you faithfully learn this and regularly pay attention to areas of your life that bring you joy and fulfillment, you will evoke biochemical changes in your body over time that will recharge your adrenal batteries. (For assistance, I recommend the training programs and books from The Institute of HeartMath.)
  • In addition, do more things that bring you pleasure and make you laugh and fewer activities that feel like obligations. Spend more time with people who make you feel good and less time with people who are draining.
  • Dwell more on what you like about yourself and less on what you see as your limitations. In short, have more fun! Make pleasure a priority instead of a luxury.
  • Allow yourself to accept nurturing and affection. If you didn’t learn how to do this as a child, you may need to practice it. Every morning before you get up, spend a minute or two reveling in a memory of a time you felt loved. Do the same at night. Imagine your heart being filled with this love. Use affirmations that help you feel deserving of this nurturing and love.
  • Follow a healthy, whole foods diet with minimal sugar and adequate protein. (Every meal or snack should contain some protein.) Avoid caffeine because it whips your adrenals into a frenzy. Also avoid fasting or cleansing regimens because they can weaken you further.
  • Take a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement.
  • Try herbal support, including:
    – Licorice root: This herb contains plant hormones that mimic the effects of cortisol. Start with a small amount and gradually work up to one-quarter teaspoon solid licorice root extract three times per day. Baschetti2 Make sure to monitor blood pressure, as licorice may increase blood pressure in susceptible individuals.
    – Siberian ginseng: One of the components of Siberian ginseng is related to a precursor for DHEA and cortisol. Try one 100 mg capsule two times a day. It can have a stimulating effect, though, so if it interferes with your sleep, take it before three p.m.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Sleep is the most effective approach to high adrenaline levels. Many women require eight to ten hours of sleep to function optimally. Try to go to bed by ten P.M. Getting to sleep on the earlier side of midnight is much more restorative to your adrenals than sleep that begins later in the night, even if you sleep late the next morning to get in your full amount of sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular light-to-moderate exercise is helpful, but not so much that you feel depleted afterward. Pushing yourself beyond your limits weakens your adrenals even further, so start slowly—even if it’s only walking down your street and back. Then build up slowly.
  • Get more exposure to natural sunlight. This is not only good for your adrenal glands, but it boosts vitamin D, as well. Sunbathe only in the early morning or later afternoon, however, never in midday; and never get enough exposure to burn or even redden your skin. Work up to ten to fifteen minutes of exposure three to four times per week. 
  • Prioritize. Make a list of your most important activities and commitments, and then let everything else go. Don’t agree to a new task or commitment unless it’s something that will recharge your batteries.

Learn More — Additional Resources



  1. Regleson, W., et al. (1994). Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) — the “mother steroid.” I. Immunologic action. Ann. New York Acad. Sciences, 719, 553-563; Yen, S. S. C. (1995). Replacement of DHEA in aging men and women: Potential remedial effects. Ann. New York Acad. Science, 774, 128–142.
  2. Baschetti, R. (1995). Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and licorice (Letter). New Zealand Medical Journal, 108, 156–157; Golan, R. (1995). Optimal wellness (p. 203). New York: Ballantine Books.Stormer, F. C., et al. (1993). Glycyrrhizic acid in licorice: Evaluation of health hazard. Federal Chemistry & Toxicology, 31, 303–312.
Last Updated: October 17, 2006

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Susie
    1 year ago

    Thank you, thank you.

  2. Terry
    1 year ago

    I see this is a ladies’ site. Does anyone know of any resources for the middle aged man? I am 16 months post cold turkey from klonazapam (benzodiazapine). My body mind soul have been torn apart by the protracted withdrawal symptoms. Now fighting issues with hypoglycemia. Any help appreciated. terry

  3. Caroline W Kane
    1 year ago

    This is the most comprehensive and sensitive post I’ve ever seen on adrenal fatigue and how it is affected by menopause or perimenopause. I’m speechless and enlightened.

  4. Cara
    2 years ago

    My practitioner saw my serum DHEA was s little low and told me to take 25mg of DHEA per day. I did this for a month and started feeling horrible. Angry, irritable, yet weepy…I stopped taking it. Another practitioner happened to do some blood work while I was on the DHEA and my DHEA was almost in the high range and my testosterone was 48, which is high. For the last week I have been feeling pretty bad. I am worried that my practitioner permanently damaged my adrenals. Is this possible? Or is everything just out of whack and will go.back to where it was?
    I normally have have health issues and don’t feel super, but I think I now feel worse.

  5. Becky
    2 years ago

    Will raw adrenal supplements interfere with any estrogen or testosterone supplements I take? I’ve had a total hysterectomy and both ovaries out as well. 12 years ago and the age of 31.

  6. Terrie Lazarus
    2 years ago

    I have been living in fatigue help and went to hematologist who order 10 tubes of blood work.
    A 2 was all I have in cortisol which is way below minimum range of 8. Probably fried adrenal and Addison. I will be taking prednisone and dhea for the rest of my life. Probably all my gastro issues and cvid disorder are all connected. I can tell you that my spiritual background and training in alternative healing are worthless to fight this condition

  7. Debi
    2 years ago

    Can’t believe what I just read! ‘Adrenal insufficiency usually means there are long standing life problems’ and ‘because these side effects are not uncomfortable enough to be intolerable’ Is this a joke?! Adrenal insufficiency is a condition, usually autoimmune where the adrenal glands are destroyed. This is in no way because of any life problems! The symptoms of adrenal insufficiency aka Addison’s disease are so severe they greatly alter life and can be life threatening. A person with Addison’s disease needs medicine or they will die from this condition. They are also at risk of an adrenal crisis, this is life threatening and can be brought on by illness or extreme stress. If your adrenal glands are not working properly trust me you will know about it and an ACTH test will clinically prove low levels of cortisol. Please remind me of the tests for adrenal fatigue? Oh that’s right there aren’t any. Just pick a few symptoms out of the 75 listed, many of which contradict themselves greatly. Make sure to ignore any medical tests which have shown you to be in range and just like that you have adrenal fatigue – a condition which has no medical standing, no scientific evidence and was made up by a chiropractor! Let me do you all a favour – none of you have adrenal fatigue. This is a fact

    1. Mary Anthony
      2 years ago

      Debi please look up General Adaptation Syndrome. Back in 1936 it was entered into the medical literature and encompasses what the chiropractor tried to define and then some – there was no need to reinvent the wheel, but sadly the work is no longer well known. The man (Dr Hans Selye) who did the studies and defined the syndrome also appropriated the word “stress” from physics and it entered into medical vernacular as a result. Most of what we know of the stress response and the effects of stress is based upon the foundation of his work (as is our understanding of adrenal hormones). The bottom line is that by whatever name, adrenal insufficiency is real, it’s been very well defined and mapped and virtually undisputed since 1936, just not called by its proper medical name: General Adaptation Syndrome. It’s a syndrome because it’s a cluster of symptoms; it’s not a disease as is Addison’s.
      Now some of the mumbo jumbo being promoted as a result of so many seeking help from the symptoms and the lack of understanding of the syndrome might lend credence to the idea that it’s not real, but those who’ve suffered from a systemic slowdown in response to prolonged or extreme acute stress can testify that it is indeed real.

    2. Leslie Dolan
      2 years ago

      Wow Debi…you seem very angry. Just think of all the adrenaline you just wasted trying to disprove the work of someone who sincerely is trying to give people the answers to why they are feeling so sick. Dr Northrup is one of a few MD’s out there that actually appreciates all factors that can impact someone’s health. She isn’t pushing voodoo here. The bottom line is STRESS CAN KILL YOU. You seem like a very intelligent well read person. All those things are important but having joy in your life is important too.

  8. Claire Stent
    2 years ago

    I’ve just started taking Siberian Ginseng (in drop form) and just after the first dose, it had an immediate effect and I started to lose the water I had been retaining and I’m not feeling so “dead” in the mornings. I understand it’s best to take it for up to 3 weeks and then have a break from it. I’ll try 2 weeks and 2 weeks off maybe and see how that goes. I’m also using Natural Progesterone cream (morning and evening) – Emerita is the make – as well as other things but definitely noticed a huge different with the Ginseng. I shall continue.

    1. Claire Stent
      2 years ago

      Just to add to my comment above. After taking Siberian Ginseng for about 8 weeks, I had a break for 2 weeks and started back on it again. Yes, taking it in the afternoon has left me with insomnia for a couple of nights and also an upset/colicky stomach so this is quite powerful stuff. I’m sure it’s brought on my next period a couple of days early too.

  9. CWB
    2 years ago

    ADRENAL FATIGUE IS NOT ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY! THE former is not AMA/medically recognized, and the latter is diagnosed with a blood test, and potentially fatal! Do not confuse the two! The only treatment for AI is life long steroid replacement, and anyone who says otherwise is taking your life in their hands!
    ….an AI patient

    1. Deborah
      2 years ago

      I have mild AI and my doctor is putting me on a smail dose of hydrocortisone for a short period….it can be done.

    2. Jill Nau
      2 years ago

      Agreed. Thank you for this post. True adrenal insufficiency requires steroids.

  10. Bene
    3 years ago

    I felt all kind of terrible symptoms too and could feel I was on the way to an auto immune disease or cancer. I decided to take a gigantic break from it all and went to walk 250 miles in 3 weeks and it changed my life. I have let go of a lot of traumas from my childhood and as such have gained peace of mind and heart. Amazing! My symptoms have all but disappeared. I feel happier and lighter now. I recommend this therapy for all whatever your physical shape. One day at a time. How liberating!

    1. REINE
      1 year ago

      10 miles a day! WOW!!

  11. Andrea
    3 years ago

    I am struggling with Gaining weight back from adrenal fatigue. I dropped a massive amount of weight that I didn’t have to lose in the first place. I would surely appreciate any advice or feedback on what I need to do. I know a lot of people struggle with weight gain, but losing weight can also happen. Please and thank you for your help. 🙂

  12. Debbie
    3 years ago

    I’m currently taking a supplement that contains bovine adrenals and bovine spleen. I have adrenal fatigue, IBS, and insomnia, and my naturopath follows the four pillars of world cuisine plan. Is it dangerous to takes glandular supplements? The product is from Standard Process and they are very reputable. Still, I have my concerns. Should I trust my naturopath on this?

  13. Cyndi Salmon
    3 years ago

    I had a bilateral adrenalectomy 30 years ago. I take Prednisone and Flourinef replacement steroids. But I’m tired and depressed all the time. I’ve never taken DHEA and wondering if would help me? I’m menopausal. I’m 57 years old. I don’t have osteoporosis. My adrenal glands were removed when I was 17 – I was diagnosed with Cushings Disease. Later on I had a pituitary adenoma removed. I still have my pituitary gland. It’s functioning properly. My fatigue interferes with my life.

  14. Bren
    3 years ago

    I have been working in a very high stress environment for the last several months. Within a month of starting this job I started having what felt like heart attacks but which the ER docs told me were panic attacks. I ended up having to take a leave of absence to recover and finally resigned when I realized that I literally dreaded going back to work to that point that every time I thought about returning I felt the anxiety attacks starting. It’s been a month now since I quit and I still feel physically exhausted and unhealthy with frequent heart palpitations and dizzy spells. Drs including cardio can’t find anything physically wrong with me. Does this sound like adrenal fatigue to you? If so, How do I get my health back to normal? FYI I’ve been in perimenopause for about 3 years now I still get my period about once every 3-4 months and they are generally very heavy and last for about 3-5 days.

    1. Oc
      3 years ago

      Sounds similar to symptoms I had been experiencing. I was so debilitated with chest pain, dizziness and shortness of breath, that I was hospitalized. The cardiologist tested me with everything he could think of all kept coming back normal. Finally, he diagnosis me with Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia. A diagnosis by ruling all else out. Just weeks prior I found out my hormone levels are in menopausal range. I was not feeling stressed that was out of the ordinary and this came out of nowhere. I asked the cardiologist if he thought this was due to menopause and he said he did not think so, bet there’s no studies on this but I have researched lots of blogs with similar descriptions. You may want to look into this. Hope this helps.

  15. Maggie
    3 years ago

    I have a question. I experienced quite severe adrenal weakness symptoms after gradually increasing DHEA until I was taking 30 mg. a day. I couldn’t even exercise like I always have . I know now that I should have not taken it as I have a history of low blood sugar. I stopped the DHEA entirely and started takiing licorice root caps, 3 caps 3x a day with meals. I feel so much better! My blood pressure was not too low when I started, 120 over 72, but yesterday, it was 137 over 92 with a resting pulse of 66. I am afraid to cut out the licorice, because every time I cut it out entirely in the past, I don’t feel well. Even though I also take a good Adrenal glandular too. Maybe if I cut it down to 2 caps 2 times a day? i wonder if that would lower my blood pressure enough. Btw, I am a 62 year old female in good health otherwise and on no meds.

  16. Felecia
    4 years ago

    I have below optimal cortisol, high DHEA, low epinephrine and low dopamine, hypothyroid and POTS. I wake up every morning around 4 am feeling panicky with my heart racing and can’t get back to sleep. I’m very tired on and off through the day, head feels floaty and at times I have symptoms of depersonalization. I feel like I’m losing my mind alot of the time. Anyone have any ideas of what can help? I have a 9 year old and I’m so depressed, I want to be there for him and this is so difficult.

    1. Kate
      4 years ago

      You described exactly what I was experiencing this past Fall, and I developed POTS in February… it was terrifying to feel this way… and I only got worse overy the winter. I feel for you. Have you joined the Adrenal Fatigue Recovery group on Facebook? I’ve learned a lot on there. I found I was waking up at 4am due to low blood sugar, which caused my body to go into a stress state, which spiked my cortisol and caused me to wake up. I’d cook eggs and bacon and go back to bed. I found that eating a high protein snack just before bed would help, and eating a big high protein breakfast first thing in the AM kept my blood sugar more stable throughout the day. My blood sugar is under control now. Best of luck!
      I drink sole water with fresh OJ every

    2. cindy
      3 years ago

      I started taking Cortex (not Cortrex) an hour before each of my low cortisol times and it has really helped. I have had many of your same symptoms. I take two at 6:00 am and then three other times during the day. I am not a doctor so you may want to check with someone first. The Cortrex can make your heart race as it has adrenaline in it. Hope this helps!

  17. Sandy
    4 years ago

    Hello I am postmenopausal and I have a lot of symptoms like fatigue brain fog not having energy I did not get hot flashes. My DHEA levels low my testosterone level is low, and the doctor thought that putting me on HRT was the solution. Would it be better for me to try to raise my DHT levels? And how’s the best way to do that? Thank you

  18. Felicia Craggs
    4 years ago

    Wondering if any of you have this happening…my symptoms are worse each month around the same day the 20th. Starts out feeling flu like massive headache, body aches slight fever, nausea. And in 2-3 days it starts to dissipate and then moves to my lower back and nerve like radiating pain in my lower back. Usually lasting 2-3 days, this month it came earlier and lasted longer 6 nights to be exact. Happens like this each month. Today, the Endocrinologist told me it’s not hormones/menopausal. What the heck!!

    1. Wendy
      3 years ago

      Well, it MUST be Hormones, what else would happen like clockwork at the same time each month?
      i have found that Doctors dont always have the answers, but i will say this!!! GO GET ANOTHER opinion, which i bet you have since your post was 1 year ago, please come back and tell us how you are.
      Btw my situation has not changed (scroll down) the only thing now is m periods are 4-5 months apart, i HOPE this is the End soon and m water retention goes away!!!

  19. Kay
    4 years ago

    I have one adrenal gland due to hyperaldostronism . My dr only checks for aldosterone now. I’m concerned about my remaining adrenal gland. Any though would be greatly appreciated .

  20. Susan murphy
    4 years ago

    I have had chronic fatigue for 33 years. At the beginning of perimenopause I stopped making adequate adrenaline. A plasma catacholamines test and a 24 hour urine test prove this. My cortisol runs high. Do you have any thoughts as to how I can get my adrenaline back?
    Thank you

  21. Ak
    4 years ago

    I have adrenal fatigue, I have been on the leaky gut diet for about 7 weeks now. I wake up in the morning quite dizzy and having higher blood pressure, why is this.? Any comments would be helpful

  22. Charlotte
    4 years ago

    Just out of curiosity, have anyone of you had your D vitamin levels checked??

    1. Kathryn Wells
      4 years ago

      This is a great question! I was Vitamin D deficient, and I started supplementing with 5,000 IUs of D3. It has made a huge difference in resolving my fatigue and brain fog!

      1. Rhonda
        3 years ago

        Vitamin D level has been 16 for a cpl yes now. My Dr. gave me vitamin D2 (plus it causes other symptoms) which did nothing for me either time she prescribed it. I later found out that D3 is better absorbed by the body- I plan to go to a Alternative Physician Feb 7th to have my labs drawn.
        It’s been my experience that medical doctors don’t want to test for vitamin def.
        My lingering issue is urinating frequently. Sometimes every hour (no infection gng on either- been gng on for abt 3 yrs. I’ve asked many Dr’s. and they have no idea- along with having hot flashes when my bladder wld get full. This goes on day & night-so to say I am sleeping soundly wld be a major stretch. I recently read an article that said the adrenals cold be the culprit. Can’t wait to get results from the labs this new Dr will draw. I’m soon to be 55 if the matters.Wondering if anybody else has experienced the freq urination/hot flash combination?

        1. LH
          2 years ago

          I experience the same thing when I’m low on estrogen. I take bio identical estrogen, but sometimes i forget a dose or something else, (like the Norco I take occasionally) lowers my estrogen. I don’t recommend the hrt that most Dr.s prescribe, but I’ve had good success with bio identical hormones. Hope you find some relief.

          PS If you’re post menopausal, your adrenals are supposed to take over for your ovaries to make estrogen. Mine never did, but I had radiation for cancer and the treatment area included my ovaries and adrenals.

  23. Jacqueline
    4 years ago

    I was diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency by a progressive doctor. She meant well, but she missed the boat completely. For some people, the adrenal-busting cycle is caused by sleep disorders like sleep apnea. A healthy lifestyle alone (or supplements or other treatments that only target adrenals) can’t fix the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysruption caused by sleep apnea, and many of the systems will overlap. Nocturnal breathing pauses cause a stress response, elevating cortisol, increasing exhaustion, sabotaging sleep quality and all of the regenerative work our bodies are meant to do during sleep. For women, sleep apnea is likely to go undiagnosed, because doctors think it is so rare in women that they don’t usually consider it as a differential diagnosis (even in women with PCOS, who are known to have the same rate of sleep apnea as men). For young and slender women, sleep apnea is unlikely to be diagnosed until it has already caused long-standing biological changes, even if a woman has classic symptoms of sleep apnea like loud snoring, observed pauses in sleep breathing, and significant daytime sleepiness. Sleep dysruption is a form of chronic stress, so it can overlap with adrenal insufficiency, and treating sleep problems can be a big help to solving the adrenal problems.

    1. Sonya
      4 years ago

      Magnesium and or potassium defeciencies can cause sleep disruptions also.

  24. Kir
    5 years ago

    Hey girls, I too am in the same boat at you. I am 49 and sure I have been Perimenopausal for several years. This year has been the worst. I am one giant hot flash 24/7, heat Palps, panic attacks, missing periods, edema all over, hair falling out (all comprehensive thyroid tests are normal), depression, out of control weight gain even from eating almost nothing, horrible sleep, digestive problems, gas and bloating all day, choaking on mucus 24/7 despite eating gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free, Lyme disease, bad, I mean really bad adrenal fatigue which worsened after my mom’s death two years ago, pain all over the body, severe fatigue, and about 30 other symptoms. I have been sick for over 20 years with Lyme, Epstein-Barr, mycoplasma, mold toxicity, Candida, hidden bio-unavailable copper toxicity, a clotting disorder from the Lyme, and sporadic HHV-6 and Cytomegalovirus, with no help. I live in Southern California. If anyone knows of a naturopath or integrative medical doctor who measures up to Dr. Northrop’s calibur, please, please email me Thanks so much.

    1. Kir
      5 years ago

      Marie, I tried to send you a reply to your email, but it got returned to me. I wanted to thank you for sending me the info, but explained shy in my reply to you why I don’t think your doctor can help. If you see this, please send me another email with an address I can get back to you at. Thanks.


    2. Pam
      4 years ago


      Why don’t you try Dr Kalish is based in California and specialises in these areas.

    3. Candace
      4 years ago

      Have you been tested for POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)?

    4. Lorena Cole
      4 years ago

      I don’t know someone out there, I’m on the east coast. However have you heard of a company called Inspired Nutrition. I’ve used the Ultimate Monolaurin, Skin defense, Silver Skin and C-A-Y defence and they worked great for my needs. The Ultimate Monolaurin is great product that benefits so many disorders and illnesses. Research Monolaurin on the Internet to see all that it can help. It works really well. It might be a great additive to what your taking. Also email me privately, my sister inlaw is in Seattle and I have a friend who is a chiropractor in CA, they might know of someone your way. send me exactly where you are, what your looking for and what’s going on and I will run it by both of them. I wish you the best in you journey to Great Health! Lorena

      1. Kathryn
        2 years ago

        Thanks for the introduction to Monolaurin. I just did a lot of research and there are many positIve comments on different sites. Did you take the bio-fibrin also?

  25. Christine davies
    5 years ago

    I really need help as can’t take the pumping feeling of fear. Exhustion beyond anything 8ve ever known. Bloating weight gain and can’t get it off..Low mood brain fog no energy and when push myself my whole body feels bruised and feet and legs hurt and I seem to swell up x

  26. wendy
    5 years ago

    Peri menopause…

    it hit me when i was 44, panic attacks every hour, 30 pounds of water weight in 6 months, and low blood sugar EVERY hour and a half.
    What have i tried? EVERYTHING, what has worked? only Vitamin C soo far, but that was for the panic attacks, i will now try licorice as i CANNOT tolerate drugs of any kind.
    Water weight stopped at 165lb, i WAS 135lbs. I am 5’6″
    My Mom had said it was all the calories, but my meals are soo small, just enough to keep blood sugar level, that they average out to be 3 meals a day plus snacks.
    Anyway, i haven’t gained or lost a thing in 6 years since it started and my calories have actually gone done.
    I thought that my Aldosterone was high, but it came back fine, but my Insulin was high and Insulin can cause Water Retention.
    I have now returned from hell, no Heart Palps in the night, no waking every hour, no panic attack anymore.
    Thank you God 🙂
    Now lets have Mother Nature release me from this Edema all over 🙂
    Come on…….please.

    I think it will, and this is all gonna be a bad memory.

    Hope this helps someone.

    1. wendy
      5 years ago

      I was tested for Cortisol issues, and it all came back “Normal” but my Endocrinologist was checking for Addison’s or Cushing’s, and i had neither.
      But i KNOW i had Adrenal Fatigue due to the change of life WITHOUT A DOUBT.
      The Heart Palps by the way, would come right around the time of my period, all though i was skipping periods and still have not completely reach “Menopause” yet, my left ovary isn’t working any more….but the right one is !!! 🙂 arrrg.
      WHY the Palps around the period?
      my brain hurts trying to figure this out…too much Estrogen? not enough Progesterone?, …or low Estrogen??
      just when i think i have figured it out, i dont HaHa, crazy

      any insight
      Dr. Northrup ?

      1. ann
        4 years ago

        any updates? How are you? I am in exactly the same boat as you. Except both ovaries are working. How old are you? Do you have high or low DHEA? Mine is super high. I have hypertension and now I am on blood pressure pills, twice a day. I an not over weight at all, and I eat great and exercise everyday. Except for the last month. I have been too sick, dizzy, to do much of anything but simple housework. No running, no yoga, cant do it. I have super high DHEA. No endo yet, I am trying progestin this week. It is low, I am esto dominant. Keep me posted.

        1. Wendy
          4 years ago

          Hello, at Age 51, 5’6″, Nothing has changed, i am still 165 to 170 depending on the Decision of GOD knows what, i went down to 163 last June after climbing to 170 and was ecstatic, no change in diet, i cannot exercise due to the Fibromyalgia (long story) but i am the busiest person i know, i hardly EVER sit down. My period was 2 months late in June of 2015, then it started, and my weight dropped 7 pounds in 5 days ! (from 170 to 163 in June 2015) i did nothing diff, then it climbed back up , doing nothing different, only my period was late again, for another 2 months.
          So here we are now in June 1rst, of 2016 and Saturday i thought i was dying, i was sooooo dizzy and almost passed out, i was inside and was plenty hydrated and not hot, then BAM the next day my period statred on day 18…NEVER in all the History of ME has that happened, last month it was day 31 and the month before THAT it started on day 72 !!!
          so i am like, okay, THAT was my Adrenals overreacting ! wow, i still have salt cravings, i have tried EVERYTHING.
          i remember the Adrenal crashes i had in the past Decades and they were ALL Hormone related, either i had gotten off the Pill or had a baby, or now……..Peri-Menopause, now come to think of it, i always thought i was overweight due to bad habits but now i know, that is NOT TRUE, it was Always an Hormonal Imbalance of some kind (not my thyroid, that is fine) now i look like i have Cushings….the “Moon Face” but my tests come back okay, so TOOO much Cortisol, now not enough? what the HECK am i supposed to do?
          I am clueless, one thing i know, in the past it always got better and the only thing i can remember was salting my food like crazy (i used Iodized salt in the past, now i get iodized Sea Salt )
          When ever i got Skinny, it was NEVER anything i “did”…it just happened, so my guess is that “Things” Balanced out.
          Dang, i can barely look in the Mirror, the Water Retention soo depressing.
          Some say cut back on Salt, i tried that and almost CROAKED.
          Listen to your Body i say. (of course tv dinners should be limited, not the Table Salt)
          All test come back normal, even my Potassium and Sodium Levels are “fine”.
          So i thought i had figured it out, LOW ESTROGEN causing the Adrenal Fatigue, since i tend to lose Waster Weight after my Period starts and thats when Estrogen begins to climb again, but then WHY some Periods i dont drop the edema? Too much imbalance, too much crap.
          And to make things even MORE complicated “Experts” say that when you crave Salt, that is a sign of Low Aldosterone, but then others say that the Swelling before the Period is not just low Progesterone, but High Aldosterone as well, so how can i have “High Aldosterone” in the final stages of Adrenal Fatigue..i say Final because the Panic attacks, Heart Palps and Insomnia are over, i am just having Low Blood Sugar sometimes and Salt Cravings always. IS it possible to have alternating Aldosterone levels EVEN in AF?
          and WHY am i still having Edema if i have “low” Aldosterone, this Doctor i have now, doesnt want to test for Aldosterone or Cortisol if it came back fine in the past….the past meaning at my other AF attack 10 years ago…

          I am Tired of it, i want this to stop. My appetite is down now and the low blood sugar is better, but SWOLLEN face and body is crazy…YES, my Heart and Kidneys are Fine.
          So my Progesterone is no doubt low? so what? i dont need to make babies anymore, and DO need Estrogen to survive.
          I will NOT use Progesterone Cream, i am sensitive to EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING,i had some kelp the other day and nearly Flipped out, too much iodine i guess. Dang.
          I even tried Natural Estrogen Supplements, but nothing worked, i thought maybe try that and the Adrenals will calm sown.
          Nope, mother Nature Decides on HER OWN!
          I look like a plump little Troll, and yet i do NOT over eat, and keeps insanely active. ARRRRG.

          My Breast are Ridiculously HUGE, they never have been in my life, and they Hurt, and i WISH Dr. Northrup would weigh in on this, and YES, PUN INTENDED 🙂
          Dang Perimenopause.

          1. Wendy
            4 years ago

            Another thing that baffles me,
            i thought that High Aldosterone meant Water Retention, so..okay, that makes sense in the beginning of AF, you make to much Cortisol and a lot of Aldosterone, even lose some Potassium?
            so then WHY is the EDEMA Still THERE in the End of AF? being told that Salt cravings are a sign of LOW Aldosterone, Salt cravings come at the End of AF (they always have for me)…then WHY is the Water Retention still happening?
            THIS is what i want to know.

            I went on a “Specialists in Sports Athletics” Webpage, he was a John Hopkins Grad student where he went on and on about Aldosterone and Renin, he was amazing…then when i asked him the above question, he said he did not know.

            So my Guess he was just repeating things he had read and was basically re-posting info,
            too bad, i was really hoping he had a clue, i cant get answers form my Doctors…insane.

          2. Wendy
            4 years ago

            I am sorry, there WAS one other thing i was doing back when i got better from Adrenal Fatigue and that was Hydrocortisone Cream, but at the time i thought NOTHING about it, and was only using it for my Rocesea on my face…i knew Nothing about AF when i started using it, the Pharmacist, told me dont over do it, it is a Steroid, so was careful, but i wonder now if that helped me, EACH time i got better there was HC Cream in my life, but NOW I TRY IT AND I TOTALLY PANIC !!!! go Figure that one out !!
            Maybe just a Red Herring? i dont know, but now i CANNOT try it to see if it will Help


      2. wendy
        4 years ago

        July 19th, 2016

        just had a test for Aldosterone yesterday, it will be back in 3 days, FINALLY in June, i got a new Doctor to pay attention to my Salt Cravings issue, she raised her eyebrows and said: “Yes, that is something we need to check out as soon as possible.”

        I had high cortisol when this started in 2009 but the Endo docs said Perimenopause can cause this and i did NOT have
        Addisions OR Cushings, simply AF, and that the Cortisol would go down later
        (surprising, most Docs dont believe in AF)
        they did NOT test for Aldosterone, but i think if they had, it would have been high.
        It doesn’t matter anyway, what is important now is, what is going on NOW.

        The Estrogen /Progesterone tests in 2009 were all within normal range, but my Adrenals felt otherwise…
        PERI MENOPAUSE is coming the Adrenals said, or rather: “It is HERE!”

        I did not have salt cravings in the beginning of this, but have now for a few years.

        This would indicate Low Aldo…..but WHY am i still having ALL OVER EDEMA? my Heart, Lungs, Kidney and Liver Tests just all came back just FINE.

        So unless anyone can answer that for me, so far NO one website has, my guess is that a person can STILL have Water Retention with Low Aldosterone.

        I will report back if any one is interested.

        Yesterdays FSH came back 70 indicating Menopausal stage…duh, really? 🙂

        They are also running a Progestin test with the Aldo, i asked for a Estrogen test, but she said do these first.

        Okaaaaay, but dope we dont have too, the Blood Draw yesterday made me REAL Dizzzzzzy, and indication of AF, i Felt BAD later, dont like that…

        Thanks all for your patience with my babbling.

        HANG IN THERE!

  27. Rose Marie
    5 years ago

    Well that explains it Dr. Northrup! After a difficult winter I was on my way to rejuvination and ran into a road hazard without warning. I have been freaking out ever since. Very concerned someone else will hit it and not be so lucky. I have withdrawn from my usual uplifting activities and feel as if I will emerg reborn. Living by a motto of “Eat right, get plenty of rest and exercise” has worked for decades, menopause is a trip! I will be preparing delicious meals to savor and add Licorice and Ginseng to replace caffine. Practice having more fun while “Celebrating peace and love always”. I was shaken hard enough in the accident that my pinky and ring fingers are numb, it was spreding to my palm and wrist but numbness has receeded to fingers. I was restless and having nightmares too. My hump on the back of my neck flattened. I am doing PT to keep it away. Sleeping with arms straight and down seems to help too. Driving can be stressful as it requires we be more alert. I had taken a side road to get away from a driver who was swerving and driving at inconsistant speeds and a tailgater who had been behind me for sometime on a dangerous two lane road know for head ons and off road accidents. Hummm, getting back to focusing on love and having more fun. . .Now!!!

  28. Agness
    5 years ago

    Not included in the above piece by Dr Northrup about adrenal exhaustion is information about the affects of sustained stress on the adrenals leading to elevated aldosterone production. With work/life stress, extreme exercise and chronic dehydration (many people don’t get enough fluids) the adrenals will produce elevated levels of the hormone aldosterone in order to try to maintain a type of homeostasis. Aldosterone will push potassium, zinc and magnesium out of the body resulting in impaired immune function, poor digestion, compromised liver function, poorer iron absorption, and increased risks for oxidative stress.

    Zinc is critical in cellular replication and there are many zinc receptors in breast tissue. It is also important towards healthy pancreatic function, including the production of digestive enzymes.

    Magnesium is an essential nutrient for liver functioning in its metabolic functioning, including detoxification. Due to modern farming techniques many diets include lowered levels of magnesium so having aldosterone from stress and dehydration will further compromise physiology.

    Based on my personal experience of trying to restore from such a situation (brought on by extended breastfeeding), it is important to both reduce life stressors but also to approach the body from a rehydration standpoint when trying to rebalance to a healthy level.

    If you tend to be dehydrated and don’t get thirsty, know that your body is demonstrating stressed adrenals. Try to rehydrate using an electrolyte solution containing targeted nutrients which will trigger the Sodium-Glucose Cotransport System allowing your body to absorb fluids more readily from the small intestine (water otherwise is reabsorbed in the large intestine). I’m using CellFood, Essential Minerals, sea salt, sodium bicarbonate, and table sugar in water and I have noticed a big difference in how my body is using water. You can also look into an over-the-counter product such as DripDrop.

    Simple tests that can be done if you are concerned about prolonged stress and dehydration are red blood cell magnesium and serum zinc which can point out if you are experiencing elevated aldosterone.

  29. Susan Williams
    5 years ago

    Hi, I am at wits end…..

    I found your site by searching again,,,,for the umpteenth time in 2 years I have found you…..Being in health care I am very aware of the anatomy and physiology of the body. (was my fav subject) I went back to confirm what my education has taught me….after being diagnosed with a Blanket Version of Dysautomia…..To make a long story short,,,my cardio was lazy and I fired him and found out I had a rare disease called MALS. Median Acruate Ligament Syndrome..I had lap surgery that helped immensely…After being hurt on the job, being considered disabled, lost my job, fiancé of 10 years suddenly died at 50, Brother being on life support after being hit head on by a drunk driver and taking care him for nine months, three heart attacks for me,,,,,,all this in 6 years…I am pretty stressed out….:) I noticed that any emotion good or bad raises my BP, adrenaline surges and even my hair will stand up on my body. Confirmed that the adrenal surges cause the latter….BP is all over the place…my new cardio is in favor of HRT…she believes females need them and the case study was too short and inconsistent….What do YOU suggest? I am a vitamin junkie,,,,thyroid, cortisol, levels are supposedly fine…..I have also read that the hypothalamus and amygdala is a factor the HPA axis…..thoughts? I greatly appreciate your time…..S.W.

  30. heidi
    5 years ago

    I was diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue and have been under a naturopathic dr’s treatment for months and have improved somewhat. in the beginning when I crashed, my blood pressure was very low. Now that I am on the road to healing (and its such a long road), the bottom number of my blood pressure continues to rise until now it is almost always in the upper ’90’s. The top number has remained great. Have you heard of this before? I’m wondering what is causing my bottom number to rise and what I can do about it?

  31. heidi
    5 years ago

    I was diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue and have been under a naturopathic dr’s treatment for months and have improved somewhat. in the beginning when I crashed, my blood pressure was very low. Now that I am on the road to healing (and its such a long road), the bottom number of my blood pressure continues to rise until now it is almost always in the upper ’90’s. The top number has remained great. Have you heard of this before? I’m wondering what is causing my bottom number to rise.

  32. Sonia Heijames
    5 years ago

    Hi Ladies…I too have all the symptoms above and can relate to you all…I am only 39 and this is my third year…I too feel like this is never going to end.I eat very clean…no dairy wheat gluten or meat…I exercise yoga twice to three times a week and walk….I have tried every holistic avenue… But am still trying and will not give up…I do believe the way we live today is a massive cause…Being busy has become the new NORM….I wish us all love and luck…love sonia xzz

  33. dorothy zelder
    5 years ago

    i have been working on this for 10 years. Not much help or improvement swould like to see you …??? Thank you

  34. Sandra
    5 years ago

    I have been diagnosed with low cortisol levels and am waiting to see a specialist. I have learned over the years how to control stress, so it doesn’t make sense that it could be the cause. I do have all of the symptoms listed. Hope I get some answers soon.

  35. Loni
    5 years ago

    I was experiencing hair loss in huge amounts. My stress was through the roof last few years . My mom passed away of cancer seven months ago. Finally saw an endo Dr and found out my DHEA levels are soaring. My testosterone high. I have Pcos and Dr found a small benign mass on my left adrenal gland. I pretty much feel like crap all the time. Major panic attacks and anxiety, exhaustion, weight gain, stressed, depressed, headaches, body aches, left kidney pain. Now I have fast heart beat and high blood pressure. I’m on Aldactone and couple other meds. I just have severs fear if this small mass since cancer is in my family. The Dr thinks nothing of it as it seems to be build up hormone. I am afraid it will turn into something worse. And my anxiety makes me fear the worst. They are saying my thyroid is fine but I don’t believe that. Any suggestions? Thank you…….

  36. Liz
    5 years ago

    I had my saliva tests done, and the results showed that my cortisol level wouldn’t even register a number after 11am, dipped further off the grid at 4pm and a slight surge at 11pm. Understanding the inverse relationship with DHEA, that level was “off the chart high”. I’ve been on Adreneltone and cortisol manager supplement for almost 3 months and the fatigue only seems to be the same if not a little worse (I actually fell asleep during my daughters dance competition! )
    What should I do? I’m at the end of my hypothetical rope.

    1. Natalie
      5 years ago

      Hi Liz, have you tried eliminating all refined sugar, alcohol, Gluten and dairy? Clean non toxic diet..I have found this beneficial..

    2. Felecia
      4 years ago

      I’m not sure if you are still on this forum but I have low cortisol and high dhea. I’m exhausted but panicky and wired all the time. I still have not figured out a solution.

  37. Jenq
    5 years ago

    I got my saliva test results and my DHEA is extemely low. My cortisol is normal-ish at all four times of the day. Years ago I felt revved all the time and was a slight 105 lbs I have hardly changed my diet but in two years had more stress job change, less sleep, and now am up twenty plus lbs!! I am now depressed over it and have little to no umph like before. I am taking DHEA cream and licorice but only feel jittery then tired after. I eat a ketogenic Paleo diet as well. Iam 43 andfeeling worse than I have in over 20 years. I feel like there is no hope…

  38. Sue Wendel
    5 years ago

    What type of specialist (i.e., doctor, naturopath, etc.) is the most effective to help with this treatment? I have had thyroid issues since my 20s (I’m now in my 50s), including the periodic loss of hair in large spots on my head, weight gain (now to include the lovely layer of fat around my midsection), exhaustion after workouts, and on and on. I have also been told I have adrenal exhaustion. I would really appreciate some guidance.

  39. Nanci D.
    5 years ago

    I was put on HC by my integrative hormonal doctor but after getting the results in early October of a very low cortisol level in the morning, then a very high cortisol level at noon, then a bit low in the evening and then slightly high at night. I was told to take adaptogens by those in the know but I listened to my doctor and now I dread the decision. did I really need to take HC? no amount of HC made me feel better and in fact only raised my blood sugar and pressure. he says I have a maladapted HPA axis from chemotherapy I had in 2009. I have a very high DHEAS and testosterone level too. I want to get off HC but finding it quite difficult. my doctor said the low doses I am on now are only shutting down my own production and I might as well just stop but others have told me just stopping would be very dangerous. I am currently down to 7.5mg (sometimes take 10mg) I am full of anxiety, suffering from shakes/jitters everyday. I was given buspar and klonopin by a shrink who thinks I am nuts. I don’t know what to do but get off and retest cortisol to see if things have changed since October. I have been under enormous stress this past year due to the constant excruciating pain I have to endure from severe sciatica/Spondy from a fall on ice last winter. I also lost my smell and taste (anosmia) that a virus caused and the two created a very stressful period in my life where my adrenals took a huge hit. I don’t know how to get passed this and what to do. I feel AWFUL!!!!! Please HELP!!!!

    1. Diane Carol
      5 years ago

      I have been in a similar situation regarding pain. Three years of not sitting and feeling like my back and legs are on fire. What is turning my life around is a book I just finished called, “The Great Pain Deception ” by Steve Orzanish. It makes clear how stress and pain work together which alters the entire body chemistry. The supplements can help, The 27years of pain, stress, and suffering that the author of this book experienced is dramatic. He thought he could never heal. He did, and shares his journey out of stress suffering and pain and clearly shows those that are willing how they can find their way to healing. There is a way to get back in balance.

    2. alpine
      3 years ago

      ANOSMIA? This is important!! Tell your doc. If he doesn’t listen, find another one!

  40. Ora Byrd
    5 years ago

    This is one of the most informative then instructive articles I have ever read. Thank you for the education then practical advice that will help me & a lot of other women out there.

  41. Molly Mackinnon
    5 years ago


  42. Molly Mackinnon
    5 years ago

    I appreciate your expertise, affirming the science of the issue, and the feeling of relief I experience, knowing that I am not losing my mind!

    1. Wendy
      4 years ago

      you are NOT losing your mind

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