Trusted by over 1.2 Million Global Healthcare Seekers

Adrenal Fatigue: Adaptation and Resiliency


“Stressed Out? I am so tired! I have such indigestion! My brain is fuzzy!” Our “Stress Meter” is calculated by adrenal glands that respond to external and internal stress triggers, or an adrenal and steroidal hormone function referred to as a Fundamental Homeostatic Control System.

We have multiple systems in our body; however, adrenal function is neglected in conventional medicine and endocrinology. In functional medicine, the status of adrenal is addressed as it affects digestion, immune health, tissue healing, pain, neurotransmitters, sleep, mental focus, and other glands including thyroid and ovaries/ gonads/pituitary/hypothalamus and more.

Up until the early 19th century, adrenal glands were believed to be remnants of evolution that were not essential for life. However, when removed in adjunct to internal surgery, a patient’s health has a dramatic downturn.

Our two adrenal glands are small, but life-essential and in close connection and location with our kidneys. In Chinese medicine, they are considered as “one” with the kidneys because adrenal and kidney function is closely intertwined. Examples include blood pressure regulation or water retention/ edema pertaining to fluid balance.

Stress and Adrenal Glands

Adrenal glands respond to any situation, a thought or emotion that stimulates “Fight or Flight” stress response. Adrenals (A) are part of the “HPA stress axis” and are interconnected with the hypothalamus (H), pituitary (P), thyroid and the ovaries/ testes. All are constantly communicating via feedback loops and it is essential to consider the function of every gland when dealing with stress-related diseases of the 21st century.

Stress adaptation happens on a subconscious level within the Autonomic Nervous System. Activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System elevates heart rate, raises blood pressure, and affects hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. The liver is involved in glycogen mobilization.

This primal stress response is triggered in the reptilian part of the brain and designed for acute stress to ensure survival, an ability to escape from danger as documented in the book, “Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers,” by Robert M. Sapolsky.

Acute stress is a healthy adaptive response; however, our physiology is not developed to deal with multiple, prolonged stressors, compromised food quality, 24/7 lifestyle demands, EMF exposure and additional burdens of environmental toxicity.

Consider Adrenal Function like a ‘Stress Meter’ Any perceived internal or external stress will result in a physiological response involving adrenal glands, which will affect whole body and mental well-being.

Adrenal fatigue occurs when stress overextends the capacity of the body to compensate or recover from the stress or combined stresses. This will detrimentally affect health at biochemical, metabolic and cellular levels. Cholesterol, vitamin C and vitamin B complexes are essential nutrients for adrenal well-being.

Hypo-adrenia results in debilitating symptoms including:

  • Immune challenges
  • Food sensitivities
  • Permeable gut lining
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Hypothyroid conditions
  • Pain
  • PMS/Hot flashes, “low-T”
  • Increased systemic inflammation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Depression
  • Skin problems, sleep problems
  • Heavy metal accumulations
  • Environmental allergies

Adrenal Stressors Affecting Resiliency

Stressors that directly impact adrenal function include childhood trauma, such as abuse, skipping meals, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, subclinical and clinical infections, surgery, hormonal imbalances, endurance training, financial worries, food and environmental allergies, death of a loved one, sickness, inherited trauma, asthma, physical injury, trauma, divorce, excessive sugar intake, sleep deprivation, and chemical exposures like amalgam fillings and steroid medications.

Acute stress is a healthy adaptive response; however, our physiology is not developed to deal with multiple, prolonged stressors, compromised food quality, 24/7 lifestyle demands, EMF exposure and additional burdens of environmental toxicity.

Thyroid Connection

Any thyroid condition (e.g. hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, Hashimoto’s) must be seen and addressed in context within the status of adrenals. The thyroid acts as a protective mechanism to prevent a metabolic “blowout.” Conversion of T4 to T3 can be inhibited by elevated cortisol plus nutrient deficiencies including lack of zinc, vitamin E, selenium, and iodine.

Immune Health, Infections and Adrenal Function

Adrenal fatigue is also often precipitated by recurring bouts of respiratory infections; especially prolonged/repeated infections, surgery, and steroid medications including. Inhalants, poor diet, lack of sleep, over-exercising cardio, emotional stress are concurrent with other stresses.

As a holistic health adviser, I believe in supporting the adrenals with glandulars or herbs while addressing other factors including nutrition, lifestyle, detox and mind-body healing modalities from a client-education perspective. Adrenal fatigue is a common problem, yet largely unrecognized or considered by conventional medicine in the United States today.

How often do we hear, “I feel too stressed out” or “I am overwhelmed.” All this affects physical, emotional and mental well-being. Failure to adapt to chronic stress leads to decreased resiliency and a manifestation of poor personal relationships and workplace performance.

Poor Resiliency Affecting Corporate Workplace

Common concerns in the corporate workforce include increased absenteeism and smoking, substance abuse, depression, increased pain, weight gain associated with secondary and complications, increased diabetes, plus elevated healthcare costs. Education is a key factor in the corporate environment.

I am aware that engagement and compliance with health programs presents challenges. From personal experience, it is important to “keep it real.” We are all dealing with chronic stress today. How we adapt and manage stress depends on our choices, social support and mindset.

Indigestion and Adrenal Function

Increased stress results in an increase of the hormone cortisol. This stress response directly affects the digestive system, which becomes adversely compromised.

The physiology is primed to spring into a “Fight or Flight” mode to ensure survival. But, this stress response is designed for a short-term response, not the long-term stressors we experience in our world and lives today. As a result, we are seeing increasing rates of inflammatory health challenges associated with:

  • GERD and microbiome imbalances
  • Microbial infections
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Genetic mutations affecting methylation
  • Constipation/ IBS/SIBO/UC
  • Neurological disease including autism
  • Food allergies
  • Infertility
  • Auto-immune disease
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Addictions
  • Depression

These are all concomitant with malabsorption of nutrients including vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals. This can play a large role in neurotransmitter production affecting mental wellness and behavior, hormone production involving fertility and energy, tissue repair, immune and detoxification challenges.

Inflammation will be a common denominator and this, in turn, will adversely affect adrenal function in the long-term.


Nutrition and lifestyle modifications are foundational:

  • Eating whole foods of local, sustainable and organic/ free range /wild origin.
  • Avoidance of GMO and commercially processed foods.
  • Consideration of the “eating environment” including sitting down to enjoy a meal, or taking time from electronic devices.
  • Consideration of digestive aids including healthy fats, protein and vegetables, ground grains (gluten-free is preferred) or some fruit at each meal.


  • Daily movement for 30 minutes.
  • Cardiovascular endurance training is contra-indicated with adrenal fatigue.
  • Weight training, Pilates, yoga, and walking are healthsupporting modalities.


  • Adrenals restore in 1 ½ hours, which is why sleep habits are important to address.
  • Considerations include shift work and work commitments.
  • Discussing sleep is imperative when addressing adrenal health restoration.

We all need to schedule daily “time-outs,” get back into nature and give ourselves permission to rest so as not to overburden our physiology with relentless stress and a busy pace of life!

Living on adrenaline might be exciting; however, the result is feeling a “tired-bit wired” or to “crash ‘n burn.” Decreasing resilience and adaptation to stress leads to ill health. Genetic dispositions, nutritional deficiencies and non-optimal lifestyle choices will influence how, when and what symptoms will appear.

Symptoms are a message from the body and often encourage individual to seek healthcare practitioners or physicians. Causal factors, not symptoms, must be addressed. Intelligent relief is appropriate. It is also essential to address the individual within their “biography,” “biology” within the family and work environment.

Objective evaluation can include a one-day, 4-sample saliva test:

  1. Test the status of your adrenal glands
  2. Assess the circadian cycle and the 4-cortisol pattern
  3. Discover status of adrenal adaptation
  4. Consider effect of current nutrition, lifestyle, infections, blood sugar, and food allergies
  5. Implication of imbalances in DHEA, sex hormones and melatonin

Stress is a “killer” – the inflammatory influence and nutrient depletion is acknowledged. Plus, stress contributes to all chronic disease. Nutrition, lifestyle, mindset, genetic potential and inherited stress must be addressed in a comprehensive stress management program.

Healthy adrenal function facilitates resiliency, stamina and life energy. If you feel a loss of energy, gain weight, experience digestive concerns, or cannot sleep well, then it is important to address your nutrition, lifestyle, and thyroid function in context with adrenal function.

About the Author

Rika Keck, founder NY Integrated Health LLC, is a stress management expert trained extensively in applied clinical nutrition, metabolic typing, functional diagnostic nutrition and exercise. As a holistic health consultant, she is able to address underlying metabolic, immune and hormonal imbalances contributing to digestive ailments, chronic infections, weight gain, anxiety, food sensitivities, skin conditions, fatigue, Candida, immune dysfunctions, inflammation, painful joints and compromised detoxification.

As an exercise expert, she is able to facilitate improved posture, function, sports performance and post-surgery rehabilitation exercise. As a health advocate, she is an impassioned and knowledgeable speaker on a broad range of holistic wellness topics including environmental toxicity, women’s wellness and chronic stress management.

Learn about how you can become a Certified Medical Tourism Professional→
Disclaimer: The content provided in Medical Tourism Magazine ( is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We do not endorse or recommend any specific healthcare providers, facilities, treatments, or procedures mentioned in our articles. The views and opinions expressed by authors, contributors, or advertisers within the magazine are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of our company. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information contained in Medical Tourism Magazine ( or the linked websites. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. We strongly advise readers to conduct their own research and consult with healthcare professionals before making any decisions related to medical tourism, healthcare providers, or medical procedures.
Free Webinar: Building Trust, Driving Growth: A Success Story in Medical Travel Through Exceptional Patient Experiences