Read the transcript to this webinar about How to Overcome Adrenal Fatigue below:
Okay, well, welcome everyone. This is Dr. Nikolas Hedberg and tonight we’re going to be talking about how to restore your adrenal glands. We’ve been doing these monthly webinars for quite a while now and they seem to be getting a good response. I’m just trying to put out as much educational material as possible. I know we’re all very busy, so why don’t we go ahead and just jump right in?
Adrenal gland problems are very, very common, especially in today’s society. People are under, really, a tremendous amount of stress, probably more so than at any time in history. We have a food supply that is really not adequate. We have a large number of toxins in the environment, airborne toxins inside and outside the home. We’re working more hours now than we’ve ever worked before. We have a lot of electromagnetic radiation from our computers, which we’re on right now, our cell phones. So there are many, many things that are really stressing our adrenals these days. And most people I find, there is some level of adrenal dysfunction, really, no matter what chronic illness they have, because they do play such an intricate role in the body.
So, these are really the main symptoms that we see with adrenal stress. If you have any of these, they could be related to the adrenals. Fatigue, weight gain, depression, insomnia, the adrenals can wake you up at night if they’re out of balance. More so craving salt than sugar, but it could also be sugar cravings. Osteoporosis, frequent urination, especially at night, mood swings, low sex drive, ulcers, feeling shaky or lightheaded, hemorrhoids can actually be a sign of adrenal dysfunction. Having poor immune function, so you get sick very easily. People who pick up pretty much anything that’s going around, whether it’s a cold or flu, they might have issues with the adrenals.
Then the adrenals have an intricate connection with the thyroid and vice-versa, so if the adrenals are out of balance, that can definitely affect the thyroid. Some of the main hypothyroid symptoms are going to be like cold hands and feet, constipation, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, dry brittle nails and hair to name a few. Hot flashes, when women are going into perimenopause, or when they’re post-menopausal, hot flashes can be much, much worse if the adrenals are out of balance.
Another sign is dizziness, like if you move from a seated to a standing position very quickly, that could be adrenal dysfunction, low blood pressure, allergies, we also have to look at adrenals.Blurry vision, varicose veins and being a very slow morning starter, so these are the people who wake up in the morning, very, very difficult to get out of bed, very difficult to get going. They usually need coffee to get going or exercise, they need to exercise to really get going, to kind of kick-start the adrenals. So these are really some of the main symptoms of adrenal stress.
And these are going to be the causes of adrenal stress. Food allergies, things like gluten, dairy, corn, soy and eggs, those are kind of the big five. Any kind of chronic infection like a virus, Lyme disease, bacteria, fungus or parasite. Anemia, and that could be any kind of anemia, it could be not enough iron, it could be not enough vitamin B-12, not drinking enough water.
And then we talked about the toxins in our environment and toxic metals can certainly stress them out. A traumatic event, you know, if you just got in a car accident or if you’re going through a divorce, death of a loved one, all these things will significantly stress the adrenals, emotional stressors. And then one of the biggest ones, most overlooked causes of adrenal stress is protein malnutrition. If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, that can definitely lead to adrenal gland imbalances. Blood sugar surges from processed and simple refined carbohydrates.
Poor sleep patterns especially. What you want is consistency in your sleep pattern. So if you go to bed one night at 10:00, then at the next night at 1:00 a.m., and then at midnight, and then at 9:00, it’s all over the place, that’s going to cause a lot of adrenal problems. So you want to shoot for consistency in your sleep.
Chemicals knows as methylxanthines, these are going to be found in pretty much any caffeine-containing plant. Chocolate, black tea, acai, guarana, these all contain methylxanthines. Some people genetically have a difficult time metabolizing methylxanthines in the liver, but they can stress out the adrenals. Alcohol of course, alcohol can stimulate the adrenals.Leaky gut, actually our last webinar last month was on leaky gut and that can be found on YouTube or on my website.
And then toxic relationships, like if you have a toxic marriage, if you hang out with friends who are very negative or people who like to talk about other people all the time, that can actually be very stressful. We’re the sum of the five people we spend the most amount of time with, so choose wisely, choose people who are the type of person you want to be. So your friends, the people you hang out with could really be dragging down your health.
So let’s talk about the adrenal hormones. Cortisol is made by the adrenal cortex, and as with any hormone, too much or too little is bad. Cortisol is not evil.It’s bad when there’s too much. But it’s also bad when there’s not enough. Cortisol does a lot of really great things.It’s anti-inflammatory, it helps your body adapt to stress, it’s involved in blood sugar, gut health, etc., so it is important.
It’s going to be highest in the morning, and then it starts to taper down as the day goes on. It’s anti-inflammatory. Too much cortisol will suppress the immune system, and too little cortisol will suppress the immune system. Controls blood sugar. It is required for a healthy intestinal barrier. Too much cortisol will break down the gut, too little, and it’s difficult to repair the gut. Can shut down digestion. A lot of people get ulcers because of too much cortisol eating away at the stomach.
Now, if you are under a lot of stress, the body will try and mobilize amino acids, protein, to handle the stress and cortisol is involved in that process. So the body will strip the gut lining, muscle tissue, bones, skin as a survival mechanism to maintain good balance.
The other adrenal hormone made in the cortex is DHEA, was very popular in the ‘90s as an anti-aging supplement, and then of course we found out that that was not true. Its main purposes are going to be involved in immune function, liver health, the brain and what we call anabolic processes, and that means building up, so building muscle, building bone, building tissue, building memories in the brain, building the immune system, all of these things are involved with DHEA. And then DHEA is the precursor to your sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen. So if DHEA drops, then you may see a drop in the sex hormones. So cortisol and DHEA sort of have this delicate dance that they do. If cortisol is very high, that can suppress DHEA.And if DHEA elevates, that will actually suppress cortisol. So it’s really all about balance with these two hormones.
DHEA, we will supplement with DHEA, but only if it’s tested and it comes back very low and some of the doses out there on the Internet are really just insane. For women, about 2 to 5 milligrams a day would really be the maximum, and for men, anywhere from about 5 to 15 milligrams a day. There’s products out there with 25 milligrams and 50 milligrams per capsule, and those should only be used serious types of autoimmune disease or in certain diseases where the adrenals are not even producing any DHEA.
So, hormones are very powerful, you have to be very careful with them.You don’t really know where the DHEA is going to go when you give it to someone. You could give it to a man and a lot of it will get converted into estrogen, which is not good. Or you could give DHEA to a woman and a lot of it could go to testosterone and then that can cause a lot of problems in itself. So, it should really only be taken in low doses and only if a laboratory test indicates that it’s low and that you need it.
So that’s the adrenal cortex that makes cortisol, DHEA.Then the medulla is under control of your sympathetic nervous system directly from the brain, and this pumps out adrenaline and these are like the immediate responses. So if you’re going to do public speaking, before you go up, some people, their heart starts pounding, they get a dry mouth, pupils dilate, they might sweat. Any kind of stressful situation and the nervous system pumps out adrenaline from the adrenal medulla and really it’s just a stress response, a very primitive stress response, for survival.
The purpose of the goosebumps is to make it more difficult for people to really grip you and get a hold of you, as an example, and then of course sweating as well. So that’s just a really interesting survival mechanism that the skin will pump out sweat to make you slippery and then the goosebumps actually makes it even more difficult for something to grab you, whether it’s an animal or another human. So that’s the adrenal medulla.
Now let’s get into some of the treatments, management options, and I’m a big fan of adrenal adaptogens, and ashwagandha is one of my favorites, also known as Indian ginseng. An adrenal adaptogen is basically an herb that helps your body adapt to stress. And what that means is if your adrenals are fatigued, if cortisol and DHEA are very low or if your adrenals are in a hyper-metabolic state where there’s a lot of cortisol, adrenal adaptogens will help in either case. So they can be used no matter what’s going on with the adrenals. And ashwagandha will actually increase the conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone T4 to the active form T3, and that can help with energy and fat burning.
We talked about the properties of an adaptogen and how they help the body deal with stress. Increases strength and stamina, improves memory, can be used as an aphrodisiac, provides deep and restful sleep.It is an antioxidant, helps with the immune system. It is a nightshade, and so if you have difficulty with tomatoes or paprika, eggplant, potatoes, any of the nightshades, you may have difficulty with ashwagandha. About 500 to 2,000 milligrams a day in a capsule can usually work quite well.
The second adrenal adaptogen to talk about is rhodiola rosea. Rhodiola has more research behind it thanashwagandha right now, but all of these adaptagenic herbs are being heavily researched. Rhodiola, you’re going to see a lot of similarities in these adrenal adaptogens as far as their properties, but rhodiola is going to enhance the utilization of blood sugar. It’ll increase serotonin levels in the brain, so serotonin is your “feel good” neurotransmitter, improves energy and stamina. It will balance norepinephrine, adrenaline, remember we talked about that and the adrenal medulla. If there’s too much adrenaline, rhodiola helps to bring it down.
Improves dopamine levels, dopamine is another neurotramsmitter, like serotonin and norepinephrine. Dopamine, very important neurotransmitter for your mood. Dopamine is released when you accomplish something or you’re praised for something, that’s the good feeling that you get in that type of situation. It also sort of gives you more of a zest for life and a drive to really do the things that you really want to do. Reduces anxiety, enhances memory and brain, also an antioxidant and it stimulates healing. We’ll use rhodiola during chronic infections to help rebuild the immune system. About 200 milligrams two to three times a day can be a good dose of rhodiola.
The third adaptagen is eleuthero, formally known as Siberian ginseng, heavily researched by the Russians in the ‘70s and the ‘80s for their Olympic athletes. Many similar properties to the first two we talked about. Increased energy and stamina, it creates an anabolic state by increasing DHEA and lowering cortisol, which means it will be good for muscle building, bone building, strengthening the immune system. It’s a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, meaning it can work as an antidepressant. Improves blood sugar metabolism, improves focus and ability to finish tasks. Immune system re-builder, provides mental clarity.
The Russian protocol is one teaspoon in the morning, noon and definitely no later that 4:00 p.m. because it can keep you up all night. It is quite strong. The two-to-one ratio tincture, liquid tincture is best, that’s from Herb-Pharm, or you can use the capsules. The Russian protocol can really only be used with this ratio of the tincture.You won’t be able to get the kind of power, so to speak, from the capsules. The Russian protocol, you should really only use that if you have some serious chronic fatigue and some serious immune system weakness. You don’t really need the Russian protocol if you’re just looking to help some mild adrenal issues or help adapt to stress. The capsules really are fine.
And lastly, of the adrenal adaptogens, we talk about Panax ginseng and rhodiola have the most amount of research. Ashwaganda, eleuthro, they’re a little bit behind, but still plenty of research for all four. And again, similar properties, improves mood, sense of overall well-being, blood sugar, brain, anti-fatigue properties, improves the immune system, better stamina during exercise, and for the guys, it may improve testosterone and it may help with erectile dysfunction. So Panax is used for thousands of years, a classic, true.. .when people talk about ginseng, they’re usually talking about Panax ginseng.
There’s also red Korean ginseng. And the red Korean ginseng is the one that seems to be the one that can work for erectile dysfunction. About 200 to 400 milligrams a day can provide benefits.
So those are the four adrenal adaptogens. Phosphorylated serine, this is a compound that we use when there’s too much cortisol, too much stress in the system. I talk about this in my sleep disorders, my insomnia webinar on YouTube, using phosphorylated serine when the insomnia is due to adrenal imbalances. And it works by preventing too much cortisol production. So it kind of helps the balance, the connection between the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenals. It has been shown to improve memory.It will optimize neurotransmitter function, serotonin, dopamine as an example.
It may be beneficial in mild dementia, and even Alzheimer’s because it does help to repair the brain. It’s best used during periods of high stress when cortisol levels may be high. It can be taken throughout the day, sometimes one capsule three times a day, sometimes just one later in the day to help with sleep, as an example. It may cause agitation and insomnia, it may have the opposite affect on certain people, and those people, they need to stay away from the seriphos at night and just do the day doses. So really an excellent compound that works very, very well.
You may also be familiar with phosphatidylserine, which is somewhat similar. The phosphatidylserine is more expensive, and I found that the phosphorylated serine is much cheaper and the results I get are just as good.
So we’ve talked about the adrenal adaptogens, the phosphorylated serine and let me give you a few tips on how to eat if you’re having adrenal issues. We talked about how blood sugar surges can stress the adrenals, so you want to be eating a moderate to a low carbohydrate diet, or only eat your carbohydrates after exercise. I do have a fat burning secret webinar up on YouTube where I talk about the best way to eat to burn fat and that will also help you understand the right way to eat to balance your adrenals.
Food allergies, remember those can stress the adrenals, so you might need to have your food sensitivities tested or just eliminate some of the most common ones. Like I mentioned before, gluten-containing grains, dairy, eggs, soy and corn, those are kind of what we call the big five.
Drinking too much water can stress the adrenals because you can actually dilute the blood, and the adrenals are always trying to work to balance that. They also make a hormone called “aldosterone”, which we didn’t talk about tonight. But aldosterone, it acts by regulating blood volume. And if you drink too much water, you can dilute the salt in your body and that can stress the adrenals. So use some form of unrefined Celtic sea salt if you’re drinking a lot of water.
Eating protein with every meal, remember we talked about protein malnutrition, not getting enough protein will significantly stress the adrenals. Eating protein with every meal will help to balance your blood sugar.
Eating vegetables with every meal will also help. This is really interesting and this is published in the research, if you have acidosis, if your pH is acidic, this will actually raise cortisol levels. So it behooves you to eat a more alkaline forming diet and get your pH in the healthy range and that will also help to balance the adrenals.
For protein intake, you want a minimum of 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight. So you take your body weight in pounds and you divide it by 2.2 to get your body weight in kilograms and then just multiply that number by 0.8 to get your minimum daily protein intake. The ranges run anywhere from 0.8 all the way up to 2.0 grams per kilogram depending on your level of activity. Of course athletes, body builders will need a lot more protein.
And then you want to avoid excessive carbohydrates, breads, pastas, cookies, crackers, sodas, candy, all the obvious things which cause blood sugar surges and stress the adrenals.
So in conclusion, herbal medicines, they can be highly beneficial. I just stay on adrenal adaptogens almost all the time because of their benefits and to help me adapt to stress. The most important thing is to identify the cause of the adrenal stress, and so we will do testing for the adrenal hormones either in blood or in saliva.Both are excellent for measuring those levels. Twenty-four hour urine can also measure hormones as well, although that can be more difficult for people to really follow through with. So we will test these hormones to see what they look like and then we’ll try and figure out what’s causing the stress.
Watch my Protein Power video and the Alkaline Diet video on my YouTube channel. That will help you more with your protein intake and that will also teach you how to eat a more alkaline forming diet, both of which will help to restore the adrenals. Take time for yourself, try and have some time during the week where you’re not checking email or have your phone next to you. If you’re eating, don’t watch TV. Don’t read, don’t text while you’re eating. Stay focused on everything that you’re doing in the moment.
We talked about surrounding yourself with the right type of people. Participate in fun activities, find things that you really enjoy to do, create a healthy sleep environment. We talked about being consistent in when you go to sleep every night. The hours of sleep before midnight are the most restorative, remember that. So one hour of sleep before midnight, say from 11:00 to 12:00, is actually going to be more restorative than two or three hours after midnight. You want to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. That’s really what you need.
Meditation. Meditation can really help, exercise. The key with exercise is not to over-exercise and use the rule of thumb that when you’re done with your exercise routine, you should feel like you could do the whole workout over again. If you feel completely wiped out, then that’s a pretty heavy hit to your adrenals.
I do have some helpful handouts and I highly recommend this podcast by my good friend Suzannah Tebbe Davis. She created an audio recording, a podcast on really how to reduce stress, so download that and listen to that.
So, why don’t we go ahead and open it up for questions. In your chat box, if you type in your question, it will pop up here in the chat window and then I can answer that. So usually we get some really great questions.
A few other things to note about the adrenals while the questions are coming in, when a mother is pregnant, if she’s under a tremendous amount of stress, that can actually stress out the fetus’ adrenal glands. And so, if it’s constant, we’re seeing a lot more allergies and asthma these days, so we may be seeing more and more babies born with adrenal dysfunction right out of the womb.
And, really the only other things to mention, we’ve talked about ... okay, one other thing to mention is adrenal glandulars.Some people swear by those, and you have to be careful with glandulars because you don’t know, unless you know where they come from, glandulars can be contaminated with toxic heavy metals.
Okay, so here’s a good question. “Are the adaptogens beneficial to take for those with healthy adrenal glands? Should these only be taken under the supervision of a doctor?” Adrenal adaptogens, I mean, they’re going to be pretty much safe for anyone. They’re really not going to cause any harm. If you’re on any medications, then you may want to check with your doctor and see if there’s any contraindications. But for the general population, I don’t see any reason why someone couldn’t take adrenal adaptogens, even if they don’t have any major adrenal problems and they just want to maintain.
Here’s another good question. “Can this replace thyroid meds the doctor says we have to take permanently for low thyroid?” No. None of these can replace a thyroid medication.If you’ve been instructed to take thyroid hormone by your doctor, you definitely need to stay on that and you should discuss that with your doctor.
Another question coming in. “Can the adaptogens be taken with the thyroid meds?” Thyroid medications are recommended on an empty stomach away from everything else. I would not take them with thyroid medication. You would most likely want to take your thyroid medication as instructed by your doctor, like I said, which is usually in the morning on an empty stomach and then take the adrenal adaptogens with breakfast or a little bit later in the morning. Good question.
If you have a question, just type it into the chat window and I’ll be happy to answer that.
Okay. “Are there any side effects to the adaptogens?” Eleuthro, like I said, you don’t want to take that after 4:00 p.m. because that can cause insomnia. Rhodiola, some people who take rhodiola late in the day, that can disrupt their sleep. Ashwagandha, it will vary from person to person. Some people will take ashwagandha at night because it really helps them sleep, and then some people will take it and it actually causes sleep problems for them. So usually I say early in the morning, with lunch, and then no later than about 4:00 p.m.
Okay. Next question, “What are some of the signs of adrenal dysfunction and when should you get tested?” So, I went over those in the beginning of the presentation. We went over a whole slide of all the signs of adrenal dysfunction. When should you get tested? That’s really up to your doctor. I’ll test someone’s adrenals if there’s significant clues that that could be a big issue with them.
Next question, “Would you advise taking them all separably or get them in one supplement?” What I would recommend is, if you’re going to take these, if you’re going to take one by itself and only one, I would just take that and stick with it. If you’re going to take them all together, I would just take them as the one supplement. I like to take all four in the one supplement because I just take two in the morning and that’s it. And I get the benefits of all four. Some people like certain ones better than others, some people just take rhodiola and that’s it and they feel great. Some people just do ashwagandha, so you can experiment with the different ones, see which ones you like the best. But like I said, I just like to take all of them.
Okay, next question. “Can malfunctioning adrenals contribute to goiter problems?” That’s a good question.It might have a small indirect affect, just because the adrenals are connected to the immune system and the thyroid. So yeah, there could be a small connection there.
Next question, “How long does it take for the adrenal adaptogens to take effect?” Immediately, so the first day you take them, they start working. In cases of sever chronic fatigue, severe adrenal fatigue, it can take awhile. Like the Russian protocol we just do for 30 to 60 days, sometimes that can take a few weeks to a month to really kick in, but again, that’s only in really severe cases.
Next question, “Can certain thyroid conditions, like hypothyroid possibly become reversible over time with these techniques and herbs?” No, the answer is it cannot. You cannot reverse hypothyroidism just by taking any of these supplements that I talked about tonight.
Next question, “What are the key lab tests for the adrenal function?” Again, we talked about that on a previous slide, but really what you’re looking at is cortisol and that can be measured in blood with a single blood draw. And then, I mean, you’re really just seeing it at that point in time. You can also do it in saliva, the saliva samples are taken at about four different times throughout the day, that way you can see the rhythm. A lot of people we don’t really need that when you do all these other strategies like protein, alkaline diets and the adaptogens and things like that. But sometimes we will do the saliva, but only in severe cases. And then DHEA, we also test that in the blood and that’s also tested in saliva if we do that. So those two are really the main things that we’ll look at.
Next question, “Should the herbs be taken with or without food?” It doesn’t matter. You can take them with our without food.
Next question, “You mentioned that black tea is a methylxanthines.Is green tea okay?” Yeah, green tea is okay. Really looking at black tea and coffee, cocoa beans, guarana, things like that. Green tea contains theanine and theanine is a natural anti-anxiety compound. Green tea, it only has about 15 milligrams of caffeine per cup, whereas black tea, you’re up about 50 milligrams and higher. A cup of coffee 150 milligrams, so it’s a very small amount in green tea.
Next question, “What is the best time to exercise that is the most helpful for adrenal support?” Right, this is a good question and the best times, if you have adrenal dysfunction, are going to be in the morning or the middle of the day. Those are the best times to exercise. The reason why it’s not that good of an idea to do it later in the day and the evening is that exercise does stimulate the adrenals and that’s really when they’re at their lowest level of functioning. So, early to mid-day is best.
Next question, “Does it matter what time of day cortisol is tested?” It really depends on what you’re looking for. A lot of times I just check it in the morning.That can tell me if the adrenals are wiped out. Because in adrenal fatigue, it’s going to be really low in the morning. If they’re very stressed, then it’s going to be high in the morning. So, I’ll usually, if I’m going to do it in the blood, I’ll just do it in the morning. If we do the saliva testing, it’s done throughout the whole day, morning, noon, evening and then before bed.
Next question, “Can these help someone who have had their thyroid removed or have a completely dead thyroid?” Well, it’s not going to help the thyroid obviously because the thyroid is gone, but it will help with all the other things we talked about. If the thyroid is gone, then there’s going to be some level of adrenal stress, so yeah, they can help with their adaptogenic properties with thyroid.
Next question, “What is the best herb here for helping to increase metabolism?” To increase metabolism, the eleuthero and the ashwagandha are going to have the greatest affect on those. The Panax and the rhodiola not as much, so it really depends on what your goals are. But if you’re just looking to crank up metabolism, the ashwagandha or the eleuthero would be best.
Some really good questions tonight.Looks like we’re getting close to wrapping things up. Well, thanks everyone for joining me tonight, if you’re on my email list I’ll let you know when this is up on YouTube and my blog.We’ll be doing a number of these webinars on a consistent monthly basis. I already have a large number of them up on my YouTube channel, which I would check out if there’s anything else you wanted to look at. Alright, well take care, everyone, and have a great night.