This is one of the most common conditions of modern urbanised man.  Dr G.E. Poesnecker N.D. D.C. wrote in an article for Health and Healing in 1983 that almost everyone experiences an episode of adrenal exhaustion at some time in their lives. He defined two causes for the illness; congenital weakness and long periods of unrelenting stress. People often have a combination of both.  The most common symptoms were described in the article as being fatigue (with or without anxiety and insomnia), low blood pressure which frequently produces dizziness when rising to a standing position, loss of memory and difficulty in concentrating, and a general over sensitivity. To this list you could add “brain fog”, depression, poor digestion and loss of libido and motivation.  Because the immune system is weak in individuals with this condition they are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections and yeast overgrowths like candidiasis which superimpose another layer of complication.  The worst thing though is all the tests to determine whether adrenal function is insufficient will show normal or near normal function. Your doctor, unless he is aware of this fact, will probably tell you to go home and take it easy because it’s really all in your head.  That’s where it started but that advice is not going to get you well again.

My Experience with Adrenal Fatigue

I have to admit to having suffered from this condition mostly due to years of living with constant unrelenting stress.  Although I would appear relaxed and easy going on the outside the inside story was a whole lot different.  Whilst I didn’t seek out stressful situations they were there is spades every day and I wanted to meet every challenge. I would take on everyone’s problems and try and make them right.  I initially enjoyed the challenges but by the time I had been a lawyer for 20 years I was experiencing some of the symptoms listed above and was certainly affected by poor immunity and candida like symptoms.  Those symptoms not only increased over the next 10 years but became chronic even though I had given up the practice of law.

The final straw came in 2009 with the bush fires in Victoria which threatened our home.  The stress both physical, emotional and mental of dealing with that situation and of hearing about those who lost their lives pushed me into a state where I clearly had all the listed symptoms (plus symptoms associated with candida over growth) and was not coping well with life.  I thought erroneously that I would recover given time without changing much in my life after all I had changed my lifestyle some years earlier, ate well and exercised. It should all come back together at some point. It didn’t.

In 2012 I decided to have a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) performed.  It was very revealing.  I was categorised as a fast metaboliser 4 which will mean nothing to you but basically it meant I was burnt out and had reached the exhaustion stage of stress. My adrenals which produce adrenaline (which keeps your fire burning bright), cortisol (which acts as a stress suppressor) and aldosterone (which act to retain more sodium to retain fluid) were barely functioning.  I did not have the tests to determine the level of these hormones but after re-reading Dr. Poesnecker’s article they probably would have been normal.  From my perspective the fire was burning low, the resilience to stress was very low and the body was not retaining sodium.



Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Recovery

You will see from the HTMA[i] chart below that my sodium and potassium levels were in the low zone as is magnesium, iron, cobalt and molybdenum.  Most of the minerals except copper are sub-optimal.  Stress for a fast metaboliser causes a loss of magnesium, calcium, zinc and water soluble vitamins B and C.  Vitamin C and zinc antagonise copper and keep its levels down.  When copper is in excess it blocks the following: magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, manganese, vitamin B1, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate.  It indirectly blocks vitamin B6 because that vitamin needs zinc to activate it.

Magnesium and iron are two minerals essential for cellular energy. They are blocked by copper excess. Zinc and manganese are essential for producing insulin along with sulphur and 17 of the 20 amino acids.  The level of stomach acid is reduced with this condition because the person is likely low in zinc and vitamin B6 and relatively low in vitamin B1 all of which are needed to make stomach acid. Insulin production could be affected as a result. In my case it was; my blood sugars were at 6.4 or a pre-diabetic state.  Another cause of the fatigue. Vitamin B6 is vital for proper adrenal function.  In addition when sodium and potassium are low at the cellular level it upsets what is known as the electro-chemical gradient between the inside and outside of the cell making it more difficult for nutrient to pass across the cell wall.

My mineral pattern is typical of many people I have seen with what I would describe as adrenal fatigue.  It is now over two years since my HTMA and it is only in the past few months that I have started to feel like I am overcoming all the symptoms and returning to normal health.  There were times when I felt better only to feel fatigue a few days or hours later.  I went on a supplements regime but found that my body was not absorbing most of them. At a cellular level I was exhausted and this together with other factors prevented utilization of nutrient

I did several anti-candida diets and regimes.  Candida and yeast and moulds will not be controllable whilst the level of copper is in excess as it suppresses the action of zinc the major general of your immune system. Iron is also necessary for good immunity and absorption of this mineral will be impaired by copper excess in the gut. Copper in the absorptive cells ejects iron back into the small intestine.  My iron levels show as low on the HTMA but I ate red meat ate least 3 times a week.  Low stomach acid plus high copper levels lead to low iron absorption.  In addition many of the vitamins and mineral needed to convert amino acids to neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin are blocked by copper.  Low stomach acid contributes to low levels of amino acids and vitamins and minerals in the body – the result depression and insomnia.

In my view chronic fatigue syndrome is probably just an extension of adrenal fatigue and can take a long time to fully recover from. It will require boosting the digestive system, immune system and the adrenals.

It All Starts in Our Mind

So what causes our stress in the first place? That is a matter of our perception of our environment because that is what drives our flight/fight responses and elevates our levels of adrenaline, cortisol and aldosterone.  We may not realise it but we store all our experiences in our sub-conscious mind and that part of us is constantly scanning the environment for anything that looks like a threat.  When it doesn’t quite get a match it will fill in the black spaces in an instant and we are reacting before we can think in most instances. This characteristic is what gives us the ability to drive a car or ride a bike without having to learn it over and over again.  The mind is a great store of learning about our environment.  We learn as children to respond to others in certain ways and we continue often to do so in adult life without much thinking. In fact we learn from our parents how to respond to life and we often don’t reflect at all on that fact and on what has shaped us as humans.  We are to a large extent unconscious or unaware of why we respond and react to situations as we do.  When our unconscious mind gets loaded up over time with more and more stressful situations it cannot cope and neither can our adrenals and other gland.  The mind exists in our energy field and it affects its balance.  The energy field can be affected by the physical and can mould itself to what is our physical state effectively limiting change through nutrition but also changes in our energetic field can impact our physiology. So our mind affects our function. It is therefore essential not just to deal with the nutritional imbalances I have described in this article (which are very important) but also to empty the energetic field of accumulated stress.


[i] HTMA analysis gives an indication of the level of minerals at the tissue level as opposed to what is in the blood.  The blood is the transport mechanism for these nutrients and they are required in the blood to maintain its balance.  Minerals and heavy metals tend to sequester themselves in the tissue and come out into the blood to maintain the blood balance.  Hence blood tests can be near normal where tissue levels are either excessive or deficient.