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Adrenal Fatigue and a Holistic Approach to Recovery.
By Gonzzo Watson, D.C.

Stress. We�ve all heard the term and many of us feel we experience too much of it. When a patient comes to my office, often excessive stress caused or exacerbated their lack of health. When we experience stress of any kind, the adrenal glands become activated. Prolonged stress enlarges the glands and eventually after continued stress they become fatigued and loose their ability to function properly.

Adrenal fatigue is common in today�s society and is caused by prolonged stress activating the glands too often. Almost any type of physical or mental stress can activate the glands to secrete hormones and/or neurotransmitter substances. In addition, substances that are stimulants (ex. caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, ephedra a.k.a. MaHung, and guarana) can cause the glands to become over stimulated.

When our body is stressed in times of fright, fear, or extreme pain, the hypothalamus (the master gland of the body) stimulates other glands and tissues to release a massive discharge of sympathetic nervous system activity. This is called the alarm response, a.k.a. flight or fight response.

The alarm response stimulates the adrenal medulla to release the neurotransmitters adrenalin and noradrenaline, causing:

         Increased arterial pressure.

         Increased blood flow to muscles and increased muscle strength.

         Increased mental acuity.

         Decreased blood flow to the organs that are not needed for rapid motor activity, such as the gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys.

         Increased glucose in the blood, and increased glycolysis in the liver and in the muscle.

         The alarm response also triggers the steroid hormones, cortisol and aldosterone, to be released from the adrenal cortex causing:

         Suppression of the immune system. Prolonged immune suppression greatly increases susceptibility to disease.

         Reduction of inflammation.

         Gluconeogenesis (the transformation of protein into glucose).

         Changes in potassium ion concentration of extracellular fluids which controls blood pressure.

Adrenalin and steroids allow a person to perform physical activity with much more speed, strength, and agility. These increased abilities can seem superhuman and enable a person to fight for their life or retreat rapidly from danger. This system is good for actual life threatening situations.

However, this system is often activated with continual physical, chemical, and emotional stresses of daily life leading to eventual fatigue of the adrenal glands. Physical stresses resulting from excessively laborious work, extreme exercise training, and spinal subluxation can cause over stimulation of the adrenal gland. Chemical stresses, such as caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants stimulate the glands. Over indulgence of coffee is a very common problem. An average of over 500mg a day of caffeine (about 16 ounces of coffee) can lead to adrenal fatigue. More than a few cigarettes daily can often stress the gland to fatigue as well. In addition, adrenal fatigue leads to the desire for more caffeine/nicotine and is part of the addiction problem of these stimulating drugs. Chemical stressors may also include food allergens, environmental allergens, heavy metal toxicity, and pesticides. Emotional stresses like getting upset at work over an unmet deadline, having trouble paying the bills, arguing with family members, etc. can cause stimulation of the adrenal glands.

Adrenal Fatigue is dangerous because it greatly increases your susceptibility to the following various physical and emotional symptoms, and disease processes: Lack of consistent energy throughout the day, mood swings, depression, irritability, joint pain, achy muscles, sugar cravings, digestion problems, heart problems, psychological disorders, bone demineralization, cell insensitivity to insulin, ulcers, dehydration, skin rashes, weight gain, inability to loose excess bodyfat, chronic fatigue, common colds, asthma, allergic bronchitis, gastric hepatitis, cholecyctitis, pancreatitis, renal hematuria, anemia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, herpes syndrome, toxemia of pregnancy, ocular neuritis, glaucoma, ottis media, tinnitis, sinusitis. These illness, and many more, should be considered possible consequences of adrenal fatigue.

Testing for adrenal fatigue can be done several ways: Postural hypoadrenia can be evaluated by taking the blood pressure while lying down and then again while standing up. The blood pressure should rise, up to 10mmhg systolic, or remain the same after standing up. A drop in the systolic pressure while standing indicates adrenal fatigue. Rogoff�s Sign can be tested by shining light into the eye and evaluating pupil size. The pupil normally will constrict and remain smaller. Pupil wavering, dilation, or no constriction at all indicates adrenal fatigue. The adrenal stretch reflex can be tested with Applied Kinesiology (muscle testing). Muscle strength is tested before and after stretching a joint capsule. Muscle weakness after a capsule stretch indicates adrenal fatigue due to a drop in the steroid cortisol.

Treatment for adrenal fatigue with traditional chiropractic care involving only spinal adjustments is most often ineffective unless the cause of adrenal fatigue is directly related to a spinal subluxation. Medical doctors often fail to correctly diagnose adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, many people with adrenal fatigue are treated for the associated symptoms/diseases (depression, low blood pressure, anxiety, sinusitis, eczema, allergies, etc.) that result from adrenal fatigue and not for the fatigue itself. Proper treatment of adrenal fatigue requires a holistic approach to healing. The intent with the holistic approach is to remove or reduce stress, replenish the system, and allow time for rest and repair.

Emotional, chemical, and/or physical stresses need to be removed or reduced to allow sufficient rest and repair of the adrenal gland. Often emotional stresses embed themselves into the tissues of our body. Various chiropractic techniques can facilitate the release of these stored emotions. Emotional stress can also be released through counseling. Chemical stresses may need to be removed or reduced. Obviously it can be difficult to remove chemical stimulants (nicotine, caffeine, or other stimulants) due to addiction. However, proper nutrition will greatly help support the glands and systems that are taxed from addiction and will alleviate many side effects of stimulant withdrawal. Food allergies, heavy metal toxicity, environmental pollutants, and pesticides can also stimulate the adrenal gland. It may be necessary to begin a detoxifying diet/program to remove agents that are an irritant. Physical stresses may also need to be removed or decreased. Overexertion at work or even at play can over stimulate the system and cause fatigue of the adrenal glands. Spinal adjustments may be necessary to eliminate physical stress where spinal subluxation is causing improper neurological stimulus to the adrenal glands. In addition, spinal adjustments provide tremendous relief from the aches, pains, and difficulties of removing these stressors.

Targeted nutritional supplementation of the adrenal gland and the entire glandular system is beneficial as well. Adrenal glandular concentrates are very effective at replenishing nutrients lost from stress and fatigue of the adrenal glands. In addition, nutritional support of other depleted organs, tissues, and systems may be necessary. Applied Kinesiology testing, blood testing, and hair or stool analysis can provide details as to what specifically needs nutritional support on a case-by-case basis.

Obviously removing stimulants will give your body rest. But there is more you can do. Massage therapy is very beneficial in reducing tension, increasing lymphatic flow, and increasing blood flow. More than 500 scientific studies on Transcendental Meditation (TM) have shown it effective in reducing stress at many levels, including decreasing the release of cortisol, lowering blood pressure, decreasing anxiety, increasing immunity, along with many other benefits. Also, Yoga has been shown to reduce the effects of chronic fatigue, increase flexibility and reduce mental stress.

Finally, the body needs time to repair the organs and systems of the body. By now you understand that prolonged stimulation eventually fatigues a system, but it does not happen immediately. Adrenal fatigue happens over time and is insidious in its� onset. A person may not be aware of loss of energy or poor emotional states because of the slow deterioration over time. It is important to continue with a treatment plan long enough to allow complete healing and not stop as soon as symptoms subside.

If you think you have adrenal fatigue, I can test you at my office. If adrenal fatigue is indicated, I will create a specific holistic structural, nutritional and/or emotional plan of action for you to follow to help you regain health. Some of the more common methods I use to treat adrenal fatigue are listed below.


         Remove spinal subluxation with manual chiropractic adjustments and/or the Arthrostim.

         Remove facial adhesions with percussion and/or trigger point therapy.

         Stretching and breathing exercises.

         Recommend Yoga or TM techniques for reduction in structural stress.

         Evaluate and treat bio magnetic imbalances.


         Testing (Applied Kinesiology, hair analysis, stool, or blood analysis) to evaluate for nutritional imbalances and/or heavy metal toxicity in systems and/or organs of the body.

         Adrenal glandular concentrates. De-Stress formula DSF by Nutriwest

         Homeopathic remedies.

         Evaluation for allergies.

         Detoxification diet program. A diet plan designed by myself to remove allergens and toxicity from the diet and greatly improve digestion and elimination.


         Chiropractic techniques designed to treat the emotional body and release inner tensions and fears.

         Recommend Yoga or TM techniques for emotional stress reduction.


Positive results are often experienced within the first day or two and, in many cases, are dramatic. Do not hesitate to telephone me at 503/697-7463 with any questions you may have regarding adrenal fatigue or this article. Together we can make a tremendous difference in your health. If you believe you have signs or symptoms related to adrenal fatigue, please call the office for an appointment as soon as possible.





Watson Chiropractic, P.C.
358 Warner Milne Rd
Suite G 100
Oregon City, OR.,  97045
Phone 503-656-0218
Fax 503-697-2743