"I don’t have the energy I used to have."

This is one of the most frequent complaints that I hear in my medical practice.

Today, one of the most common health conditions I find among my patients is adrenal fatigue, also known as adrenal burnout. Adrenal fatigue is epidemic in our country. . .It is definitely not being detected in most medical practices. Physicians don’t look for it. They don’t properly diagnose it, and they don’t treat it correctly. 

When patients come to me and complain about lethargy, fatigue, lack of energy or a reduced sex drive, or that they just don’t have the same energy or the same sex drive, in almost all cases at the root of their problems, especially if they are past their thirties, can be traced back to impaired adrenal gland function.

So working to restore and optimize their adrenal function is usually where I start. The reason for this is because, in the body, the adrenal glands and the hormones they produce represent survival, whereas the sex hormones basically represent reproduction. Survival is always more important than reproduction. So the body will do whatever it takes to maximize adrenal hormone output and survival. With that in mind, the body will convert the sex hormones into adrenal hormones to maintain survival at any cost, which is why when you are stressed and tired, your sex drive goes down. So you really can’t go straight to the sex hormones (progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen) before you look at the adrenals. You’ve got to maximize adrenal function first.

If you have weak adrenals you are facing a serious health issue because in many ways, the adrenal system is the key system to your overall health.

For example, when a woman is pregnant and chronically stressed, she will start converting her own progesterone (of which she is producing high levels during pregnancy) into the adrenal hormones. By month seven of her pregnancy, the baby’s adrenal glands kick in. At that point, if the woman’s adrenal glands are operating at a subpar level, her body will start to draw upon the baby’s adrenals. This causes the baby’s adrenal glands to start revving up to supply the excess adrenal hormones that the mother needs.     

Then, at birth, when the umbilical cord is cut, the mother is unable to continue to receive a boost of adrenal hormones from her baby. This is often the underlying cause of postpartum depression and fatigue.

Compounding this problem, very often the newborn child may then become hyperactive, develop colic, or other health problems, all as a result of how his or her developing adrenal gland system was affected by the mother’s stress, while the baby was in the womb.

Adrenal fatigue is caused primarily by chronic stress and poor lifestyle choices.

Stress can be mental, emotional, nutritional, environmental, electromagnetic, physical, and infectious. Chronic stress can, and often does, overwhelm the adrenal gland’s ability to generate and regulate stress hormones. When it comes to adrenal fatigue, or burnout, the two most important hormones produced by the adrenals which need attention are cortisol and DHEA. Initially, when you are stressed, your cortisol levels go up, and if you are the kind of person who takes stress home, you may have a hard time sleeping due to your cortisol levels remaining elevated at night, when they should be low. This, in turn, interferes with your body’s ability to produce melatonin and growth hormone, both of which promote healthy, restorative sleep.    

When we encounter a stressful situation, cortisol and DHEA are released as part of the regulation response. But during times of chronic stress the production and release of these stress hormones begins to slow down, ultimately leading to lower levels of these key hormones, and adrenal fatigue. When the adrenal glands are weak we can no longer view stress as a challenge, we view it as a threat, which is why at that point we overreact to the little stressors. Then we can’t differentiate between big stress and little stress. Ultimately the weakened adrenals set the stage for a move towards illness and disease.

Left unchecked, the effects of cumulative stress can become so great that the adrenals end up completely exhausted.

At this point the adrenals are unable to respond to any stressor, and you will see low levels of cortisol and DHEA on a blood test. The end result is often feelings of deep fatigue in the morning and throughout the day, unhealthy blood sugar levels, carbohydrate cravings, irritability, and impaired mental functioning.    

When the adrenals cannot produce sufficient cortisol to deal with stressful situations, the adrenals then produce adrenalin. Adrenaline is your body’s last-ditch effort to cope with the ravages of chronic stress. As it continues to be produced, it can cause people to become anxious, trigger heart palpitations, cause shortness of breath, and other symptoms that occur when your body is in a crisis state due to stress overload. You can wake up in the middle of the night, wired, and unable to get back to sleep. Adrenaline also has an affinity for the joints, where it can cause weakness or stiffness. All of these symptoms are triggered by blown-out adrenal glands. 

Adrenal nutrients include Vitamin C (especially Intra-venous), Magnesium, B Complex, and Adaptogenic Herbs such as Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, and Ginseng (both Asian and Siberian).    

Like estrogen and progesterone, testosterone is more than simply a sex hormone. It is a potent anti-aging hormone that plays important roles in regulating metabolism, stimulating red blood cell production, and helping to keep free radical production in check. It is also involved in protein synthesis and the building of muscle tissues, and helps prevent muscle from turning into fat. It prevents skin from sagging. Additionally, testosterone has been shown to protect against heart disease. In fact, research has shown that both men and women with the lowest testosterone levels have a 33 percent greater risk of premature dying from any cause, compared to people with healthy testosterone levels.    

Testosterone is also a brain stimulant that elevates mood and protects against depression, and, most importantly, it helps generate excitement and passion.


Diminished testosterone levels typically result in low libido in both men and women, as well as a loss of strength and physical endurance. In men, low testosterone can also cause erectile dysfunction (ED).    

Although testosterone levels naturally decline as we age, today this decline is greatly accelerated by many of the same factors that cause estrogen imbalances, especially the increasing prevalence of heavy metals and other xenoestrogenic toxins in the environment. Poor diet and lack of exercise can also increase testosterone loss, as can chronic stress and many commonly used prescription drugs, including anticonvulsants, anti-fungals, birth control pills, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, glucocorticoids, narcotic painkillers, and statins. . .Testosterone can be very helpful for women, and should be given after a woman has first been balanced with natural estrogen and progesterone, and still complains of low libido.     

I find that almost all men can benefit from testosterone replacement, usually beginning when they are in their 50s.

When I measure men’s testosterone levels, I pay most attention to their free testosterone, which represents the amount of testosterone available to the tissues. I almost always find it to be much lower than is healthy. . .After all, it’s well-known that sperm counts today are 50 percent less than what they were 50 years ago. This being so, shouldn’t we also expect to find that testosterone production in men has similarly declined?
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