Adrenal Exhaustion

An exhausted woman sitting against a railing with her head on her knees

The adrenal gland is your body's stress handler and can get exhausted with chronic stress. Nevertheless, until it is so damaged that it can actually kill you — at which time it becomes a medical condition called Addison's Disease — blood tests will be normal.

So over 99% of those that may need adrenal support actually have normal labs — and most physicians will therefore miss it!


Consider adrenal support if you have any of the following:

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Symptoms of low blood sugar (severe irritability when hungry as in “Feed me NOW!”)
  • Chronic sore throat and respiratory infections
  • Crashing with stress
  • Low blood pressure with dizziness on standing
  • Hypoglycemia/Low Blood Sugar

The adrenal makes a hormone called cortisol that supports you during stress by keeping your blood sugar from dropping. As the gland becomes exhausted your blood sugar can drop too low during stress, causing hypoglycemia/low blood sugar symptoms such as irritability, fatigue and anxiety.

The 5 hour glucose tolerance test is useless, so don’t waste your time doing it. Instead go by the symptoms and whether you get better using the advice described under "Treatment."


Treatments help both the adrenal and low blood sugar issues.

General Diet Advice

  • Avoid Sweets

    They make you feel better briefly, then they throw your blood sugars onto a roller coaster of highs and lows. Instead, eat more protein (e.g., meat, beans, cheese, nuts) which slowly and steadily maintains your sugar at a stable level. When you get symptoms of low blood sugar, the amount of sugar in a few Tic Tacs or about one half packet of sugar poured under your tongue is enough to bring your sugar back up quickly — without putting you on the “sugar roller coaster.”

  • Eat Small Meals

    Frequent small meals throughout the day are healthier than fewer large ones (think "grazing").

Recommended Supplements

  • Adrenal Nutrients

    Adrenal glandulars, licorice, Vitamin C, pantothenic acid, and other adrenal supporting nutrients help give you stable energy during the day and settles down blood sugar swings. (See Adrenal Nutrients.)

  • Chromium Chromium

    250 mcg/day decreases low blood sugar symptoms over time.

  • Cortef

    Natural practitioners may also prescribe an ultra low dose of bioidentical cortisol (called Cortef) which is generally safe at doses under 20 mg/day, but very toxic at high doses. 


Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is a board certified internist and author of the popular free iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” which was ranked in the top 10 of all health/wellness downloads on iTunes.

Dr. Teitelbaum is the author of the perennial bestseller From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery Penguin), which has sold over half a million copies; Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw-Hill); Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy (Deva Press); the Beat Sugar Addiction Now! series (Fair Winds Press);  Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale Press); The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution (Penguin/Avery); and his latest, The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction (Fair Winds Press, 2015).