Push the Pause Button on Adrenal Burnout.

Via on Oct 26, 2013

*Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment.

“Why am I always so tired? What about adrenal burnout? How do I get my energy back and heal my adrenals?”

First, you need to know what your adrenal glands do, why they malfunction, and what can you do about it.

Adrenals are really important, because they help us respond to stress. If you have chronic stress, your adrenals get beat up, and it is difficult to manage your life, and your energy plummets.

You feel tired and wired. You get palpitations. You feel anxious. You have trouble sleeping. You might crave salt. You may get dizzy when you stand up. You might have low blood pressure. You might even have sugar cravings, because your blood sugar can’t be regulated. All these are clues that you could have adrenal problems.

So, why do we get adrenal burnout?

We get it from the chronic, unremitting, ongoing stresses of everyday life: stresses of our families, stresses of relationships, stresses of work, the stresses of constant interaction with Facebook and Twitter and the online world, and all these inputs that never let us pause.

Now, how many of you know where your pause button is? I bet you don’t. I bet you haven’t found it yet, and you don’t know where to go to turn it on or how to turn it on.

Understanding the body’s response to stress

It’s really important to understand how the whole stress response works, why it goes wrong, and why, over time, your adrenal glands, which are these little glands that sit on the top of the kidneys, are not able to compensate for the chronic stress that we have in our lives.

So, how do you know if you have adrenal burnout or if you’re on the way to adrenal burnout? It’s very simple. You ask yourself a set of questions:

  1. Do you have any of these symptoms?
  2. Are you feeling tired and wired?
  3. Are you irritable?
  4. Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
  5. Are you having trouble with low blood pressure or low blood sugar?
  6. Are you craving sweets?
  7. Are you craving salt?
  8. Are you just feeling kind of overwhelmed?

If you have any of these symptoms, you might just have adrenal burnout.

When you have adrenal burnout, your cortisol starts to go down, you can’t respond normally to the stresses of life, and you end up just feeling tired and crummy most of the time. We push ourselves with coffee. We push ourselves with stimulants. We push ourselves to feel better using things that don’t really work.

So, what does work? How do you heal your adrenals and regain your energy?

Find your pause button

It’s quite simple—find your pause button. That’s the first thing to do, and I’ve found lots of different pause buttons that I like the push. You need to find yours.

I do it through yoga—that’s one of my favorite pause buttons.

I also use a hot bath at night. I call it the UltraBath, where I take two cups of Epsom salt, half a cup of baking soda, 10 drops of lavender oil, and soak for 20 minutes. You end up with a really decreased stress response. In fact, they put lavender oil in babies’ baths, because it lowers cortisol and helps to balance their whole hormonal system.

Also, there are other things you can do. Massage is great, as is meditation and deep breathing. There are all sorts of tools and resources available for you everywhere—online, on my website, where you can actually be guided through the experience of how to do this.

Very simple things have profound effects. Exercise is also really important—gentle, regular exercise like a morning walk, a light jog, a little bike ride. Do something out in the fresh air to get natural light that affects your pineal gland and helps reset your brain and the stress response.

I also recommend regular rhythm. Rhythm is key, because your hormones are balanced in rhythms. So, waking at the same time every day, going to bed at the same time every day, eating at the same time every day—these are the rhythms in life that help to reset your natural balance. Following your natural rhythms of work and rest during the day is also essential. Take natural breaks when you are tired. Our bodies function best on ultradian rhythm cycles of 90 minutes of activity punctuated by a few minutes of rest or zoning out! Naps are also a great way to reset. If you are all over the place, your adrenals are going to burn out.

Boost Your Stress Resilience with Supplements

Then, of course, there are some really simple things you can do with supplements.

  • Try Siberian ginseng or Rhodiola or Cordyceps. These are wonderful herbs that you can use to help balance your adrenal and stress response. I use Adreset, one to two caps, twice a day with my patients.
  • Vitamin C 500 to 1000mg a day, zinc 30mg a day, B complex vitamins, two a day, especially vitamin B5: all these things help to balance your adrenals.
  • Ashwagandha, magnolia, theanine (from green tea), and phosphatidyIserine can help calm an overactive stress response and improve sleep. The combination I use successfully with my patients is Cortisol Manager, one or two at night.

So, if you have any of these symptoms, if you’re worried about your adrenal stress response, if you’re thinking that you might have adrenal burnout, I encourage you to take some time, find things you like to do to hit your pause buttons, get into rhythm, try a few vitamins and herbs, and reset your life.

So, now I would like to hear from you…

  • Have you ever experienced adrenal burnout?
  • What’s worked? What hasn’t?
  • How did you overcome it? Or maybe you haven’t.

Please share your experience with us in the comments section.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, M.D. believes that every individual deserves a life of vitality—and that they have the potential to create it for themselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Mark and his team work every day to empower people, organizations and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.

Dr. Mark is a practicing family physician, a six-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in his field. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post and a regular medical contributor on Katie Couric’s TV show, Katie.

To achieve his mission of transforming healthcare, Dr. Mark works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and before the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa also nominated Dr. Mark for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, he has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters, Achieving Wellness in Every Generation conference, as well as the Clinton Global Initiative.

Dr. Mark also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—he co-created The Daniel Plan with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Daniel Amen, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church collectively lose 250,000 pounds. He has appeared as an advisor on The Dr. Oz Show, and is also on the Board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating the American student body about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Mark crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease.

Join Dr. Mark on his path to revolutionize the way we think about and take care of our health and our societies by following along and chiming in online through his website, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @markhymanmd.


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18 Responses to “Push the Pause Button on Adrenal Burnout.”

  1. Pam says:

    For over a year, I suffered from chronic fatigue. When my D.O. tested my 24 hour cortisol it showed overall low especially in the morning with one spike occurring at night when our cortisol should be going to sleep so that we can too. I have found relief using the methods that you recommend. For energy, having a glass of Emergen-C does far more than coffee, although I still need my coffee. When work gets stressful, I take a blend of herbs that you mention, I think the name of it is Adrenasense. Exercise and yoga also very therapeutic and good to do after work, so that I fall asleep without trouble.

  2. Krista says:

    Thanks! Some radical self-care is in order :)

  3. Sarah says:

    I have just been told I have a mild level of this, I mentioned a book I was given to read on the subject in the comments section that appeared on Facebook

  4. Lou says:

    Yes… i am in a real bind right now though beacuse i am so tired and sleeping so much that i feel like i cant excercise. i did go for a walk last night and yesterday afternoon prepared a few days worth of meals to make sure i eat well. they are the first steps… going by this, i will try to work out tonight too somehow. And i'll note your info on what else to do. I have CPTSD and things have been really hard for a while, so i think this makes sense.

  5. Rica Gomez says:

    i am experiencing adrenal burnout this whole week. Thank you for this post! It came just in time. What caused it too much exercise, too much yoga asanas and too much social media. I need to find my pause button! I've been craving for so much sugar and salt and I didn't know what was going on. This all makes sense to me now. Thank you!

  6. Also fuzzy eyesight is a symptom of Adrenal imbalance! The reason for salt cravings is a plummeted mineral level, so a liquid multi mineral is VERY helpful! Great article Dr Mark, very on point. I've been living with burnout for about 5 years now. It came from a combo of stress, undiagnosed Celiacs, drug use, and a past poor vegetarian diet. It's been very difficult to treat and hitting the "pause" button is difficult. While working in a clinic my Naturopath told me once "Just because you CAN do everything doesn't mean you SHOULD." It's taken me years to understand that!!

    Also, Cordyceps is not an herb it's a mushroom. I use Host Defense Cordychi (Cordyceps with Reishi) which is better for Adrenal burnout.. Cordyceps alone can be too firey and can irritate the adrenals in some people. Reishi is AMAZING for stress it balances and modulates the whole body.

    Much love <3

  7. Jacquie says:

    When I start to notice these things, I try to cut out all caffeine, limit my sugars, get some light exercise, shut off anything stimulating 1 hr before bed and really cut back on the social media. Also, I have found some help with taking magnesium with the B vitamins.

  8. Gwen says:

    Hello, I have had two hormone testings showing low cortisol and high DHEA and Testosterone. I have have difficulty sleeping and have been taking magnesium, Vitamins B and C. I have been doing restorative yoga at 2 – 4 times a week for 6 months. I am just getting some longer stretches of sleep yet can't find any research about high DHEA and low cortisol. Lots is said about reducing high cortisol yet that part occured for me in 2011. While I thought I had handled it, it is not a short term fix. I don't drink coffee etc, have removed sugar from my diet, learned to slow down and take strolls as I was used to running and cycling

  9. Patti says:

    After experiencing severe stress over a 2 year period, I developed severe fatigue. I could only last 2-3 hours on my feet before having to sleep 2-3,4 hrs. Every MD checked my thyroid and when the values were what they considered normal, it was dismissed with advise to get more cardio. I went to a physiciatrist to be sure is wasn't depression. I was told that my plate was very full, but not depressed. I found Dr. Sensenig, ND. My cortisol level, except of a spike at midnight was perfectly flat. ADR Formula by Pure was prescribed and within weeks was functioning well. I practice yoga 3 to 4 times a week, practice living as mindfully as I can and have addressed chronic back pain with an excercise physiologist. I so grateful for finding a physician practiced in medicine beyond the confines of traditional western medicine.

  10. zsazsafierce says:

    Thanks for this informative article and video. I suffer from severe Adrenal Fatigue. I previously suffered from post traumatic stress disorder – talk about chronic stress… I absolutely agree with the importance of hitting the pause button. My pause button used to be running. I used to love it. I ran to clear my mind. But now I can barely walk for 10 minutes. Any tips on finding a new pause button when your previous one is no longer available would be appreciated. http://sarahshealthblog.wordpress.com/

  11. Constance says:

    Last year I struggled with adrenal burnout including afternoon fatigue which sent me home from work regularly, difficulty falling and staying asleep, general anxiety and irritability etc. My acupuncturist recommended B6 and B complex daily in addition to my regular meditation practice, daily light exercise, healthy eating etc. It changed my life: I was able to completely cut out caffeine and melatonin which I had been relying on daily for yrs. Now my sleep and daily patterns are consistent and stable and I take these vitamins religiously everyday.

  12. brijbala says:

    Here's a great article about the herbal allies that can help http://bit.ly/SupportHappinessKidneyAdrenalCare

  13. Barbara says:

    Hi. I use Adrenal Stress End from fatique to fantastic which is part of Enzymatic Therapy. This has vit c, vit b, pantothenic acid, adrenal polypeptides, betaine, ltyrosine, adrenal cortex. I also take three other supplements. I was given a test from a md/nd. Of the things that can possibly cause adrenal stress I had checked 18 of them. I am a mom, nurse, risk manager, consultant, author, and for many years a director in a pysch facility. All of those were stressors. When it was suggested I take the above, I did. Within two days i was feeling more like me. Hope this helps. If you have further questions or i can be og assistance pm me.

    Thank you. Barbara Scott Fasanella

  14. Jenny Midbjer says:

    Thank you! What would you recommend whit addisons of vitamins and supplements? I also have pcos and hyypothyroid.

  15. Debbie says:

    I have suffered from Adrenal Fatigue and am still going through getting my balance back… But What I can say is its the "gift that keeps on giving"… It forced me to sit back, and smell the roses so to speak, take a look at me, my life, what brought me here and the way in which I had pre-conceived ideas about how to handle things.

    Yoga, is a true blessing, being mindful and peaceful
    Avoiding the stressors as much as I can
    Routines, timing is essential
    Vit C, magnolia, systemic enzymes, not digestive
    Do things that make you happy
    Learning to say no

    Its amazing, and the articles are so clear, yet somewhere in the fray, things have been forgotten.

    We are so caught up in what to wear and how to wear it, where to be, what to earn, what to say, what to do…
    We really only have two hours of conscious thinking, and most of the time we waste it.

    Love the articles!

  16. Jenny says:

    Tyrosine is a brilliant supplement for adrenal fatigue – it just gives the adrenals more raw materiuals, rather than being a stimulant.

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