Thyroid UK
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adrenal fatigue support?!

I would like to know if anyone else has been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, and if you have managed to treat in successfully (with the help of your doctor or on your own). If so, how?

I have been diagnosed with AF by two so called top docs in Belgium. One put me on Medrol, the other one on a supplement containing vitamins B. Neither has really helped. Now, I am looking for ways to self-treat this condition. There are hundreds of supplements available online, and some say you should only take adrenal cortex, not whole adrenal, as the latter contains adrenaline that will only add to the stress of the poor, struggling adrenal glands...others say "don't take bovine adrenal, only porcine, because much closer to human body chemistry", while bovine adrenal products seem much easier to find...

As far as I've been able to ascertain, there used to be a great OTC product called Isocort that is no longer being what alternatives are there?!

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The above link will take you to earlier discussions about Adrenal Fatigue - hopefully you will find some encouraging replies....



For the last 2 months I have been using Stress Manager by Herb Pharm to help with my adrenal fatigue. I've been trying to cure it for a couple of years, and I've used Nutri Adrenal Extra, and some other adrenal support supplements, but I didn't notice much difference. The Stress Manager (Herb Pharm) though is different. I'm feeling calmer and able to control myself better in stressful/annoying situations, which doesn't drain my adrenals that much. I am still fatigued and tired, but I have other underlying issues such as Hashimoto's and low iron. Here is a good article about this herb formulation with guidance on how to take it: You can get is on eBay in the UK.

Of course reducing stress and having good quality sleep and food is really important as no supplements help otherwise.

Good luck,



Bovine adrenal supplements are just fine. It's the thyroid glandulars that you'd want to decide on, whether to go bovine or porcine - which is closer to human physiology - for the thyroid glandulars. I have been taking Nutri-Meds Adrenal Cortex Plus tablets (just 1 each morning) with great results, along with my recommendations for you below.

I have had severe adrenal fatigue, among other things, which forced me to address the AF first and foremost, while at the same time working to heal thyroid, blood sugar, gut, and ovarian issues. I've had a bit of success with the AF, though I'm not finished.

Here are my recommendations for AF:

1. You need to find out if your cortisol levels are too high or too low, and if they're too high, when are they too high? What time of day? If too low, are they too low all the time? This is important for choosing your supplements because certain supplements work by blocking either 11 beta HSD1 activity (reducing cortisol production) or 11 beta HSD2 activity (increasing cortisol production). It's vital to understand what's going on with your cortisol and which supplements increase your cortisol production and which ones decrease it. You can make yourself a lot worse if you lower cortisol when it's already too low or increase it when it's already too high. This is the first step in finding out what you need to take - and WHEN you need to take it - for adrenal self treatment.

2. A little pregnenolone is almost always a good thing. It is the mother hormone, the building block that your adrenals need for synthesizing all the rest of their hormones. Supplementing with pregnenolone helps your adrenals to produce more of their own rather than suppressing their ability (as hydrocortisone unfortunately suppresses cortisol production by the adrenals - not a scenario you want unless you have full blown Addison's disease from which there is no chance of recovery). I'd start with Bio Matrix Pregnenolone (liquid, sublingual, you can get from Amazon) - 10 drops under the tongue upon waking, before you put any food or liquid or toothpaste into your mouth.

3. Stay away from licorice unless you are under strict guidance.

4. Rest, rest, rest. Sleep as much as possible. Eliminate as much stress as you possibly can. While it may not be feasible to quit your job, sometimes that's what has to be done. If you can quit or take a leave of absence without causing a worse kind of stress (out of the frying pan, into the fire), then do. Otherwise, just do all you can to relax. Do not cause bodily stress by trying to exercise. Lay off the cardio. Take strolls after dinner, stop and smell the roses. The importance of this cannot be overstated when it comes to Adrenal Fatigue.

5. Avoid deep breathing exercises. Do focus on your breath, but do not go overboard trying to do deep or extreme breathing exercises, as this can stress your adrenals further. Meditate, and meditate often, but do not stress yourself about the breathing. UPDATE 10/26/17: DO breathe deeply - just 3-6 breaths will do the trick - slow inhale, slow exhale, especially before eating and before bed, as breathing tells your body you are safe to breathe deeply and gets you out of fight-or-flight. When you are VERY ill, deep breathing is very challenging and can further burden your body & cause extra stress, so START SLOW. But make it your goal to breathe to get out of fight-or-flight, as this helps by slowing and halting the chronic surge of adrenaline and cortisol, which causes thyroid resistance - inability to convert thyroid hormones at the cellular level. For extra support to get out of fight-or-flight, consider using some essential oil blends specifically formulated for vagus nerve support and nervous system support - such as these ones that are super helpful for me personally: and

6. Eat! Eat every 3 hours or so. Get protein, vegetables, starchy veggies, green veggies, grains (avoid wheat/gluten if you are sensitive/allergic/celiac or have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis). Use some sugar in your coffee or some honey in your tea. Enjoy your food. Really, ENJOY it. Bless it. Have fun with it. Your adrenals need many calories to provide them the energy they need to heal. Calories, and rest. Your balanced blood sugar is PARAMOUNT to adrenal health, and the only way to keep your blood sugar where it needs to be is to EAT without any unnecessary restrictions. Make sure you get plenty of salt as well - your adrenals need salt more than just about anything else. Try Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. Add some salt and butter or coconut oil to your coffee, it sounds gross, but it's wonderful, and your adrenals will lap it up. Switch to decaf as much as you can. You don't have to cut the caffeine cold turkey, but do try to wean off as much as possible. Also supplement with chromium picolinate and/or vanadium, to help your blood sugar stay stable.

7. B vitamins, most especially B5. I highly recommend Thorne Stress B-Complex, you can get it from Amazon, and it's quite inexpensive, and uses all the most bioavailable and highest quality vitamins.

8. Vitamin C, and lots of it. At least 2 grams, twice a day (4 grams minimum).

9. Vitamin D. Get out into the sun for 30 minutes a day if possible. On the days you can't, take at least 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3. Make sure you take Vitamin K2 with that - Now brand makes MK-7 - Vitamin K2 - inexpensive, and easy to get from Amazon. Also it's important to get sufficient vitamin A for thyroid hormone conversion support.

10. Magnesium and zinc. Try 400 mg per day of magnesium glycinate, or try transdermal magnesium as magnesium oil or lotion. You can get this also from Amazon. Also, ZINC! The importance of zinc cannot be overstated. Be mindful of zinc supplementation, however, as your body needs to maintain a zinc and copper balance. When one is up, the other is down, and both are needed. Copper is high and zinc is low in cases of estrogen dominance, in which case you have hypothyroidism as a side effect of high estrogen & high copper. Use hair tissue mineral analysis HTMA and a professional practitioner/coach/healer who can help you to interpret your test level results and help you to eat and/or supplement properly to get your minerals balanced correctly.

11. Glycine. Your body needs a lot of glycine, and most often, it's more than your body manufactures on its own. Natural sources include gelatine and bone broth. Yummy treat for your adrenals - basically an adrenal tonic you might like to have every day, and you'll be surprised how much you enjoy this, despite how it sounds: peel an orange and put it in a blender or nutri bullet, otherwise squeeze the juice from it. Must be fresh orange. (Orange juice ok in a pinch, but fresh squeezed/juiced/pulverized orange is a whole lot better.) Add teaspoon of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. Add a little water. Add 1/4 envelope of unflavored gelatine. Mix it all together and drink. You can also supplement with glycine in the form of powder or capsules - Now brand makes a great and inexpensive glycine supplement you can also get inexpensively from Amazon.

12. Ask your doctor about your body's internal inflammation, see what's going on there, if there is anything happening in the body causing the adrenals to work too hard. You might be a candidate for a wonderful pharmaceutical drug (sounds paraxodical, huh?) called low dose naltrexone. Ask about it. You can find out more about it by going to

There are a lot more supplements to take, but again, I can't really recommend which ones and when to take until you know what's going on with your cortisol levels.

The adrenals make up several axes in the body - when the adrenal hormones are out of balance, it affects the thyroid hormones, the estrogens, insulin, you name it. Just as thyroid dysfunction will mess up the sex hormones and the adrenals, just as ovarian dysfunction will mess up the thyroid and the adrenals... they must all be balanced, and you can't balance one without addressing them all at the same time. Self-treatment is great, but it's impossible to know exactly what you need without some help from doctors, at the very least, for testing. I'm one of the most anti-doctor people in the world, having gone though extreme trauma at their collective hands... but this point is one that must be made if you are going to recover quickly and successfully from this. What I've shared here is the best that I've got so far. I hope that it helps you, and I wish you all the very best in your journey to well-being.


Thank for all that very useful advice, much appreciated! I have had my cortisol levels tested, both in blood (at 8 am), in 24 h urine, and in saliva (4 times/day). They have always been low or lowish. For instance, in 24 h urine they were 30 (should be at least 50). In blood at 8 am they were 14 (ref 10-24), and should be above 20. I cannot remember all the saliva results off the bat, but they were also suboptimal.

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Good to know. I'd start taking licorice root at this point, or else rehmannia root. I'd recommend licorice root in the morning with breakfast - and make sure you always eat something for breakfast within 30 minutes of waking - even if it's just something small - and take the licorice again around 3PM. Rehmannia would be good anytime, but if you notice any trouble sleeping, lay off it in the evening hours. See

I'd also supplement with tulsi (holy basil) and ashwagandha. My favorite of these is from Organic India. See: (includes both) (I enjoyed this one a lot) (straight ashwagandha) (can't say enough about this)

I get mine from Amazon, here in the US. I think you can probably get them from Amazon in UK as well, along with the licorice root and the rehmannia root.

If at any point during your recovery, you notice insomnia or difficulty falling asleep at night, your cortisol levels are likely too high. If you want to lower your cortisol levels at night, turmeric/curcumin and quercetin complex are excellent to take before bed.

If you notice any trouble staying asleep once you've gone to sleep - waking up in the night, then your blood sugar is dropping too low. Eat before bed - best to have before bed to stay asleep through the night is something with salt, sugar/starch and saturated fat. Example - cheese and crackers with some fruit or a cup of ice cream. At the very least, a spoon of sugar with some salt in it will help. You can put it in a baggie, keep it next to you while you sleep, and take it if you wake up in the night with a couple swallows of water.

Regarding water, be careful not to drink too much of it without balancing it with salt intake. Very important, especially for adrenal fatigue and/or hypothyroidism. Never force yourself to drink water or fluid if you are not thirsty. Drink only when thirsty.

As long as you are taking supplements - especially licorice root - make sure your cortisol levels are monitored. It's important with adrenal fatigue not to overdo it. Go slow, let your body catch up. Once you feel better, the temptation is to go out and do something. Don't. It's really easy to overdo it and end up back in exhaustion. Calculate how much you think you can do - and cut it in half - do no more than that. If you overdo it and keep overdoing it, the recovery time becomes longer - by months or even years. Don't do that to yourself. Take it easy above all else.



I know this is an old post. Thank you for this great info re AF. Do you have any suggestions for chronic insomnia and subsequent muscle aches in arms and legs? Many thanks.

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This is an indication of being in chronic fight-flight, and this is the most important thing to address immediately in this circumstance. What's causing the body to be in chronic fight-or-flight? Why is the body in constant stress mode? Watching your thoughts is the first order of the day, because your body doesn't know the difference between what goes on in our minds and thoughts, and what happens in the outer world, ultimately because what happens in the outer world doesn't matter, as far as the body is concerned - only our reaction to it does. So first, you want to take inventory of what's going on in the thoughts, and monitor how your body is reacting to each thought. What traumas from the past have not been addressed yet? What are you still holding onto? These are the emotional root causes of chronic fight-flight.

Next thing to address is bringing the adrenaline and cortisol down at night so you can sleep. Mindfulness - watching your thoughts and monitoring your body - is a big piece of this. However, as Faith63 wrote below - "the adrenal glands need thyroid hormone at a proper level to function" - that is 100% correct. If your thyroid hormone levels are too low, adrenaline is overproduced to compensate. Adrenaline will keep you up at night. Adrenaline and cortisol secretions go hand-in-hand. Not a situation you want to be in, as it means your adrenaline and cortisol are too low when you need to get up in the morning and function during the day, but too high when you need to go to sleep at night.

Mindfulness helps you to get to the emotional root causes of the insomnia and pain. Managing your stress levels helps to reduce the load on the adrenals. Specific foods and minerals help support the body physically. Salt, for example, suppresses adrenaline, and sugar/fructose suppresses cortisol. Low-carb diets, as another example, cause adrenaline and cortisol to spike and surge. What is your diet like? Diets that are super healthy for healthy people can make hypothyroid people very sick. Raw diets wreak havoc in our gut - we need our food cooked thoroughly when we're too sick to digest properly. Vegan/vegetarian diets can raise copper levels and leave us zinc deficient, which really messes up our hormones, leaving us with really high estrogen levels and low progesterone, which leaves us in a state of thyroid resistance, as thyroid hormones can't convert properly, due to the raised estrogen and cortisol levels, and adrenaline is overproduced to compensate, leaving us with insomnia. Same thing happens with calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and starvation or semi-starvation diets (1500 calories a day is a semi-starvation diet - see

Insomnia physically happens also as a result of blood sugar going too low, because with hypothyroidism, your liver can't properly store glycogen to keep your blood sugar levels stable through long periods without food. So teaching your body how to store glycogen again is helpful. This is accomplished by eating small meals or snacks every 2-3 hours. Your body will tell you when your blood sugar is too low. You feel weak and can even get a little dizzy - that's a signal from your liver telling you that it doesn't have any glycogen, so cortisol has been dispatched to break down the muscle and organ tissue in your body for conversion into glucose for the brain. It means you've gone too long without food. For some people this can even mean having a little something every single hour until the body learns that it's not in famine mode, and can begin to store glycogen properly again. It may mean eating frequently for weeks, months, and maybe even a year or two.

Keeping some salted orange juice on your nightstand is helpful for insomnia as well, as the salt suppresses the adrenaline and the fructose/sugar suppresses the cortisol, thus making it easier to sleep. Sip it slowly before bed, and keep it there in case you wake up, you'll want to have another sip to help you get back to sleep. If you don't like orange juice, try any other kind of juice that you do like, watered down just a little bit, and remember to salt it. No more than about 1/8 teaspoon of salt is needed for an 8 ounce glass. Eating something with salt & sugar before bedtime is also helpful - like cheese and crackers with a little juice, for example. If you can't do cheese/dairy, then the salted juice with whatever you CAN eat will be fine. Make sure never to go to bed hungry, but also do not go to bed too full.

Make sure the room you sleep in is a comfortable temperature for sleeping - hypothyroid sufferers tend to have sinus issues, and sleeping in a room that's too warm will aggravate the nasal passages and wake you up to breathe... the body will sense the difficulty and struggle with breathing and send adrenaline to the rescue, to wake you up to make you breathe properly.

Also, turn off the blue/green lights (like from phones, computers, TVs) at least 2 hours prior to going to bed. The blue and green lights raise cortisol levels, trick our bodies into thinking it's daytime when cortisol and adrenaline levels are supposed to be high, and suppress melatonin, which is the hormone released to tell us it's nighttime and signal cortisol and adrenaline to drop so we can sleep. Consider investing in some warm lighting - more red, less blue/green - to turn on at night - like this: . Since I only turn lights on at night, it made sense for me to replace all my light bulbs with warmer hues of white light, than the cooler ones. As incandescent bulbs go extinct, making way for the CFL and LED lights, the hues of white have become cooler, rather than the warm yellow/red glow of the past - this makes for more insomnia.

What else is going on in your life? Do you live with a narcissistic partner? If so, you have to "walk on eggshells" at all times - that will cause the body to be in chronic fight-or-flight. When you don't feel safe, your body reacts exactly as if you lived with a man-eating lion, pumping adrenaline and cortisol all the time. Do you work for a narcopath? Abusive customers? Do you have kids, parents, or siblings who are emotionally abusing you? Financial stress? These are all triggers for your body to stay in chronic fight-or-flight. Sometimes letting go of relationships or jobs, and resolving codependency is necessary before we can feel safe enough for our bodies to be able to heal. Do you need/want a coach or healer to help you to let go of limiting beliefs and get to the emotional root causes of suffering so that you can heal the underlying safety issues? It's something to consider, as going it alone is not easy.

Breathing is a key way to get out of chronic fight-or-flight. Breathing before you eat and before you go to sleep - deep breaths, slow inhale, slow exhale. Just 3-6 breaths. This signals the body that you are safe enough to breathe deeply, and the body should drop out of fight-flight. Make it a habit of doing this every day, as often as you can remember to do it, and especially before eating and at bedtime. There are a couple of essential oil blends I recommend that also help with vagus nerve support, and with lowering cortisol levels - see and - these do not substitute for breathing - but sometimes with extreme adrenal insufficiency, deep breathing can be very, very challenging (as was the case with me) - so a little extra support to get the body out of fight-or-flight is really helpful until deep breathing isn't just another stress on the body.

So these are just a few of my suggestions... things I did to alleviate the insomnia and heal from hypothyroid-induced adrenal issues. I hope you find them helpful for your own case, and I wish you all the very best. I'm so sorry that you've been experiencing insomnia and pain in your arms and legs. Lots of love to you and your very precious body!


Once again, thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

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i'm sorry , but i don't agree with those saying to take supplmements as a way to "heal" low cortisol. Low Urine Cortisol and low blood, is Adrenal Insufficiency and it can come from either the Pituitary or Adrenal Glands malfunctioning. Do you have any Pituitary problems? Have you had an ACTH test done, with your Cortisol, to determine a Pituitary involvement? Are your Thyroid meds taking care of all symptoms? Most low Cortisol is just low Thyroid. The Adrenal Glands need Thyroid Hormone at a proper level to function. You need further evaluation.


I am successful managing adrenal fatigue and my mum who had even lower cortisol than I is now fully functioning again for the whole day following the same guidelines.

I have cut out caffeine and sugar and follow a strict AIP diet which also incorporates the principles in the adrenal reset diet.

It's well worth looking at the adrenal reset book, it's fantastic and its principles have helped me a lot. Basically small regular meals that include protein and fat and no refined carbs, sugar or caffeine. A small portion of resistant carbs morning and afternoon, higher amounts with slightly less protein than during the day with higher amounts of resistant carbs during the evening.

Holy basil and zinc lower cortisol. Take when you have high cortisol peaks during the day.

Licorice, panax and Siberian ginseng, ribes negrum gemmo therapy work to increase cortisol. I have found them to be invaluable. But keep a record of your blood pressure with licorice as it increases blood pressure, so not good if you already have high blood pressure.

I also take nutri adrenal extra (I take 4 tabs split into 2 doses)

Yoga and meditation have been great. I have also found adrenal breathing (deep breathing from the stomach) very good. Look up Dr Lam, he is the best source of info on adrenal fatigue. I ordered the book through high website (cheaper than from Amazon) and its my bible.

Pregnenolone is also great but work up from 2.5mg increasing every week until you see signs of too much sex hormones (spots, hair thinning, huisuitism etc) or cortisol (swollen hands and face) 30mg - 50mg is often the right final dose but everybody is different and you need to work up gradually as you don't want to over supplement.

Good luck. Research everything!

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I have high BP, but I have been on meds for the past 18 months, and BP is now normal. Before treatment: 170/120. Now: 115/75.

My family doctor concluded I was hyperthyroid, based on my suppressed TSH, and said that I should go off any meds containing T3 and back on T4 only to lower my blood pressure. But isn't hypertension usually associated with HYPOthyroidism?!

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