Adrenal Cortex

On reading reviews about Thorne Adrenal Cortex a customer said, do not take if you have high cortisol levels, as I have.

Apparently he/she was high, jittery and manic for 10 days.

I was about to order it but decided to ask here first.

Any ideas what I should take to lower my levels, and will the low DHEA then become higher and become more balanced.

J 😊

43 Replies

  • My hormone specialist advised adaptogenic herbs to raise DHEA to help balance my high (top of range) cortisol and low (bottom/under range) DHEA.

    I *think* adrenal glandulars help when the cortisol is low (happy to be corrected).

  • Thanks for your reply SS,

    I was reading up on the herbs and would prefer to go down that road if possible. There are so many that I don't know where to start.

    Do I buy them separately, or is there anything that includes a mixture of a few.

    I am due to go away for dental treatment next weekend for 8 days and although I don't seem stressed, I must be with the high levels of cortisol in my 1st test which I had done recently.


  • The one I take has three of the adaptogenic herbs in

    I have mine on subscribe and save with LL, saves a fair bit. The price on Amazon for one tub is the same at the moment.

    Stress isn't always obvious, I'm not a stressy or anxious person, I'm quite a laid back, go with the flow sort. My stress apparently comes from years of poor sleep and very long term hypothyroidism.

  • Dear SS,

    If I was beside you now you would get one hell of a hug.

    J xx

  • Jose651 I would just point out that the adrenal supplement was recommended to me by a holistic hormone specialist after taking into account lots of tests I'd had done - adrenal, iodine, vitamins and minerals, melatonin, sex hormones, etc. She recommended a variety of supplements to work in synergy that were indicated by those results.

    My cortisol was at the top of the range and only one sample over range, not by anywhere near as much as yours (I've looked at your post with your adrenal test picture on).

    Your DHEA is low but in range, mine was right on the bottom of the range for one sample and under range for the other.

    There was no way I could have interpreted some of my tests and how what was shown interacted to give the problems I have. I would not have known what to supplement without professional advice. I'm not medically qualified in any way so cannot say that Adreset is definitely what you need.

    Also, herbal supplements aren't a quick fix so you might not see much happening for a while, or you might need other supplements added. I've been on my supplement regime since February, I have seen some gradual improvement but I think there is still a way to go. I just don't want you to be disappointed. You seem to have a lot going on (from a quick look at your other post) and you may need a lot more help than just the adrenal supplement.

    If you do get it, the capsules aren't the tiny ones. If you have trouble with capsules (I do) it's perfectly alright to open them up and mix the contents with a little juice (I checked with the manufacturer), they taste slightly chocolatey.

    I hope they help, or you find a way forward.

  • I understand what you mean SS.

    Since I joined HU in Oct last year my health has improved a lot, meaning my regime from SI B12, introducing T3 to the Levo monotherapy of 30 years, to slowly adding one supplement after the other - thanks gg- .

    I am starting to feel well in myself for the 1st time in a few years. I am sensible enough to know that we are all different and some things suit and some things don't .

    It is hard work and I wish sometimes that I didn't have to spend hours looking up this or that but that is the way it is at the moment.

    Once I get my new gobblers I will be a new woman,😁 and the flipping hip will be next on the agenda.

    Onwards and upwards, it can only get better SS.

    J 👍

  • It's such a hard slog isn't it Jose651? I remember when I was lucky(ish) enough for Levo only to be keeping me going when I was younger. But for the last 16 years (been hypo for over 40 years) it's all gone downhill and it doesn't help when GPs don't know or don't care 😞. And now, with time marching on, other things are wearing out, dropping or just accumulating things that come with later years. Not a lot of fun. I don't remember signing up for this!

  • Do you remember Mary Hopkins SS Those were the days my friend,

    We thought they'd never end,

    But you know what.

    It's not over, till the fat lady sings.

    That's me at the moment. Hahaha

    J xx

  • Ginseng can be stimulating. Ashwaganda is a great

    Adaptagen & doesn't stimulate, but balances.

  • Thank you for your reply QUEST-33,

    Do you know of any products that have a mix of say, Ashwaganda, Holy Basil and Rhodiola.

    I would prefer not to take them separately as I am taking extra Vits / Mins at the moment.

    J 😊

  • Hi Jose - no I don't I'm sorry. Rhodiola really

    didnt agree with me. There are no reported

    Contraindications using Ashwaghanda with

    meds I believe. Good for long term use.

    Referred to as the Indian Gingseng. I think

    it may have been Dr Wilson's book on Adrenals

    that has a chapter on useful herbs. Your DHEA

    acts to counter the effects of High Cortisol, so

    could be reason why yours is being drained.

    If your taking Thyroid Meds that include T3,

    you could bring your 1st dose timing forward

    which can lower Cortisol. I found Cortex

    stimulating when I had high Cortisol.

  • I have started adding T3 to Levo about 6 weeks ago and am feeling the good of it this week.

    I take 12.5 with 75 Levo before sleep and another 12.5 around 8Am.

    I have ordered adreset for starters and will see how it goes. Have you tried Holy Basil Q?


  • Great Jose - try bringing your 1st dose

    T3 forward, while your doing that

    be careful what adrenal supplements

    you take. You need to lower the

    Cortisol, not stimulate further ! No

    I've not tried Holy Basil - must be

    a reason why I decided not to try.

    If you have been in Levo only for

    a while & feel the need to now

    include T3, that suggests Levo

    wasn't alleviating your Hypo State.

    That will have been a stressor on

    your system viz high Cortisol.

    Now including T3, should start to

    help that situation. Don't jump

    at trying too much too soon.

    Give T3 a chance & take a gentle

    adrenal Adaptagen would be my

    advice. I'm not a Doctor, so just

    personal view

  • Thanks for your time Quest.

    I am Hypo for over 30 years, and diagnosed B12def/PA last year. Also Vit D def and H pylori positive which I managed to eradicate recently with natural products.

    Since joining HU, I am slowly getting there. To be perfectly honest I was a bit bothered about the Adrenal saliva test showing 3 out of 4 cortisol readings high, but not entirely surprised. I had a bad fall last year with head injuries and although I don't fell stressed, I obviously am.

    Thing is, I believe it is better to do these tests (privately if need be) and do something about the results than live in ignorance, believing everything your GP says, which is usually 'normal'

    Onwards and upwards, slowly of course.

    J 👍

  • Yep, you just stay positive & keep

    going. Once you improve the B12

    & Vit D that will certainly help. But

    the real difference will be felt when

    you feel the benefits of your Thyroid

    Meds regime. I found Paul

    Robinson's journey of interest

    myself. My best Jose.

  • Jose,

    Your adrenals are divided into two parts: outer glands (adrenal cortex) and inner glands (adrenal medulla). Adrenal glandulars are given to support & restore adrenal function. Adrenal Cortex Extracts don’t contain the adrenaline found in the whole adrenal glandular (Nutri).

    It is usually the adrenaline that upsets people with LOW cortisol because they are already running on it. I successfully supplement adrenal glandulars for high cortisol but we are all different and members have reported differing side effects//results from any glandulars.

    The medical profession does not recognise high//low cortisol as a serious problem unless it can be diagnosed as Cushings or Addisons disease. Taking any adrenal support will skew future cortisol results so if you are wishing your endo to investigate your high cortisol levels if would be better to wait until after your appointment.

    If you are worried about taking glandulars you could try adaptogens which are compounds known to help normalize the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. They will help adrenals that are in a state of fatigue, high stress or a combination of both. The feedback loop of the HPA axis is key in balancing adrenal hormones, and adaptogens can be beneficial in this healing process. Members have reported good results from Holy Basil, Rhodila and Liquorice. I have only supplemented the Liquorice. However these will skew results too.

  • I need to start on something radd as I could be waiting 6 months to see the endo who specializes in diabetis anyway and won't give a monkeys about me and my Thyroid, B12/PA or flipping Adrenals.

    What will they give me anyway, some cheap rubbish that will take months to have the slightest effect.

    Are high cortisol levels classed as Adrenal fatigue?

    Thank you

    J 😊

  • No, you should not take adrenal cortex if you have high cortisol. Some say ACE products are not strong enough to affect your adrenal glands, but others claim the very opposite. It seems some ACE supplements are stronger than others, and can be helpful in people with mild adrenal fatigue (cortisol levels in range, but lower than they'd optimally be, which is a sign the adrenal glands are beginning to struggle to keep up).

    Here is a list of adaptogens that can help lower high cortisol:

    I take it you don't have Cushing's syndrom, when your adrenal glands go into overdrive, as that should be treated medically ?

  • tc,

    Dr James L Wilson ( & Dr P) class high or low cortisol as adrenal fatigue ... just in differing stages. Dr Wilson states in his book (page 213) that adrenal cortex will tend to NORMALISE adrenal function ( and so may be taken for either.)

    I agree varying ACE products contain differing amounts of the supposed non-existent hormone and so effect people differently and all glandulars should be treated with respect.

    Can you evidence that adrenal cortex should NOT be taken with high cortisol levels ?

  • No, I just assumed it would be like taking prescription HC for high cortisol, or thyroid hormone for an overactive thyroid, but if some knowledgeable doctors claim they can be taken for both conditions, I have no problem accepting that. However, ACE supplements do contain tiny amounts of cortisol, so it does sound a bit illogical to me to take something you actually already have too much of...but I won't argue with Drs. W and P:-)

  • tc,

    There is no direct comparison as they are two different products. Adrenal glandulars are made up of actual adrenal gland tissue (usually porcine or bovine). They are said to nourish & help rebuild adrenal cells promoting better health and normalising hormone secretion. The makers claim all hormones have been removed or remain in minute proportions but as you know advocates refute this. However, Dr P claims glandulars may be stopped or started as required or supplemented long term and he himself takes both adrenal & thyroid glandulars every day.

    Corticosteroids (natural or synthetic) suppress adrenal activity, over-riding the normal feedback loops that regulate & balance adrenal hormones. They are many times more powerful than the natural cortisol we secrete, hence the difficulty some patients have in discontinuing them as the adrenals may struggle to regain their own function. I am sorry to hear of your adrenal problems

  • So true...I am not even sure I will ever be able to wean off Medrol. I was on HC for a while, but the multi dosing thing drove me crazy. I could literally feel it start working and starting to wean off a few hours later. I sure would like to get off all prescription meds, but I think I would have to replace it with something else. I have been reading about hundreds of products. Many seem to like Thorne's ACE. Others seem to prefer whole or raw adrenal, but I understand you also get adrenaline along with cortisol if you take these. I am not sure how to determine if you do indeed have high adrenaline levels, and therefore should avoid adrenal glandular...? In a way, it seems logical (to me) that if the adrenal glands are not producing enough cortisol, maybe they are not able to produce enough adrenaline either, in which case adrenal glandulars might be the way to never gets any easier, does it...?!

    Your post is one of the most helpful I've read in a long time when it comes to explaining how the HPA axis works. Strangely enough, not even the so called Hertoghe doctors seem to understand (or care) about this. On 4 mg of Medrol daily, I had my morning (8 am) cortisol levels tested (blood, as these doctors don't work with saliva testing), and was told that they were still lowish and that there was room for an increase (to 5, possibly 6, mg daily).

    But after reading your post, and knowing that Medrol, unlike HC, cannot be measured this way (i.e. won't show up as cortisol on labs), I now realise that my adrenal glands are working less than optimally after more than four years on Medrol. It's natural for cortisol levels to be lowish, although in range. To me, that shows that my adrenal glands are still working, although far from optimally. I now need to find a strategy to wean off Medrol once and for all. I fail to understand why I should need to be on it for life, if my adrenal glands, unlike my thyroid, are not truly dysfunctional, just tired...? And, even if those Hertoghe doctors claim that HC or Medrol are safe in physiological doses (up to 40 mg of HC or 8 mg of Medrol) daily, I am still not sure why I would need to be on them indefinitely...but, after reading your excellent and easy to understand post, I also realise that Medrol or HC will not heal my adrenals, nor allow them to get much-needed rest, but instead will suppress them further. Kind of a vicious circle. But I never considered that back in 2011, when I was put on Medrol along with NDT...I was just so relieved someone took me seriously when I said I felt tired and worn out and did not have any energy.

    Do you or anyone else know why practitioners like Dr. P recommend adrenal glandular rather than ACE for adrenal fatigue, although the former contains adrenaline as well...?

  • tc,

    Dr P advocates Nutri Adrenal (Extra) that contains the whole adrenal gland and so includes adrenaline. In his book he also recommends Nutri-Meds that supply the whole adrenal glandular and also adrenal cortex but I have never heard of a member who was recommended the cortex by Dr P. Many members (including myself) have had difficulties tolerating the whole adrenal glandulars whilst others do well on them.

    The adrenals become fatigued through low thyroid hormone by having to produce additional cortisol, until reserves run low when adrenaline is used instead. Adrenaline shouldn’t be a problem for high cortisol secretion and so the whole adrenal glandular may be used as is considered more “complete” by Dr P. He also emphasises the need to keep DHEA (which initially rises with cortisol before becoming exhausted) and cortisol in balance.

    The HPA axis regulates many homeostatic systems in the body and the adrenal cortex produces cortisol (amongst others) in response to stimulation by ACTH. Glucocorticoids in turn act back on the hypothalamus and pituitary (to suppress CRH and ACTH production) in a negative feedback cycle.

    Adding HC makes your brain withhold the signal (ACTH) to the adrenal glands to excrete cortisol and reduces//shuts down adrenal gland activity so giving them a chance to rest and heal.

    Dr Wilson states if adrenal glands do not respond sufficiently when HC is slowly reduced, then ACE may be supplemented simultaneously to restore and rejuvenate (page 218). As HC is reduced ACE is increased together with large doses of Vitamin C but he is emphatic that this regime is carried out under supervision..

    I have never medicated HC.

  • OK, if I understand you or rather Dr. P correctly (I have to try to find this book), ACE or whole adrenal will not cause adrenal activity to shut down...?

    I have no idea how to decide whether I am adrenaline deficient or the opposite. I have never had adrenaline measured, nor do I know if it's even possible to measure.

    I'm not sure if the inability to handle stress is a sign of low adrenal, or rather insufficient adrenaline production by adrenal glands in response to stress...?

  • tc,

    "Your Thyroid & How To Keep It Healthy" by Dr Barry Durrant Peatfield ... he advocates whole adrenal glandulars & HC.

    "Adrenal Fatigue - The 21st Century Stress Syndrome" by Dr James L Wilson ... he doesn't particularly like HC and advocates adrenal cortex.

    Both Dr P and Dr Wilson say adrenal glandulars (with or without the medulla) are safe to supplement.

    Isabella Wentz says there is a slight chance of glandulars turning off the bodies adrenal hormones when an amount is supplemented that encourages a higher than the normal physiological output of adrenal hormone usually released.

    I have never heard of adrenaline being tested but other members may be able to advise better.

  • Hi radd,

    thank you for your help over this last few days since I got the Saliva results.

    They annoyed me a bit but I'm ok now and will get the product SS is taking and see if there is an improvement. I'm confident there will be.

    It's just like a very large jigsaw puzzle that you have to keep fiddling about with, some fit, some don't, some gets lost under the table, but through perseverance you eventually get there.

    The only thing, isn't it bl..dy awful that we, as ill people have to sum up the energy to get ourselves healthy.

    Rant over- well it was only a little one anyway. 😡

    J x

  • Thanks thecat346,

    I posted my results from Genova recently. This was my 1st ever adrenal test and 3 out of 4 readings were high with low DHEA, (although in range)

    So I take from that, I am out of balance. It didn't take Einstein to work that out, lol but it's better to have results before taking anything.

    It's what to take is the issue. What do I need to start with. Is there any brand that do a few adaptogens together.

    No I haven't got a diagnoses of Cushings and hope that I don't .


  • I think it's more likely that your adrenals are overstimulated (from stress, including disease?). Radd is right that it starts with your adrenals producing too much cortisol, before eventually becoming too tired to keep up. This means that everyone who eventually ends up with low cortisol once had too much cortisol. However, once we go to see hormone experts such as the Hertoghe doctors, things have gone so far that our adrenal glands are already weak and not producing optimal amounts of cortisol. So I never tried to treat high cortisol. What I do know is that lowish cortisol levels (although most doctors would say there is no problem as they are within the lab's reference ranges) can be tricky; it certainly has been for me. I have tried countless products, both ACE and whole adrenal, some better than others, but nothing has really worked 100%. Looking back, I realise I should have treated my adrenals before treating my thyroid condition, but I had no idea about that back then, and neither did my doctor at the time.

    If your adrenals are producing too much cortisol, it actually means they respond healthily to stress. I hope you find a way to lower cortisol levels enough to feel fine, allowing you to take the stress off your adrenal glands before they end up fatigued. I hope it does not have to go that far in your case.

  • I can understand how you feel about not being able to treat your adrenals before your Thyroid. I'm probably the same although I have an UAT since I was 28/29. That's 30 years ago now.

    Jezz I was lucky they even knew what a thyroid was never mind Adrenals in my neck of the wood. Haha

    Seriously thou, I now understand that if I don't treat these 2 wee boyos now they will become much worse. I'm sorry yours got so bad.

    How are you now and what are you taking to help?


  • I am currently on prescription drug Medrol for adrenal fatigue. The Hertoghe doctors in Belgium work with two prescription drugs - hydrocortisone (HC) or Medrol (prednisolon is said to put too much pressure on your liver if taken long-term, so they don't prescribe it for adrenal fatigue). HC, as far as I know, is only used for adrenal insufficiency and adrenal fatigue, whereas prednisolon and Medrol are also used to treat rheumatoid disease (but in much higher doses, usually).

    I was put on Medrol as I had a tendency to retain fluid, and my doctor said HC would make that worse.

    Medrol is good in the sense that it is longer-acting. HC is short-acting and has to be taken throughout the day (every 3-4 hours or so), which makes it more convenient for me to take Medrol which I only need to take once a day. I normally take 4 mg daily (which equals 20 mg of HC) but, on really stressful days, or when I know I have a very stressful period ahead of me, I raise it to 6 mg daily. According to my doctor, up to 8 mg of Medrol or 40 mg of HC daily is considered a physiological dose. I have never had to take more than 6 mg daily, though.

    Some people I know of take Medrol and use HC to stress dose.

    I realise that most doctors would never have diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue to begin with; conventional doctors only seem to recognise Addison's disease or adrenal insufficiency which of course can be fatal if untreated. I have tried to wean off Medrol several times over the years, successfully, yet, I always end up back on it. It's like my adrenal glands are able to cope for a while after weaning off it, but eventually end up too tired. I am not sure I'll ever be able to go off adrenal support completely.

  • But if it's doing the job would you want to. Is it any different that Thyroid Hormone replacement or insulin injections tc?


  • No:-) But most conventional doctors can only diagnose adrenal insufficiency (a fatal condition when your adrenal glands more or less shut down). Anything in between = you are fine, and it's more and less in your head. Of course, if most thyroid and adrenal sufferers were men, I am not sure we'd still be in the Dark Ages as far as thyroid/adrenal supplements are concerned...

  • PS. This is from Stop the thyroid madness:

    Have HIGH CORTISOL, especially at night? In the first stages leading to adrenal fatigue, your cortisol levels can go high. This reflects the early and persistent stress on your body. Over time, your body can’t maintain these high levels as they can cause damage, so you next might see yourself with a mix of highs and lows, and with nighttime levels still too high. If so, patients supplement with 300-800 mg. Phosphatidylserine, aka PS before bedtime to improve sleep. Melatonin is another patient choice for better sleep; treatment 1-3 mgs before bedtime. It may take a few weeks to notice the difference and patients report better results if taken with the PS. Be careful with melatonin as taking it more than a few weeks can serve to lower morning cortisol. Taking zinc one hour before bedtime has also worked well, but make sure you have food in your stomach to prevent stomach upset. 50 mg – 100 mg has worked well for patients to lower high cortisol.

  • I read about PS and it sounds ok, but I really don't know enough about adrenals at the moment, or how mine will react to support as yet.

    I bought that book a few months ago tc and enjoy picking out bits and pieces to read.

    To be perfectly honest I'm getting tired of reading about health issues. I think I need a good read of something calm like gardening etc. I have been flat out trying to take it all in since I joined TUK and PAS last Oct.

    I never could have got this far without you all, xx

    I will order the product that SS kindly mentioned.

    J x

  • Have you done the saliva cortisol test? If not, order it via the main ThyroidUk website.

    If you are certain you are high then the ACE is definitely the wrong thing. It is for people who are low in cortisol.

    For high you would look at Holy Basil or PhosphotidylSerine to bring down levels. Two products that have been recommended to a friend are CalmCP and CalmPRT. Both contain phosphotidylserine. I can't vouch for either as I've never taken them.

  • Thank you for you reply rosetrees,

    I have done the saliva test recently with Genova. I posted the results last week, 3 out of 4 cortisol levels were high with DHEA low in range.

    I will look at CalmCP and CalmPRT and I do appreciate you taking an interest.



  • rosetrees,

    .. [ .. investigators found that a certain polymorphism of the 11β-HSD1 gene was associated with a higher level of HPA axis activity, increased salivary cortisol levels, and an increased incidence of low mood symptoms (Dekker, 2012) ... ] ... interesting.

    Excellent ingredients and interesting read but it looks like you need a practitioner to order.

  • I don't think you do. I think iHerb will ship without a practitioner

  • That was my first thought, as well..but then someone else said that ACE can be used for both conditions. I have to admit that I am more into thyroid than adrenal dysfunction, and that others are more knowledgeable than me in this area. But it does make sense to me that you should not supplement something that you are already making too much of yourself...

    I also agree with Jose651 about getting fed up with health issues...! Sometimes, it does tend to take over your life. IT society can be both a blessing and a curse...when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's, 16 years ago, I ordered Mary Shomon's book "Living well with hypothyroidism", and that was it. I was not even aware of all sites, forums, and blogs discussing these matters (maybe they were not even around back then). So, I think that, in order to stay sane, you sometimes need to draw the line somewhere and decide to think about something else for a while...!:-)

  • Hi, I've recently had high cortisol and taking Thorne Adrenal Cortex. I've found the addition of taking 'L-Rhamnosus' helpful, because this probiotic is reported to bring down cortisol. I feel much less adrenalised since taking this probiotic and I'm taking 50mg (1 capsule) of Adrenal Cortex per day. This combination works for me. Maybe it would for you?

  • Hi HEA72,

    I do appreciate your reply to my plight,

    I have never heard of L-Rhamnosus before and will read up on it. How long are you taking this combo?

    Great that it is helping you lower the cortisol. The thing is, I don't feel stressed at all but I suppose the dreadful fall I had last year has to manifest somewhere.



  • Hi Jose651, I know exactly what you mean. That was the frustrating thing with me, that I too wasn't stressed about anything but I still felt in 'stress-mode'. We often think of stress being an emotional thing only but anything that physiologically not right will also 'stress' the body. That can be infections, toxicity and other parts of the body not working optimally. So your high cortisol may be down to an imbalance physiologically somewhere that's taxing the adrenals. I think my issue was part emotions, part my NDT dose was too high and I'd had a chronic stomach bug that lasted over a month. But yes trauma whether emotional or physical can affect adrenal function. At the beginning of this year I had an accident and banged my head really badly. My energy got totally wiped out due to the shock in my system from the collision. Looking back now, I understand my poor adrenals got rather taxed from the trauma and my low energy reflected that. I find treatment like cransiosacral therapy and EFT/meridian tapping techniques and flower remedies helpful for releasing traumas.

    I've been taking the combination of adrenal cortex glandular with the L-Rhamnosus for a month now.

    Hoping you feel an improvement soon and find what works for you. x

  • You have been through the mill recently Hea.

    Glad the naturals treatments are helping you. They sound peaceful and calming.

    Just the medicine that we need. A bang on the head is serious though, I fell of a 6 ft ladder last year and had several injuries including a fractured skull and a bleed to the brain.

    Apparently I hit my head that hard of a wall that my poor wee brain was thrown over and hit off the skull causing it to bleed. I was on my own and when I 'came to' my cat was licking my face. Bless her. Amazing animals.

    Take care H


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