Australian Natural Bodz - - Adrenal Exhaustion - by ge­orge l red­mon phd

For any­one in­volved in sus­tained re­sis­tance train­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, at cer­tain times, short burst of over­train­ing are em­ployed to reach cer­tain goals. In this sense, the re­searchers cited above at Texas A&M Univer­sity state that over-train­ing can be a healthy part of train­ing. How­ever, when you fac­tor in the daily stress load as­so­ci­ated with the on-go­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal stress as­so­ci­ated with long-term re­sis­tance train­ing ef­forts, one of the or­gan sys­tems hit the hard­est is the adrenal glands. Based on the com­ments in the open­ing re­marks above, as an as­tute body­builder you are well aware of why, when, and what you eat, as well as how your work­outs can ma­nip­u­late var­i­ous an­abolic hor­mones. Be­cause of this fact, a steady but silent de­cline of those an­abolic hor­mones cir­cu­lat­ing in your blood­stream would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to all your ef­forts to reach the short and long-term goals you have es­tab­lished for your­self. Cor­re­spond­ingly, al­though the re­cov­ery and care of the adrenal glands is one of the most un­der-pub­li­cized and un­der-prac­ticed as­pects of re­sis­tance train­ing, sports medicine re­searchers con­tend that adrenal ex­haus­tion can be defini­tively linked to the rig­ors of in­tense work­outs.

Un­for­tu­nately, this mishap ap­pears to be more pro­nounced in its de­vel­op­ment in cases of over-train­ing, iron­i­cally a phys­i­o­log­i­cal syn­drome that mir­rors many of the symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with adrenal ex­haus­tion. None­the­less, de­spite this ir­reg­u­lar­ity, adrenal ex­haus­tion can be­come prob­lem­atic to not only reach­ing in­di­vid­ual growth and mus­cu­lar de­vel­op­ment goals, but sus­tain­ing long-term health.

Hor­mones: Made In the Adrenals

The fact is, the adrenal glands pro­duce over 50 var­ied hor­mones, in­clud­ing adren­a­line (ep­i­neph­rine), cor­ti­sol, De­hy­droepiandros­terone (DHEA), and testos­terone. As you are well-aware of, all th­ese dy­namic hor­mones play a crit­i­cal role in build­ing a lean mus­cu­lar physique. How­ever, even more im­por­tantly here, the proper de­vel­op­ment and se­cre­tion of th­ese hor­mones and many oth­ers also play a vi­tal role in sus­tain­ing long-term health and well-be­ing. De­spite the con­tention that adrenal ex­haus­tion isn’t rec­og­nized by the med­i­cal com­mu­nity as a ba­sis for the de­vel­op­ment of ill­ness and anx­i­ety, the gen­eral de­cline in adrenal func­tion is com­monly re­ferred to as adrenal fa­tigue and is caused by the body’s in­abil­ity to han­dle its stress load.

This no­tion is avidly voiced by Dr. James Wil­son Ph.D., the au­thor of Adrenal Fa­tigue: The 21st Cen­tury Stress Syn­drome. Con­versely, Dr. Todd B. Nip­poldt, M.D of the Mayo Clinic states that the med­i­cal term for this dis­or­der is adrenal in­suf­fi­ciency (Ad­di­son’s dis­ease) and is caused by an in­ad­e­quate pro­duc­tion of one or more of the afore­men­tioned hor­mones pro­duced by the adrenal glands, how­ever as a re­sult of an un­der­ly­ing dis­ease. For this rea­son, he main­tains that any un­re­solved is­sues as­so­ci­ated adrenal in­suf­fi­ciency should be thor­oughly dis­cussed with a health­care pro­fes­sional.

Adrenal Glands: In­ter­nalIn­terna Stress De­fend­ers

Dr. Chris­tiane Northrup, M.D., the na­tion­ally known women’s health­care ad­vo­cate main­tains that the adrenal glands are the body’s pri­mary shock ab­sorbers. Th­ese two tiny or­gans that rest on top of each kid­ney, along with the hy­po­thal­a­mus and pi­tu­itary gland are all part of what is known med­i­cally as the Hy­po­thal­a­mus-Pi­tu­itary –Adrenal Axis (HPA). This axis reg­u­lates temperature, di­ges­tion, im­mune func­tion, and mood and en­ergy us­age. Nev­er­the­less, when lin­ger­ing adrenal stress re­duces hy­potha­la­mic and pi­tu­itary gland func­tion, un­for­tu­nately this can also down-reg­u­late the pro­duc­tion of thy­roid hor­mones.

As you know, thy­roid hor­mones reg­u­late your me­tab­o­lism, which es­sen­tially de­ter­mines how ef­fec­tive your body is able to break down food and con­vert it into en­ergy, as well as burn body-fat. This dou­ble down-grade can make it hard to muster up a steady sup­ply of en­ergy to main­tain those in­tense work­outs of yours, de­spite the proper in­put of fuel. The prob­lem here, un­der stress, phys­i­cal or men­tal, a com­bi­na­tion of nerve and hor­monal sig­nals are sent to the adrenal glands, which re­lease a surge of anti-stress and anti-in­flam­ma­tory hor­mones, the most abun­dant be­ing adren­a­line, no­ra­drenaline and cor­ti­sol.

By the way, cor­ti­sol when se­cre­tions are within nor­mal ranges reg­u­late sev­eral pow­er­ful in­nate sys­tems that helps the body adapt and coun­ter­act neg­a­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal stres­sors and or ex­er­cise in­duced stress. How­ever, when the adrenals are pushed to the limit, ev­ery or­gan and sys­tem in the body can be neg­a­tively af­fected as ex­cess cor­ti­sol is gen­er­ated and ac­cu­mu­lated, es­sen­tially be­com­ing a mus­cle wast­ing and de­struc­tive hor­mone. Also, in ad­di­tion to the de­struc­tive pro­cesses cited above, al­though not con­clu­sive here, when the adrenal glands are ex­hausted changes can oc­cur in:

1. Your car­bo­hy­drate, pro­tein and fat me­tab­o­lism, 2. Your fluid and elec­trolyte bal­ance, 3. Your heart and car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem. 4. Low­er­ing of your blood sugar lev­els and even your sex drive.

Ad­di­tion­ally, wan­ing adrenal func­tion can cause changes at the bio­chem­i­cal and cel­lu­lar lev­els in re­sponse to de­creased pro­duc­tion of adrenal hor­mones and cor­ti­sol. To this point, re­searchers of the In­sti­tute of Sports and Preven­tive Medicine at the Univer­sity of Saar­land in Ger­many found that in­di­vid­u­als work­ing out in the throes of the over­train­ing syn­drome ex­pe­ri­ence a sub­stan­tial de­crease in the max­i­mum rise of pi­tu­itary hor­mones (cor­ti­cotrophin, growth hor­mone), cor­ti­sol and in­sulin. In prac­ti­cal terms here, at this stage, blood lac­tate lev­els be­gin to con­tin­u­ously rise very rapidly

dur­ing work­outs, as the body strug­gles to dis­card it. Th­ese re­searchers noted that th­ese re­sults were found in stan­dard­ized com­pre­hen­sive ex­er­cise test per­formed with an in­ten­sity of 10% above the in­di­vid­ual anaer­o­bic thresh­old. As a re­minder here, in­di­vid­ual anaer­o­bic thresh­old, also termed 4.0 mmol.l-1 thresh­old (AT4) is de­fined as the high­est meta­bolic rate where blood lac­tate con­cen­tra­tions are main­tained at a steady-state dur­ing pro­longed ex­er­cise.

Al­lu­sive Un­re­solved Signs

As stated ear­lier, any lin­ger­ing or un­re­solved is­sues with signs and symp­toms of adrenal in­suf­fi­ciency shouldn’t be sim­ply ig­nored. For ex­am­ple, a con­sis­tent poor or non-ex­is­tent morn­ing ap­petite may be caused by higher than nor­mal lev­els of cor­ti­cotrophin-re­leas­ing hor­mone (CRH). El­e­vated CRH be­sides sup­press­ing ap­petite also stim­u­lates the syn­the­sis of adreno­cor­ti­cotropic hor­mone (ACTH) which makes cor­ti­sol. This anom­aly was con­firmed by Fin­nish re­searchers in a 2012 study ap­pear­ing in the jour­nal Sleep Dis­or­ders. This study con­clu­sively showed that even a stress­ful work en­vi­ron­ment and ir­reg­u­lar shift work sub­stan­tially in­creased cor­ti­sol ex­cre­tion dur­ing sleep. Other signs and symp­toms of adrenal ex­haus­tion are ab­dom­i­nal pain, anorexia, brain fog (poor con­cen­tra­tion), de­pres­sion, fa­tigue, headaches, hy­poten­sion (low blood pres­sure), hy­po­gly­caemia (low blood sugar lev­els), hy­pothy­roidism ( re­duced thy­roid func­tion), rest­less sleep, loss of men­strual pe­ri­ods for women, nau­sea, poor sex drive, sore mus­cles or joints, vom­it­ing, wa­ter re­ten­tion, weight loss and or ad­e­quate sleep with di­min­ished en­ergy lev­els. Iron­i­cally, many of the afore­men­tioned prob­lems as cited mir­ror the same symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with the over-train­ing syn­drome. How­ever, al­though the above list of symp­toms aren’t con­clu­sive, Dr. James Wil­son who coined the term adrenal fa­tigue, re­minds us that over two-thirds of the en­tire US pop­u­la­tion ex­pe­ri­ence some gen­eral form of adrenal fa­tigue. Un­for­tu­nately, re­searchers also es­ti­mate that 80% of the peo­ple who suf­fer from adrenal fa­tigue, also ex­pe­ri­ence some form of de­creased thy­roid func­tion. Har­mo­niously, this is why many for­ward think­ing sports medicine re­searchers in­sist that the re­cov­ery and care of proper adrenal func­tion be­come part of the re­sis­tance train­ing re­cov­ery process. Dr. Kon­rad Krail N.D., the for­mer Pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Natur­o­pathic Physi­cians states that there are a num­ber of nat­u­ral sub­stances re­ferred to as meta­bolic en­hancers that can en­hance the meta­bolic ac­tiv­ity of the adrenal glands. As a point of clar­i­fi­ca­tion here, from a phys­i­o­log­i­cal stand­point, meta­bolic en­hancers are sub­stances that im­prove the per­for­mance of ex­ist­ing bio­chem­i­cal path­ways by pro­vid­ing co­fac­tors, cat­a­lyst and sub­strates (spare parts) that sup­port the ac­tions of the sys­tem with­out caus­ing un­due stress to its nat­u­ral ac­tions. Cor­re­spond­ingly, the syn­op­sis be­low high­lights some of those meta­bolic en­hancers. Recharg­ing Slug­gish Adrenal Glands Nat­u­rally Vi­ta­min B5 (pan­tothenic acid) is one of the most abun­dant nu­tri­ents within the adrenal glands and plays a key role in proper adrenal func­tion by sta­bi­liz­ing cor­ti­sol pro­duc­tion. Other nu­tri­ents that help reg­u­late adrenal func­tion are the steroid hor­mone De­hy­droepiandros­terone (DHEA) which is man­u­fac­tured by the adrenals and is of­ten used to treat adrenal in­ef­fi­ciency. De­spite this, Dr. Hans Ku­gler, the Pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Academy of Anti-Ag­ing Medicine and the au­thor of Amaz­ing Medicines the Drug Com­pa­nies Don’t Want You to Dis­cover ar­gues that the hor­mone preg­nenolone would be a bet­ter choice here. He makes note of the fact that preg­nenolone not only nor­mal­izes wan­ing adrenal func­tion that oc­curs as we age, it also helps pro­duces DHEA and all the other hor­mones ac­cord­ing to the body’s daily needs. Fur­ther­more, be­cause of on-go­ing re­search by sci­en­tist at the In­sti­tute of Nat­u­ral Medicine at Hal­lym Univer­sity in South Korea, re­searchers now know that the herbs Siberian and Panax gin­seng D-stresses stress (phys­i­cal/ men­tal) by as­sist­ing in the sta­bi­liza­tion of the hy­potha­la­mic-pi­tu­itary-adrenal (HPA) axis dis­cussed ear­lier. More­over, newer stud­ies show that gin­seng’s en­er­giz­ing ef­fects oc­cur by in­creas­ing ATP pro­duc­tion in the mi­to­chon­dria. As you know ATP es­sen­tially serves as the in­ter-cel­lu­lar molec­u­lar bat­ter­ies your body uses to store and trans­port en­ergy. How­ever, from a bio-chem­i­cal stand­point, re­searchers at the School of Chi­nese Medicine at Hong Kong Bap­tist Univer­sity dis­cov­ered that key ac­tive com­pounds found in Gin­seng called gin­seno­sides reg­u­lates the tri­car­boxylic acid cy­cle, via en­hanced pro­tein ex­pres­sion to en­hance car­diac en­ergy me­tab­o­lism. Ap­par­ently, panax gin­seng ac­ti­vates mul­ti­ple en­zymes in this cy­cle, also known as the Krebs cy­cle, en­abling mi­to­chon­dria to ex­tract con­cen­trated amounts of en­ergy in the form of adeno­sine-tri-phos­phate (ATP). For ex­am­ple, sci­en­tist at the Univer­sity of Tampa looked at the

ef­fects of 12 wweeks of 400mg/d of oral ATP sup­ple­ments on mus­cu­lar adap­ta­tions in trained in­di­vid­u­als. MusMus­cle mass, strength, and power were ex­am­ine­did att weeks 0,4, 8, and 12 to as­sess the con­tin­u­ing ef­fects of ATP. At the end of this study ATP users in­creased to­tal body strength (+55.3 ± 6.0 kg ATP vs. + 22.4 ± 7.1 kg placebo), in­creased ver­ti­cal jump power (+ 796 ± 75 ATP vs. 614 ± 52 placebo) and greater mus­cle thick­ness (+4.9 ± 1.0 ATP vs. 2.5 ± 0.6 mm placebo). Th­ese re­searchers also noted that the ben­e­fits of ATP were fur­ther ex­hib­ited by re­duced pro­tein break­down.

Adap­to­gens Re-En­er­gize and Sta­bi­lize Adrenal Func­tion

Some other well-known sup­ple­ments that help re­gen­er­ate ATP en­ergy mol­e­cules, that iron­i­cally have an ex­tremely short life span (10 sec­onds) are CoQ10, crea­tine, glu­tamine and ri­bose. Dis­tinc­tively, be­cause of their abil­ity to calm down and re-sta­bi­lize in­ter­nal sys­tems, sci­en­tist la­bel many of th­ese sup­ple­ments as adap­to­gens. In­ci­den­tally, an adap­to­gen is de­fined as a non­toxic sub­stance that has the abil­ity to in­crease the body’s ca­pac­ity to re­sist the dam­ag­ing ef­fects of stress, by pro­mot­ing or restor­ing nor­mal phys­i­o­log­i­cal func­tion­ing. Equally, re­searchers at the Swedish Herbal In­sti­tute Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter in Swe­den state that adap­to­gens pos­sess anti-fa­tigue and anti-stress ac­tiv­i­ties that can in­crease men­tal and phys­i­cal work­load per­for­mance in the midst of in­tense fa­tigue or stress. Many of th­ese adap­to­gens are found in the plant or herbal king­dom. For in­stance, other well-know and widely uti­lized adap­to­gens to sta­bi­lize adrenal func­tion are: Acai berries, Ash­wa­gandha, Cordy­ceps sinen­sis, Deg­ly­cyrrhizanted Li­corice Root (this form doesn’t raise blood pres­sure), Holy basil (low­ers ex­cess cor­ti­sol), Ly­cium (Goji), Mag­ne­sium, Mag­no­lia, Rho­di­ola Rosea, Reishi Mush­room Schizan­dra Root. As a re­minder here, the con­sen­sus among re­searchers in ref­er­ence to adap­to­genic com­pounds is that they work best dur­ing a 3 to 4wk on and off cy­cle to re-sta­bi­lize a com­pro­mised or down-reg­u­lated sys­tem or or­gan.


The pres­sure to per­form phys­i­cally and men­tally are part of ev­ery­day life. For some­one fully en­gaged in the rig­ors of re­sis­tance train­ing, this fact is am­pli­fied 10-fold. Find­ing ways to nat­u­rally help the adrenal glands func­tion bet­ter on a daily ba­sis is just pru­dent and a very easy way to main­tain both your phys­i­cal and men­tal well-be­ing. The take home mes­sage here, train smarter, not nec­es­sar­ily harder, and as stated by Mar­celle Pick, the au­thor of Is It Me or My Adrenals? “One thing I can prom­ise you is that when you heal your adrenal glands, you’ll see re­sults on ev­ery phys­i­cal and emo­tional level, and your whole body will thank you for it!”

Photo by Steve Jones


Photo by Nat­u­ral Bodz

stacy o’con­nell Ty­mon Mcbir­ney

Photo by Nat­u­ral Bodz


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