Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue & How Hair Analysis Assesses It

by lydia on June 28, 2016

When a person is under a lot of stress the normal functions of the organs in the body are compromised. The adrenal glands are especially vulnerable in a long-term stress situation as they are responsible for producing the hormones that provide the stress response. Over a long time if stress continues, the adrenals will weaken in their ability to ‘keep up,’ and then you may find yourself with adrenal fatigue.

If you’ve spent any time reading on my site, you have likely already read about adrenal fatigue. I, myself, am recovering from a very deep exhaustion through the use of the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and other functional diagnostic nutrition testing. Today, I wanted to unpack the symptoms of this health issue as well as how the hair analysis can better assess where your body is at and create a specific path for correction.

Adrenal Fatigue Word Cloud


Symptoms of Adrenal Exhaustion (or Insufficiency)

Below are signs that you have imbalanced cortisol or blood sugar that contribute to adrenal fatigue or result from low adrenal function or hyperfunction:

  • Tend towards being a night person
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Slow starter in the morning
  • Tend to be keyed up, difficulty calming down
  • High Blood Pressure (above 120/80)
  • Low Blood Pressure (under 100)
  • Headache after exercising
  • Feel wired or jittery after drinking coffee
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Calm on the outside but troubled on the inside
  • Chronic low back pain that is worse with fatigue
  • Dizziness after standing up quickly
  • Do not hold your chiropractic adjustments
  • Pain after manipulative correction (such as a chiropractic adjustment)
  • Arthritic tendencies
  • Crave salty foods or salt your food before tasting
  • Easily perspire
  • Chronic fatigue, drowsy all the time
  • Afternoon yawning
  • Afternoon headache
  • Asthma, wheezing, difficulty breathing
  • Knee pain (specifically the medial or inner knee)
  • Tendency to sprain ankle or get shin splints
  • Tendency to need sunglasses
  • Allergies and/or hives
  • Weakness, dizziness
  • Depression or apathy
  • Decreased tolerance to cold and poor circulation/subnormal body temperature
  • Tendency to constipation
  • Reduced hydrochloric acid production/poor digestion including a diminished ability to tolerate fats/protein
  • Reduced resistance to infection
  • Low blood sugar/hypoglycemia

What Leads to Weak Adrenal Gland Activity

Weak adrenal glands, at the cellular level, can be due to chronic stress, toxic metals, nutrient deficiencies, fear or ‘no win’ situations of feeling trapped, gut infections, parasites, food sensitivites, environmental toxins, pushing too hard/not sleeping, chronic pain or other stress related factors. Reduced or ineffective adrenal gland activity may contribute to symptoms of fatigue, exhaustion, depression, mood swings and PMS or menopausal symptoms in women.

Weak adrenal gland activity may also contribute to the accumulation of heavy metals (including toxic forms of needed minerals) as normal detoxification mechanisms become impaired. The body may compensate for adrenal weakness by retaining excessive amounts of copper, iron, manganese, aluminum, chromium, lead, arsenic, and other toxic metals. 

In light of this, it can take some time to dig deeper and unravel the effects of each person’s disrupted biochemistry. However, it’s an extremely powerful and useful way to restore vitality to the body.

We can also inherit poor adrenal health, via genetics or congenitally. If your mother had nutritional deficiencies, mineral imbalances, or heavy metal toxicity when she was pregnant with you, this will be passed on in utero. This alone is becoming a more common cause of adrenal issues today due to degeneration, poor diet, processed food, depleted soil, toxins, chemicals and more.

Mineral Patterns to Detect Issues with Adrenal Health

The more of the following indicators that are present, the greater the evidence of adrenal insufficiency. Also, the more extreme the values, the more suggestive of adrenal insufficiency problems and the symptoms will take longer to eradicate.

[Na/Mg] The Sodium-To-Magnesium Ratio: Reveals the degree of adrenal hormone resistance or reduced ability of the hormones to do their work.

In the fast oxidizer, Na/Mg ratio increases above normal [4.00 – 4.17] – This tends to represent overactive adrenal activity and symptoms tend towards inflammation/inflammatory reactions, fight or flight mode (increased stamina/drive), possible hypertension, diabetes, and impulsive agressive behavior

In the slow oxidizer, Na/Mg ration decreases below normal [ 4.00 – 4.17] – This tends to represent underactive adrenal glands (or adrenal fatigue/exhaustion) and symptoms tend towards fatigue, exhaustion, depression, hypoglycemia, poor digestion, allergies, basically reduced optimal function as the adrenal glands are one of our two main energy glands.

The sodium/magnesium ratio is also a measure of energy output because the adrenal glands are a major regulator (along with the thyroid gland) of the rate of metabolism.

According to Dr. Eck, sodium and magnesium tend to be antagonistic. As one goes up the other goes down. The ratio of the two minerals often gives a better picture of adrenal activity than the sodium level alone. Called ‘the adrenal ratio,’ we use an ideal ratio of 4.17:1 for sodium/magnesium. As the ratio elevates, it reflects an excessive adrenal effect, while a low ratio indicates under activity. This may not correlate perfectly with blood or saliva tests for adrenal hormones. This is because the latter measure hormones or their metabolites in the blood or other fluids. The hair test measures the effect of the hormones at the cellular (tissue) level.

[Na/K] The Sodium-To-Potassium Ratio: is linked to adrenal gland function and the balance between aldosterone ( a mineralo-corticoid hormone) and cortisol/cortisone (glucocorticoid hormones) and their secretion.

The ideal ratio of these two minerals 2.4 – 2.5  – When the ratio is elevated there is a trend towards inflammation. When it is low it indicates the beginning of or a deeper set adrenal exhaustion, which will include a tendency to have kidney/liver dysfunction, allergies, arthritis and deeper digestive issues. It’s also usually connected to hidden copper toxicity.

A low Na/K ratio (also known as an inversion) is a clear indicator of glucose intolerance. The body is unable to burn glucose properly to produce energy and begins to cannibalize body proteins. This contributes to fatigue, cravings for sweets, and many other symptoms. When the body cannot burn sugars properly, it begins to break down tissue proteins to use for energy. Left unchecked this could lead to tissue breakdown in the joints and arthritis may result. If this tissue breakdown occurs in the stomach lining, an ulcer may result.

Low Sodium  – Sodium levels are directly associated with adrenal gland function. Aldosterone, a mineral corticoid adrenal hormone, regulates retention of sodium in the body. In general, the higher the sodium level, the higher the aldosterone level and the lower the level the lower the aldosterone level in the body.

A low sodium level on a hair test is often associated with reduced sodium retention due to impaired adrenal gland activity. This may contribute to symptoms of fatigue and low blood pressure.

Low Potassium – A low potassium level on a hair test is often associated with excessive excretion of potassium due to stress and adrenal gland weakness. This may contribute to feelings of fatigue and low blood sugar.

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis provides an excellent way to assess overall adrenal health and monitor progress through repeat testing. The retests are important to help see how your body chemistry is changing and to make tweaks tailored exactly to meet the current needs. Recovery time can vary from person to person, but the deeper the fatigue, the longer it will take to fully pull out of it. Some people respond very quickly and some have a much slower response.

Hair Analysis not only shows the current biochemistry but it helps to create an approach to healing at a deeper level. This approach includes a nutritional assessment based on the hair test results, a dietary game plan based on one’s current oxidation rate, focused nutritional supplements to help support and rebuild the glands, as well as to improve metabolism, digestion, and detoxification paired with lifestyle tweaks and stress reduction techniques.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kelly Matsudaira July 8, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Great info! Thanks for sharing!


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