Most people either need their coffee, cigarette, or toke to get them through the day. All three of these daily habits have substances in them that worsen adrenal fatigue. Those substances include caffeine, nicotine, and THC.
These important substances people use on a daily basis all have their list of pros and cons for their use in improving our everyday lives and our health. Most people can use caffeine, nicotine, or THC within moderation and develop no adrenal issues whatsoever. Some people with overuse of these substances can develop adrenal fatigue, or the use of any of these substances make their adrenal fatigue worse.
Caffeine is an interesting alkaloid. Caffeine is found in coffee, chocolate, tea, caffeinated soda, and yerba mate. 1 Most people know the health benefits of ingesting caffeine occasionally, but few people understand that the caffeine has a strong effect on the adrenals. Caffeine over activates the HPA axis 2 and increases both catecholamines production (adrenaline is a prime example) 3 and cortisol. One study though indicates that in healthy people the adrenal glands might adapt to consistent consumption of caffeine; but moderate amounts of cortisol are still released over time though instead of larger spikes. 4 I recommend that if you have adrenal fatigue, no matter how hard it can be to withdraw, you do not need your daily caffeine in the morning to get out of bed once you break the cycle. Most people I have coached with adrenal fatigue actually see higher energy levels in a week after they have quit using caffeine and have gotten past the withdraw. Taper down daily for a week if you have to so you will not get headaches.
The problem with telling people to stop using nicotine, unlike caffeine, is not convincing people that constant use of this alkaloid is bad for your adrenals. The main reason it is hard to get people to quit smoking or using nicotine is because it is heavily addictive. Nicotine strongly activates the dopamine reward pathway of the brain. The strong feeling of reward and pleasure (large increases of dopamine and acetylcholine in the brain) a person gets from taking in nicotine makes the drug one of the most addictive in the world. 5 Nicotine is worse on the adrenals than caffeine. Nicotine strongly over activates the HPA axis 6 and greatly increases both catecholamines and cortisol. 7 Use clean sources of nicotine like patches, toothpicks, or non-aspartame containing gum and ween off your habit so you can let your adrenal glands recover.
I love the medicinal purposes of Marijuana; I believe that they are almost endless! There is one drawback however, I believe to the use of recommendation of THC containing products to improve one’s health. THC increases cortisol levels. THC, unlike caffeine and nicotine, appears to be easier on the adrenal glands though in its defense. In THC studies in rats (causative caution with the studies has to be used since rats and humans are different animals,) THC appeared to not cause a large epinephrine spike which can be harmful to adrenal recovery. There is some possible bad news about the use THC in those rat studies, it appears that in rats, THC use greatly reduces thyroid function by reducing thyroxine levels in some cases by 90%! 8
CBD, on the other hand, reduces cortisol levels and seems to be good for the HPA axis. 9
I believe the use of marijuana is safer than nicotine or caffeine, but it should be used with caution in people with adrenal fatigue.
- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/caffeine.html ↩
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2409189/ ↩
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11151742 ↩
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257922/ ↩
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3137256/ ↩
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16325948 ↩
- http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167876005002679 ↩
- http://www.ukcia.org/research/EndocrineEffects.pdf ↩
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8257923 ↩