Four Substances That Might Hinder Your Adrenal Function

Four Substances That Might Hinder Your Adrenal Function

Most people either need their coffee, cigarette, drink, or toke to get them through the day. All four of these daily habits have substances in them that hinder proper adrenal function, which include the use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or THC.

These important substances many people use on a daily basis all have their positives and negatives for improving our everyday lives and our health. Most people can use caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or THC within moderation and develop no adrenal issues whatsoever. Some people with overuse of these substances can lead to them developing adrenal fatigue, or the use of any of these substances make their adrenal fatigue worse.

Caffeine

Caffeine is an interesting alkaloid. Caffeine is found in coffee, chocolate, tea, caffeinated soda, energy drinks, 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 axis2 and increases both catecholamine production (adrenaline is a prime example)3 and cortisol. One study though indicates that in healthy people the adrenal glands might eventually 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 difficult caffeine withdraw can be, 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 who have higher energy levels in a few weeks after they have quit using caffeine and have gotten past the withdraw. Taper down daily for few weeks if needed to reduce caffeine withdraw symptoms, watch out for those headaches!

Nicotine

Nicotine is more challenging to quit then caffeine. Nicotine strongly activates the dopamine reward pathway of the brain. The intense feeling of reward and pleasure(massive release of dopamine and acetylcholine in the brain) a person gets from using 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 axis6 and greatly increases both catecholamine and cortisol release.7 Nicotine is also a vasoconstrictor and can lead to or worsen cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease in some people.8 Nicotine may have its niche uses to improve one’s health (people suffering from degenerative brain diseases or for the occasional cognitive boost), but most people should avoid it if possible.9 Use clean sources of nicotine like patches, toothpicks, glycerin vaping e-Cigarette fluid, or non artificial sweetener containing gum and ween off your habit over a few weeks so you can let your adrenal glands recover.10

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages have been consumed by humans since the Stone Age and are more widespread in its use than any of the other substances throughout history.11 People consume alcoholic beverages as either beer, whine, spirits, or mixed drinks. Alcohol is also used in the preparation of food like flambe and is used in some dishes to make them more flavorful. Alcohol is produced from fermentation by yeast, and many different grains, fruits, and vegetables are used to create it.12 Alcohol consumption in moderation (mainly wine) may be beneficial to improve one’s health. Biodynamic wine, for example, contains resveratrol, prebiotics, polyphenols, probiotic bacteria, probiotic yeast, and antioxidants.13 14 15 16 Alcohol is poisonous and has to be metabolized by the liver by alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase which turn ethanol into acetaldehyde then into the short-chain fatty acid acetate.17 Chronic alcoholic beverage consumption, on the other hand, can cause severe health and life issues over time. Alcoholism can permanently damage the digestive system, liver, and central nervous system. Occasional alcoholic beverage consumption seems not to increase cortisol or cause and worsen adrenal issues. Moderate use, binge drinking, or alcoholism, on the other hand, seems to increase cortisol production significantly, lowers heart rate variability, increases blood pressure, causes sleep disturbances, and stresses the adrenal glands. Good news is that abstinent alcoholics were shown in studies to have stabilized cortisol production and adrenal function, so it would appear the issues are directly correlated with chronic consumption of alcohol. Occasional alcoholic beverage consumption may improve one’s health, but if you are prone to alcoholism or are an alcoholic, avoid alcohol and please seek help to improve your life.18 19 20

THC

I love the medicinal purposes of marijuana; I believe that there are many uses for this truly wonderful plant! There is at least one drawback of the use of THC containing products to improve one’s health. THC increases cortisol levels. THC, unlike caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, appears to be easier on the adrenal glands though in its defense. In THC studies that were performed with rats (causative caution with the studies has to be used since rats and humans are different animals), THC appeared not to cause a significant epinephrine spike which could be harmful to adrenal recovery and create anxiety. There is some possible bad news about the use THC in those rat studies; it appears that in rats, THC greatly reduces thyroid function by reducing thyroxine levels in some cases by 90%! Finally, the THC dosage and frequency might be dependent on its effects on the increase of cortisol. Small amounts of THC are fine occasionally, large amounts however and frequent use may cause or worsen adrenal fatigue.21 22

CBD, on the other hand, reduces cortisol levels and seems to be good for the HPA axis.23

I believe the use of marijuana is safer than nicotine or caffeine, but it should be used with caution in people with adrenal fatigue.

 

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/caffeine.html
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2409189/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11151742
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257922/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3137256/
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16325948
  7. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167876005002679
  8. https://www.bernd-mayer.com/nicotine-cardiovascular-function-heart-blood-vessels/
  9. http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/study-finds-nicotine-safe-helps-in-alzheimers-parkinsons/2175396
  10. https://selfhacked.com/blog/28-proven-health-benefits-nicotine-4-potential-risks/
  11. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/02/alcohol-discovery-addiction-booze-human-culture/
  12. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/02/alcohol-discovery-addiction-booze-human-culture/
  13. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/really-red-wine-is-good-for-the-stomach/
  14. https://www.livescience.com/47997-wine-bacteria-probiotics.html
  15. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281
  16. http://drhyman.com/blog/2017/03/19/benefits-prebiotics-probiotics-truth-wine/
  17. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa72/aa72.htm
  18. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh23-4/272-283.pdf
  19. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167876005002692?via%3Dihub
  20. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030105111000222X?via%3Dihub
  21. http://www.ukcia.org/research/EndocrineEffects.pdf
  22. http://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716(17)30220-X/fulltext
  23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8257923
34 Comments
  1. I have had an adrenal insufficiency ever since i was 3 y/o (17 now almost 18) and ive been off and on about smoking pot because i heard its not good for people with my condition. Although i do drink coffee EVERYDAY with my hydrocortisome in the morning. I tell my endocrinologist, and she doesnt say anything about coffee being bad for me. Now whenever i smoke weed with my friends, I immediately feel nauseated, i will get the shakes(i think i may just be sensitive to cold temperatures because thc does lower your body temperature) and i get extremely tired for some reason, remdering me finding it hard to speak at times. If thc doesnt raise my cortisol levels as high as coffee, then why do i feel like this when i smoke weed. (I am most concerned about the shakes and the nausea). I used to smoke everyday, but now i only smoke every other weekend because of this feeling.

  2. Hello, John. I have been diagnosed with Addison’s disease as my adrenals produce <1 cortisol, so I have to take Cortef (hydrocortisone) to bring my cortisol levels up to something closer to normal. I have already ordered some Hemp Oil (CBD oil), but now I am having second thoughts about taking it since your information states that CBD (which is fabulous at "treating" myriad autoimmune conditions of which Addison's is one and the reason I bought the Hemp Oil in the first place) reduces cortisol. Do I use the CBD oil to treat the autoimmune aspect or do it NOT use it because I have to take the steroid to give my body the cortisol my adrenals no longer produce? Thank you for any clarification you can give!

    • Wow, this is crazy. I too have Addison’s and a pile of severe autoimmune disorders,one terminal. I have been trying edibles lately ,I’m a total newbie in my 40’s . I’m going to tell you in the last 24 hours it’s as though I’ve gone into an adrenal crisis. :( I’ve tried ” new” edible each time this has happened. I thought it was a high in my sugar as I’m insulin dependent diabetic as well. But now I wonder. The last 24 hours I’ve had some edibles,and damn,what a mess! Heart ,sweats were insane, nausea,shakes blacking out,and more. My other half kept saying I was just HIGH …I tried to make myself believe that,but my brain was working great,until I’d black out etc…tried sleeping it off. But I was still a mess and having crisis like symptoms again! Everything else was fine, sugar, BLood pressure etc. So my other half gave me an additional steroid,almost 50% more and it actually made me feel better,significantly. But it’s been damn hard and a long process today getting there, it felt like it wore off and as if I needed it again. What really sucks is it’s my docs who put me on the marijuana for pain,they know I’m bad in the Andrnal department,but they made no mention there could be a problem! Now I’m clueless wth I should be doing. To say that marijuana doesn’t kill anyone I think is pushing things a little much. I realize Addison’s is rare, but what about diabetics as well.? It’s never lowered anyone’s sugar so low before that it killed them? That’s crazy. Anyway ,I am hoping someone can chime I. Here and help us out.

      • Hi rose Ann.. I’m looking into taking cbd oil for muscle pain I get from what I think is adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue or some kind of immune issue but I’m not sure I’m allowed to buy it here in Australia 🤔 Anyway I too am diabetic and I no longer produce cortisol due to radiation on my pituitary which has left me with very little hormone function left at all (no thyroid, estrogen progesterone growth hormone etc) I have a few auto immune issues but none that are able to be cured by modern medicine 🙁 and the docs aren’t interested in my daily chronic fatigue or adrenal fatigue symptoms either so I’m happy to read there’s someone out there in a similar position to me! But I’m nervous about trying cbd oil or marijuana because of the side effects of it possibly dropping my cortisol levels
        My email is hayels79@hotmail.com would love to chat about this

    • Of course ask your healthcare professional, but I would assume that CBD only reduces the cortisol that your body actually produces which cannot go any lower. It should not reduce Cortef that you take.

  3. This is all very fascinating and explains a lot.
    I quit smoking cigarettes 6 months ago today after
    25 years with only one small break. I went on Wellbutrin 300 then 150 milligrams. Totally knocked out the cravings. Drinking slowed down and so did pot. I’m off the Wellbutrin now altogether without an urge to smoke but have picked up pot again.
    In the last 5 years I’ve put on 35 pounds. After losing my dad pretty suddenly I spiraled out of control with everything. Big stressful changes everywhere, moving, money, relationship, career all in full gear….stress is and hopefully was my mode of operation. Always panicked, anxiety, depression, aggression. Abandoned exercise routine and couldn’t quite ever get back on track despite gym memberships, bikes and weights all around me.
    Basically in denial and boom – fat, belly and lovehandles, acne, poor digestion, terrible sleep.
    Right now I feel that I have just discovered what’s been happening with me. It’s my ADRENALS…My adrenals are fatigued! And even though I have always ate really well, mostly vegetarian organic and all, and took tons of supplements over the years but nothing changed it just got worse.
    Last night I was searching online and came across YouTube videos of Dr. Eric Berg…amazing!!!
    I took an online survey through his website which led me to the information.
    I’m going to turn this whole thing around through educating and activating what I need to. Appreciate this forum as I came here looking to see how the affects the adrenals and have learned so much, thanks all! Good luck!

    • I’ve had adrenal fatigue for 15 years. After 2 lots of cortisone therapy I was a bit better but I’ve had to stick to meat in my diet to stay a bit well, which goes against my ethics. Unfortunately a vegan diet for adrenal fatigue doesn’t work.

  4. I recently quit coffee and working on cutting back on THC. I cut back from a few bowls a day to only a few hits at night.

    I noticed the biggest difference when I stopped drinking caffeine and fixing my diet though.

  5. I’ve been a chronic marijuana mixed with tobacco smoker for about 5 years coping with trauma. Now I am forced to let these crutches go as my adrenals are shouting at me full volume. It is actually a relief , although I am going to miss my constant friend.

  6. I am currently recovering from an Adrenal crash. I’m not going to go into all the details here, but using Rick Simpson oil and a desiccated adrenal supplement is what brought on the crash. What I have learned is this: you can take all the supplements you want but until you fix your diet and lifestyle issues that created your current situation, your body will not heal. In fact, many of those supplements can make things worse by over stimulating already taxed adrenals – even the adaptogenic ones. I found it interesting that if you take a supplement and it makes you feel better quickly, it is probably doing the opposite of what you want. I cannot recommend The Schwarzbein Principle II enough. The author is an endocrinologist who had to dig herself out of a pretty big hole while she was in medical school. It is now the focus of her career helping others. She’s crazy expensive, but her book is amazing. And no, I am in no way affiliated with this author or the book. I’m just so happy to be able to get out of bed. Also, there is no shortcut. When you remove all the things that have been bolstering you, your adrenals will show you just how bad they are. HTH!

    • I’m glad for your success but promoting any kind of high-cholesterol diet is very dangerous, as we are not biogically adapted to handle any amount beyond what our bodies naturally produce. There is a massive amount of data showing the dangers of diets high in cholesterol. Even saturated fat has been linked to poor health. A whole foods, plant-based diet is the only diet ever shown to reverse heart disease as well as type II diabetes, while being statistically shown to promote the most weightloss of any diet, all without contributing other risk factors. This all essentially proves that that is the body’s most natural and healthy diet.

      Whole foods plant-based doesn’t mean high carb or low carb; it can be modified to accommodate any diet. Someone with weak adrenals may deem a low carb diet the best, but if you are following a strictly whole foods plant-based lifestyle, then you probably won’t even need to make that modification.

      • Umm, no. Sorry, but you are wrong. Your diet info is antiquated and severly incorrect. If you choose to eat vegan, than that is your choice, but telling people to avoid saturated fats is so 1989. The saturated fat myth has been debunked. Maybe you should update your research. Our adrenals crave fats; fats are what keep our hormones on an even keel.

  7. I have found that THC has helped my Adrenal issue tremendously, albeit I take one hit of pure Indica and have a strict sleeping routine but I wake up feeling great!
    My nightly routine for the past month has been (and this sounds nuts but if you had insomnia like I did you would do anything!) Additionally I cut out gluten and sugar from my diet, also coffee and alcohol. Every night I make an Adrenal Cocktail with the collagen peptides and add 10 drops of chlorophyll. I take lysine and arginie for additional support. I then take one hit of indica. I take a shower and afterwards use magenisum spray. And then Im in bed at 9 for some light reading and lights out at 9:30. I get the most restoratative sleep and wake up with no alarm at 5:30-6:00am. I wake up full of energy and have not felt this great in years. Next month I will switch it up to smoking every other day and then eventually stop it but Im never giving up the Adrenal cocktail!

    • May I ask what is collagen peptides? Is there a certain brand u take and why do u put it in the adrenal cocktail? I know of the other ingredients u mentioned. Why do u think u have adrenal insufficiency? I am on prednisone and hydrocortisone due to a wrong diagnosis by a rheumatologist if he only knew what he has done to me.when I saw him I didn’t know all my symptoms were caused by Lyme disease and bartonella. And my adrenals were shot because of all the pain and symptoms from the Lyme over the 20 yrs I have had it. But after having my son and then having my gall bladder out and catching cDiff in the hospital was the the end point for my immune system and my adrenals were done. Long story short even though my labs were normal because I had broken out into a small this rheumatologist figured I had lupus and put me on steroids. Steroids are poison for people with any type of bacteria infection because they compromise the immune system making it not work as well and the bacteria takes full advantage of this. So now I’m totally bedridden with adrenals that I can’t get to work again because once u r in steroids the adrenal glands think they don’t need to make any cortisol. And they go to sleep. And it’s close to impossible to get off steroids and wake adrenals back up esp if u have any stress in your life at all. Unfortunately I don’t have a trust fund and can’t go lay on an island somewhere with no worries . Anyway I have severe pain it’s atrocious, horrific deep bone pain in my legs and feet. I can’t walk opiates aren’t working anymore. So I have tried MJ amd it takes the pain away u have no idea what it’s like to get pain relief but my first goal if I’m ever going to beat this disease is to get off steroids. So now I don’t know what to do. Do I sit in excruciating pain rocking and crying 80% of the time which pulls from the adrenals all pain does. Esp chronic or do I take MJ and help the pain but everywhere I read it says MJ is horrible for the adrenals so I don’t want to make them worse. And it seems like any Dr I go to knows nothing about this. My naturopath had no idea that MJ was hard on the adrenals. My blood pressure runs too low which is what happens when your adrenals go into the last stage of failure. But I may have recovered if that Dr hadn’t given me steroids. So do I take the MJ to help the pain and pray I can still taper the steroids and get my adrenals back or do I stop using MJ for the pain and be miserable. I’m living a nightmare. Suffering terribly. I was so thankful for the pain relief from the MJ it’s legal in my state. Then I started reading how it is awful and will make adrenal fatigue worse. I can’t win. Now if it raises cortisol levels that would be a good thing for me. In the sense that I could use it in place of the steroids slowly. I just can’t have THC casuing release of epinephrine which is the worst thing for adrenals that are not working. I keep trying to only use strains that are high in CBD because then less head high I hate that feeling. MJ would be perfect pain killer if it didn’t cause the head high feeling. I just want pain control I don’t want to feel stoned. Or unable to think. I want to read and do research all which u can’t do when u have that head high feeling. So I finally think I found something that wouldn’t hurt my adrenals anymore then they are already and then I started to see all of this research saying how horrible it is for adrenals. Anyway if u could let me know what collagen peptides u r taking and why u r taking them I would greatly appreciate it. I’m at my wits end losing hope. I have no life. And this disease will kill you it just does it slowly. Attacks all of the organs esp heart. I was just interested because u said u thought the adrenal cocktail u are making is helping. Did a Dr give u this recipe? What led u to start making it? How do u know u have adrenal insufficiency? I’m scared terrified. These steroids are going to kill me because they make my immune system weak. And then it says MJ does also. Like I said I can’t win. I just wish I had never taken those steroids. But I had to keep going I had young child to care for and I couldn’t function at all due to fatigue and pain. I wish Dr’s were more educated on adrenals considering adrenals control so many body functions and if they don’t work u die. U can’t live without them yet Dr’s know nothing about them. That Dr literally has destroyed my life by saying I needed to go on steroids do not ever take steroids unless u are having some kind of acute allergic reaction. But I’m the idiot who took them. Now I don’t know what to do about the MJ. I’m at a total loss. Any info from anyone would help please. And if u could tell me about your adrenal cocktail that would be great. Thank you

      • You need to check out Dr Robert Morse’s youtube videos right away! He knows so much more than these conventional doctors. He’s a biochemist, a naturopath and degreed in more things too. Very wise man. He also recommends glandulars and herbs instead of the steroids. Also fruit diet. It is helping me loads!

      • You poor thing. I’ve had adrenal problems for years and have been taking herbal supplements to support it. Ashwaganda, rhodiola,macca, Dr. wilsons super adrenal stress formula and many other things that have really helped but not cured it, probably due to my crazy life style. Any way i recently got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis due to antibiotics. I got recommended Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride’s Video and book.
        https://youtu.be/cONYR7vAD-A

        After two weeks of taking bone broth and cutting out all carbs I have started to sleep naturally longer, which i haven’t for years and i came off all adrenal support. I feel more energised than i have in years. Turns out that this diet I’m on doesn’t just fix colitis but a multitude of other disorders/diseases including adrenal problems. Vitality is at an all time hight. I’m 50 by the way and am bouncing around like a 30 year old after only a short time on it. check it out.

      • Just saw your post.
        See Dr. LAM ( adrenal fatigue)on internet.

    • Hi sounds great to me what is ur “adrenal cocktail with collagen peptides” where do u purchase?? I have low cortisol .76
      This may be due t chronic back and sacroiliac pain for 3 yes
      Milena
      Dollsisco@yahoo.com

    • I can use your cocktail recipe Man

      • What’s indica. Should I smoke marijuana and how much a day

        • Indica is a strain of marijuana.

          • Indica is not a strain, it is a species of cannabis. The other type is sativa and also ruderalis. When cannabis is bred then you have different strains. You can have pure indica strains, pure sativa strains or indica x sativa, etc, etc. which create the different types you see in a mmj dispensary: indicas which are sedating, sativas which are stimulating, and hybrids that can be either depending on the dominant traits in the cross.

  8. THC raises cortisol and increases stress, no way. From not using cannabis for a while cortisol has increased, I feel the mental stress and increased weight. Cannabis was keeping things in check easing my mind and maintaining the metabolism. So that’s bs of how they critique cannabis.

    • That’s because you’re addicted. The rise in cortisol is due to the fact you stopped providing your body with a drug it had become accustomed to. You may not realize it, but everytime you smoked you were raising cortisol anyway. This is a proven fact.

      I just quit smoking after 10 years of heavy abuse and I know it’s hard…I’m straight up depressed…but there are herbs we can take to ease our withdrawals: ashwagandha, holy basil, rhodiala, brahmi, American and Asian ginseng. Also, adding cayenne pepper can increase the effectiveness of these herbs by increasing blood flow. CBD oil is also great at reducing cortisol. If man wasn’t fucking up the natural balance of THC and CBD in marijuana, it would be perfectly safe…CBD prevents THC frok causing damage…but when you jack the THC content through the roof, the CBD can’t keep up.
      And finally, exercise is a great way to reintroduce your body to natural dopamine uptake.

      Quit now before it’s too late friend.

      • Yes <3 good job

      • You said what’s on my mind, my friend! Well friggin’ said. I just gave up the greens a couple months back trying to figure out this adrenal fatigue issue. Colds sweats for a week sucked ass, same with coffee headaches. It’s all shit, but nobody realizes they’re addicted until it’s their time to quit.

      • I’ve smoked weed for decades, I’ve never been addicted. I don’t think many will agree with you.

    • lol. It is just like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. It initially makes you feel sedated and chill but a few hours after the cortisol rises and that’s why you want another toke. all stoners will say it isn’t addicted and yet will never stop smoking.

  9. I have recently started using CBD oil orally and was wondering where I could find more research. Just want to ensure that it will not worsen my severe adrenal fatigue

    • Hello Mike. I was wondering if you could help me. There is not many information about adrenal fatigue. I wanted to ask people who actually has it and find out What has really worked for them ( suplements or anything that has helped you would be useful) thank you very much, i hope you can help me :)

      • I’m not sure if you’re here for the same reason but start with this.
        Quit cigs, pot , caffeine and most of all…. Gluten and msg (salty foods).
        I stopped having too much sex and switched to an almost vegan diet.
        I’ve been turning around. Really the weed cigs made a huge difference.

      • There is a lot of information on YouTube and google. Dr axe is good.
        Gaia herbs brand Adrenal Health
        Is amazing, plus vitamin D3
        Exercise
        NO GLUTEN
        NO CAFFEINE
        NO ALCOHOL
        NO SUGAR
        No cigs or weed
        it feels effing amazing to be completely sober for the first time since age 15.. or since age one if you count the gluten
        I sleep deep..
        My dreams are vivid… finally finding balance

    • I personally take one hit of THC at night after rushing adrenals constantly & crashes a couple times a week. It’s very calming. I can finally give my body rest. Although I don’t use during the day (because I’m too relaxed, stoned we might say) but it gives me comfort knowing peace is on its way. I actually get decent sleep and wake with no hangovers. Besides, laugher is good medicine and things get pretty funny.

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