Stop calling it Adrenal Fatigue. Call it HPA -Axis Dysfunction

Do you feel tired during the day and wired at night? Aren’t most of your friends and acquaintances complaining about being exhausted? Do you assume that this may be the norm?

Although it may be common for a lot of people to be tired most of the time it is not normal.

Symptoms associated with HPA axis dysfunction include:

  • Weight gain in the midsection
  • Fatigue, feeling of tiredness all the time or in the afternoon
  • Sleep problems, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Allergies, seasonal allergies, or food allergies
  • Depression, not being motivated
  • Memory problems, can’t remember where you parked your car or put your key
  • Visiting the restroom often
  • Constipation
  • Blood sugar problems, low blood sugar or high blood sugar
  • Blood pressure problems, feeling dizzy all of a sudden, legs feel heavy
  • Anxiety or nervousness, feeling jumpy
  • Brain fog, not being able to concentrate
  • Dry skin
  • Feeling cold all the time, or just having cold hands and feet
  • Loss of libido

Why do I call adrenal fatigue “HPA axis dysfunction”?

The adrenal glands produce hormones, especially cortisol as a stress hormone, which help us cope with daily stress. But they also help regulate blood sugar levels, and reduce inflammation. However, the adrenal glands do not work in a vacuum; they are connected via a hormonal feedback loop with the hypothalamus.

The Hypothalamus checks the level of hormones in the blood and sends hormonal signals (CRH) to the Pituitary which in return sends ATCH, a hormone, to the Adrenal glands to either reduce the production of cortisol or to elevate it. We call this connection the HPA axis.

HPA axis

Stress induces the release of corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH)

CRH stimulates the release of drenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the anterior pituitary

ACTH stimulates the release of glucocorticoids from the adrenal cortex

As you can see the interaction between the different hormone glands in the HPA axis is complex.

Remember, Cortisol is a stress hormone, therefore any kind of stress will elevate this very important hormone. If you suffer from chronic stress your adrenal glands will be constantly stimulated via the HPA axis.

Not only are adrenal gland hormones effected, but also the thyroid hormones through the HPA-HPT (T for Thyroid) axis. Remember, Cortisol is a Stress hormone. Therefore, any kind of stress will elevate this very important hormone. If you suffer from chronic stress your adrenal glands will be constantly stimulated via the HPA axis.

adrenal fatigue hpa axis

Moreover, chronic stress disrupts the glucocorticoid dynamics, modifies cortisol levels which disrupts the HPA-axis feedback loop and can have a negative impact on mood and neurotransmitter.

A simple dried urine test could help you determine your adrenal function if you produce too much or too little of the stress hormone cortisol and or estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, or melatonin. The dried urine test will also determine the hormone metabolites, but this needs to be explained in a separate article because it involves gene mutations and methylation processes.

Unfortunately, the medical community doesn’t really recognize HPA axis dysfunction as a serious condition. The problem lies in the way cortisol is being tested. The dried urine test measures cortisol four times a day while your doctor only measures cortisol in the blood one time during a particular day or in a 24 hour urine test of the total cortisol output.

If you get tested or not, my recommendation is to reduce external stress as much as possible, eat a whole food diet and get adequate sleep. If you suspect internal stressors such as pathogens or mineral imbalances, get tested.

Environmental stressors and epigenetic control of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis (HPA-axis) 
Richard Lee and Akira Sawa 

Role of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Developmental Programming of Health and Disease Fuxia Xiong and Lubo Zhang

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Linda Wilbert – Stewart, FDN-P

Type II Diabetes

is a metabolic disorder not just insulin resistance.

You may think that the pancreas is not producing enough insulin if someone develops type II diabetes, but in fact it actually produces too much insulin in most of the cases.

If you have some of the following symptoms, you may want to check your blood sugar levels.

  • Overweight
  • High blood sugar in the morning, all day, or just after a meal
  • Peripheral nerve problems
  • Blurry vision
  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Graving sugar
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Frequent urination
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Fatigue

Insulin, the key hormone in glucose utilization, opens the receptor sites on the cells membrane to get glucose in.  If the body produces too much insulin the cells become insulin resistant.

You could compare this to the smell of your perfume. A short while after you start wearing it you don’t notice the smell anymore; you got used to it and it doesn’t register in the brain anymore.

By eating sweets, and or too many carbohydrates without adequate fiber and or fat content, glucose level in the blood become elevated.

Other organs involved in blood sugar regulation besides the pancreas:

  • Liver
  • Gut
  • Thyroid
  • Adrenal glands
  • Brain
  • and Kidneys

Complications of high blood sugar levels are:

  • Blindness in adults
  • Kidney failure
  • Digestive issues
  • Dementia – Alzheimer’s
  • Peripheral nerve issues

What causes type II diabetes?

  • Eating too much sugar
  • Being overweight
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Toxins in food, which in turn cause hormone imbalances
  • Not enough exercise

In order to reverse type II diabetes you need to investigate the root causes, which can be done with simple blood tests

Thyroid function: test Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, TPO antibodies

Liver enzymes: test ALT, AST


Insulin, glucose, HbA1c

Minerals, the best test is the Hair Tissue Mineral Test

Adrenal hormones, the best test would be a urine hormone test (which also tests neurotransmitters).

What could you do in order to reverse type II diabetes?

Start by eating the right kind of foods:

  • measure your blood sugar level after a meal and adjust the amount of carbohydrates you eat at the next meal
  • add more fats to any meal, such as olive oil. It will slow down the absorption of carbohydrates
  • add more fiber to your meals such as a salad, cabbage
  • reduce starchy vegetables such as potatoes and peas

Add more physical activity into your busy life

  • take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • park in the back of the parking lot
  • start a vegetable garden. It keeps you physically active and you have great, organic vegetables to eat

Improve your sleep

  • sleep in a dark, cool room
  • turn off all electrical devices, especially the once connected to the internet
  • go to bed before 10 PM and get up when the sun comes up
  • turn off your Wifi router, read about EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) and watch my Youtube channel

Check your gut function

  • Do you have food sensitivities? You may want to consider a food sensitivity test such as the MRT
  • Do you have leaky gut?
  • Take probiotics in the form of a spore based probiotic; the best one is Megaspore
  • Improve protein digestion by chewing your food properly, and/or take digestive enzymes or digestive bitters

Would you like to get a free consultation?


7 Steps to Regain Your Health

7 Steps to Regain Thyroid Health

published in Thyroid

Thyroid problems, such as hypothyroidism or an autoimmune thyroid condition, are never just the result of one or two causal factors; they stem from a number of different causes.

Therefore, in order to overcome thyroid issues, a complex approach is necessary.

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis in 2009 and developed multiple health issues which left me unable to care for myself. All of this changed when I started looking at underlying causes as to why my immune system and my adrenal glands were overactive.

Lets take a look at what Symptoms are:

Symptoms appear last, after the body begins to develop malfunction. Therefore, nothing that will “treat” a particular symptom will support the body in its quest to reach homeostasis again.

What we actually need to do is search for

underlying causes of symptoms

What makes this oftentimes a difficult task is the fact that the same symptom can have different causes in different people.

For example, take headaches. Say you are suffering every day from a headache; could it be because you are dehydrated or because of stress in your life, or do you have food sensitivities?

Create a game plan

You know yourself better than anyone else. If you don’t feel well and any approach you or your doctor have tried didn’t make a difference, then you  need to take matters into your own hands and seek help from someone who listens to you and knows what to do to get you feeling better.

  1. Change your diet  to a gluten free, dairy free, nightshade free diet. Your immune system will have a better chance to calm down. Oftentimes, TPO antibodies go down as well.
  1. Heal Leaky Gut
  • Find out if you have a parasite and /or Candida overgrowth.
  • Tackle biofilm. Parasites, bad bacteria, Candida, and viruses all hide from the immune system by wrapping themselves in layers of cells called biofilm.

Hippocrates said

All disease starts in the gut.

Today, with the study of the microbiome, we know that this statement is very true. We have more bacteria in the gut than cells in our body. We also don’t have enough genes to perform all functions in our body. So, the question arose — who is actually performing those functions our body can’t? Your gut bacteria take on those jobs.

Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome (meaning an imbalance of good versus bad bacteria) can lead to a whole host of health issues. The good guys in your digestive system help:

  • Keep the bad guys in check
  • Train the immune system
  • Produce digestive enzymes
  • Produce vitamin K2
  • Keep the mucosal lining intact

Therefore, choose your probiotic wisely. Only a spore-based probiotic survives the harsh environment in the GI tract.

  1. Adrenal issues are basically HPA axis issues.  The Hypothalamus – Pituitary- Adrenal axis sends hormonal messages from one gland to the other to stimulate or reduce hormone production. There are a number of adaptogenic herbs which can be very helpful, such as Ashwagandha and Holy Basil.

  1. Blood sugar issues can lead to adrenal issues and lack of sleep. We all know that our body needs sleep to be ready for the next day.
  • Get a glucose meter to monitor your blood sugar and adjust your diet accordingly.
  • Eat a protein rich breakfast.
  • Eat protein snacks in between meals such as nuts, seeds.
  • Stick to healthy fats such as coconut oil and olive oil.
  • Eat fiber rich foods.

  1. Check for mineral imbalances with a hair analysis.    Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis
  • The Calcium/Potassium ratio and the single levels of those minerals are very important for thyroid function. This ratio gives us the trend of thyroid dysfunction. A blood test oftentimes looks “normal” and, therefore, thyroid issues are dismissed.
  • Sodium, Magnesium, Selenium, Iron and Copper are also very important minerals for proper thyroid and adrenal function, and thyroid hormone conversion. You have to remember that the thyroid function will slow down when the adrenal gland function slows down.
  1. Methylation issues can occur with the presence of gene mutations. We need cofactors, vitamins and minerals, for proper function. Having gene mutations doesn’t mean that your gene doesn’t produce adequate amount of enzymes. It all depends on your lifestyle, the diet you eat, the toxic load on your body, etc. With proper nutrition, gene mutations can be bypassed. Vitamin B6, 12, and folate are very important for the immune system and brain function. The gene test, 23andme, can be ordered online if you are interested in the status of your gene mutations.
  1. Get a blood test. A chemical panel and a complete blood count will give you a lot of information about hydration status, infections markers, and liver enzyme function. Only a functional analysis of the blood test result will look at patterns. Looking at single high or low blood markers doesn’t tell you anything and only leads to “treating” the test result. Only when blood levels fall into the optimal ranges can the body can start to heal itself.

The bottom line is to pay attention to stress. You can identify and minimize a lot of external stressors, and with the help of a professional, using functional lab tests, you can find internal stressors.

With the removal or reduction of stress, the whole body has a chance to recover.

Contact me if you need any help

Linda Wilbert – Stewart, FDN-P, HHP


Contact the Owner of Exclusively Holistic:
Linda Wilbert – Stewart, FDN-Practitioner, HHP, HC


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