Adrenal Glands


Your adrenal glands were first recognizable when you were a human embryo in your sixth week of development. At birth the gland is about the size of the kidney, whereas in the adult it is only about 1/13 the size of the kidney. The almost full adult development of the adrenal glands at birth seems to indicate how important and essential they are for normal body function.

A condition very prevalent today is functional hypoadrenia. This condition is not a disease process as such; it is a condition in which a particular gland is not capable of meeting all the demands put on it. Since your adrenal glands are responsible for many actions, this condition causes a myriad of symptoms  including fatigue, dizziness, moodiness, mental anxiety, nervousness, joint pains (especially in morning), allergies, digestive disturbances, asthma, heart palpitations, back pain, mental sluggishness, headaches, impotency, colitis, chest pains, shakiness, and on and on.

Because medicine is generally geared to thinking of diseases rather than functional problems, they do not recognize or detect functional hypoadrenia until it becomes the disease of Addisons disease  which is complete failure of the adrenal glands to function. Fortunately, Addisons disease is fairly rare, but adrenal fatigue is very common in our society today.

The usual medical laboratory tests may not reveal fatigued adrenals. But it can be determined very easily by case history, general clinical examination, and applied kinesiology examination. Fatigued adrenal glands have so many symptoms that many doctors not knowledgeable in its diagnosis and treatment have classified patients with this condition as a hypochondriac, or as having a nervous condition, and give them tranquilizers. To better understand why there are so many symptoms, lets look at the major classifications of hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands.


The adrenal cortex is the outside portion of the adrenal gland and it produces three major hormones:

Glucocorticoids  are responsible for converting fats and proteins for use as sugar in the body. They release sugar from storage. Both of these activities help prevent low blood sugar. They act as the anti-inflammatory hormones of the body. These, along with the pro-inflammatory hormones, help to prevent rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, duodenal or gastric ulcers, rhinitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, hay fever, asthma, chronic upper respiratory infections, skin rashes, and/or any other inflammatory disorders that do not serve a useful function. Androgens  are the male and female hormones, testosterone and estrogen. But the adrenal glands produce smaller amounts of these hormones than the ovaries or testes do. Mineralcorticoids  have a major role in the mineral balance of the body. Minerals which are out of balance affect the bodys fluid balance, including the fluid inside and outside the cells of your body. Blood volume is affected. The mineralcorticoids are the bodys pro-inflammatory hormones, working with the glucocorticoids to keep inflammatory processes in check.


Two types of hormones are secreted by the inside portion of the adrenal glands. The first, epinephrine  sometimes called adrenalin  has been known for a long time and is the hormone primarily correlating with the fight or flight mechanism, giving an individual the ability to fight or cope with stress. Ephinephrine and norepinephrine from the medulla help to mobilize sugar from storage, and to control the autonomic nervous system. Since sugar is needed by almost all of the body, and since the autonomic nervous system controls the bodys organs and glands, you can see the wide range of effects of the adrenal medulla.

Also, the hormone system of your body is a finely balanced, marvelous system. When one gland such as your adrenals falls behind, it throws the proverbial wrench into the works and causes an imbalance with many other hormone-producing glands.

There is evidence that the adrenal glands of the fetus can supplement the mothers system through the placenta when she is in the stage of adrenal fatigue. This is probably the reason that post-partum depression develops. If the mother is in a chronic state of adrenal fatigue, the child can be born with a similar adrenal fatigue, subjecting the infant to allergies and other problems related to adrenal stress. The answer, of course, is to keep the mother functioning in a healthy, balanced state throughout her pregnancy for both the mothers and the childs health.

The adrenal glands are also very important in the event of natural or surgical menopause. When the ovaries are removed or when they stop producing their androgens (primarily estrogen and progesterone) the adrenal glands must take up the slack and produce these hormones. If they are tired and cant meet the demand, women get the hormone imbalances that usually involve the hot flashes and the mood swings and the depression.

What Can Be Done About The Problem?

Fortunately, there are effective correction methods available for fatigued adrenals. First, the condition must be recognized and the causative factors found. Treatment consists of certain procedures you must do for yourself, which may include the reduction of stress, dietary changes, and nutritional supplementations. Chiropractic spinal adjustments are also important because nerve interference from your spine to your adrenal glands will also contribute to adrenal fatigue.

When fatigued adrenals are present, a person tends to use large amounts of stimulants to the adrenals, and large amounts of carbohydrates such as sugar and starches. Whenever there is stimulation, there is a following depression, which eventually needs more stimulation; this continuing vicious cycle tires out your adrenal glands. Someone who drinks a lot of coffee, tea and/or sodas or who smokes a lot or who has a sweet tooth will very likely have fatigued adrenal glands.

The following types of stress put a load on your adrenal glands:

  1. PHYSICAL. Long hours at work; heavy physical exertion; loss of sleep; poor posture; almost any type of trauma.
  2. CHEMICAL. Inadequate nutrition; excessive amounts of refined foods (e.g. sugar, white flour and breads, chips, cookies, doughnuts, cakes, chips, etc.); stimulants such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, nicotine, alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs; food additives such as food coloring, preservatives and artificial sweeteners; air pollutants; and water pollutants; and imbalances of the gases we breath such as a trip to high altitudes. Chemical stresses are the most common and heaviest stress on the adrenal glands.
  3. THERMAL. Thermal stresses can be overheating or over-chilling. Going in and out of air-conditioned places. Hot baths or showers. Swimming in a cold pool and going into a hot sauna. This is why some people seem to get colds when they go outside without a coat or if they sit in a draft too long.
  4. EMOTIONAL. Emotional stress is difficult to remedy, especially in the prolonged illness or death of a loved one. Other forms of emotional stress are situations in which an individual is in debt or has a job that is hated or has no chance of advancement.

Long term, never-ending emotional and chemical stress often found in modern society creates adrenal fatigue because it does not give the adrenal glands a chance to rebuild and rejuvenate. Stress is cumulative. If someone has mild stress in all four categories, the accumulation is enough to create adrenal fatigue and the subsequent symptoms of it.

There is evidence that the adrenal glands of the fetus can supplement the mothers system through the placenta when she adrenal fatigue. This is probably the reason that post-partum depression develops. If the mother has adrenal fatigue, the child can be born with a similar adrenal fatigue, causing the infant to have allergies and other problems related to adrenal fatigue. Therefore all mothers should have a well balanced diet and proper nutrition throughout her pregnancy for both the mothers and the childs' health.

The following tests will point to adrenal fatigue:

  • a. Rogoffs sign. There will be definite tenderness at the lower rib junction with the erector spinal muscles.
  • b. Pupil Dilation. Normally the pupil holds a good constriction to sustained light stimulation. When there is adrenal fatigue the pupil will usually dilate after light stimulation. Test by shining a light in the patients eye. Look for an undulating dilation that develops after about 30 seconds.
  • c. Heart Auscultation. In adrenal fatigue there is often an increased second heart sound (S2) over the first heart sound (S1). When measured by a phonocardiograph, the normal S2 sound will be close to 1/3 the height of S1; greater than that indicates adrenal fatigue, although there are other possible causes.
  • d. Ligament Stretch Reaction. In the presence of adrenal fatigue, a strong muscle will test weak after any ligament is stretched. I usually tug on a patients wrist to test for adrenal fatigue.
  • e. Sacroiliac Subluxation. There is often a category II posterior ilium subluxation as a result of sartorius and/or gracilis weakness due to adrenal fatigue.
  • f. Blood Laboratory. The usual lab tests to evaluate hypoadrenia are basically designed to test for Addisons disease which is the severe, life threatening form of adrenal fatigue. Therefore, with the common form of adrenal fatigue, lab tests may appear normal.

If your adrenal glands have been fatigued for a long time, a rebuilding process is necessary. The more closely you follow your doctors recommendations, the faster your adrenals will be rebuilt. Also, by rebuilding your adrenal glands, the strong desire to take in caffeine or sugar will lessen. With your cooperation and with chiropractic health, you will feel better than you have in a long time! Remember, tired adrenal glands cause a myriad of symptoms (see the first part of this letter.) Are these problems altering your lifestyle? Are they keeping you from enjoying your favorite activity? or life? What are you waiting for? Call 473-7805 for free information and get the help you deserve. Start living again. If you received this from the Community Greeting Service, bring this on your first visit to my office for a 25% savings (value: $20.00) on your first examination (regularly $45.00) and treatment (regularly $32.00).

Thomas Edison (who had patents on over 1,000 inventions including the light bulb) is quoted as saying, The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame (spine), in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease. The treatment of chronic ailments currently accounts for 85% of the national health care bill, while almost nothing is spent on prevention. The former Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, in his 1988 Report on Nutrition and Health, related that dietary imbalances were the leading preventable contributors to premature death in the U.S.

Dr. Rickey W. Hurst, D.C.
Chiropractic Holistic Physician; Nutritional Analyst
330 Towles Ave.
McMinnville, TN. 37110
(931) 473-7805

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