Adrenal Fatigue and My Detox Journey

Adrenal Fatigue and My Detox Journey
  • Sumo

Earlier this year (in April) I went to see the doctor because I had been having terrible hot flashes for several months that were really impacting my quality of sleep. I went to this particular doctor because she specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement and I figured I should get my hormones tested. I’ve had all sorts of hormone issues for as long as I can remember and have been on and off many different medications for endometriosis since I was 20. She was wonderful and ended up testing more than my female hormones. She also ran an adrenal panel.

Turns out that my hormones weren’t as unbalanced as we both thought they would be, but she did start me on bioidentical progesterone to help with some estrogen dominance. The real shocker was that I was in the end stage of severe adrenal fatigue and was producing hardly any cortisol. She said she didn’t even know how I was getting out of bed in the morning, let alone making it through the day! I had just always thought of myself as a low energy person (a nice way to say lazy!) 😉 , but had never even considered the possibility of adrenal fatigue. I always thought that was just an issue for people who were super stressed or way over-trained.

Ok, so now what? I was already eating a very clean paleo diet and I quit my job (which was a major stressor) over a year ago and I was doing lots of things right for my health. What more could I do? Well, this is what I’m doing so far:

Specifically for adrenal support:

  • Doctor recommended supplements that I now take every day: high dose vitamin C, Adrenal Cortex (by Thorne), ginko, ginseng, Stress B complex (with B5 by Thorne), Rhodeola Rosea, Maca. I also take vitamin D. Omega3, magnesium and throid medication.
  • Cut down significantly on my coffee consumption from about 6-8 cups a day to one or two before noon. I didn’t realize how heavily I relied on coffee to keep me going until I started cutting back. I really struggled with significant fatigue during the first two weeks of cutting back. I like Dandy Blend as a coffee replacement.
  • Started mindful meditation using the Headspace App. I don’t do this often enough and had trouble with falling asleep every time when I first started 😉
  • I really try to get to bed by 10pm.
  • I’m trying to cut down my evening screen time on social media (but I really am addicted to my instagram!).
  • I drink this adrenal cocktail 2-3 times a week and licorice root tea a few times a week.
  • I use pink himalayan salt very liberally. Funny thing. I had noticed for several months that I was really craving salt and couldn’t seems to get enough of it. Turns out that’s a symptom of adrenal fatigue. The doctor told me to be sure to eat lots of it.

In an effort to reduce my exposure to as many toxins as possible:

To detox:

  • A big glass of lemon water every morning.
  • Dry brushing (read about dry brushing here). I love this! It feels so good, but I often forget to do it and need to be more consistent.
  • Oil pulling. I haven’t done this consistently enough to know if it really is all it’s cracked up to be, but it certainly can’t hurt. You can read about what it is and how to do it here..
  • Tongue scraping. This is another one that I sometimes remember to do and sometimes don’t. Again, it can’t hurt.
  • I did a seven day detox with Spiralps. It’s an all natural drink with spirulina, which is great for detoxing. I love that it’s a Swiss product and it’s organic. It would be a great “jump start” for anybody looking to get back on a clean eating program. You can read about the use of spirulina in a detox program here. Once I finished the seven day detox, I started on their Vitality line.

One of my big questions is ‘How did I end up here?’ I don’t feel like my life is stressful at all so I don’t think the adrenal fatigue is a result of that. The doctor said I’ve likely been in this state for a long time, so I suppose some of it could have started when my life was more stressful. Could the way I eat have something to do with it? I do tend to eat fairly low carb and I eat Whole30 style paleo most of the time. I did start tracking my calories and macros recently to see if I’m under eating and it turns out I am most of the time. I actually struggle to get above 1200 calories. That could certainly be a contributing factor. At the moment, I’m trying to eat more and to add more carbs in to see if that makes a difference. I have to be careful with the kind of carbs I eat because I tend to have blood sugar fluctuations and cravings if I eat fruit other than grapefruit and berries. You can read a bit more about diet and adrenal fatigue here and Diane Sanfilip of Balanced Bites has a good podcast which talks about the link between undereating and adrenal fatigue (link here).

It’s a journey and my doctor told me recovery could take as long as two years. All of the efforts I’ve listed above have not really impacted how I feel (yet) and I’ll need to do some follow up testing every few months to see if I’m making any progress.

I’d love to hear any advice or to hear about your experience with adrenal fatigue, so be sure to share in the comments 🙂


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  1. Hi! May I ask the name of your doctor (is he/she in Zurich)? I am having some issues and looking for a good doctor which is always challenging :). Thank you!

    • Hi Jessica,
      Yes, my doctor is in the Zürich area and she is lovely! Her name is Kerstin Schmit and here is her contact information:,-Kontakt/ I usually speak German with her, but she speaks perfect English.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    I’m really sorry to hear about what happened to you. I hope all your efforts will help you to feel better soon, although I know it takes a long time to recover from adrenal fatigue – especially if you were in the end stage.

    I may have experienced the former stages last year (due to a very stressful job) and it took me 7 months just to recover my energy. I had no diagnosis, so the only “medication” I took was helpful vitamins (B and especially B5, C) and omega-3. Another thing helped me A LOT with stress, emotions, well-being and to sleep like a baby : cardiac coherence breathing. I read the book of David O’Hare, which deals with the effects on weight loss, but not only : it is mainly about learning the method to regulate your hormonal balance and manage emotions. Here is an excerpt from the French editor’s review :

    “Whether you are on a diet or not, this method is for you as it is independent of any nutritional recommendations. You start to learn how to manage the variability of your heart rate through paced and focused breathing. The heart reaches a “coherent” physiological state and then a series of physiological events occur and manage the balance of the whole autonomous nervous system to which weight regulation belongs. Hormonal balance, metabolic equilibrium and nervous system regulation phase into a coherent synchronization.”

    I have no weight to lose, I just wanted something to help me feeling better and less stressed, and it was a metamorphosis. Even my husband noticed the changes in one week.

    I’ve just ordered another book which deals with hormones, diets and cravings : The Diet Cure (Julia Ross) :
    (make sure to read the second edition (2012) if you’re interested).

    But you may have already read it. I haven’t yet (only some excerpts), but Julia Ross seems to be a very experienced doctor and her book has great reviews/feedbacks. She mainly uses amino-acids to balance hormonal system.

    There is a chapter dealing with adrenal fatigue : she says that low-calories diets make your body feel like you’re actually dying, so it’s a major and huge stress. She recommends :
    – vitamins B (and mainly B5) and C to help the suprarenal glands : take low amounts all the day long, since your body will eliminate them quickly
    – GABA (a natural amino-acid) to help you manage any stress (which may be very difficult for your body if you’re in stage 3).

    Other hormones can help you to produce cortisol in stage 3 of adrenal fatigue (make sure to ask your doctor first if they are OK for you) :

    – pregnenolone (don’t take any if you’re using progesterone or if you have high blood levels of progesterone, or if you suffer from hyperthyroidism).

    – DHEA if you don’t have enough (a saliva-test can tell) : it’s the rescue hormone when cortisol is low. Julia Ross says that in one week, her patients feel much better. But be careful, don’t take any if you have/had an hormonal disease (like breast cancer) and make sure to test your sexual hormones too, as it can stimulate their production (estrogens and testosterone mainly).

    How is your thyroid ? your blood pressure ?

    If you have any question, please feel free to contact me, I will be happy to help if I can.

    Take care !


    • Dear Emma,
      Thank you so much for all of the valuable information!! I will certainly look into the books you have suggested. Pregnenolone is not an option since I do take progesterone. I am taking B5 and Vit C already, but will certainly look into GABA and discuss DHEA with my doctor. My thyroid is doing ok on the thyroid replacement medication that I currently take and my blood pressure is fine. My doctore would also like to retest my iron (ferritin levels) as it was borderline back in April and since that time I have been having my period about 3 weeks out of every month—seriously, I am always on my period!! My doctore recently increased the amount of progesterone I am taking to see if she can further address the estrogen dominance that is causing this. Again thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and to give advice. It is much appreciated 🙂

      • Dear Lisa,
        Please don’t thank me ! You give and share so much here, I feel so grateful and lucky 🙂 I would be happy if anything could help.

        I forgot to add the reference for David O’Hare’s book :

        He wrote another one, much sorter but in French only, I think :

        Your period 3 weeks out every month ? Wow, I sympathize with you 🙁 I hope this hormonal disorder won’t last.

        Do you take high amounts of folic acid (above 5 mg per day) ? I ask because I had to take this to cure megaloblastic anemia. At that time, I hadn’t had my period for months because I was to skinny, I think. And suddenly, they came back, 10 to 15 days out every month and heavy bleeding… I had to stop the medication.

        I wish you the best, Lisa ! Hope to hear you feel better very soon.

  3. Hi Lisa
    maybe you can find some information on Christa Orecchio’s homepage: She is an expert on adrenal fatigue, good luck, Irene

    • Thanks Irene 🙂 I’ll be sure to check it out!