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June 2023 Newsletter

Adrenal Fatigue

Hello, this is Dr. Ellen. This month’s ‘Real Common Sense’ newsletter, is about adrenal fatigue. I have seen many patients over the years with previously unexplained chronic tiredness, moodiness, ‘brain fog’, and other symptoms that had been diagnosed as adrenal fatigue. The results of their previous treatments had been less than satisfactory. However, using the Ellen Cutler Method (ECM), I was able to determine the underlying factors perpetuating their problems, and then help them back toward health and wellness.

By the way, if you haven’t had a chance to see my previous newsletters, you can find them on my website, www.drellencutler.com under ‘Media’.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a symptom-based syndrome directly associated with ongoing physical and/or emotional stresses. (1,2) This syndrome has also been referred to as hypoadrenia(2) and hypocortisolism(3). These names have their origin in the seemingly obvious cause of adrenal fatigue, that being underperformance of the adrenal glands in secreting hormones, specifically cortisol. However, the standard testing done for evaluating cortisol levels in the blood has not been consistently found to demonstrate significant differences between those who are fatigued and those who are not. Because of this, conventional medicine does not accept adrenal fatigue as a medical diagnosis.

The causes of adrenal fatigue as a syndrome appear to be much more complex than a single factor of the adrenal glands’ isolated inability to secrete cortisol (3). In the 1930’s, Hans Selye addressed the body’s nonspecific response to stress, which he called the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). There is an acute “alarm reaction” followed by a phase of resistance and/or adaptation. If the stresses persisted, there would then be a phase of exhaustion (4). The entire GAS involves the hypothalamus (deep within the forebrain), which signals the pituitary gland just below that, which in turn signals the adrenal glands atop the kidneys. The adrenal glands respond by secreting cortisol, the presumed major hormone maintaining the GAS state. This activating system is often referred to as the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and the adrenal glands can be affected by inputs throughout the HPA axis.

The inner portion of the adrenal glands are called the adrenal medulla. They are the main endocrine glands of the sympathetic (fight or flight) portion of the autonomic nervous system, which functions without our conscious awareness of it. Importantly, when the adrenal glands of the HPA axis are stimulated to release cortisol, this in turn can affect the release of adrenaline (epinephrine) as well (5). Adrenaline may play a pivotal role in the development and maintenance of adrenal fatigue syndrome. When adrenaline is secreted, it can signal the amygdala in the brain. If the amygdala perceives danger, it can in turn signal the hypothalamus, thus activating the HPA axis. This may become a continuous feedback loop, perpetuating the symptoms of adrenal fatigue syndrome. An alternative view of adrenal fatigue is offered by Dr. Michael Platt, who feels that adrenal fatigue is not a result of deficient cortisol, but rather of “adrenaline dominance”, causing the myriad of resulting symptoms. (6,7)

There are a number of symptoms that have been attributed to adrenal fatigue syndrome. The most commonly mentioned is ongoing fatigue and tiredness. Other symptoms often reported by patients include “brain fog”, irritability, decreased libido, depression, disturbed sleep, and loss of appetite. These same patients may also have weight gain, hair loss, evidence of increased insulin resistance, and a history suggestive of an autoimmune process. (1,2)

Addressing Adrenal Fatigue

A number of ‘natural’ approaches have been suggested to be useful in helping those suffering with adrenal fatigue syndrome. I have seen many patients switch to a whole food, plant-based diet and experience a great improvement in their symptoms. It is important that the diet is not simply vegetarian or even vegan. There must be a preponderance of unprocessed or minimally processed plant foods to optimize the benefits that can be achieved. (8) Also, caffeine should be avoided or at least drunk in a limited amount in the morning hours before noon.(2)

Exercise/physical activities should be done on a regular basis. This can include walking and ‘mind body’ exercises such as taijiquan (tai chi), qigong (chi kung), and yoga. Reducing stress with such activities as meditation and relaxation exercises, getting adequate sleep and rest, and optimizing personal and social activities are also strongly encouraged. (2)

The optimal use of supplements can make a huge difference as well. Adaptogenic herbs such as Asian ginseng, eleuthero (aka Siberian ginseng), ashwagandha, and rhodiola can have beneficial effects on the adrenal glands and central nervous system. Phosphatidylserine, omega 3 fatty acids, and alpha-Lipoic Acid are at least in part fat soluble and may aid in modulating cortisol production. Calming herbs may also help in those with increased irritability; these include L-Theanine, hops, German chamomile, and lemon balm. I have also found L-Tryptophan and 5-Hydroxytryptophan helpful for some anxious individuals. (9)

In my clinical experience, many of those with adrenal fatigue syndrome have benefitted from one of more of the above supplements. Additionally, many have experienced increased wellbeing with one or more of four systemic enzymes blends made by ProEnzol, namely Long Term Adrenal, Short term Adrenal, Nose and Throat, and Low Thyroid. Also, cordyceps can help increase an individual’s energy level. However, I only recommend supplements (and specific lifestyle changes) based on my testing using the Ellen Cutler Method (ECM).

The Ellen Cutler Method

Over my years of practice, many of my patients have come in with complaints that were either attributed to adrenal fatigue or an unidentified source. By using ECM energetic testing, I have been able to identify the underlying cause(s) of their complaints. Once identifying the main and contributing problems, I am then able to determine the best means of addressing their problems, most importantly, clearing them of their sensitivities and identifying the best lifestyle choices and supplementation for each patient. I use ECM to energetically desensitize the causative and related issues. I have found this approach to be the most efficient and successful way of achieving optimal improvements in wellness and the decrease or resolution of the patient’s complaints in those diagnosed with adrenal fatigue syndrome.

So, be well, be healthy, and remember…

Adrenal fatigue, in all its mild and severe forms, is usually caused by some form of stress. Stress can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, infectious, or a combination of these. It is important to know that your adrenals respond to every kind of stress the same, whatever the source.
― James L. Wilson

Dr. Ellen


  1. “What is Adrenal Fatigue? Symptoms, causes and natural treatment for women” at https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/adrenal-fatigue-and-stress/#adrenal-fatigue  
  2. “What Is Adrenal Fatigue? Steps to Overcome It Naturally” at https://draxe.com/health/3-steps-to-heal-adrenal-fatigue/
  3. “Hypocortisolism: An Evidence-based Review” at https://www.a4m.com/assets/pdf/IntResources1IMCJ_10_4_p26-33_Hypocortisolism_3.pdf
  4. “What to know about general adaptation syndrome” at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320172
  5. “Interactions between adrenal cortex and medulla” at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780407022751500156
  6. “How Progesterone Blocks Adrenaline Dominance with Dr. Michael Platt” at https://myersdetox.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/380-How-Progesterone-Blocks-Adrenaline-Dominance-with-Dr.-Michael-Platt.pdf
  7. “Overcoming Adrenaline and Hormonal Imbalance with Dr. Michael E. Platt” at https://mysolluna.com/2020/04/13/overcoming-adrenaline-and-hormonal-imbalance-with-dr-michael-e-platt-episode-465/
  8. My ‘Real Common Sense’ of June 2022 “Why Vegan?” at https://drellencutler.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022-June-Newsletter.docx.pdf
  9. “Nutrients and Botanicals for Treatment of Stress: Adrenal Fatigue, Neurotransmitter Imbalance, Anxiety, and Restless Sleep” at https://altmedrev.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/v14-2-114.pdf

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease.

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