How Stressed Adrenal Glands make you Sick

By Marilyn Zink 

Many people in our society are stressed out.

They will often label themselves as such and unwittingly drink large amounts of coffee to get  themselves through the day.

What they don’t realize is that chronic caffeine use, especially if too much caffeine is consumed, will stress the adrenal glands.

It’s a condition known as caffeinism – which is characterized by symptoms of depression, nervousness, irritability, recurrent headache, heart palpitations and insomnia. That puts extra stress on the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands are important as they control many bodily functions and play a critical role in the body’s resistance to stress.

 If an individual has experienced a great deal of stress, the adrenal glands will shrink and not perform properly.

The adrenal glands then become exhausted from the constant demands that are placed on them.  A person with adrenal exhaustion will complain of feeling stressed out or anxious, and will have a reduced resistance to allergies or infections.  They might catch every virus that is circulating, will have a harder time recovering from disease and are more prone to getting sick again.

That’s bad news, especially now as the Swine Flu is circulating and may get worse this fall season.

Someone who is ‘running on empty’ and continually reaching for another cup of coffee will only make their health worse and may be more susceptible to getting the Swine Flu.

A recent news article says sleep deprived doctors in Australia have been ordered to drink up to six cups of coffee a day to stay awake during extended shifts. (Reuters, Canberra).

The average North American consumes 150 to 225 mg of caffeine daily, which is about the amount of 1-2 cups of coffee. Multiply that by six times (as some people do simply by ordering a few ‘Venti’s) and you’re consuming a lot of caffeine – caffeine that is stressing your adrenal glands.

How to Support the Adrenal Glands

Obviously, getting enough sleep is part of the equation. Though in our fast paced society, adequate sleep is often shoved aside in favour of getting more done.  But even taking a cat nap can help the body with the rest it needs.

Eating a healthy diet with fresh fruit and vegetables along with whole grains and essential fatty acids (EFA) can help too.

Supporting the adrenal glands with herbal botanicals like ginseng and astragalus are key to helping the body to function properly.

Keeping inflammation down in the body is also a good idea, as inflammation is more likely to lead to disease. Taking EFAs like flax seed or hemp seed oil can help with that goal.

With proper support for the adrenal glands, along with dietary and lifestyle changes, you will have enough natural energy so you won’t need caffeine.

Marilyn Zink is a chartered herbalist and publisher of The Herbal Collective magazine, which she has been publishing for the past 16 years.Learn more about herbs from The Herbal Collective. Get all the herbal health information you need at