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Tired?  Feeling that your mind is half a century ahead of your body?  Too much energy in your head and not enough in your feet?  Starting to doubt that you will ever again have pep and vigor?

These symptoms are epidemic among well educated, urban people, particularly those with Yuppie proclivities.


I named the syndrome “adrenal exhaustion” because the adrenals are charged with providing the oomph needed to get us from A to Z.  It is these little Brazil nut size glands that must pull us out of near miss accidents with palpitating heart, help us to adjust to chilling winds when leaving the warmth of our homes, and provide us the endurance to survive the stress of existence on this enchanting but exploited Planet.

I associate the adrenal glands with the survival center in the subtle energy field surrounding each living entity.  In Yogic philosophy, it is said that a clairvoyant sage can look into this spot and count the number of breaths and heartbeats a person will take in life.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

In conventional medical circles, people suffering from stress are generally diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome though some are given more erudite sounding pronouncements that appear to refer to viruses, like Epstein-Barr Syndrome or Cytomegalovirus.  Some are told that they are allergic or environmentally sensitive. 

Symptoms range from simple exhaustion to much more complex problems that are secondary to excessive output of adrenal hormones, hormones that flood the bloodstream in vastly increased quantities whenever there is any stress.  Stress can be emotional, such as insecurity due to lack of parental understanding and support, fear that a vital relationship is unstable because of a partner’s illness or infidelity, worry over one’s own health and viability, or concern for the well-being of those dear to oneself.  Stress can be job- or money-related.  One may not like the work or the work place or other people in the work; one may not be earning enough to make ends meet.  Stress can also be very physical: working long hours, not sleeping well, straining oneself to meet perceived outside obligations, or sports-related, such as with marathon competitors.

Stress can also be quite difficult to pinpoint.  Living with an alcoholic or a person who gambles is usually acknowledged as stressful, but living with someone one instinctively dislikes or mistrusts is harder to recognize as a stressor.  Likewise, there are pathogenic factors that one may or may have identified.  These can be as subtle, but real, such as anxiety over global politics and the manner in which people in high positions exercise their power to as unrecognized as proximity to ley lines, outgassing of building materials, electrical frequencies, and astrophysical force fields.

Instinctual Consciousness

The truth is that we all live in a sea of vibrations, some of which are congenial and some that are not.  Whether or not we are able to identify the factors contributing to energy depletion, our subconscious natures hold extremely strong opinions about everything that impinges on existence.

Since this concept is sometimes new to people, I like to use an example of dogs.  Someone comes to your door and the dogs start barking.  You tell the dogs to “behave” which in your vocabulary means not to intimidate the person at your door with rambunctious behavior.  You invite the person in and the person does something that upsets you.  Your dog comes over to console you and being a dog rather than a people does not say, “I told you so.”  The dog has access to his instincts, but people, especially intellectual people have rationalized their instincts so that their heads can make their bodies do what the heads want.

Physically, this translates into excessive adrenal output.  Once these hormones enter the bloodstream, digestion is impaired.  In order to provide the short-term spurt, other functions are suppressed.  The body borrows from reserves and inhibits the intake of replacement energies.  Libido and sexual performance decline, usually to the point that interest as well as activity taper off.  The thyroid tries to compensate by working harder.


There are some other classic symptoms that come with longer-term pressure on the adrenals to perform.  These include a heightened sense of smell.  At first, one is more acutely aware of odors, all smells, pleasant and obnoxious.

The sense of smell is our most basic survival instinct.  When life is threatened, subtly or measurably, the mechanism governing survival is triggered.  Therefore, one of the first really noticeable indications of prolonged stress is increased sensitivity to odor.  This can focus predominantly on noxious odors such as petroleum fumes but it affects tolerance of perfumes and even assessment of pheromones, those mysterious exudations that repel or attract.  In order, shall we say, to identify the “problem,” we have to become fussy about what we like and dislike.  Interestingly, though the sense of smell can become very acute, it sometimes fails completely after a major stress, such as a terrible accident or operation.  The sense will return when the adrenals are healed, but this is often a frustrating and long drawn out process.


Another symptom of adrenal exhaustion is dark circles under the eyes.  In serious cases, these do not seem to go away; but some people wake up looking normal though within a few hours, those circles appear.  Increased susceptibility to bruising is next on the list.  An exhausted person could bump into a table and become quite black and blue, a sign that tolerance margins are shrinking and a suitable protocol is needed.

Allergies are next.  In the beginning, there is usually some sort of rational basis for the allergies, but as time progresses, the list of intolerances increases and it is clear that the problem is as much internal as external.

My experience with most American doctors (do not know about Canada) is that patients with these symptoms are usually put on synthetic thyroid hormones or sometimes glandulars, extracts from animals that are made into “nutritional supplements.”  However, the people who consult me usually express the opinion that these are not working satisfactorily even though they sometimes noticed some improvement when first beginning use of the prescriptions.

I therefore dispute the theory behind this practice, and here is my argument.  If people were born with weak thyroids, they would be Cretins.  However, the fatigue syndrome is affecting intelligent people whose minds work perfectly well.  The body may be tired, but the mind is still fired up with ideas for projects, more efforts that would pressure the body to obey the dictates of a mental force that is perceived as tyrannical by the body.

I therefore try to build up the adrenals and wean people off the thyroid supplements.

The Unconscious

The best way to understand the unconscious forces that affect adrenal function is to imagine that one part of each person’s being is hooked in on an immense loop that includes a lot of thoughtforms, some that are virtually primordial and some that might pertain more to current circumstances.  From the perspective of this part of our beings, no “new” arguments hold any weight.  For instance, if someone who has been the source of much grievance reforms or mellows, the subconscious does not necessarily change its opinion of this person.  It holds to the “tested” version of reality which is that the person is not to be trusted, that he is potentially dangerous, etc., etc.  In a certain way, it would be fair to say that this part of our being does not pardon, nor does it grasp the nuances of high-minded discourses on letting go and forgiving.  It is governed by practicality and various proofs that it has from past experiences.

We could postulate that favorite colors and tunes as well as aversions to colors and places and people all stem from memories that reside well below the threshold of normal consciousness.  In other words, they are not arbitrary but rather “sensible” from the perspective of the memory because the opinions are derived from actual experiences.

If, then, a person were to act in such a way as to ignore the “advice” of the subconscious, the behavior would not merely alert the adrenals, but rational input to the adrenals that the conscious person knows more than the unconscious would fail to convince the adrenals that the conscious person is either wise or trustworthy.  Therefore, the effort of the conscious person to force the unconscious into submission would be resisted—and the adrenals would function just as though there had never been any reprogramming.  In other words, the conscious mind usually fails to impact the operation of the adrenals since they work in accordance with their own wisdom.


As a consequence of the persistence of ancient instinct, it is difficult to heal such problems as chronic fatigue unless the subconscious is honored.  Otherwise, even seemingly brilliant protocols tend to fail.  In such cases, people who have been making slow but steady progress slide back to square one as if there never had been any progress. 

An effective strategy entails some basic discovery work to determine what the undermining factors are.  When these are “surfaced,” it will usually be found that some hazards can be eliminated whereas some situations can be improved or at least adjusted so as to make them more tolerable.  In other instances, skills for dealing with “permanent” challenges have to be forged. 

To make this a little less abstract, we could say that an example of a hazard might be computer radiation in the work place.  People in large offices such as travel agencies and banks are exposed to the radiation from scores of computers.  If all the monitors were replaced with low radiation monitors or fitted with radiation shields, there would be immediate advantage for all employees, but the first to benefit decisively would be those who are most devitalized by the radiation.  This therefore would be a “fix.”  An improvement would involve repositioning desks and chairs so that the worst radiation moved in a direction that did not impact any employees.  Usually, this means that no one is sitting in a direct line to the left of the system unit and no one is right in front of an unshielded monitor.  A slightly more esoteric accommodation would be to wear some high tech jewelry that transforms the frequencies to benign waves.  There are also dietary changes that would make radiation somewhat less poisonous for the body.  These include use of trace minerals and seaweed as well as adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng and garlic.

Emotional “Cure”

There are emotional situations that do not lend themselves to such quick fixes.  From the vantage point of the survival center, relationships need to feel supportive.  This promotes well-being, confidence, and usually success.  Neutral relationships make people think that they are on their own, that they have to stand on their feet, that they have to make a lot of effort to accomplish less than astounding feats.  Challenging relationships make the psyche watchful so that people are hypervigilant and always on the alert for the next disaster, disaster as measured by the subconscious which may not always impress the rational person as significant.

Coping power can be described as great when there is a lot of elasticity or resilience.  It is “exhausted” when the ability to adjust is lost.  This makes tired people vulnerable and fragile whereas more determined people become rigid and often more insistent, a sign that might be interpreted as inability to flex or refusal to compromise.  In either case, strategies have to be embraced that bring life back from the edge.

Some relationships can be adjusted through attitudinal changes, but these must be real, not bland aphorisms about opening oneself up to learn what one needs to learn.  As noted, the subconscious is wary and does not buy into higher mind propaganda.  However, it will respond to information from the conscious mind that is relevant.  So, if the subconscious is told that the next time there is a row at home, the decision making self will walk out the door, the subconscious will be a little less paranoid about the first signs of commotion, and it will not probably go into a fit in which it gushes thirty times the usual amount of adrenaline into the system.

In working with people who are exhausted, we try to begin by diagnosing the sources of stress and determining which situations are most amenable to adjustment.  Then, we try to come up with adequate protective measures for the more intractable situations.  In terms of protocol, the most important point is neither dietary nor herbal.  It involves pacing oneself so that the line between can and should not try is not violated.

I also recommend orderliness and predictability.  This means repairing or throwing out everything that is broken, keeping one’s space neat and clean, and catching up on necessary evils like balancing checkbooks and paying bills.  It also means keeping to a sensible schedule and avoiding temptations to burn the candle at both ends.  It could mean deliberately undertaking some mindless chores like walking the dog or weeding the garden, activities that do not require the mind; but when the mind is in charge, every effort should be made to do one thing at a time and to keep one’s full attention on that project until it is completed.  Then, a little break should be permitted before diving into the next task.  The break can be as simple as washing dishes or making the bed, but doing something between great mental efforts gives the psyche time to assimilate.  Establishing a rhythm for life that acknowledges the need for balance between physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual foci is healthy and gives the body time to regenerate before new demands are placed on it.


As noted, the adrenals sit atop the kidneys are therefore inseparable from the kidneys in certain ways.  If the adrenals “panic,” the kidneys go into spasm, usually resulting in an urge to pass water.  When the panic is more or less constant, fluids pass out of the system before necessary nutrients are assimilated.  Therefore, besides losing the fluid buffers that make for physical ease, this syndrome is usually attended by malnutrition, this regardless of the “intelligence” of the diet.  In other words, a person may eat appropriate foods but fail to extract the nutrient value of the foods and be left deficient.  Most people with these problems are trace mineral deficient and rally quickly when given easy to assimilate trace minerals, whether in the form of liquid seaweeds or “trace mineral cocktails.”  I often suggest taking trace minerals in pineapple juice because the enzymes assist proper absorption of the micronutrients upon which our bodies depend for proper electrolyte balance and tissue structure.

When a condition goes unchecked for many years, the kidneys become tired and cease to respond to the adrenal shockwaves.  When this happens, people retain fluids because they cannot squeeze them out of the body.  Most people with such problems can see marks on their wrists and fingers where their jewelry is touching the skin, but the swelling tends to be somewhat pervasive.  Ironically, these people lose weight when they rest or when they take proper adrenal tonics, such as the Chinese kidney “yin” formulas (of which there are many.)  They can also eat strengthening foods such as black turtle beans or root vegetables that have absorbed nutrients from the soil.  Such measures tend to keep people on an even keel. 

Regardless of how successful dietary and herbal protocols are, there should never be room for complacency until the stressors themselves have been resolved, but in my experience, it takes time to identify the causes of stress and effort to transform undermining situations into supportive ones. 


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Sacred Medicine Sanctuary
Poulsbo, Washington

Copyright by Sacred Medicine Sanctuary 2004, 2007, 2009

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