How Stress Impacts the Adrenals & HPA Axis in the Body

Many people struggle to get out of bed in the morning and then proceed to run around all day with work, kids, sports practices, dinner, errands and housework. As a collective society,  we are continuously burning the candle at both ends, which leaves us burnt out and exhausted. Weekends used to be a time to relax and unwind, but many of us now find weekends to be equally as busy.

Over 500,000 Americans suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and millions more suffer from severe exhaustion or adrenal dysfunction. If you find yourself addicted and relying on coffee, sugar, or other stimulants to get you going in the morning, you may be experiencing HPA-Axis Dysregulation.

The HPA-Axis refers to the communication and the interaction between the Hypothalamus (H) and Pituitary (P) in the brain, down to the Adrenal glands (A) that sit on top of the kidneys.

HPA-Axis Dysregulation refers to a dysfunctional or dysregulated communication between the endocrine glands of the brain, and the function of the adrenal glands. This manifests as a reduced / increased output or alteration in the diurnal pattern of adrenal hormones (cortisol, DHEA).

HPA Axis Dysregulation and Adrenal Dysfunction may begin suddenly, or as a result of periods of prolonged and repeated stress.

HPA-Axis Dysregulation is often accompanied by one or more of the following:

  • Morning fatigue
  • Craving salty or fatty foods
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia / Sleep concerns
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased irritability
  • Crashing in energy – afternoon slumps
  • Craving caffeine and sweet foods after large meals
  • The feeling of an inability to function without caffeine
  • Decreased ability to recover after exercise
  • Weight gain: midsection


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Sources may be positive or negative and include (but not limited to):


  • Recurrent disease and illness
  • Pharmaceuticals – steroids, opioids, anti-depressants, immune suppressants, etc
  • Physical stress – injury, diet, surgery, tobacco/ alcohol / drug addiction, etc.
  • Emotional stress – marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, strenuous work relationships, a new baby, financial insecurity, etc.
  • Environmental stress – toxins, chemical pollution of air, water, food, etc.

Normal Daily Cortisol Pattern


Thankfully, there are supplements and lifestyle modifications that can help support the HPA Axis & Adrenals, and help bring back your sense of energy, stamina and purpose!

LIFESTYLE Tips & Tricks to help support your CAR (Cortisol Awakening Response)

Cortisol Awakening Response – your cortisol levels should PEAK first thing in the morning, so that you feel refreshed upon waking.  This will wake up your thymus gland – which controls your immune system to eliminate any autoimmune cells. Your thyroid gland also turns on with this CAR, which controls your energy levels and metabolism.

Morning sunlight in your eyes:

Stimulates the blue light receptor sites on your pineal gland to make proper cortisol levels (peak).

Exercising in the morning:

You have to get your blood MOVING to help your cortisol peak, and literally rev your thyroid gland into action.

Cold Shower Rinse:

Finishing your shower with 30 seconds of a cold water rinse pushes warm blood back into your core vital organs, warming them up and waking them into the day!

Full Routine:

Waking up and going to bed at a set routine time helps establish a baseline RHYTHM that supports your hormones and metabolic health.

Daily 10-20 min of deep belly breathing & meditation:

Studies show that people who practice deep diaphragmatic belly breathing & meditation, can shift their cortisol levels in just 1 month!!

HERBAL & SUPPLEMENT Support for HPA Axis & Adrenal Dysregulation

*Please consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements


Adrenal ReNew 120
  • Promotes Energy Production and Stamina
  • Supports the Body’s Adaptogenic Response
  • Supports the Body’s Response to Stress
  • Promotes Adrenal Physiological Functions


Adrenal ReNew features a comprehensive blend of nutrients and botanical extracts targeted to support the body’s adaptogenic response to promote optimal energy production, stamina, and the management of everyday stressors. Adrenal glandular tissue, sourced from Argentinian bovine to safeguard purity, rounds out the ingredient profile.

Adrenal ReNew is formulated to support Individuals who present with cortisol levels that are low throughout the day and are sometimes referred to as being in the “burnout” or “flat-line” stage of adrenal fatigue.


Adapt Plus
  • HPA Axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) Support
  • Supports Adrenal dysregulation + Adrenal fatigue 
  • Adaptogenic herbal formula 
  • Stress support 
  • Fatigue / Energy regulation


Adapt + supports the body when under stress or feeling energetically spent. This product is designed to support both physical and mental functionality through the use of carefully selected phytonutrients and plant enzymes.

Key ingredients include extracts of Panax ginseng, ashwagandha, and holy basil. It also includes high-potency antioxidant vitamin C.

Inspired Health - Integrative + Functional Medicine Center Natural Fertility Bend Oregon
Inspired Health - Integrative + Functional Medicine Center Natural Fertility Bend Oregon

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  1. Exercise and the Cortisol Awakening Response: A Systematic Review
  2. Some endocrine responses to sauna, shower and ice water immersion
  3. The impact of prior day sleep and physical activity on the cortisol awakening response
  4. Meditation interventions efficiently reduce cortisol levels of at-risk samples: a meta-analysis
  5. Relationship between Meditation and Waking Salivary Cortisol Secretion among Long-Term MBSR Instructors
Adrenal Function & HPA Axis AutoImmune Disease Default Functional Medicine Hormone Health Immune Health Naturopathic Medicine Stress Management Weight Management Wellness

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