Are you a thin woman prone to feeling fatigued, light-headed, dizzy and panicked? Do you have low blood pressure, cold hands and feet, large pupils and very flexible joints? Then you may have HPA axis dysfunction or adrenal fatigue.

Please also read Lara's blog post on using Gentle Carbs for Adrenal Health.

When the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is out of balance, there is too much adrenaline. The other adrenal hormones - DHEA, cortisol, and aldosterone - are out of balance.  Symptoms are anxiety and brain fog, cold hands, and low blood pressure (from the low aldosterone). Low blood volume also develops as salt and water are lost through the kidneys. People with this nervous system disorder have 20 percent less blood volume than normal.

The syndrome affects about 10% of the population, mostly women. It has been called many other things including anxiety neurosis, hypoglycaemia, fibromyalgia and mitral valve prolapse. (MVP is a common benign floppy heart valve associated with this syndrome.)

Adrenaline is produced by the adrenal glands, which are part of the sympathetic nervous system and the hormone system. Excessive adrenaline production will exhaust adrenal function, and the glands will then produce smaller quantities of important hormones such as testosterone, cortisol, and DHEA. Other hormonal disorders may develop.

Women with low blood pressure syndrome may also develop acne (because the nervous system is closely tied to the skin), and weight gain on lower belly due to depleted DHEA and testosterone.

The syndrome is also associated with migraine headaches, candida overgrowth, and interestingly, the formation of thyroid antibodies (as in Hashimoto's thyroid disease).

Quick Test for Low Blood Pressure Syndrome:

Your practitioner can check your blood pressure lying and then standing. It should rise slightly on standing. If it drops, you probably have the syndrome.

Conventional treatment:

Regular fluids and salt intake, beta-blockers and drugs to conserve body fluid.

Natural treatment:

  • Sleep 8 hours per night. The nervous system needs sleep to rejuvenate and function. Sleep is more effective than any of the following treatments.

  • Eat adequate salt. When low blood pressure syndrome is severe, salt cravings develop, but even milder symptoms benefit from regular salt intake.

  • Get enough rest. The nervous system likes routine and rest. One weekend away is not enough. You need to be consistently less busy.

  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, which damage the nervous system

  • Eat regularly. Women with this syndrome experience more adrenalin when their blood sugar drops.  Use small regular meals and avoid refined sugar.

  • Legs up the wall meditation. This is a yoga pose that will restore blood pressure the brain. Talk to your yoga instructor. You need to do it every day.

  • Magnesium to stabilise the nervous system.

  • Licorice root increases blood sugar and conserves adrenal hormones

  • Tyrosine