The Side Effects of Adrenal Supplements

LIVESTRONG.com may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
If you're looking for adrenal pills to solve your health problems, learn about the potential side effects first.
Image Credit: alexander ruiz/iStock/GettyImages

If you're looking for adrenal pills to solve your health problems, learn about the potential side effects first. While many supplements promise cures, they could be worthless or even dangerous.

Wellness companies market several types of supplements as adrenal pills. Many of these supplements contain adrenal extract. According to the Endocrine Society, adrenal extract comes from the glands of animals, such as cows. Some of these alternative health websites also tote other supplements for adrenal health, including:

While some of these supplements are generally safe, others can cause serious side effects if you take them.

Reasons People Take Adrenal Supplements

While many conditions may cause people to seek help from adrenal pills, two common ones are adrenal insufficiency and adrenal fatigue. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases defines adrenal insufficiency as any condition in which the adrenal glands fail to make enough of a particular hormone. This includes Addison's disease.

If you have adrenal insufficiency, be sure to talk to your doctor before changing anything in your wellness routine. Only a qualified medical professional should prescribe pills to change your hormones. While adrenal insufficiency is a real type of medical disorder, adrenal fatigue is different.

The Mayo Clinic reports that while the term "adrenal fatigue" appears in alternative medicine circles, it is not an actual medical diagnosis. Instead, people often apply the phrase to a collection of nonspecific symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Aching body
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling nervous

Other conditions can cause these problems. If you live with these symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor about possible causes.

Read more: Causes of Fatigue & Aching Legs

Side Effects of Unregulated Supplements

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements with the same strict rules as more conventional foods. Importantly, the FDA does not test dietary supplements to see what is in them. This can cause people to take supplements with unwanted ingredients and side effects.

A March 2018 study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that many adrenal supplements contained thyroid and steroid hormones. In fact, 42 percent of supplements marketed for adrenal support contained pregnenolone, which is a hormone that adrenal glands make.

The body uses pregnenolone in the production of hormones like estrogen, testosterone and cortisol. Other hormones in these pills include:

  • Budesonide
  • Androstenedione
  • Progesterone
  • Cortisone
  • Cortisol

Because the FDA does not regulate these supplements, it can be difficult to tell which ones have these additional hormones and which don't. As such, you could develop side effects from thyroid or steroid hormones without even knowing you took them. It's important never to take hormones unless prescribed by your doctor.

Read more: FDA-Approved Vitamins

Patients with adrenal fatigue symptoms should not add adrenal pills. The Hormone Health Network reports that if you do not need the hormones, adrenal supplement side effects may actually hurt your adrenal glands. Because you give your body the hormones it needs to make, the adrenal glands may stop producing them altogether.

Alternatives to Adrenal Supplements

Unfortunately, several disorders can cause the symptoms that adrenal fatigue describes. While there's no evidence for adrenal fatigue, the ailments are real and frustrating. Instead of taking the risk and developing adrenal cocktail side effects, consider getting to the bottom of the symptoms.

Read more: Vitamins to Take When You Are Feeling Tired

According to the Cleveland Clinic, many people who believe they have adrenal fatigue actually have either lupus or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Not only do expensive adrenal support supplements put patients at risk for negative side effects, but they fail to treat underlying disorders.

Finding a doctor who takes your symptoms seriously and insists on finding the real problem can make a significant difference in your health. However, you might feel stuck with symptoms in the meantime. Try to manage each symptom individually while you wait for test results. For example, you can try safe and effective home remedies for muscle soreness.

references
Show Comments