Adrenal Stress

Adrenal stress pattern is an extreme adrenal gland reaction or fight-or-flight reaction.  In fact, any time the sodium level on a hair mineral analysis is over about 30 mg%, one could say that it is a degree of adrenal alarm reaction.  However, this pattern is defined as a sodium level above 100 mg%, as this would define an extreme adrenal reaction.  Hair must not be washed at the laboratory for accurate sodium readings.

This is a common finding on hair tests among babies and young children up to the age of about 4 -8.  After that age, the pattern is much less prevalent, although it does occur in adults, at times, more so men than women.


Adrenal stress pattern tends to indicate that the body is secreting more adrenal hormones than is ideal, especially aldosterone.  This interesting hormone has the effect of causing sodium retention in the body at the level of the kidneys.  Aldosterone is called the mineralocorticoid because it regulates sodium, and indirectly, it regulates the levels of other electrolytes or minerals in the body.

Adrenal cortical hormones such as aldosterone have a wide variety of effects upon the body.  Among them are to retain some water in the blood and the tissues.  This can be related to higher blood pressure, for example, which occurs often when this pattern is present in adults.  It does not occur in babies and children, as a rule, as their arteries are much healthier and can handle the strain of this imbalance better.

Other symptoms include anxiety, irritability, nervousness, a short temper and aggression, at times.  This is sometimes seen in young babies or children who are overtired, hungry, thirsty or need their diapers changed.  Any such stress, or others, perhaps, can easily throw them into an adrenal stress pattern and be accompanied by crying, screaming, or violent behavior if they are older children or adults.

Other, more subtle symptoms may occur if the pattern becomes chronic.  Dr. Paul Eck mentioned that it is associated with a higher blood sugar level, generally, because corticosteroids convert fats, amino acids and glycogen to sugars.  Insulin levels may also be higher, and the pattern is associated with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance as well in some cases.

Inflammation is another prominent symptom in some cases.  This may cause various symptoms of pain somewhere in the body.  It is also associated with inflammatory emotions such as anger, rage, aggressiveness and possibly violence.

Another effect of elevated sodium on a hair mineral analysis is to drive down the levels of calcium and magnesium.  These are antagonistic, in this regard.  This can contribute to a host of symptoms such as muscle cramps, irritability, tension in the body, hyperactivity, ADD, ADHD, autistic symptoms at times, fear, severe allergic reactions and perhaps others as well.  If the pattern is chronic, it is associated with certain kinds of joint pain, osteoporosis, fast oxidation and allergies.


Very rarely, a person has a high hair sodium, but does not display any of these symptoms.  Some cases can be traced to the use of a water softener that uses salt pellets.  Bathing in this water daily can raise the hair sodium level.  Fortunately, this is not a common problem.  It can be ruled out easily by asking if the person bathes in water softened with salt pellets.

When doing a test on such a person, this effect can be overcome by washing the hair twice in distilled or reverse osmosis water just before sampling the hair.  While a little sodium may be left in the hair, this will remove the bulk of it.

Also, rarely a high sodium on a hair mineral test is due to a loss of sodium through the hair.  This is extremely, rare, but It has been seen it in one or two cases.