T Nation

Adrenal Gland Health


Hey, I was wondering if there were any foods or supplements that strongly support adrenal gland health and function.

During summer I'm filming and participating in events more frequently for my sport (tricking), I like to use some caffeine, ephedra, and Power Drive to get me jacked about one day a week for benchmark sessions. I feel it really helps me but the stimulants would take a toll on adrenal gland health. Of course abstinence would be the best choice for avoiding "burn out" / but I was wondering if there were any foods or supplements that particularly aid in good function of the adrenals. Anything to counter balance the stress stimulants like these put on the body?

I only do this about once a week at fairly low doses just to maintain really good sensitivity (25mg ephedrine, 200mg caffeine), but still I want to get the best out of it and take care of my body.

Thanks guys!


I never understood why people say that ephedrine can "burn out" your adrenals. Ephidrine works like natural adrenaline, and actually should prevent your adrenals from doing as much because they are not needed. What you actually get is adrenaline insensitivity. I was told that Benadryl can help to restore adrenaline/ephedrine sensitivity.




Also check out Michael's Adrenal Factors. They work to restore the adrenal glands back to functioning properly. Check out your local health food/supplement store for them, as you should not be able to buy them online as he does not believe in undercutting retail stores.


oh oh, that's interesting mertdog and I didn't know that. Don't take offense, but you wouldn't have any references for those statements would you? I would be interested in reading more about that facet of ephedrine use / and the benadryl thing...

Gonna read your link Jason

And Haramadar, thanks for the heads up. Have you used it yourself?


Stims will contribute to stress levels so anything that helps the body adapt to stress will help. B-complex, C, rhodiola, astragalus should all help. Plus good sleep and excellent nutrition. Go easy on excessive sugar.


I think Anthony Roberts answered a question of mine about Benadryl use as a way to re-boost adrenaline sensitivity after an ephedrine cycle. You can PM him. It is used as a calming agent (and to aid in restoration of normal hormonal function) in steroid cycles but I don't know anything about that.

Also, notice that Jason's link doesn't say anything about stimulants burning out the adrenals EXCEPT in that they can interfere greatly with sleep. People may go through long periods of ephedrine use, and not get a decent night's sleep in weeks. Benadryl, Zinc and I think B-5 can help with this.

I suppose it is possible for ephedrine to cause your adrenals to "underwork" so much that they shrink (similar to testicles in testosterone use) but no one would say that testosterone "blows out" your testicles.

I don't have a separate source. Long term adrenaline insensitivity is a severe and cascading problem that can lead to depression and death and it happens naturally with age anyway.


To counter the effects of excess histamine the adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline/noradrenaline. So by taking Benadryl(an antihistamine) you are in fact reducing the histamine load in your body by not taxing your adrenals so hard. This frees up your adrenals to use cortisol and adrenaline/noradrenaline for other uses. Unfortunately Benadryl is quite sedating, so it's not an effective drug to be taking preworkout. You also don't want to lower histamine too much as it has important functions in the body.

Ephedrine enhances the release of adrenalin/noradrenalin in the body, and also binds to the same receptors as that those hormones/neurotransmitters. Ephedrine thus acts to stimulate an "adrenaline rush". So it actually depletes your adrenals, not saving them.


Ok Mertdawg... I appreciate you trying to help people and and don't take this the wrong way, but you're playing with people's health when you make shit up like that.

Anthony never said anything about Benadryl's effect on adrenaline insensitivity. It was on beta-receptors. There's a difference there. He also said Benadryl can help prevent stimulant anxiety and can help with sleep. Perhaps you got the two mixed up somehow.

Here's the link:


I did a google search on "adrenalin insensitivity" and it turned up 1 response, and it had nothing to do with ephedrine or Benadryl! You basically made up a term. Congratulations!

Did you mean "Adrenal Insufficiency" aka Addison's Disease instead by any chance? It's the failure of your body to produce cortisol, another adrenal hormone.


No, I meant Beta down-regulation. When this happens, your tissues become less sensitive to adrenaline.

Also, if you look at your link to the Anthony Roberts thread, in the thread I sent him 2 questions within a 1 minute time frame-could benadryl aid in restoring adrenaline sensitivity after a cycle of ephedrine, and could it be used to help deal with the side effects of withdrawal. He said yes, that it could help with these. You have to know that my two posts were sent almost simultaneously to understand why I took the response this way. In case he had just skipped the first message, I told the questioner to PM him.

I did not realize that ephedrine stimulates the adrenals. I thought that it would inhibit its production. What if you inject someone with straight epinephrine? Does that stimulate the adrenals? If that were so, then adrenaline production would signal adrenaline production.


And for clarification, I didn't mean taking Benadryl post workout, but taking it before bedtime the day before.


OK, so I would appreciate clarification here, the beta downregulation actually blocks the release of adrenaline by the adrenals, or does it block the activation of tissues caused by adrenaline?


Adrenal exhaustion is a myth.


So I asked an expert who spent a little time reviewing in pharmacology this afternoon and she found nothing stating that ephedrine activated the adrenal glands. The two functions are to cause synaptic release of epi and norepi, and to bind with receptors as an adrenaline or epi agonist.

This, of course, can lead to downregulation of the receptors over time which I would call "desensitization". Based on the mechanisms described by others, Benadryl (not pre-workout) should, in theory, re-sensitize the Beta receptors somewhat for a while at least.


Yeah...it's given to people who have suffered from Cocaine or Amphetamine induced anxiety and/or panic attacks, as well as being able to upgrade your beta receptors.


Is this down-regulation permanent?


OK I don't want to play the expert here. I only want to tell you my understanding from what I have read and heard.

The main effect of the downregulation is short term. In fact, you start to upregulate immediately and supposedly are near baseline within 2 weeks, but from everyone I have talked too, it takes more like 3-4 weeks to totally return to baseline if you have been downregulated for an extended period of time.

The receptors get modified somehow so as not to bind with epi, but I do not know if the receptors become "unmodified" or if the modified ones just get recycled. Also, remember that ephedrine also affects the nerve cells directly to release epi/nor, and this change might affect the action potential of the nerves which could be on another time table.

Also, we know that epinephrine sensitivity naturally decreases with age. Could this process be sped up by ephedrine use? I do not think so. I think that structural and enzyme protein synthesis is independent of such external factors-in fact, it doesn't seem to be sped up by long term use, but slowed down.

It is possible-although I wouldn't bet my health on it-that long term ephedrine use could actually slow down the natural decrease in receptor production because epi bound receptors may act as a signal or catalyst for new receptor synthesis.

Also, if you get into a serious cortisol cascade problem, your screwed.

Again this is purely speculation.


Wow, you guys are really getting into it. I clicked that link you gave mertdog, good information inside of it!

A small question though - Are there any downs or negatives in using the dosing suggested in that thread: (50-100mg a night every third week of a cycle) ?? Any negatives of benadryl use like this that possibly outweigh the good?

And I looked into the adrenal support blend products. The keyword is "Adaptogen" correct? All things aside, I still use caffeine and train hard and often - so I'd still like some equalizers. Does anybody have any experience supplementing with adaptogens of any sort in this regard?

Thanks - I'm learning stuff!


hey man - the herbs I recommended, astragalus and rhodiola, are adaptogenic herbs. i've taken them both - the rhodiola has been particularly effective. i've trained my ass off and been hypocaloric and on stims and not so much as gotten a sore throat or sniffle in months. my immunity has been terrific on it. astragalus is also excellent, but i've really put the rhodiola to the test more than i ever have with astragalus.

you might also want to look into herbs and nutrients that support thyroid function, since adrenals and thyroid function as part of a system. forskolin's good for that - it's in Carbolin 19 if you're interested. and again, b-complex vitamins, C, fish oil, basic stuff like that is key.


The side effects of Benadryl can't be all that bad. Its use has been expanded greatly. I know a 10 year old kid who's doctor prescribed it as an anti-nausea/"nervous stomach" aid. The kid absolutely could not vomit after a sphincter repair. Unless you need histamines for something, I don't see how blocking them could be bad. As mentioned, it would also lead to a decrease in cortisol levels. I'm not going to tell anyone to take it though-I'm not a doctor. It MAY also increase apetite but also prevent "nervous eating".