Immune Function

Adrenal fatigue can have numerous effects on our bodies. This section is all about the effects adrenal fatigue has on your immune function, along with some possible solutions.

Cortisol’s Effect on Immune Function

If you’ve ever applied hydrocortisone cream to a rash, you’ve seen the anti-inflammatory effects of cortisol at play. When the immune system reacts with inflammation, cortisol relieves the swelling, itching, puffiness, and redness associated with it. The cortisol made in our bodies works in much the same way as topical hydrocortisone, regulating the immune system and quelling inflammation.
Too much cortisol, however, can hinder the proper functioning of the immune system. It’s therefore important to have just the right amount of cortisol: not too much, not too little.

The presence of stress – both physical and emotional – signals the adrenal glands to make cortisol. That means those of us with high-stress levels and/or chronic exposure to stress tend to have elevated cortisol levels. This high cortisol, in turn, suppresses inflammation too well, compromising immune function and leaving us vulnerable to infections. We may get sick more often, or find that illnesses drag on longer than is normal. This is the pattern we see in the early stages of adrenal fatigue.

As adrenal fatigue progresses, however, the body struggles to keep up with the demand for cortisol. Despite high levels of continued stress – indeed, because of it – the adrenal glands become overworked and begin underperforming, in turn producing less and less cortisol. This causes the immune system to overreact without proper checks and balances, leading not only to chronic inflammation but also to allergic conditions and autoimmune diseases.

Neither chronically low nor chronically high cortisol is healthy. The treatment of adrenal fatigue, therefore, aims to restore cortisol levels to a balanced, normal range.


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