HPS Axis Dysregulation

Have you heard of adrenal fatigue before?


It is when there is a cortisol (stress hormone) imbalance in your body which has caused your adrenals to lose function.

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It is an outdated term since we now know that the adrenals are not the only ones to blame. It is now called hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation to accompany the entire pathway between your brain and your adrenal glands. 


The adrenals are two small organs that sit above your kidneys and produce adrenaline as well as steroid hormones like aldosterone and cortisol. Cortisol production is necessary and extremely helpful when under small bursts of stress. It’s when you are chronically stressed that the problems arise. 


The diagram below by the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition ® School shows the progression of cortisol when someone is under chronic stress. The adaptation (green) phase is ideally where you want to be because this means your adrenals are functioning optimally and producing the right amount of cortisol. 


As stress elevates, you move to the acute (yellow) phase where your adrenals are over producing cortisol. Since cortisol blunts pain and reduces inflammation, many people don’t feel too bad in this phase. However, if this level of stress continues, you move into the compensatory (orange) phase which is where cortisol levels look normal but your adrenals are really starting to get tired. Lastly, you move into the exhaustion (red) phase where your adrenals have become completely burnt out from producing so much cortisol that they can no longer function. This phase is when stress has been present for awhile and is formerly known as adrenal fatigue. Severe symptoms like the ones listed below tend to be most prominent here.  

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Functional Diagnostic Nutrition

What does it feel like? 


Extreme Fatigue 

Sleep Issues



Strong Cravings (especially sugar, salt) 

Low Libido 

Poor Memory 

Skin Issues 

Digestive Issues



Wired & Tired

Cortisol is a hormone that when dysregulated, the rest of your hormones and systems can’t function properly either. It steals progesterone which is needed for ovulation, shuts down digestion, suppresses the immune system and thyroid function, disrupts the mucosal barrier, causes blood sugar imbalances and so much more. 


Unfortunately, stress is unavoidable in today’s society with all the environmental toxins, inflammatory foods, stimulants and our overall high paced lifestyle. 


Book your 1:1 membership to find out which phase of the HPA axis you are in and how to reduce both internal and external stressors in order to bring your body back into balance.