Mon-Fri 7am to 4:30pm (MST)   800-357-5027 or 520-748-0388

Eating Right For Your Adrenal Glands, Part 4: Salt, Aldosterone and Adrenal Fatigue


December 5, 2011 | Published by

Salt, aldosterone and adrenal fatigue

salt shakerPeople with adrenal fatigue may crave salt or salty foods like potato chips, olives, crackers, pretzels or savory foods in general, and many patients are surprised when I tell them to honor this craving. Yes, salt can increase blood pressure but only in the rare few, and low blood pressure (hypotension) is a very common sign of adrenal fatigue—at all stages. If you feel lightheaded when getting out of bed in the morning, standing up quickly, or getting up out of a bath or hot tub, you may very well have low adrenal function, and including more salt in your diet could be helpful. Keep in mind it should be a good-quality sea salt or other natural salt (no iodized table salt).

A craving for salt in people with adrenal fatigue can be explained by low aldosterone. Aldosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland, and is part of the complex mechanism that regulates blood pressure in your body. Levels of aldosterone go up and down in much the same pattern as cortisol does, and likewise go up as a normal response to stressful situations. Production of aldosterone by the adrenals depends on how much cortisol-stimulating hormone (ACTH) is being sent from the brain. The brain takes its signals from the amount of circulating cortisol, not circulating aldosterone, so high cortisol tends to lower the brain’s ACTH production, which in turn decreases aldosterone secretion, leading to lower blood pressure.

Another consequence of low aldosterone is electrolyte imbalance and cell dehydration, which both have negative effects on almost all physiological reactions in the body. Aside from salt cravings, low blood pressure and light-headedness, patients with adrenal fatigue often experience an irregular heartbeat, lethargy, muscle weakness, and increased thirst. These are all a result of imbalance in sodium and other minerals, including potassium and magnesium. Increasing your salt intake is one way to help restore these imbalances.

Small things can make dramatic differences

Your adrenal glands are tiny in comparison to many other organs. They are roughly the size of a walnut, yet they have enormous responsibilities in your body. When they are functioning at their peak, these small glands can help you feel energized when you need to be and relaxed when it is time for rest. Life’s demands can slowly drain the balancing power of the adrenal glands. Even the healthiest person’s adrenals, though evolutionarily equipped to handle periods of stress, become fatigued under chronic, unrelenting stress.

You have the power to lessen the burden on your adrenals, and your whole body. It doesn’t take much. In fact, the small choices you make in regards to your nutrition and eating patterns will make a difference. Here’s my advice to you: support your foundation with a high quality nutritional supplement and eat good food in harmony with your body’s natural daily rhythms. Soon you’ll find the energy you thought you lost—and it’ll be here to stay!

Eating Right For Your Adrenal Glands, Part 1

Eating Right For Your Adrenal Glands, Part 2

Eating Right For Your Adrenal Glands, Part 3

About the Author

dr eric bakkerEric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for over 22 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and practitioner education. He is the clinical services director of Nutrisearch, a leading NZ company supplying highest quality products and services to health-care professionals throughout NZ and Australia. Eric is New Zealand’s leading on-line naturopath and specialises in adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorders and candida yeast infections. Website:  Blog:

Tags: , , ,

Categorised in:


  • Chris says:

    I have been tested with high cortisol most of the day and at night, and do show those symptoms. I also show the symptoms of low aldosterone, especially the high jump in heart rate when standing and dizziness.
    My questions:
    1. Is it possible to have high cortisol and low aldosterone at the same time?
    2. If it is possible, will lowering cortisol (which I am working on now) bring the aldosterone back to a normal level, or is separate treatment necessary?
    Thanks for any help, this has been a frustrating battle. This website has helped SO much!

    • adrenalfatigue says:

      Hi Chris,

      It is possible to have a number of hormone readings, such as high cortisol paired with low aldosterone. By supporting the adrenal glands, it is possible to better regulate many of the hormones the adrenal glands produce. Depending on the situation, some people may need specialized treatments, ie hormone treatments. It can be very frustrating but an important thing to remember is to stay positive and focus on getting yourself better. Best of luck, and thank you for your comments and questions.

      Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Team

      • Bonnie Rindahl says:

        I too had low potassium & my homeopath recommended a powder potassium supplement that a mix with water & take in the morning & it has done wonder. It’s made by biotics supplements

  • Anne says:

    I have found using celtic sea salt to treat my adrenal fatigue very beneficial – also adding unrefined oil such as peanut, coconut, and sesame to my grains, both have more nutrient value and aid in digestion. Sprouted grains are great for protein value and digest much slower then un-sprouted. I also add panatholic acid and Vit. B-12 when I know I am going to be in a stressful situation.

  • Cat says:

    I often get headaches due to my health condition trying to clear a virus from my body and I find each clearing phase puts intense focus on the adrenals. I purchased a juicer and use cucumber, celery, apple and a lemon as a base with turmeric, ginger, kale and parsley. Headaches retreat and body feels lighter within hours. Adding powdered forms of spirulina, barley grass, wheat grass, hemp protein and maca root also provides energy in the way the body can respond quickly and favourably. Add rosemary, lemon grass and chilli to water of rice pasta 5 minutes before its ready to enhance circulation, clear toxins and remove any residual aches. Allowing the space to freely deep breathe also helps adrenals to come back down to ground zero, on a daily basis.

  • Karen Taylor says:

    I am currently taking T3 for hypothyroid, hydrocortisone 25 mg total for adrenal fatigue, 0.1 fludrocortisone 3/4 tablet for low aldosterone along with celtic salt in water. I have pretty much been on this routine for around 6 months and have been keeping a pretty close check on electrolyte levels almost monthly. I have a problem with my potassium levels being low. Just last week it was 3.5 which is the very bottom of the range. I have had it as high as 3.7 but I am told 4.2 is optimal. The fludrocortisone is know for making potassium drop and I have been taking a very high level of K-Dur (6 tablets- 20meq) which is slow released potassium and yet I can’t seem to get my levels up. I eat plenty of foods like nuts, avocado, lima beans, etc that are high in potassium too. I also try to eat very low carb as I’m hypoglycemic and sugar in low glycemic fruit even bothers me. Any suggestions as to how I can get my potassium up or deal with low aldosterone with out medication?

    • Hi Karen,

      Unfortunately we don’t have any recommendations, bar what you are already doing. We can’t make medical or personal recommendations/consultations, so it’s difficult for us to say what you should do. If you aren’t already seeing a practitioner to help with your adrenal fatigue and other issues, you can check out our database here to see if there are any practitioners in your area (just enter state and click search):

      Hope this helps, and best of luck Karen!
      Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Team

  • Julie McCarrin says:

    I have been under intense, unrelenting stress for years, and have long believed that I am suffering from adrenal fatigue. Although I have found a Doctor (a Chiropractic Neurologist) who treats this condition, we are unable to afford him at this time. As we have no health insurance, I am also unable to see a medical doctor.
    After reading Dr Wilson’s book and doing the evaluations set forth in the book, my results put me squarely in the severe category of adrenal fatigue, which surprised me not one bit.
    I began following the dietary recommendations set forth in the book a week or so before Christmas, and taking the supplements when I received them just after Christmas.
    I have been so ill with daily migraines (which 12 days in the Diamond Headache Clinic hospital did not break), tremors, dizziness, blurred vision,fatigue and falling down (I have orthostatic hypotension) that I have been forced to apply for disability.
    I have also cut gluten out from my diet because there is a history of gluten sensitivity in my family and an association between gluten and migraines (also a history of familial migraines). I invested in a masticating juicer and drink 4 to 6 cups of multi-vegetable and occasional fruit juices (I go easy on the fruit and stick to the ones recommended in Dr Wilson’s book).
    I do have a few questions though:
    Is the juicing beneficial?
    What about fruits such as berries and melon, which I love?
    Is it possible for me to recover from my adrenal fatigue on my own, without the aid of a Doctor and without the testing?
    Do you have any further recommendations other than those found in
    the book, which I can implement on my own?
    Thank you so very much for your time, and to Dr Wilson for putting me on the road (I hope!) to good health!

    • Hi Julie,

      It’s possible that juicing is beneficial, though it’s important to follow a well-rounded diet in addition. Some of the fruits that Dr. Wilson recommends to include in your diet if you have adrenal fatigue are papaya, mango, plums, pears, kiwi, apples, and cherries. With proper care most people experiencing adrenal fatigue can expect to feel good again. Oftentimes, those in the severe category are also working with a doctor and may be put on some sort of hormonal treatment as well. As far as things you can do on your own go, the book is a great resource. We have additional tips on dealing with stress and adrenal fatigue in other articles on this blog. The articles including the tag stress management is a good place to start:
      We can’t offer any advice or recommendations on the migraine medication; that is something a healthcare practitioner would be best to advise on. As far as the weight gain goes, it’s hard to say without knowing the source of the weight gain. If the weight gain is due to adrenal fatigue, it likely won’t be lost with proper diet and regular exercise, but by supporting the adrenal glands. We hope this helps – best of luck to you and your health. Also, if you’re looking at healthcare practitioner options, you can check our list of providers here:

      All the best,
      Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Team

  • Julie McCarrin says:

    Okay, I’m baaaccckkkk….with another question..
    Is it better for my adrenals to take something for my persistent migraine (Imitrex, Vicodin, Toradol, Ibuprofen, and as a last resort when I have a migraine which is too great for me to wait out, Dexamethasone, are my drugs of choice), or to try to live with the pain? Which is the greater adrenal stressor, the pain or the meds?
    Thanks again for your time,

  • Julie McCarrin says:

    one more question for now (sorry!)
    One thing I haven’t mentioned is that over the last year I’ve put on about 50 pounds. I’ve never been overweight in my entire life, and weigh 20 pounds more now than I did when I was 9 months pregnant with my twins.
    I know I do not do well on prolonged fasts as I have a tendency towards hypoglycemia, but I was thinking about maybe doing a vegetable juice fast 1 day a week as a way to shed some of this unwanted weight. Not sure how that would work out for my adrenals though. What’s your opinion on that?
    Thank you so much,

  • Julie McCarrin says:

    Thank you so much for your input, I truly appreciate it!

  • Hope says:

    Are there any foods or supplements to avoid if you suspect adrenal fatigue?
    Can you recommend a diet plan to follow –

    Thanks for any and all comments!! Hope

  • Stacy says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for this web-site. I work at a med treatment center and asked our dr. today why I feel so lousy and have been craving salt. She said it could be the adrenals and then I remembered several years back when I got very sick with light headedness, low blood pressure, rapid heart beat and skipping beats, sweating hands and feet, etc. I went to a Dr. who said it was pre- menopause and I accepted it. He put me on Xanix, Lexipro and a very high dose of birth control for hormone imbalance, (my tubes were tied so I did not need the birth control). I became a zombie with all the meds and I wasn’t my self again. It took years to finally get off the meds and do the research and saliva testing to find out about my adrenal fatigue. It’s nice to know today that all I need to do is take better care of myself, eat better, get regular exercise and I can be back to feeling myself again. Your article helped me to remember this. Very good information!!!

  • Dawn says:

    HI there,

    I believe I have had Adrenal Fatigue for the last 3 months. I was eventually put on lorazapam as I CANNOT sleep at all. I took Dr W’s test and it came back with a rating of severe A.F.
    There are quite a few stressors wright now but hopefully in the next two weeks they will have disappeared (work, moving, family stressors etc). Can I make an appointment as I don’t want to stay on ANY meds to tranquilize me to make me sleep. Is there any ONE particular product of Dr W’s
    that I can take now until the stressors are reduced?

    ANY help would be appreciated ASAP

  • Vivien says:

    I do find Dr. Wilson’s book very helpful in so many ways. However, although I have low cortisol levels, I am one of those with a tendency to high blood pressure and find there is very little specific advice for those in this position with adrenal fatigue. I find I have to be very careful with the amount of salt I use or my BP rises. As a family we use himalayan salt, but I also have a potassium based salt – not that I have cravings for salt at all.
    I do often feel dehydrated though. I drink a reasonable amount but also pass a lot of urine, especially at night when I believe it’s supposed to be more concentrated – I believe this might be something to do with aldosterone levels? It’s very annoying to be woken at night by a very full bladder – and a trip to the bathroom (even in the dark) usually leaves me wide awake for hours. I’m hoping that addressing the adrenal issue will help generally.
    Thank you so much for your help on this.

  • Devona Overton says:

    I have been diagnosed with stage 3 adrenal fatigue. I’ve steadily been working to recover and I’m doing well. The one thing I haven’t yet conquered is my salt craving. I’ve tried salt water in the morning and afternoon but still crave salt between 3:00 and 4:00 pm. I usually turn to chips but of course I’d like to move away from that. (I don’t eat processed foods during any other time of the day.)

    Any ideas?

    A few notes… I like a lot of spice and I’m willing to juice if necessary.

    Thanks for your suggestions in advance!

  • Jason Palframan says:

    Hi all,

    Ive had classic AF symptoms (my Gp called it stress overload on the system) since the end of April. Ive more energy now, and recently I had blood tests taken. Cortisol, acth and thyroid etc are OK, but I have high Aldosterone and raised blood pressure. I would have thought cortisol could be high? Can it happen with AF that aldosterone levels go high?

    thanks Jason

    • Hi Jason,

      It depends – everyone is different, and at different stages of adrenal fatigue different hormones can be high/low. Something else to keep in mind is that blood-based tests for cortisol only measure one instance. Cortisol levels, along with other hormones, fluctuate throughout the day. For a more accurate reading on your cortisol levels throughout the day, a saliva test is often the best way to go. We hope this helps – thanks for your questions!

      Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Team

  • Lorraine says:

    Cortisol has been chronically low and dipping for the past 3 years. Last test showed that it is now within the normal range and above normal in the afternoon… not that I would ever detect. Can’t believe that I am dragging all day long with normal to high cortisol levels.

    Turns out my DHEA(s) is plummeting. Was 22, now it’s 11… but the lab just changed the reference range and now 11 is considered the bottom of normal.

    Aldosterone is 1.1 with a normal range of 0 – 30.0. So that is “normal” as well, but it looks like you can only have a high reading given this reference range.

    It seems impossible that so many of these tests are coming back normal and I’m still feeling like there is an exponential gravitational pull occurring in my core that makes it nearly impossible to sit or stand for very long. How many naps can one person take in a day and still have any quality of life?

  • Barb says:

    Wish this Knowledgeable ND was still here he is amazing.

  • kevin fraser says:

    Hi there i’m hoping to get some help I’m not sure if I had low cortisol or high.

    I was diagnosed with a prolactinoma 10 years ago and was put on cabergoline for the tumour and hydrocortisone for my adrenals as they were not producting enough cortisol.

    However I was taken off the hydrocortisone when my adrenals showed normal levels so I assumed my adrenals are now working.

    But whenever I workout ( I lift heavy 3 times a week)
    I feel great for an hour or so afterwards but then things start to change.

    I begin to bloat up around the face/abdomen/hips and chest.

    and the most worrying thing is my nipples esp my left one begins to puff ( like a pubescent girl) and becomes slightly sore.

    When I was first diagnosed with the prolactinoma this nipple situation was one of the first major signs that got me diagnosed.

    So I automatically thought the gym sessions were increasing my prolactin but I am taking my cabergoline so I don’t think it is that.

    So the only other thing I can think of is it is a cortisol issue be it high or low…. possibly raising my estrogen and or my prolactin.

    I have tried going carb free… low sodium below 2g a day and I look and feel like rubbish and still retain this water weight and puffy nipple.

    So i’m so confused… if carbs and salt cause the body to retain water… why when I’m a low carb and low sodium do I continue to hold onto this water weight ?

    and can cortisol cause a sore puffy nipple in a male.

    I will try anything I have experimented so many times and can’t get a handle on this at all.

    thanks for any advice.

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for writing. Have you taken a saliva-based cortisol test? That would be a more accurate way to find out if your cortisol levels are mostly high or low. Cortisol fluctuates throughout the day, which these tests take into account by using a 24-hour sample base.

      • kevin says:

        i have just had the synactin test … thing is at one point at the start of my treatment i wasnt producing enough cortisol so they jump started my adrenals with hydrocortisone and once my adrenals were working normally they took me off it. so im not sure if working out heavy is causing high cortisol or that i dont have enough cortisol to cope with it which would lead to gyno insufficient cortisol or high cortisol?

        • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

          Hi Kevin,

          Heavy exercise is a stress to the body, so it certainly leads to the release of cortisol. We aren’t healthcare practitioners, so we wouldn’t be able to answer the second part of your question.

  • Gloria Simonot says:

    I believe that I have Sheehan’s syndrome with low levels of all the hormones (now on some replacement — sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and some adrenal glandular). My saliva test showed morning cortisol about 30% into the range and falling sharply to the very bottom of the range for all the rest of the day).
    I have high blood pressure which is somewhat erratic! BP meds don’t work well for me and more BP specialists and doctors want to give diuretics — I have refused since I urinate between 13 to 18 times in a 24 hour period.
    I’m not sure if I crave salt but I really love green olives and do seem to want more salt on my food. Most docs want me to lower salt intake and feel like I feel weaker with lower salt. I also retain fluid in my legs — mostly ankles and sometimes feet. I am a woman in my 70’s!
    How can I find out if I need to have an aldosterone supplement??

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Gloria,

      Perhaps the best way to know would be to take a saliva cortisol test. It can help determine the output of adrenal hormones throughout the day. You can order test kits directly from a lab like ZRT Lab (, or from a healthcare practitioner.

  • Jesse Wilda Wood says:

    Hi.i have late stage af…..possible adrenal insufficiency by now. I also have below range aldosterone and very low potassium. I sleep 5 to 10 hrs a week (for over 2 yrs now) so absolutely no way to recover with that amount of sleep) I’m not understand8ng how 8 can have such low aldosterone with LOW potassium…everywhere I read says I should have high potassium. I am bedbound for the first half of the day usually and with 2 small kids it’s getting impossible. I’m in Canada and there is no doc who understands this at all so I’m all alone in this. My cortisol is pretty much flatline now. What do u think is b3st treatment fo4 me? Hc, florinef? Also i have tried everything under the sun to sleep, indica marijuana no longer even helps me. Docs keep pushing sleeping pills but don’t see how that will help in the long run….What can I do to sleep? I’m dizzy, lightheaded, can’t eat or sleep, can’t work or even look after my kids. It takes everything I have just to have a shower now. What can I do??????

  • Kev says:

    Hey doctor im hoping you can explain how someone with low sodium could retain water, ive observed a crazy reaction my body has with more and less salt.

    when i am on a low sodium diet…. my urine is always bright clear and i urinate a lot but despite this i am always retaining water all over… the moment i eat a high sodium meal i notice after a little while that all my water retention goes down and my urine becomes a little more yellow.

    i thought sodium causes water retention for me it alleviates it… also my overall mood,erections etc improve when im more dehydrated from salting.

    does this sound strange?

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Kev,

      Not Dr. Bakker, but there could be other reasons for the water retention. It could be an imbalance of other electrolytes in the body. Are you currently working with a healthcare practitioner?

      • Kevin says:

        No I have been just trying things to see what helps with my constant water retention and noticed when I eat a really salty meal that all the subcutaneous water retention goes away and that since starting a higher salt diet other things like erections and sperm volume have also improved which before taking in normal salt were non existent.

        The reason I thought I’d try the salt thing was after reading this article as I was once adrenal insufficient so I imagine despite my adrenals now working they may still be easily fatigued.

        But I have noticed it is very hard to dehydrated me going by my urine colour.. I could drink coffee and soda all day long and hit the toilet 6/10 times a day and my urine still remains clear.. the salting has helped a lot but my urine still remains almost clear.. so not sure what’s going on.

        But adding salt is having great affect on my mood and other functions

  • Scissorhands says:

    I’m on a disability allowance due to prolonged fatigue, so I cant spend a great deal of money. How does this sound.
    Buying a leg of lamb when they are on special, cut in up and freeze, and most meals eat a small portion of lamb with potatoes or occasionally sweet potato [high dhea] when I can afford them, and plenty of vegetables like cabbage, carrots and whatever else is cheap or on special.
    When I had a car I could get to the markets and kumara was always much cheaper.
    When chicken legs are $5kg, I can pressure cook 10 or so in coconut cream add curry with potato and carrot.
    I used to buy sun brown rice from the supermarket but I recently switched to white because the brown was always rancid. Anyone know where to get cheap brown rice thats not rancid?
    I like beans and peas, but have to go easy of legumes as I get terrible gas/motile bowel, even soaked and water discarded. I’m gluten intolerant and corn doesnt digest well unless in very small portions with fat.
    I recently ditched kombucha. That stuff wrecked havoc on my adrenals I think, but I drank a lot, as it was cheap to make.

    So basically:
    Is living on 3x fresh meat, potatoes and lots of different vege ok?
    No sugary foods or caffeine. Just filtered water.
    Eat fruit 2 hours after meals so blood sugar doesnt jump?
    Occasionally have a few dates or a handful nuts??

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:


      Use caution when consuming potatoes, especially in large quantities. They are high on the glycemic index and can be problematic for people with blood sugar issues.

      • Scissorhands says:

        Thanks I get it.
        Pumpkin is actually cheaper than spuds now, lower [slightly] GI and more nutrients. Big cabbage are $2 each. I could do better.
        I went vegan for awhile and ate lots of nuts and beans but somehow the switch back to meat 3 x a day has me feeling a lot better.

        My belly seems a flatter on higher meat + fat. So it appears cortisol induced belly bloat is lessening with meat and fat. Seems counter intuitive to what I used to believe.

        One last thing.
        Does a 90kg male really need around 80 grams of fat a day? I got indoctrinated toward low fat by the older media.

        • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

          The guidelines on fat, calories, etc. based on gender and age tend to be general guidelines. We’re all different so the best approach is to find what’s right for you. You could consult with a dietician or other nutrition specialist for for specific guidelines on you personally.

  • Mike says:

    I’ve read many excellent articles on adrenal fatigue. However, I cannot wean off of prednisone, which I’ve taken for decades, b/c nothing else will even marginally control the life threatening respiratory inflammation I have due to a chemical exposure. And prednisone only does a marginal job at best. Question: Is there any way to increase my suppressed ACTH as a result of the prednisone, while still taking it? I have not found one article in twenty years directly addressing this issue other than to say prednisone is a problem. None of the natural approaches or inhaled glucocorticoids has allowed me to even decrease the prednisone dose. Is there ANY other way to control the inflammation? Again, I’ve tried almost every natural approach imaginable over the years to control inflammation except hi dose ozone with UBI. Stem cells, systemic or local, are not an option while taking prednisone. but would probably do wanders to help rebuild the prednisone induced debilitation. This seems like the ultimate catch-22. Any suggestions or references would be greatly appreciated.

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Mike,

      Thank you for writing. Unfortunately these questions are beyond the scope of what we do here and can’t offer suggestions. What we may be able to offer is a practitioner referral. If you are interested, respond back or email us at with what area you’re in.

  • suzanne says:

    Hi thank you for the article, i’m going to incorporate salt into my diet (i don’t have high BP at all and i know i am adrenal fatigued, probably severe) My question is, i’ve been ad. fatigued for yrs but suffered a very severe trauma about 6 months ago. Since then i’ve become almost intolerant to coffee and noticed a severe crash in the afternoon-assuming that’s low cortisol. i feel bizarre, weird, very hypoglycemic, profound weakness. It all just got worse since then. I do eat very healthy, no sugar but i tend to wait 5 hrs between meals. Could a severe trauma 6 months ago have permanently worsened my adrenal fatigue? I’m going to START with salt throughout the day to see if that helps.

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      Thank you for writing. Stress and trauma of any kind, be it pointed or chronic, can have an affect on your adrenal fatigue. That is not to say it is permanently worsened. Are you currently working with a healthcare practitioner? We realize that can be difficult in this time of quarantine when many offices are closed or working on a limited basis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.