Alcohol's Effect on Adrenal Fatigue


People attempting to recover from adrenal fatigue must do (and not do) many things along the way toward good health. Drinking alcoholic beverages is one of the items that should be on the “not do” list for adrenal recovery. This is because of alcohol’s negative impact on the adrenal glands.

Woman with cocktail.
Woman with cocktail. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)


As part of the endocrine system, each of the body’s two adrenal glands sits atop a kidney. Like all other organs and glands, the adrenals can become worn out and sick; adrenal fatigue is the resulting condition. Recovery from adrenal fatigue can often be a long process, and there are various steps that people must take in order to heal. Many of these steps relate to lifestyle, including diet, stress levels and sleep.

Close up of endocrine system.
Close up of endocrine system. (Image: defun/iStock/Getty Images)

Adrenal Harm

In his book, “Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome,” Dr. James L. Wilson calls alcohol a poison for the adrenal glands. Alcohol causes the adrenals to become even more fatigued. Although alcohol can temporarily counteract adrenal fatigue symptoms, it creates even more of these symptoms after the alcohol’s effects wear off. One reason alcohol has a negative effect on the adrenals is because it is a stimulant, and any stimulants have the same negative impact on adrenal health and recovery.

Bar. (Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Blood Sugar

For people who have adrenal fatigue, properly managing and regulating blood sugar is crucial. Alcohol wreaks havoc on these efforts by throwing off blood sugar balance. As Wilson says in his book, alcohol “sets off the blood sugar roller coaster” and uses up large numbers of nutrients.

Blood sugar monitor.
Blood sugar monitor. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Stress Response

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking alcohol causes the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands to release hormones and thereby induces the stress response. However, when there is adrenal fatigue, the adrenal glands need a break from stress responses. Drinking alcohol can also cause adrenaline, an adrenal hormone, to increase. In addition, it can cause the adrenal glands to produce fewer hormones, and in cases of adrenal fatigue, this effect is detrimental.

Stress levels affect adrenals.
Stress levels affect adrenals. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)


When people think of alcohol, they usually think of alcoholic beverages—beer, wine and liquor. But there is another type of alcohol that is also harmful for people with adrenal fatigue to ingest. It is the alcohol contained in over-the-counter preparations, such as liquid herbal tinctures. Many people who are working toward adrenal recovery take these types of herbs. Rather than using alcohol-containing tinctures, people should instead try the preparations that contain alternatives to alcohol.

Herbal tinctures have alcohol in them, too.
Herbal tinctures have alcohol in them, too. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Safe Beverages

Alcohol isn’t the only “no-no” drink for adrenal fatigue. Other beverages that people with adrenal fatigue should avoid include ones containing sugar, caffeine and chocolate. There are, however, many beverages that are not only allowed but are beneficial for the adrenal glands during healing. These include filtered and clean water, as well as certain herbal teas.

Herbal tea is a safe beverage.
Herbal tea is a safe beverage. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

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