Adrenal Fatigue and Lectin Consumption

Adrenal insufficiency is well understood in medicine but ‘adrenal fatigue’ is a functional condition. There is a large body of clinical opinion and scientific evidence with respect to the many insults that alone or in combination provoke the symptoms of exhausted adrenal function. Here, the subject is considered from the perspective of dietary consumption of lectins.

The deleterious effects of chronic dietary consumption of foods with high lectin contents is receiving a great deal of attention these days. Many common plant foods contain lectins which the plant employs as defense mechanisms. Gluten is a lectin. When humans consume such foods, the lectins in them deploy n the gut. The immediate mechanism of their action is to provoke an auto-immune reaction by way of molecular mimicry. Lectins (there are a great many) are functionally indistinguishable from proteins and bind to cell receptors causing havoc with hormone regulation. You can see where this is going.

Specifically, lectins bind to cells in the gut lining provoking a Zonulin upregulation which leads to prying apart the tight junctions. This permits lectins themselves (and other bad things) to escape the gut through the Portal Vein and enter circulation. The whole engine causes a great deal of inflammation and endocrine dysfunction, especially affecting the adrenals and thyroid.

All of this is reasonable understood and documented. However, there is an additional consequence of lectin consumption that is equally as serious yet not so well appreciated. It is that lectins provoke the release of large amounts of histamine by imposing on mast cells in the gut. Besides the immediate inflammatory wreckage this causes, the circulating histamine tends to histadelia as the liver cannot effectively metabolize by methylation such a volume.

And high histamine levels = high stress. The stuff ‘wires’ one, making for a tense, unhappy and exhausted person. It is by this additional route that the adrenals are strained and drained, driven beyond their natural adaptive capacity.

By mimicry and histamine lectins grind an individual down producing the symptom picture of adrenal exhaustion. An obvious course of action where this is suspected is to recommend avoiding the eating of lectin-containing foods that are demonstrated to be toxic to a patient. References to what foods are lectin-containing and protocols for their elimination are found below.

There are dietary supplements that favourably ameliorate the consumption of lectins. The chief of these is glucosamine, but more specifically N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG). Wheat lectins, or wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) are especially harmful. They bind easily to glycoproteins in the epithelial glycocalyx provoking a legion of symptoms. This can be antidoted with NAG1.

The common seaweed bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosis), a mucopolysaccharide block lectin actions because it is ‘lectin-like’ and consequently blocks real lectins which serves them right2,3. Other mucilaginous agents also protect against lectin damage. These include D-Mannose which is commonly used for Urinary tract infections being the active agent in cranberry juice4. Okra, marshmallow root, and slippery elm all coat the intestines preventing or inhibiting lectins from causing harm5,6. Sialic acid (Mucin) and Sodium alginate have similar properties and are especially useful in healing a ruptured gut lining.

Products are emerging on the market specifically designed to address lectins and their consequences. Interestingly, these are all (so far) designed by clinical physicians of good reputation. Presumably, they are frustrated in their practices by the poor or slow response of traditional supplement manufacturers. Dr. Steven Gundry, M.D. is arguably the leading authority in this field. He has designed a U.S. product “Lectin Shield” which serves as a model. Otherwise, NAG, alginates, D-Mannose and mucilaginous fibre products are readily available. Contact Nature’s Source for further information on such natural health products.


Bulletproof – Revenge of the Beans: How Lectins Such Your Energy and Make You Weak -

Do dietary lectins cause disease?

The evidence is suggestive—and raises interesting possibilities for treatment

David L J Freed, Allergist, BMJ. 1999 Apr 17; 318(7190): 1023–1024.

Role of Lectins in Inflammation, EDinformatics,


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2. Houser J, Komarek J, Kostlanova N, et. al. A soluble fucose-specific lectin from Aspergillus fumigatus conidia–structure, specificity and possible role in fungal pathogenicity. PLoS One. Dec 10, 2013; 8 (12): e83077. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083077.

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