Search SAFM

Skewed Electrolyte Balance: A Purposeful Stress Response

Stress doesn’t just affect hormones and metabolism; sustained stress also effects electrolyte balance.  And it happens on purpose!  As I often say during SAFM courses, the body is not a “dumb bucket”.  The human body is constantly and intelligently orchestrating a systemic response to help us to thrive in the environment in which we are asking it to live.

Hormones are messengers.  The HPATG axis coordinates the body’s response to our environment.  Cortisol and aldosterone are both triggered releases from the adrenals (in response to the brain’s ACTH), so their sustained dynamics go hand-in-hand.  The kidney-adrenal partnership finely controls our electrolyte balance and downstream dynamics such as blood pressure, interstitial pH, stomach acid production and much more.  A great example that downstream symptoms are not “random” anomalies but rather logical, expected downstream reactions to our upstream environment/lifestyle/genetics/beliefs that you can learn to interpret with confidence and keen wisdom.  At SAFM, we call this “puzzle piecing”.  Check out today’s clinical tip, a great one to teach your patients to increase their inspiration and empowerment in response to common symptoms.  You (and they!) can come to an aha moment when you realize the root cause behind a common craving during times of sustained stress.

Myth-busting and Truth-simplifying are things we do every day here are SAFM.   Want to learn what savvy practitioners know and use with confidence?  Join us for our next SAFM Core 101 Semester.  You get the opportunity to customize your Semester experience and just might choose Adrenal & Thyroid Myths and Truths as a Deep Dive Clinical Course.  Here’s a page from this rich course that summarizes even more interconnectedness in our coordinated stress response.






P.S. If you know that healthcare must be transformed to be sustainable and effective, and you believe strongly that Functional Medicine is key to making that happen, we urge you to learn about our semester program.

If you haven’t done so already, sign up to receive weekly clinical tips like this via email, and you’ll also get automatic access to a free mini clinical course.

Like us on Facebook to get more great clinical tips and to get notifications of my next Facebook Live!


6 Questions for “Skewed Electrolyte Balance: A Purposeful Stress Response”

  1. 4
    Dawn-Marie Valdron says:

    I have recently lost about 50 lbs and halfway through the process I began experiencing something like what you’ve described as orthostatic or postural hypotension. I don’t exactly get dizzy but often fade to black when I get up quickly. This happened frequently in my teen years and then a couple times a year until 3 months ago. I am now 54. I thought it might be related to my weight loss or my renewed interest in cardiovascular activity but now you have me thinking otherwise. Is there anything practical I can do to combat this re-emerging problem?

  2. 3

    This is so often missed by folks for sure. Thanks for the attention to the subject Tracy.

  3. 2
    Lisa Verdejo says:

    Following on the heels of this video, I’m wondering how the adrenals can affect magnesium levels. I understand that magnesium can alleviate stress in terms of relaxation, but not sure that stress depletes magnesium necessarily (I know that stress will increase blood sugar which chronically will yield the need for magnesium given insulin resistance). I have a client who has suffered massive stress for at least 20 years, due to a marriage and subsequent divorce. Her RBC mg levels are elevated above the reference range, and I was curious how the adrenals may be playing a direct role with this mineral.

    • 2.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Efflux of magnesium inside of a cell is controlled through membranous sodium-dependent and sodium-independent pathways and through genetic and neurohormonal regulations. Adrenal insufficiency often leads to loss of sodium and increase of potassium. Magnesium has been shown to follow the path of potassium in this scenario. However, the most common reason for elevated magnesium levels is the issue with the excretion of this mineral via kidneys. As you well pointed out, elevated cortisol can be a significant driver for insulin resistance, which in turn is damaging to the kidneys and could cause issues with magnesium excretion.
      Here are a couple of in-depth articles if you’d like to explore this topic:

  4. 1
    Sloan Guisinger says:

    I enjoyed Tracy’s FB Live. I work with women in their 50’s to help reclaim the vitality and energy they had in their 20’s and 30’s. The area I emoften get stuck in is when they ask about hormones and how to get them on track without taking medication. I would love be able to take the AFM courses and deepen my knowledge in that area – as well as all around health and nutrition.

    A friend and f know, Kelly Lutman, took an AFM course last year and speaks very highly of Tracy as well as the program. She said it has been very beneficial in helping her feel confident, and is now better able to attract women she really feels like she can help. I’d love to learn more – especially about hormonal health and gut health.

Ask a Question

Practitioner clarification questions are welcome! Please do not post personal case inquiries.