Addison's Disease

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Latest Edit: Hector 2013-10-23 (EDT)

Addison's Disease refers to a condition of the adrenal glands; two paired glands that rest on top of the kidneys. In Addison's, these glands do not produce a sufficient amount of hormones, also referred to as adrenal insufficiency. Addison's Disease is considered primary chronic adrenocortical insufficiency and results from progressive destruction of the outer portion of the gland, the cortex. Typically, symptoms do not appear until at least 90% of the cortex has been damaged.[1]

Addison's Disease

Addison's Disease
Causes Genetics, Infections
See Also Endocrine Conditions, Adrenal Fatigue, Hypotension, Hypoglycemia, Hyperkalemia
Books Books on Endocrine Diseases
Articles Articles on Endocrine Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With Addison's disease the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. More than 90% of all cases of Addison's Disease are attributable to autoimmune adrenal dysfunction, tuberculosis, AIDS, or metastatic cancers. A detailed assessment is required to determine if there are other contributing factors.[1]


  • Certain infections are implicated in causing Addison's Disease, particularly tuberculosis and disseminated fungi infections due to Histoplasma capsulatum and Coccidioides immitis.[1]
  • Individuals with AIDS are at increased risk of developing Addison's Disease due to infectious (ie. cytomegalovirus) and noninfectious (ie. Kaposi sarcoma) complications of the disease.[1]


  • Congenital adrenal hypoplasia
  • A rare X-linked disease[1]
  • Genetic factors can predispose a person to develop autoimmune Addison's Disease. Similar to other autoimmune conditions, it is more common in females and often presents between the ages of 30-50 years.[2]

Related Symptoms and Conditions

The conditions associated with Addison's Disease include:

  • Hypotension
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hyperkalemia or high blood levels of potassium
  • Orthostatic hypotension or low blood pressure upon standing
  • Graves' Disease
  • Premature Ovarian Failure
  • Metastatic neoplasms
  • The adrenal glands are a common site for cancerous metastases. If the tumour growth is extensive, the adrenal cortex can be damaged sufficiently to produce Addison's Disease.[1]


Common Symptoms

Addison's disease can present with a wide variety of signs and symptoms including:[3]

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. The treatment of Addison's Disease is commonly requires co-management with a specialist.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

  • Smoking is hard on the adrenals. It is important to quit smoking.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for Addison's disease include:

Article Botanical Approaches to Adrenal Insufficiency, Vital Link; 2006 Fall
Article TCM Perspective of Adrenal Dysfunction, Vital Link; 2006 Fall
  • The TCM diagnosis includes: SP Qi deficiency, SP Yang Deficiency, KI Yang Deficiency, KI Yin Deficiency


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Kumar R, Abbas A, DeLancey A, Malone E (2010) Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. Eighth Edition. Saunders Elsevier.
  2. Mitchell AL, Pearce SH (2012 Jan) Autoimmune Addison disease: pathophysiology and genetic complexity Nat Rev Endocrinol doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2011.245. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22290360 .
  3. Ten S, New M, Maclaren N (2001 Jul) Clinical review 130: Addison's disease 2001 J Clin Endocrinol Metab; Vol86(7):2909-22 PMID: 11443143.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Sarris J, Wardle J (2010) Clinical Naturopathy: An evidence-based guide to practice, Elsevier.
  5. Locke A (1998) The Family Guide to Homeopathy: The Safe Form of Medicine for the Future. Penguin.