A Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue – At Home!

A Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue – At Home!
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A Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue - At Home!

Did you know that there’s a quick and easy test you can do at home to determine adrenal fatigue?

As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, this is one of the tools I use to test adrenal function.

A quick disclaimer before we start: In order to properly diagnose any condition, please see a qualified medical practitioner (preferably by a holistic practitioner familiar with adrenal fatigue).

This simple test can be done with a small flashlight that has a pinpoint focus or penlight, a mirror, darkened room, and your eyeballs.

A Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue - At Home!Photo Credit: fastjel

How Does It Work?

When your adrenal glands are not functioning well, the eye muscles get fatigued and aren’t able to stay dilated. This is a common cause of night blindness and the need for sunglasses.

What If I Fail the Test?

This test is a good indicator to look into things further.

I will be writing a series on adrenal fatigue next month. If you would like to sign up for my newsletter in one of the pink boxes to the right or bottom of this post, I will send the posts right to your inbox!

Here’s a great book that I recommend for more information and DIY treatment options: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson, ND, DC, PhD.

Instead of spending hours upon hours looking up (sometimes questionable) information on the Internet, it covers the syndrome from soup to nuts.

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Pupilary Response Test for Adrenal Fatigue

 

  1. Stand in front of a mirror in a darkened room (best done at night) for at least 15 seconds.
  2. Look straight into the mirror without blinking.
  3. Using your penlight or small flashlight, hold the light at eye level and by the side of your head pointing at your ear (see chart). About 8 inches away to avoid damaging the eye.
  4. Slowly move the light around your head toward your nose, staying 8 inches away at all times.
  5. Stop once the light is at a 45 degree angle to your retina. The light should NOT be pointing directly into your eye but should come in at an angle. hint: you shouldn’t feel like a deer in headlights.
  6. Hold the light steady and count how long your pupil can hold the contraction, up to 20 seconds. Once it starts to ‘pulse’ or loses the contraction, the test is over.
  7. Repeat on other eye.

0-4 seconds | Adrenal Exhaustion |

5-10 seconds | Adrenal Fatigue |

11-19 seconds | Adrenal Dysfunction |

20+ seconds | Optimal Adrenal Function |

A Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue - At Home!


Thanks to some great suggestions, I’ll have a video showing this technique up soon.

If you’d like to watch it, sign up for my newsletter and get the video link plus the series on adrenal fatigue sent to your inbox as soon as they’re available.

You can unsubscribe at any time.


 


124 thoughts on “A Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue – At Home!”

  • I would love to hear of other means to self-assess for adrenal fatigue as I have a neurological condition (ATP) which makes my pupils tonic (non reactive). I was wondering too – Can a thyroid disorder (ie, hypothyroidism) correlate with adrenal fatigue? Do they often go hand-in-hand?

    • The other tests should be performed by a qualified health practitioner. If you feel that you have the symptoms, you can either order a saliva test online or ask your doctor for one. The adrenal glands are always affected by thyroid disorders, and I recommend treating them together for best results.

  • Would like to view the video. I was told by a previous doctor that I had that but my present doctor has never mentioned it.

  • How do you see your pupil in a mirror when it is that dark and you’re not right in front of the mirror? My eyes are so dark….wouldn’t trying to focus on seeing it affect the results?! I don’t “get it.”

    • My advice would be to try it and see. Just be sure that you are close enough to the mirror to see your pupils in the light, and you should be fine. My irises are so dark that you can’t see my pupils unless you are very close to my face, but the concentrated light will brighten them up in the mirror. You can probably hop up and sit on the counter in the bathroom to keep yourself within 12 inches.

  • Would love to see video please. I think I did something wrong cause the kids n i got 4 seconds as well ( their under 10)

  • Ok, wow! I’ve known I have all the symptoms of adrenal fatigue/exhaustion/hypothyroid for a while (years) and been working on it with natural/DIY treatments, but I didn’t realize . . . my pupils couldn’t hold a contraction for 2 seconds (either one). They each “blew” after one second, then started pulsing slightly about a second later. I guessed I’d “test positive” just because I noticed my pupils pulsing in full bright light the other day when I was fishing something out of my eye. The response I did get kinda blew me away. πŸ™‚ I’ll have to check out your book recommendation. Thanks!

    • The book should be very helpful, because it addresses the multiple causes of adrenal fatigue. I have come a long way toward healing my own adrenal fatigue, so be encouraged that it can be done!

    • Absolutely! I have gone from hardly being able to get off of the couch to almost being back to a full, normal life. I have a link to a book that I highly recommend in the post. It’s under the ‘Now What?’ section. You can take a look to see if you’d like to take that route to get started. I’m also accepting clients or you can look for a qualified healthcare professional in your area.

  • Would love to see a video. Thank you so much for the wealth of information you share. It must feel great to know you are helping so many people heal. P.S. I LOVE your Healing Skin Balm that I recently purchased. Can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve for experiments with zinc oxide. πŸ™‚

  • I would love to see a video! Thank you so much for the wealth of information you share. It must feel great knowing you are helping so many people heal. P.S. I LOVE your healing bar I just purchased. I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve for zinc oxide experiments. πŸ™‚

  • I would like to see the video please!

    This explains so much, I have horrible light sensitivity. And when I was at my worst a few years ago, sometimes I could barely drive light hurt even on an overcast day!

    • I suggest trying a Google search for holistic practitioners in your area to start. You can find websites with listings of practitioners, word of mouth recommendations through forums, and practitioners that work clients/patients online like I do (how to contact me). Then, contact the ones you find and feel them out. Ask if they work with the symptoms that you have, and see if you like the answers they give.

          • You could try searching for a “functional medicine” specialist, too. These are typically MD’s, but they have a holistic approach and specialize in chronic issues like adrenal fatigue.

            • Definitely! I tend to consider them holistic physicians because they usually take a ‘whole body’ approach. I always encourage people to at least consult an MD when they have insurance, because insurance can cover much of the testing that needs to be done.

  • I have suspected that I have adrenal fatigue and have been self treating myself for a while now. Recently I have made good progress bc I have been sleeping better, lots more energy w/o feeling tired mid-day or having the 11PM splurge of energy. Nowadays, I am actually tired by 9PM and need to be asleep by 11PM! (up til 2-3AM used to the norm for me) I now wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. Interestingly tho, some time during the past few weeks I no longer have the need for sunglasses either…I just noticed the other day that I haven’t used my sunglass in a long while, where as before, it was the first thing I usually grabbed for when I’m outside. Your article has made me realize this is also a sign that my adrenals may be getting better. I can’t wait to see the video and try out your test! Thank you for the post!!!

  • Oh my goodness! This couldn’t be more timely. A couple of days ago, my husband was suspected of suffering from this.
    Thank you for posting this!
    Caroline

  • this makes perfect sense to me, i think this is why i can’t watch movies in 3D. my eyes are too tired. I know i have been suffering from adernal exhaustion for some time now. I look forward to your article on how to treat it. I know one of my biggest problems is my caffiene intake πŸ™

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  • I’ve been following you for about 9 mo and have felt enormous improvements in my digestive and overall health. About 6 months into my concerted efforts to get healthier and heal my system I noticed my night vision was vastly improved and I didn’t immediately run back into the house if I forgot my sunglasses (among other signs of system re-balancing). I just did this test and the second I turned the flashlight on my pupil was jittering like crazy! I didn’t get enough sleep last night, so I wonder if adrenal fatigue is a day-to-day issue or is it more of a long term pattern (which is what I initially thought)?

    • I’m glad you’ve come so far already Shannon. That’s great!

      Adrenal fatigue is a chronic issue, but you can easily have short-term adrenal dysfunction. A poor night of sleep can greatly stress an already weakened system. Try it again after a few days of good eating and good sleep to see if you notice a difference. With out modern lifestyle, I find that glandular support is needed for many people to fully recover.

  • Awesome post, thank you for sharing it! My husband suffers from adrenal fatigue, living a high stress lifestyle. I will have to read the book you recommend!

  • what does it mean if my pupils dilate and contract extremely fast? Ive done this test perfectly many times and it looks very creepy.Im also so fatigued that I stay in bed 23 hours a day now. Female age 26.Normal bmi

    • They should contract immediately, so that’s normal. You’re testing to see how long they hold that contraction. Start counting right away and count until they start to open up again (lose the contraction). Then, check your number against the chart.

  • WOW ..!!! I failed miserably. Not surprised. I’ve had the cortisol/dhea saliva test, so I pretty much knew I was in adrenal fatigue, but adrenal exhaustion, shew~we. I’ll be getting the book as well. I’ve been eating right (have celiac), so elimination is the name of my food game already, not really an issue. Using a lot of bone broth, turmeric, vit C & have been feeling better somewhat. Always room for improvement….thx, & peace out ~ Pam

  • I wondering what your thoughts were on this eye test and fluctuations during a normal light (nonfluctuating light) scenario? I mean, in a regular room, if I stare at a regularly lit, not fluctuating lit item (say the white base of my monitor), I can see light fluctuations immediately. Do you think that’s related/indicative of this same issue?

    Thanks.

    • Light fluctuations can be related to adrenal dysfunction, mechanical eye issues, or neurological so it’s hard to say. I would suggest getting an eye test done by an ophthalmologist and tell him or her about your symptoms.

  • Very interesting Jenn! Thanks for sharing this… I’m gonna give it a try… but I’m not giving up my coffee! LOL πŸ˜‰
    Jean

  • This is great! I love the break down of the hold time for the different degrees of adrenal distress. I’ve done this test in the past with my pupils nearly dancing from the start. After seeing your post today about this I tried it again & held for 8 seconds each eye! Thank you!

  • I didn’t take the test yet, but since I started drinking Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, honey, and cinnamon over two months ago I’ve noticed an improvement in my eyes. Now my eyes are not as sensitive to the sunlight. Very interesting!

  • Mine couldn’t hold for even a second, I’ve been on a high dose of adrenal cortex for almost a year, it might be time to buy the book. Someone who responded when this post was new was confused as to why her kids tested as adrenal exhausted, I’ve looked at the symptoms list and my childhood together, and I’ve had adrenal exhaustion, masked by caffeine addiction since before I turned 10. It’s no wonder I liked meth! Clean 11 1/2 years now, praise God! I spent most of my life thinking I was lazy, turns out it was organ failure instead!

    • Jennifer, I am so glad that you are recovering and congratulations on beating your addition! That should be enough to tell you that you are most certainly not a lazy person. I grew up being told the same thing. This post may help you: http://www.20somethingallergies.com/hypochondriac/.

      There are many components that contribute to adrenal fatigue. I would definitely start an adrenal healing protocol, because it will address all of the contributing factors. It’s one of the last things to heal with my nutritional therapy clients, but it can be done!

  • This is interesting, thanks for the information! I definitely want to try this as my adrenal function is being questioned. Just FYI- if I read this correctly, under the how it works you mention that they eyes are unable to stay dilated with adrenal fatigue, but in the test itself the pupils are unable to stay constricted and a positive test is dilation, so this is contradictory. Not a big deal since the test is so well described, just thought I would mention it.

  • What if you have adrenal insufficiency and your on steroids and you fail the test then what does this eye test mean? Do I take more steroids? I have low blood pressure & I am weak. My eyes are barely dilating and are huge in the dark. I am on 30mg of steroids daily, so I am confused on what this test means for someone like me. Thanks\

    • Steroids are very stressful on the body with long-term use and affects the function of your endocrine system. I would recommend reading the book that I link to in the article, find a qualified holistic practitioner to help you with a more natural method of healing. Your low blood pressure can be a symptom of multiple causes but is closely related to adrenal function. I would concentrate on diet and blood sugar handling (Paleo with an emphasis on good quality proteins and fats), digestion (the main root of chronic illnesses), and adrenal health.

  • I tried the test but I can’t keep my eye from blinking more than three seconds once I start the light. I’m not sure what an eye contraction is… please help!

    • This is testing the length of time that the contraction can hold. The muscles that control the eye contraction are ultimately regulated by the adrenal glands. There are many connections within the body that we don’t see when we ‘chop up’ the body systems to study them.

      As an example, there is also a hip ligament that is controlled by the adrenals. My chiropractor could never figure out how my hips could rotate so far out of alignment until I learned to heal my adrenal dysfunction to reverse the ligament dysfunction.

      • Omg! I cannot hold a chiropractic adjustment, and always thought it was mostly due to poor muscle tone from exercise intolerance that forces me to be almost completely sedentary – and of course, I have that intolerance because of my adrenal issues. But are there other ligaments besides the hip that have a direct correlation to adrenals? Would love to know which so I can observe the progress (or lack of).

  • Great minds think alike.

    I also thought a video would be a good idea so I did one for my own blog, where, by the way, I feature your Iris/Pupil technique, and I say “your”, cause this is where I first encountered it.

    I also videotaped three other adrenal tests one can do at home: blood pressure, body temperature and the Sergents test.

    Look forward to seeing your video, Jennifer.

    -Joe

    • I saw your post Joe. It’s a good one! Thanks for sharing that you filmed a video. I’ll check it out when I can and leave your comment hare, so people can find it.

      I use a series of tests to determine adrenal function in my practice, so I’m happy to see some of them addressed in your post.

  • This is kind of confusing to me, is there are video yet? I don’t understand exactly what you’re looking for with your eyes and the flashlight? Should the pupil get smaller/larger? Thanks

    • There’s not, but a commenter noted that he created one. The contraction is the pupil getting smaller, yes. Dilation is when it gets larger again and loses the contraction.

  • I’ve tried this on several people, and I get this on all of them immediately. Surely they can’t all have adrenal exhaustion. Am I maybe doing it wrong?

    • If their eyes dilate, you should be doing it right. Almost everyone you come into contact with in modern society will have significant adrenal depletion. To be sure, I would try to do it in the morning when the person is rested, make sure the room is quite dark, and be sure there is a full contraction of the pupil so you know the light is reaching it correctly (if they shy away or say ouch, the light is shining too directly into his/her eye).

  • Is this a valid test if you are taking a medication that causes the pupils to constrict (medications such as Morphine DOES cause pupil constriction)? I take this medication, so I’m not sure the results of this test would be accurate for me.

    • It’s not. There are other adrenal tests that can be done in it’s place. The best indicator (and the next step if this does indicate hypofunction) is to get a saliva test. That can either be done through a practitioner or an online lab. Google should be able to give you sources for both!

      Medications such as morphine will likely always pair with adrenal hypofunction.

  • I have an intrathecal pain pump implanted for RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) and the medications in my pump are Morphine and Clonidine. Will this test be valid since Morphine is known to constrict the pupils? I also have VERY dark brown eyes, so it’s already hard to see my pupils! Please advise-Thanks!

    • It’s not a test that can be used when medications alter the function of the constriction. A saliva test would likely be the best route under the circumstances.

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