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❤️🩹 Challenging Cases #16

From the desk of the nutritional pioneers…..

Post-Influenzal Hypoadrenia

Influenza epidemics usually bring to mind the pandemic of 1918 which took an unusual toll of lives. While the current Asiatic form of influenza appears to be a much milder form with fewer fatalities, yet many of the symptoms are so similar that many of the lessons learned than can be applied today.

THE PANDEMIC OF 1918: The influenza of 1918 was extremely prostrating and debilitating and it was difficult to describe the extreme weakness that the patients felt and the hopelessness and the lassitude that prevented them from regaining their health promptly after the acute stage had passed. There was a great tendency to relapse, since the patients were not able to react to a full immunity.  This was explained by an unusually severe degree of debility suffered by the endocrine glands, especially the adrenals, which resulted in HYPOADRENIA. (1)

FATIGUE, MUSCULAR AND CIRCULATORY:  It will be recalled that the symptoms of HYPOADRENIA are essentially asthenic in character. In fact, fatigue is the principal result and it may be most severe. This patient is usually tired out and unable to replenish his usual mental or physical work, and this persists for some time after the apparent recovery. This aggravated degree of muscular asthenia extends to the involuntary muscles, causing heart weakness, commonly classed as myocarditis, though there is no real structural change in the heart muscle at the time. The vessel walls lose their tonicity and low blood pressure follows with evidence of circulatory inefficiency. (1)

ADRENAL DAMAGE CONFIRMED AT AUTOPSY: A close relationship between adrenal damage and the symptoms of influenza was determined by a number of investigators as early as 1919. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5). Of special interest was the study made at Camp Zachary Taylor in 1919 where 126 patients who had died of influenza were bought to autopsy and 85 per cent were found to have obvious adrenal damage. (5)

USING THE POSTURAL BLOOD PRESSURE METHOD TO DETECT THE HYPOADRENIA: D.C. Ragland, M.D., of Los Angeles (6) worked out this technique in 1920. It is especially valuable in detecting the hypoadrenia states following influenza or any other debilitating state or event unusual stress. If the best in manipulative care does not result in an increase in the systolic blood pressure in the standing as compared to the recumbent position, then nutritional therapy should next be considered. These suggestions are not preventive of the influenza itself, but of the post-influenzal asthenia.

Potassium, as found in vegetable juices or alfalfa tea, often acts as if it specifically caused a release of adrenal hormones. Potter (7) states, “more nearly specific in influenza than any other remedy.” A good nutritional program helps to build resistance and patients often report that the influenza is of shorter duration with milder symptoms.


(1) Harrower, Henry R. M.D., (Practical Endocrinology, 1933, page 486).

(2) Cowie & Beavan(?) (Jour. Am. Med. Assn. Aug. 2, 1919 page 363).

(3) daFonenza, Rio de Jameiro, (Da insufficiencia suprarenal no grippe, 1919)

(4) Ricaldoni of Montevideo, Uraguay, quoted by da Fonenca(?).

(5) Lucke, B., Wight, T., and Kime, E., (Arch. Int. Med., Aug. 1919, XXIV page 154).

(6) Ragland, D.C., M.D. (Essays on Internal Secretions) Harrower, 1920.

(7) (missing)


Source: Lee, R. The Heart, Nutrition and Endocardiograph (p. 150). Endocardiograph Company.

Patricia Forbes


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