Aldosterone is another hormone we may not think much about, but it is absolutely vital for our everyday functioning – particularly keeping us hydrated with proper mineral balance. However, if left unchecked, aldosterone in excess can cause a cascade of health issues – particularly inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease, and mineral depletion. If Aldosterone gets too low, you may have trouble holding onto critical electrolytes.

Aldosterone Pic

Overview of Aldosterone

Aldosterone is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It is known as a “mineralcorticoid”.

Aldosterone helps the body retain sodium and water and excrete potassium, which results in higher blood pressure.

Aldosterone has a daily rhythm to it, where it increases toward the end of the sleep phase, before early morning (before cortisol rises) (R).

High blood levels of potassium signal the body to raise aldosterone production.

Aldosterone works in opposition to atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) produced in the heart, which excretes sodium and lowers blood pressure.

If aldosterone gets too low or too high, disease can result. Thus, it is very important for this important hormone to stay in balance.

Aldosterone’s role in fluid balance is within the context of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS), which keeps our body fluids and blood pressure in strict control.

When cells in the kidneys recognize a reduction in blood flow (lower blood pressure), through a cascade of events, angiotensin I is produced. The angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) then converts it to angiotensin II, which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce aldosterone.

Prorenin—>Renin—>Angiotensinogen—>Angiotensin I (+ACE)—>Angiotensin II—>Aldosterone.

ACE inhibiting drugs are used to block the angiotensin-converting enzyme, resulting in lower aldosterone and lower blood pressure.

Conditions Associated With High Aldosterone

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Conditions Associated With Low Aldosterone

  • Chronic Inflammation – Particularly TNF-alpha and Interleukin 1 (RR2).
  • Aging – Aldosterone levels naturally decline with age (R).
  • Age-related hearing loss – Also associated with age-related Potassium depletion (R).
  • Addison’s Disease – A disease of inefficient steroid hormone production (R).

The Good

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Aldosterone increases CD8+ cells (R), so it can be good for controlling viral infections like EBV. Therefore, it could potentially help people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Aldosterone may also be beneficial for some types of inflammation like Uveitis (in animal models) (R) and may block the Nf-kB-induced TNF-alpha in blood cells (R).

Aldosterone is required for the body to make cysteine dioxygenase, which is important for the Sulfation pathway of Phase 2 detoxification. Sulfation is the addition of a sulfate to a drug/toxin and most often it makes it less toxic.

Chronic inflammation in the form of TNF and TGF-b decreases the enzyme that turns cysteine to sulfate (cysteine dioxygenase), which results in higher cysteine and lower sulfate.

Normally, aldosterone increases calcium reabsorption (R).

The Bad

Aldosterone is overall not a good hormone to have a high level of.  It’s implicated in many chronic diseases and can contribute to inflammation.

In particular, aldosterone increases IL-6IL-1b (R), TNF (R) and induces Nf-kB, the master control switch of inflammation (R).

Aldosterone promotes Th17 immunity (R), which is especially bad for autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and chronic inflammation in general.

In fact, some researchers conclude that aldosterone could actually promote the onset of autoimmune disease (R).

Aldosterone is particularly bad for the heart. It increases inflammation (ICAM-1, VCAM-1, TNF, IL-6, and CRP ), fibrosis, oxidative stress, vessel dysfunction, and prevents regeneration of new cells in our blood vessels.

Prolonged exposure to high aldosterone and cortisol induced by chronic stress, significantly reduces hippocampal CB1 receptor binding site density, leading to lower cannabinoid function (R).

High aldosterone can deplete the body of Magnesium (R) and Potassium (R).

Aldosterone in excess can deplete the body of Calcium, leading to osteoporosis (RR2).

High aldosterone is a major cause of high blood pressure (R).

Potential Causes of High Aldosterone

  • Stress and Anxiety (R).  When the fight or flight nervous system is activated, aldosterone is increased. ACTH part of the mechanism by which the nervous system increases aldosterone (R).
  • Elevated CCKCCK (a gut hormone) increases aldosterone secretion in humans and rats, which will increase blood pressure and cause salt retention (R).  People with IBS are more likely to release too much CCK in response to a fat-rich meal (R).  Lectin Consumption may also cause elevated CCK: In rats, legume lectins (and probably others) cause increased secretion of CCK (R). In men, beans also increased CCK release, and the study attributes that to fiber (R), but I say it’s also because of lectins.
  • Magnesium inadequacy (RR2)
  • Zinc inadequacy (R)
  • Low blood pressure (R) – if you have low blood pressure, the body tries to compensate and bring up aldosterone.
  • Potassium supplementation (R)
  • Acidic blood (R)
  • High histamine levels – Strongly stimulates the secretion of aldosterone (in dogs) (R)
  • Presence of an aldosterone-producing tumor (R)

Potential Causes of Low Aldosterone

  • TNF Inflammation (even a relatively low level) decreases aldosterone synthesis in response to ACTH (precursor of cortisol) (R).
  • IL-6 Inflammation – Was associated with low levels of aldosterone in cancer patients (R).
  • IL-1 Inflammation (even a relatively low level) decreases aldosterone synthesis in response to ACTH (R).
  • High Atrial Nutriuretic Peptide (ANP) – Inhibits aldosterone release (R). ANP has exactly the opposite function of the aldosterone in regard to its effect on sodium in the kidney – that is, aldosterone stimulates sodium retention and ANP generates sodium loss.

How to Decrease Aldosterone (Inhibitors)

Natural ACE Inhibitors Function to Decrease Aldosterone:

What Increases Aldosterone

  • Salt avoidance – Decreasing salt increases aldosterone more than 3 fold in healthy people with normal blood pressure (R). But not too much… (conflicting?) Excess salt can raise Aldosterone (R, R2).  High sodium increases aldosterone in certain rat models (R).
  • Potassium increases aldosterone. For dietary potassium you can eat avocados, dates, bananas, tempeh and veggies. This approach is theoretical and there are no studies. You can also take a Potassium supplement, but use care (R).
  • Licorice Root (R) I recommend this for exercise headaches, which are often caused by low sodium. My exercise headaches were caused by an aldosterone insufficiency (caused by too much ACE inhibition and other endocrine abnormalities), which excreted sodium from my body when I exercised and specifically when I sweated. This loss of sodium put me in a quasi-hyponatremic state, which caused a vasodilatory headacheLicorice root powder stops the breakdown of cortisol and aldosterone, causing increased vasoconstriction (increasing blood pressure). 
  • Sauna (R)
  • Physical exertion/exercise (R)
  • Lactate (from exercise) (R)
  • Progesterone cream (R)
  • Calcium (R)
  • NSAIDs like Ibuprofen – Can keep aldosterone from being broken down (R, R2)
  • Address TNF, IL-6, and IL-1 inflammation (R, R2R3).
  • MSH (R)
  • ACTH (R)
  • Pathways: Renin (R), Angiotensin II (R)

Migraines/Headaches After Exercise

Low aldosterone will cause low sodium.

Exercise normally increases aldosterone by increasing ACTH, which normally tells our body to conserve salt.

However, if we have inflammation, then aldosterone production will be limited and if we sweat a lot and drink a lot of water it can cause low levels of sodium/salt in the body and symptoms of hyponatremia.

So if you have low aldosterone post exercise, you will have low sodium, especially if you’re sweating a lot, and this can cause exercise headaches.

Aldosterone on SelfDecode

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11 COMMENTS

  • Chante

    What was the cause of your high aldosterone and how was it diagnosed? I have high aldosterone every time it has been checked but I have low blood pressure, not high. So I’m always confused about if I should be eating more salt or more potassium. I suspect I have low potassium because it’s being depleted. I get lightheaded from exercise.

  • siyabonga

    what is the role played by aldosterone during exercise

  • Jennipher

    To Anna, I have hyperaldosteronism and was just diagnosed this April after almost dying from my body being depleted of potassium due to too much aldosterone. Many doctors do not think of this problem and I struggled with hypokalemia for years and even had doctors accuse me of not taking my potassium supplements they prescribed! I am a Caucasian female so I would say your doctor is way off base and because of doctors like him, I suffered needlessly for years when the problem could have been corrected had it been diagnosed properly.?

  • Anna D

    My doctor said that only African Americans have alderstone problems. Is that true to your knowledge? Thanks.

  • Mfon Amana

    how does water affect aldosterone? I rarely get thirsty and I am unclear on how affects thirst signal and the fact that not much of the water we drink enter our cells

  • phil zwinksmancockteauston

    I put licorice in my hair

  • Jake

    Be careful with licorice if you’ve got hypertension, it will raise Na and lower K

  • vae victis

    Hi Joseph,

    I considered Chitosan as a cheaper way than N-A-Glucosamine (expensive) to bind the most common dietary lectins. As the level of hydrolisis of the product could make differences on the bioavailability of the glucosamine and chondroitin parts, would you advise chitosan for this particular problem ?

    Also, what about mushroom powder with lectin foods ? Are they enough complex saccharides in mushrooms to bind the lectins in a classic potato meal for exemple ?

    Kudos for one of the most advances websites on self-healing

  • MachineGhost

    But what about when you have high cortisol and low aldosterone? You can’t use licorice in that case. Suggestions?

  • Craig

    Thank you for your site and podcasts. Is aldosterone concidered a mineralocorticoid rather than a glucocorticoid?

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      Whoops mineralocorticoid. It has minor glucocorticoid activity.

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