Adrenal Fatigue
2 Case Studies
2 Member Stories

Adrenal fatigue is a common but controversial condition as most western medicine physicians say this medical condition isn't even real. The term describes a group of related symptoms that may occur if your adrenal glands do not work well. You may feel tired and worn out for unknown reasons or crave salty foods. 

What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a common but controversial condition as most western medicine physicians say this medical condition isn't even real. The expression was coined in 1998 by a naturopathic physician to describe a group of related symptoms that may occur if your adrenal glands do not work well. You may feel tired and worn out for unknown reasons or crave salty foods. 

Adrenal fatigue is not considered as a valid medical diagnosis. Rather, it's a general, layman's term that is applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, tiredness, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and digestive problems. Low energy and fatigue are amongst the most frequent reasons patients seek help from a physician. Despite being so common, it is often hard to think of a diagnosis as many medical problems can lead to fatigue. Doctors take part in detective work, obtaining a health history, doing a physical examination, and doing blood tests. The results often yield no excuses. It may be frustrating for clinicians and patients when a straightforward diagnosis remains elusive. An attractive theory, known as adrenal fatigue, links stress exposure to adrenal fatigue as a potential cause of the lack of energy.

See: Ayurveda for stress & anxiety relief

Is adrenal fatigue a real disorder?

Overworked adrenal glands?

The adrenals are a couple of small glands that sit above the kidneys and produce several hormones, one of them, cortisol. When under pressure, we release and produce brief bursts of cortisol into the blood. The adrenal fatigue explanation and theory suggest that prolonged exposure to stress may drain the adrenals, causing a very low cortisol state. The adrenal depletion would lead to brain fog, low energy, depressive mood, salt and sweet cravings, lightheadedness, and other vague symptoms.

The adrenal glands produce many hormones that are vital to life. The medical term "adrenal insufficiency" refers to the insufficient production of one or more of these hormones because of an underlying illness or operation.

Signs of adrenal insufficiency may include:

• Fatigue

• Low blood pressure

• Body aches

• lightheadedness

• Loss of body hair

• Unexplained weight loss

• Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)

Adrenal insufficiency can be identified by blood tests and special stimulation tests that reveal insufficient levels of adrenal hormones. However, this condition is not recognized as such by the Endocrinology Society and all of the other medical specialties. The Endocrinologists are categorical: "no scientific evidence exists to support adrenal fatigue as a real medical condition." This disconnect between complementary and conventional medicine increases the dividing view.

A recent research review of 58 scientific studies concluded that there's not any scientific rationale to associate adrenal insufficiency as a cause of fatigue. The researchers report that the studies had some limitations. The study included used a variety of biological markers and markers to detect adrenal fatigue. By way of instance, salivary cortisol is one of the most common ordered evaluations used to make a diagnosis. The cortisol level, when assessed four times at a 24-hour interval, was not any different between fatigued and healthful patients in 61.5% of the research. The review raises questions about what should have been tested (urine, blood, and/or saliva), the ideal time, how often, and what ranges are considered normal, and how reliable the tests are. To sum up, there's absolutely not any formal standards to define and diagnose adrenal fatigue.

See: How To Manage Fibro Fog Or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Adrenal fatigue vs. adrenal insufficiency

Your adrenal glands are crucial to your everyday health. They produce many hormones that help your body to:

- burn fat and nourishment

- regulate glucose

- regulate blood pressure

- respond to stressors

If your adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones, it may cause many different symptoms and health difficulties.

Adrenal fatigue versus adrenal insufficiency

Also called Addison's disease, adrenal insufficiency is a medical condition that happens when your adrenal glands are not producing sufficient amounts of one or more essential hormones.

Adrenal fatigue is a concept that suggests high-pressure levels can activate a moderate form of adrenal insufficiency.

Keep reading to learn more about both of these conditions.

See: Syzygium Jambolinum To Stabilize Blood Sugar

Adrenal fatigue symptoms

Proponents of the concept of adrenal fatigue consider that when someone has chronic stress, their adrenal glands can not keep up and therefore make less of the hormones necessary to feel healthy. They theorize that present blood testing technologies aren't sensitive enough to recognize this small decline in adrenal function. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include:

- tiredness

-  brain fog

- difficulty getting to sleep

- difficulty waking up

- sugar & salt cravings

- muscle weakness

- nausea

- unexplained weight loss

- lack of inspiration

Despite the fact that adrenal fatigue isn't a medically recognized condition, it does not mean that the symptoms you are feeling are not real.

Adrenal fatigue diagnosis and therapy

Many times, an inherent condition causes your adrenal glands do not produce adequate quantities of certain hormones. If you are experiencing adrenal fatigue symptoms, your first step should be a thorough evaluation by your physician. Some medical conditions that might cause similar symptoms to include:

- anemia

- sleep apnea

- heart troubles

- lung problems

- infections

- autoimmune diseases

- diabetes

- kidney disorder

- liver disease

- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

If your physician rules out biological explanations of your symptoms, they might look into possible mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or reactions into high-stress lifestyle/surroundings. Consult with your physician about the possibility that your symptoms could be triggered by multiple causes. Discuss formulating a personalized plan which may involve a mixture of counseling, drugs, supplements, and lifestyle changes.

What if you have symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

In case you have fatigue, brain fog, lack of motivation, among other symptoms, you should first have a comprehensive evaluation with a medical doctor. Autoimmune diseases, infections, anemia, sleep apnea,  heart and lung problems, other hormonal impairments, mental disorders, and liver and kidney diseases are only some of many medical conditions that might result in similar symptoms. Have a better look at what kinds of stress may be affecting you. For many, the stress and hectic pace of modern life would be to blame.

The absence of a biological explanation could be unsatisfactory. To make matters worse, it is not uncommon for doctors to say "there is nothing wrong with you" or "that is all in your head" The overwhelming quantity of information online that recommends various sorts of treatment causes even more stress. Some mental health conditions like depression or anxiety may display symptoms similar to adrenal fatigue but may not heal with antidepressants and counseling. And some patients don't think that a mental health issue is the leading cause of the symptoms, and many refuse medications because of concerns about their side effects.

See: Ayurveda For Brain Fog & Chronic Fatigue

What can you do for adrenal fatigue?

Navigating this sea of uncertainty isn't a simple task. Symptoms related to adrenal fatigue probably have several causes. Frequent follow-up visits, along with a solid patient-clinician partnership, are crucial elements for success. Alternative and complementary clinicians frequently have better outcomes since the appointments tend to survive longer, and they see patients via a more holistic lens. An important word of caution: several healthcare professionals prescribe cortisol analogs to treat adrenal fatigue. Cortisol replacement can be harmful even in tiny doses. Unintended consequences may include osteoporosis, diabetes, weight reduction, and cardiovascular disease.

No matter what we call it, there are millions of people suffering from similar symptoms, along with a personalized plan that involves counseling, drugs, supplements, lifestyle modification, among others, could do the job for many. Progress following these apps is slow, and the evidence is weak, but advances in big data, genomics, and its connection with the environment and the microbiome may shine a light on the way to help people who suffer from such conditions.

The adrenal fatigue theory may seem to fit like a glove to describe your symptoms, which are extremely real. But before buying expensive protocols over the web to take care of something we are not even sure exists, have a deep dive and reexamine the way you live. The road to feeling better could be closer than you think.

Those who support the adrenal fatigue diagnosis, claim that this is a moderate form of adrenal insufficiency brought on by chronic stress. The unproven theory behind adrenal fatigue is your adrenal glands are not able to keep up with the requirements of constant fight-or-flight stimulation. Existing blood tests, based on the theory, are not sensitive enough to detect such a small decline in adrenal function, but your body is.

It's frustrating to have persistent symptoms your physician can't easily explain. But accepting a medically unrecognized identification from an unqualified practitioner may leave the actual cause - such as depression or fibromyalgia - undiagnosed, while it continues to take its toll.

See: Functional Medicine For Brain Fog Treatment

Natural treatments for adrenal fatigue

Natural remedies for adrenal fatigue

Advocates of natural recovery suggest a range of approaches to handle symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue diet

The adrenal fatigue diet follows the recommendations of several advocated balanced diets, based on increasing your intake of:

High protein meals

- whole grains

- veggies

It also suggests decreasing your intake of:

- Simple carbohydrates, particularly sugar

- processed foods

- fried foods

- caffeine

The diet also indicates the appropriate timing of foods to properly regulate blood glucose.

Reduce stress

Adrenal fatigue theory relies heavily on stress. Some ways to reduce anxiety include:

Meditation

deep breathing exercises

Exercise

unplugging from electronics

Vitamins and minerals

Adrenal fatigue may heal by supplementing your daily diet with:

- vitamins B-5, B-6 and B-12

- vitamin C

- magnesium

There is no direct evidence that these supplements will relieve adrenal fatigue. Before adding minerals and vitamins to your diet, talk to your physician.

Herbal nutritional supplements

Many natural medicine practitioners who subscribe to the adrenal fatigue concept urge treating the condition with herbal supplements, for example:

- licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

- maca root (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon)

- gold root (Rhodiola Rosea)

- Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Since herbal supplements aren't regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, their promised benefits are often not demonstrated with research.  Talk to your physician before adding any herbal supplements to your daily diet.


See: Proper Diet Eliminates Chronic Migraine and Brain Fog

Summary

In case you have symptoms like feeling tired, feeble, or miserable, you need to find a complete diagnosis from your physician. You might have adrenal insufficiency, obstructive sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, or other medical issues.

See: Acupuncture to help 62 year old woman with Chronic Fatigue and Pain

References

1. Greer M. (2011). Herbal options for managing adrenal fatigue. Licorice root. (2016).

holisticprimarycare.net/topics/topics-a-g/chronic-disease/1241-herbal-options-for-managing-adrenal-fatigue.htmlhttps://nccih.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot

2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Vitamin B-6. mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-b6/art-20363468

3. Meissner HO, et al. (2006). Hormone-balancing effect of pre-gelatinized organic maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (I) Biochemical and pharmacodynamic study on maca using clinical laboratory model on ovariectomized rats. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614604/

4. Hormone Health Network."Adrenal Fatigue | Endocrine Society." Hormone.org, Endocrine Society, 17 April 2020, https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/adrenal-fatigue

5. Adrenal insufficiency and Addison’s disease. (2014).  niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/adrenal-insufficiency-addisons-disease

6. APA’s survey finds constantly checking electronic devices linked to significant stress (2017).

apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/02/checking-devices.aspx

7. Cadegiani FA, et al. (2016). Adrenal fatigue does not exist: A systematic review.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997656/

8. 5 Things you should know about stress.  (n.d.). nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

9. Adrenal disorders. (n.d.). hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/adrenal

10. Adrenal fatigue. (2017). hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/adrenal/adrenal-fatigue

11. Wilson JL. (2010). Dietary supplements: B vitamins and the adrenal glands. adrenalfatigue.org/dietary-supplements-b-vitamins-and-the-adrenal-glands/

12. Campos M. (2018). Is adrenal fatigue “real?” health.harvard.edu/blog/is-adrenal-fatigue-real-2018022813344

13. Nippoldt TB. (2017). Adrenal fatigue: What causes it? mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/expert-answers/adrenal-fatigue/faq-20057906

14. Patak P, et al. (2004). Vitamin C is an important cofactor for both adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15666839

15. Pick M. (2017). Foods for adrenal fatigue? Eating to support your adrenal glands.

marcellepick.com/eating-support-adrenal-glands/

16. Rhodiola. (2017). nccih.nih.gov/health/rhodiola

17. Wilson JL. (2017). Dietary supplements: Herbs, stress and adrenal fatigue. adrenalfatigue.org/dietary-supplements-herbs-stress-and-adrenal-fatigue/

18. Wilson JL. (n.d.). What is adrenal fatigue?

adrenalfatigue.org/what-is-adrenal-fatigue/

19. Siberian ginseng. (2017). medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/985.html

20. Wilson JL. (n.d.). Diet for adrenal fatigue. adrenalfatigue.org/adrenal-fatigue-diet/

21. Sartori SB, et al. (2012). Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.07.027

22. Seaborg E. (2017). The myth of adrenal fatigue. endocrinenews.endocrine.org/myth-adrenal-fatigue/

See: Panchakarma

Get a Consultation
(650) 539-4545
Get more information via email