Lori, I loved your entire comment. So hopeful, patient, and wise. This new world of social media… so much great help out there especially for getting involved and doing your own research. But also so much judgment, condemnation, lies and more. Baby steps is so true. Starting where it matters most to you is so important as habits change and hope is born. Thank you for being an encouraging voice! Keep up your good work for your own health.
Unfortunately, some types of stress are hard to spot. In his book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. James Wilson mentions a study which measured the stress hormones of a group of nurses working in a pediatric unit. They weren’t aware of any particular stress in their lives, but their lab tests told a different story. According to Dr. Wilson, they “were totally unaware of being under stress, but their cortisol levels were elevated by 200-300%.”
Some people call the time when the "camel's back" finally breaks a "nervous breakdown." However, nerves really don't break down; adrenal glands do. A "nervous breakdown" is actually adrenal fatigue, or when the adrenal glands can't deal with the amount of stress they're given. Adrenal fatigue used to be rare, but is now all too common because of our lack of relaxation and other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, sleep deprivation, poor eating habits and excessive caffeine intake, as well as allergies.
In his introduction, the author explains how the adrenals were designed to function, and how ideal that function was for the needs of early man. He then points out how ill-suited that design is for the stress-response needs of modern man. That, naturally, leads to a discussion about the failure of modern medicine to account for the obvious prevalence of adrenal-related fatigue in the modern era. As he reminds us, the medical community only officially recognizes problem with the adrenals when those glands are suffering disease. There seems to be an almost conscious refusal to even consider the evidence that strongly supports the contrary view.
Your adrenals produce your stress hormones, which are super important for your metabolism and they totally effect your thyroid so it’s key to look at these glands when you’re dealing with any sort of thyroid issue. If you’re in that amped-up mode that causes you to feel stressed all the time (and you feel like you can’t turn it off), you’re headed for some degree of Adrenal Fatigue. In this state, your cortisol is chronically elevated or it’s high when it should be low (at night). Adrenal Fatigue is when your cortisol is chronically low when it should actually be elevated. Your production of stress hormones declines and leaves you with low adrenaline and low cortisol–feeling depleted.

Did you know that MDs receive less than one day of nutrition training during their entire 4 years at medical school? A 2006 study found that the average MD received only 23.9 hours on this vitally important subject. Modern healthcare has drifted away from promoting things like nutrition, emotional wellness, and exercise, and has become almost exclusively focused on treating acute, life-threatening conditions. Again, that's not so helpful if you are suffering from a condition like Adrenal Fatigue.
Primary adrenal insufficiency is what is known as Addison’s disease and occurs when the adrenal glands are damaged by some type of trauma and can’t produce enough cortisol or aldosterone. The much more common type of adrenal insufficiency is known as secondary adrenal insufficiency and occurs when the pituitary gland stops producing adenocorticotropin (ACTH). ACTH is what stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, so it stops this process from moving along. (39)

Wow Debi…you seem very angry. Just think of all the adrenaline you just wasted trying to disprove the work of someone who sincerely is trying to give people the answers to why they are feeling so sick. Dr Northrup is one of a few MD’s out there that actually appreciates all factors that can impact someone’s health. She isn’t pushing voodoo here. The bottom line is STRESS CAN KILL YOU. You seem like a very intelligent well read person. All those things are important but having joy in your life is important too.


I find it curious that suboptimal health status (SHS) has many of the same tenets as what we refer to as adrenal fatigue. Actually, people classified as having SHS have “significantly higher levels of plasma cortisol,” and confirm the correlation between stress and suboptimal health. This has led those studying SHS to realize that reducing the stress in work environments may help to prevent chronic diseases in the future. (16)
Sounds similar to symptoms I had been experiencing. I was so debilitated with chest pain, dizziness and shortness of breath, that I was hospitalized. The cardiologist tested me with everything he could think of all kept coming back normal. Finally, he diagnosis me with Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia. A diagnosis by ruling all else out. Just weeks prior I found out my hormone levels are in menopausal range. I was not feeling stressed that was out of the ordinary and this came out of nowhere. I asked the cardiologist if he thought this was due to menopause and he said he did not think so, bet there’s no studies on this but I have researched lots of blogs with similar descriptions. You may want to look into this. Hope this helps.
The main purpose of your adrenals is to enable your body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems. Adrenal function is of paramount importance because these small glands play a pivotal role in determining the way your body responds to every change in your internal and external environment
Dr. John Tinterra, a medical doctor who specialized in low adrenal function, said in 1969 that he estimated that approximately 16% of the public could be classified as severe, but that if all indications of low cortisol were included, the percentage would be more like 66%. This was before the extreme stress of 21st century living, 9/11, and the severe economic recession we are experiencing.
The light should cause your iris to contract, making your pupils (the dark spot in the center of your eye) smaller.  Normally, they should stay that way, but if you have adrenal gland fatigue, the iris will be weak and will not be able to hold the contraction, it will either waver between contracted and relaxed, or will contract initially, but then open up after 10-30 seconds.

Medicinal Mushrooms: Because of the way mushrooms such as cordyceps and chaga interact with the body and various medications, it is recommended that pregnant or nursing mothers never use them. In addition, anyone with autoimmune conditions, diabetes or a bleeding disorder should not use medicinal chaga or cordyceps. These is one case report of chaga supplementation causing kidney damage in a woman with liver disease who took chaga every day for six months. This mushroom also contains oxalates and may inhibit some nutrient absorption in large doses. (45)


I recently ordered a hormone test kit from John Lee's website, in an effort to figure out some health issues I was having. I included cortisol levels in the kit, because I am a type-A person and figured my cortisol levels were high and perhaps that contributed to the issues. Surprisingly, my cortisol levels were low at all 4 times of the day tested. A good doctor I showed the results to said "You have adrenal fatigue" and recommended an adaptogen called Adreno-Mend. As a retired RN, I felt a bit stupid and in an attempt to educate myself I ordered this book. I had no frame of reference for adrenal fatigue and this book provides an excellent explanation, as well as a framework to overcome the life style choices that have contributed to your adrenal fatigue. The endocrine system is so complicated, I don't pretend to understand it all, but rest assured, if one thing is out off order, it affects all your other hormones so they cannot function optimally. That includes all your glands regulating metabolism, digestion, immunity, quality of sleep, etc. I'm sure in our busy culture there are millions of people who suffer needlessly because they are unaware and they have a doctor who is not tuned in to all this. I had enough insight to order the test kit, maybe because I'm a nurse, maybe God steered me there. Once I had the results, I made an appointment with my family doctor (who I like a lot), to discuss it with him. He looked at the report and said "This is not mainstream medicine; you don't need hormone replacement; this is a natural part of aging." So, even if you go to a board certified internist who you like, you can't depend on them to be enlightened and pro-active on your behalf. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates many aspects of our health and/or illness so it is beyond me how it is not "mainstream medicine"; this author even states that many people who come to physicians with these symptoms of stress, anxiety, inability to sleep, etc, are given anti-depressants or sleeping pills or told to seek pyschiatric care. He makes the point: You are not crazy, there is a physical cause for what is happening and you can have understanding and some control over your symptoms.
For example, if an individual suffering from Adrenal Fatigue continues to eat junk food, declines to exercise properly (or over-exercises) and does not take the appropriate supplements, his treatment will inevitably require more time. On the other hand, an individual who follows all the recommendations of his healthcare professional can expect a much faster and better outcome.
Hey girls, I too am in the same boat at you. I am 49 and sure I have been Perimenopausal for several years. This year has been the worst. I am one giant hot flash 24/7, heat Palps, panic attacks, missing periods, edema all over, hair falling out (all comprehensive thyroid tests are normal), depression, out of control weight gain even from eating almost nothing, horrible sleep, digestive problems, gas and bloating all day, choaking on mucus 24/7 despite eating gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free, Lyme disease, bad, I mean really bad adrenal fatigue which worsened after my mom’s death two years ago, pain all over the body, severe fatigue, and about 30 other symptoms. I have been sick for over 20 years with Lyme, Epstein-Barr, mycoplasma, mold toxicity, Candida, hidden bio-unavailable copper toxicity, a clotting disorder from the Lyme, and sporadic HHV-6 and Cytomegalovirus, with no help. I live in Southern California. If anyone knows of a naturopath or integrative medical doctor who measures up to Dr. Northrop’s calibur, please, please email me angelofeventide@yahoo.com. Thanks so much.
He also delves into treatment issues, offering advice on how to develop a manageable recovery plan. One aspect of this involves an alkaline diet, about which there is a great deal of controversy. Its inclusion may draw the ire of many health professionals and scientists who view the non-acidic diet as just another celebrity weight loss fad, but that doesn’t mean that the foods contained in that diet shouldn’t be eaten. Obviously, more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are essential for better health.
Christine R. says…"If you are interested in learning about adrenal fatigue and to find out if you have it, I highly recommend The Adrenal Fatigue Solution by Fawne Hansen and Dr. Eric Wood. It is an excellent, thorough book about this widespread condition that doctors just aren't treating. This book shows you how to heal your adrenal fatigue for good."
This book is a good place to start in getting your life back in balance in go-go world that is pushing us to extreme levels of stress everyday. It has helpful, specific steps one can take but it needs a bit of help in the area of achieving better sleep. Poor sleep exacerbates all the problems of a 21st century life and an over-stressed life leads to poor sleep. "Catch 22". Gradual depletion is an easy thing to ignore until suddenly we are on empty. Don't ignore this information.

Oysters are packed with zinc, and having a balanced trace mineral ratio between copper and zinc can help with healthy neurotransmitter function and adaptogen to stress. Increased copper and decreased zinc has been shown to contribute to brain stress and anxiety. Oysters – superfood of the sea – are a great way to achieve this balance to help ease your stress levels.
And I still feel that way, except maybe I will do it tomorrow . . . after a long siesta. . . or later, like when the cows come home. Because frankly, my “Need To Do” list (go to the grocery store) and my “Want To Do” list ( take a NAP) have not been getting along lately. Yes, I love life and want to do ALL THE THINGS, but maybe I shouldn’t try to do them all at once, you know?
While adrenal fatigue is not accepted by most doctors, adrenal insufficiency is a real medical condition that occurs when our adrenal glands cannot produce enough hormones. Adrenal insufficiency is caused by damage to the adrenal glands or a problem with the pituitary gland—a pea-sized gland in the brain that tells the adrenals to produce cortisol.
You might wonder what the point of a thyroid test is, when we are looking to diagnose Adrenal Fatigue? The complexity of the human body means that one part of the endocrine system (the HPA axis) cannot exist independently of another part (the thyroid). In reality, there are connections and relationships that exist between every system in the body, and a weakness in one area can easily translate into changes in another.
Thank you for the wealth of knowledge you share in your blogs and follow-up comments. What stage of adrenal/HPA-axis dysregulation would you consider a patient with the following results? Symptoms are consistent with abnormal cortisol levels and hypothyroidism; current treatment protocol from primary includes Armour thyroid 30mg. Could Hashimoto’s (or autoimmunity) be a possible cause? Or are lifestyle factors (sleep, glucose regulation and diet, stress, etc.) more likely for the following patterns?
I am lucky to have lived now for 12 years with a heart transplant, requiring that I take myriad drugs to suppress my immune system and manage inflammation, as is the normal course. With a suppressed immune system, one is vulnerable to infections and I have been no exception. Every winter I am sick sick sick with colds and bronchial infections verging on pneumonia. But not this year. My PCP wondered if my adrenals had become “lazy” from prednisone doing their work for them. This fall we tried a daily dose of 1,000 mg of B12. The boost of energy was immediately noticeable. Most importantly, I fought off a cold, unheard of for the past 12 years—even during a very stressful period over Christmas in which my husband was suddenly diagnosed with cancer (in remission already!). Despite all the stress of caring for him and being with him in the hospital, exposed to pathogens for weeks during flu season, I remain astonishingly vigorous and well. I would recommend that heart transplant patients and others with suppressed immune systems explore this solution with their clinicians. I am only a short-term case-study of one, but the difference has been astonishing—and right at the moment I needed the wellness to save my husband’s life.
Kathryn Simpson‘s 2011 book, Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue: How to Restore Hormonal Balance and Feel Renewed, Energized, and Stress Free, carries with it the experiences and advice of someone who has suffered adrenal fatigue (and multiple sclerosis), fought against its effects, and secured the victory that only comes with full recovery. Today, she continues her efforts to share her story and the lessons she learned with other patients in similar situations, even as she works to further the scientific community’s understanding of hormones.
Are you tired of being told that you need an antidepressant when you feel sick? Or of being told that your fatigue is just part of the aging process ( when you are 30!)? This book will help you to put a finger on the origin of your fatigue, and if you are a thyroid patient, could help you break away from the Stepford Endicrinologist synthetic T4 protocol that has been our only option for years. 

Thank you for the wealth of knowledge you share in your blogs and follow-up comments. What stage of adrenal/HPA-axis dysregulation would you consider a patient with the following results? Symptoms are consistent with abnormal cortisol levels and hypothyroidism; current treatment protocol from primary includes Armour thyroid 30mg. Could Hashimoto’s (or autoimmunity) be a possible cause? Or are lifestyle factors (sleep, glucose regulation and diet, stress, etc.) more likely for the following patterns?

One of the most commonly overlooked causes of Adrenal Fatigue is intestinal infections that gives rise to an inflammatory response. Such infection can occur sub-clinically with no obvious signs at all. Infections in the gut, including giardia, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), fungal dysbiosis, and h. pylori infection are just a few that may contribute to adrenal dysfunction.
But this sudden onset of foggy brain become chronic for the last 3 years. Visited multiple doctors. Took Brain MRI, Multiple blood test, Vitamin B12 went down and had shots to recover, no kidney issues. All the blood test came back fine. Tried Yoga and meditation but no use. Insomnia & also sometimes sleeping more. Got many food allergies like Gluten and Dairy products. Tried sports & other exercises but no recovery. When i wake up in the morning i feel like i did not sleep and have the sensation of lightheadedness.
But often the naturopaths have recommended supplements or worse. Wilson’s website sells “Dr. Wilson’s Original Formulations” adrenal supplements. The “Adrenal Fatigue Quartet” costs about $200 for a 30-day supply at the minimum recommended doses. The website notes in large print that the products are “formulated by Dr. James L. Wilson for people experiencing stress-related adrenal fatigue.” But the website is dotted with asterisks that lead the determined reader to a small-print notice: “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
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