It is ordinary for stress to cause cortisol levels to rise in a normal fashion, but in adrenal fatigue the output of cortisol and other adrenal hormones is constantly being stimulated. This overstimulation causes the body’s vitality to dwindle. With each downshift in adrenal function, the body is considerably more affected in a negative fashion: “adrenal fatigue, in all its mild and severe forms, is usually caused by some form of stress…. It is important to know that your adrenals respond to every kind of stress the same, whatever the source” (p 11). Cortisol is a powerful hormone that has a profound effect on every organ and system in the body.

Her brain felt foggy, she was irritable, and she was drinking three cups of coffee a day to get through her afternoon slump. At night she became super mom, cooking and taking care of the kids. Usually she was at her laptop until about midnight, which is when she physically couldn't keep her eyes open. Everything she described was classic for adrenal fatigue, but I wanted to make sure we were on the right track.
That discussion leads to a more in-depth explanation of how our understanding of the nature of stress has evolved in recent years, and then an explanation of how the adrenals work to provide the hormones we need for stress response. From there, she quickly moves to a discussion of the circadian rhythm, and how its dysregulation can impact sleep patterns and ultimately lead to a cascading series of system failures that put your health in jeopardy.

Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James L. Wilson is considered by many to be an invaluable resource for information about this syndrome, its impact on human life, and the proper way to address it. Wilson’s experience with adrenal function has earned him respect as an expert on the subject. And because he has spent time not only treating patients who suffer from adrenal dysregulation, but researching the science that underlies these problems, his work has helped to revolutionize many people’s understanding of adrenal fatigue’s impact on human health.
If you tend to be dehydrated and don’t get thirsty, know that your body is demonstrating stressed adrenals. Try to rehydrate using an electrolyte solution containing targeted nutrients which will trigger the Sodium-Glucose Cotransport System allowing your body to absorb fluids more readily from the small intestine (water otherwise is reabsorbed in the large intestine). I’m using CellFood, Essential Minerals, sea salt, sodium bicarbonate, and table sugar in water and I have noticed a big difference in how my body is using water. You can also look into an over-the-counter product such as DripDrop.

I just wanted to send a quick thank you for your time and advice today. I am so appreciative and I feel hopeful that the plan we have can really help me. I’ve been sick for a long time and recently I’ve been rather discouraged with where I’m at with my health. I believe that God has allowed our paths to cross and that He is going to use you help restore my body to health. Thank you for giving me hope. Blessings, Kara
Another oft-quoted piece of evidence against the existence of adrenal fatigue is Todd B. Nippoldt’s interview with Mayo Clinic, stating essentially the same concerns. (6) Again, it is stated that consistent levels of chronic stress have no effect whatsoever on the adrenals and the only true endocrine disorders are those caused by other diseases and direct damage to the adrenal glands.
In the early stages of adrenal dysfunction, cortisol levels are too high during the day and continue rising in the evening. This is called “hyperadrenia.” In the middle stages, cortisol may rise and fall unevenly as the body struggles to balance itself despite the disruptions of caffeine, carbs and other factors, but levels are not normal and are typically too high at night. In advanced stages, when the adrenals are exhausted from overwork, cortisol will never reach normal levels (“hypoadrenia”).
Depending on his or her preference, your doctor may order a saliva, blood or urine test to measure your cortisol. These days it is generally accepted that saliva cortisol testing is the most accurate, as it gives a better estimate of the cortisol levels within your cells, where the hormone reactions are actually taking place. Remember that it is important to be well-hydrated before you do your saliva test – dehydration can skew the results.
Although current medical science recognizes no such condition, physicians need to take the complaints and symptoms of these patients seriously, according to Endocrine Society President Lynnette Nieman, MD, who is a senior investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Our role is to be good active listeners to determine if there is a true medical disorder lurking among the complaints. It is very important to take the person seriously, not to brush them off and say there is no [such thing as] adrenal fatigue. These people are suffering from something, so we need to take the suffering seriously.”
If you don't have a doctor that is your partner in regaining your health and healing your supposedly "incurable" condition, please find a doctor that does "integrative medicine" or "functional medicine" that understands your conditions and can meet you where you are at. This book can also help you on your path to healing. It has really helped me. I refer to it all the time.
Adrenal insufficiency usually suggests that there are long-standing life problems in need of resolution. These issues will loom all the larger when seen with the no-nonsense mental clarity of perimenopause, but not only will adrenal exhaustion make the transition needlessly unpleasant, it also can deprive a woman of the resources she needs to address those issues and to take full advantage of the creative promise of the second half of her life.
The term "adrenal fatigue", which was invented in 1998 by James Wilson, a chiropractor,[3] may be applied to a collection of mostly nonspecific symptoms.[1] There is no scientific evidence supporting the concept of adrenal fatigue and it is not recognized as a diagnosis by any scientific or medical community.[1][2] A systematic review found no evidence for the term adrenal fatigue, confirming the consensus among endocrinological societies that it is a myth.[4]
So how widespread is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome? Some practitioners believe as many as two-thirds of Americans have suffered from some degree of adrenal exhaustion. But while some of us can bounce back relatively quickly from a period of stress or trauma, others find it more difficult. Left untreated, Adrenal Fatigue can gradually worsen until simple everyday tasks become a challenge. That's why it is important to address the cause of your Adrenal Fatigue early, and begin a restorative treatment to rebuild your health, vitality and energy levels.
When a threat happens, your sympathetic nervous system stops digesting your food, it stops worrying about producing babies so your reproduction stops and it takes away the priority from worrying about your immune system and your thyroid (because your body thinks it’s in survival fight/flight mode getting chased by a tiger) and your blood rushes out of those areas and into your legs and arms so that you can flee from the tiger your body thinks is chasing you. Your sympathetic nervous system was deigned to deal with physical challenges, so that’s why this reaction occurs. So, what is really happening is that your body doesn’t care about the long-term focus of your health right now. It’s focused on how to keep you alive right now in this moment through the fight/flight mode. THIS is called the stress response (fight/flight mode). Your blood pressure increases, your palms sweat and you feel pumped up and ready to fight or flee from danger. Sound familiar?
Prior to having my left Adrenal Gland surgically removed last month after the recommendation of an endocrinologists, I struggled from moderate adrenal fatigue, high blood pressure, low potassium, etc. The removal of the gland was to eliminate the need for blood pressure medicines all together. It didn’t seem to work. I have sever adrenal fatigue, sever high blood pressure, continued weight gain of my mid section, and now depression. Any advice?
The most common of these tests include testing bodily fluid for cortisol. Blood tests are almost never helpful in this regard, but a 24-hour salivary panel may help your doctor recognize abnormal cortisol patterns, including a lack or overload of stress response. Many doctors also test thyroid function in conjunction with cortisol levels because of the way these hormonal systems are interconnected.

Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life. In more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to, and to compensate for, the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue.


Do you find that the slightest amount of stress leaves you feeling overwhelmed? Adrenal Fatigue sufferers often have a difficult time dealing with physical or emotional stress. This is for exactly the same reasons that are behind that unrelenting feeling of tiredness. It all comes back to the low hormone levels associated with late-stage adrenal exhaustion.
Adrenal fatigue is caused when the adrenal glands can no longer meet the demands made of them because they are simply over-worked. Naturally, the adrenals help the body to deal with stress by mobilizing the hormones required to keep the body functioning properly. However, when too much stress is present, whether physical, mental or emotional, the adrenal glands become over-stimulated and start to slow down – hence the term “adrenal fatigue”.
I scored 12 out of 15 on the quiz above. My main concerns are brain fog/poor memory, lack of interest in sex, 20-lb weight gain, craving salty foods & sweets, pain in the upper back and around my chest area, AND tired all the time! I have bags under my eyes that I can’t get rid of them. I also read where adrenal fatigue is associated with melasma…due to hormonal inbalance. I seen adrenal fatigue supplements that I could buy through Amazon. What do you recommend my next step be?
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."

Blood or salivary testing is sometimes offered but there is no evidence that adrenal fatigue exists or can be tested for.[1][3] The concept of adrenal fatigue has given rise to an industry of dietary supplements marketed to treat this condition. These supplements are largely unregulated in the U.S., are ineffective, and in some cases may be dangerous.[3]
Conventional medicine is truly wonderful at treating disease-state conditions. Unfortunately its focus on drugs also tends to suppress early-stage symptoms rather than treat their underlying causes. This can have the effect of delaying treatment until a disease state has developed. This is true in the case of adrenal fatigue cortisol testing. In the conventional standard of care, any cortisol level within a very broad range is considered normal, and anything outside that range indicates disease.
Although a concept that is sometimes uncomfortable and foreign to traditional medical styles of thinking, the need for multiple interventions is required for effective treatment of such complex illnesses like CFS and adrenal fatigue. The HPA axis works as the body’s energy and hormone regulator. An imbalance between any part of the axis can affect the entire body system and treatment for such disorders requires a well-rounded approach to restore function. Therefore, adrenal and pituitary dysfunction often require treatment with several hormones. When treatment is received, individuals with devastating syndromes like CFS, adrenal fatigue and fibromylagia can “get their lives back” despite the fact that they were previously told, “there is nothing that can be done.”
The adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys, support us through stressful events. They secrete hormones that make us resilient in times of difficulty, like a sleepless night, illness, surgery, stress at work, stress at home, loss of a loved one, meltdowns at the store with toddlers, financial pressure, etc. The challenges – whether they’re short-term, long-term, severe or relatively mild – can sometimes overwhelm the adrenals. Because the effects of stress on the adrenals are cumulative, multiple sources of stress tend to compound the problem.
any updates? How are you? I am in exactly the same boat as you. Except both ovaries are working. How old are you? Do you have high or low DHEA? Mine is super high. I have hypertension and now I am on blood pressure pills, twice a day. I an not over weight at all, and I eat great and exercise everyday. Except for the last month. I have been too sick, dizzy, to do much of anything but simple housework. No running, no yoga, cant do it. I have super high DHEA. No endo yet, I am trying progestin this week. It is low, I am esto dominant. Keep me posted.
Wondering if any of you have this happening…my symptoms are worse each month around the same day the 20th. Starts out feeling flu like massive headache, body aches slight fever, nausea. And in 2-3 days it starts to dissipate and then moves to my lower back and nerve like radiating pain in my lower back. Usually lasting 2-3 days, this month it came earlier and lasted longer 6 nights to be exact. Happens like this each month. Today, the Endocrinologist told me it’s not hormones/menopausal. What the heck!!
Blood or salivary testing is sometimes offered but there is no evidence that adrenal fatigue exists or can be tested for.[1][3] The concept of adrenal fatigue has given rise to an industry of dietary supplements marketed to treat this condition. These supplements are largely unregulated in the U.S., are ineffective, and in some cases may be dangerous.[3]
One particular question I have is, can large amounts of coffee skew the results of a cortisol saliva test? My doctor wanted me to do what I normally do in a day and the results were normal, but journal for me is 3-5 of extremely strong black coffee a day ( my most awake moments are about an 1 hour long after each cup, expect the one at the end of the night and then I crash hard). The fatigue has gotten do bad that I’m crash after doing the simplest things like cooking for my family.
There are many ways to exhaust your adrenal glands and endocrine system, and most are connected to the stresses forced upon us by modern life. The burdens that we place on ourselves today, in terms of our time management and our finances, are totally different from those faced by previous generations. In the 1960s a one-income family could afford a nice house and a very comfortable life. That seems almost inconceivable for most families today, who have to stretch their budgets, work long hours and earn two incomes just to keep their heads above water.
The problem is that stimulants tend to lose their effectiveness over time. As chronic stress takes its toll on your endocrine system, each cup of coffee or sugary snack gives you less of an energy boost. Caffeine can prevent you from getting a good sleep too. The more stressed and tired you become, the more stimulants you need. This vicious cycle is how many people unwittingly accelerate their decline into hormonal dysregulation and extreme fatigue.
Wondering if any of you have this happening…my symptoms are worse each month around the same day the 20th. Starts out feeling flu like massive headache, body aches slight fever, nausea. And in 2-3 days it starts to dissipate and then moves to my lower back and nerve like radiating pain in my lower back. Usually lasting 2-3 days, this month it came earlier and lasted longer 6 nights to be exact. Happens like this each month. Today, the Endocrinologist told me it’s not hormones/menopausal. What the heck!!
But if you’re overwhelmed by chronic stress, your adrenals can get burnt out from constantly producing cortisol. The result is adrenal fatigue. Your natural cortisol rhythm becomes irregular — sometimes you produce too much cortisol, sometimes not enough — and you can struggle to make other hormones, like androstenedione (the precursor to testosterone).
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