At some point in all of our lives we go through a period of feeling tired, run down or exhausted without being able to point to a readily identifiable reason. Whilst such symptoms could be attributed to a variety of factors – some lifestyle related and some related to identifiable medical conditions – some people take the view that a condition known as adrenal fatigue could be an underlying cause, and that this is an issue of increasing importance. Your adrenal glands are fundamental to a healthy body and mind – they produce a variety of key hormones, including those underpinning our “fight or flight” responses. Looking after the adrenal glands, and the wider endocrine support system is, therefore fundamental. This book explains why your adrenal glands and the hormones they produce are so important. The book then gives some analysis of why diet, exercise and stress levels are important in relation to the functioning of the adrenal glands – and what you might be able to do to develop a more robust system – also likely improving your overall general health in the process. The goal of this book is to give you the tools to help you understand the condition, consider whether or not you need to seek medical attention, and set yourself on a path to self-treatment and complete recovery. Even in broader terms, if you have ever felt that you may be somewhat low on energy, then we urge you to read this book, and put its advice into practical, daily use.
Symptoms can be very similar to the ones experienced by fibromyalgia sufferers and up to 70 percent of the patients actually suffer from both conditions. Symptoms include: fatigue that doesn’t go away with sleep, difficulty getting restful sleep, pain, stiffness, tender spots in muscles and/or joints, headaches, sore throat, flu-like feeling, weight gain, digestive problems, mental fog, and poor concentration.
The two little glands above the kidneys the size of a walnut are the adrenal glands. They help keep the body in balance and respond to stress. Our way of life constantly demands too much of our adrenal glands and the adrenal glands eventually start to get exhausted. When the adrenal is not performing as well then we are more fatigued, have trouble sleeping, gain weight and even feel depressed. Dr. Wilson has excellent visual aids to help identify causes of adrenal fatigue and how stress looks different for everyone.
Navigating this ocean of uncertainty is not an easy task. Symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue probably have multiple causes. Frequent follow-up visits and a strong patient-clinician partnership are critical elements for success. Alternative and complementary clinicians often have better results, because the appointments tend to last longer and they view patients through a more holistic lens. An important word of caution: some medical professionals prescribe cortisol analogs to treat adrenal fatigue. Cortisol replacement can be dangerous even in small doses. Unintended consequences can include osteoporosis, diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease.
Dr. Wilson offers great suggestions how to improve our happiness, how to relax and how to reduce our stress triggers. We have become addicted to busyness as well as being overly connected due to our constant phone “notifications”, social media, text messages and emails. We need to take charge of our lives and take power to keep our adrenals healthy! I find this book very informative and a great companion to my new book coming out on Amazon called “Life is Not a Race… It is a Journey”. We need to all slow down and pace ourselves a little more each day if we really are working on our whole health!
After that, the focus turns to and remains on the brain. The author spends just the right amount of time discussing the importance of the brain’s various parts on the regulation of adrenal function. Part of her discussion centers on how even small mishaps in the brain’s reaction to stress can lead to dysregulation of the adrenal system, and points out one indisputable fact: that the adrenals simply do what the brain tells them to do. Thus, when the hypothalamus -which is located in the brain - starts the signaling process that ends with the adrenal release of higher levels of cortisol, it is the brain’s stress response initiation that is ultimately responsible for any lingering fatigue or other ill effects.
I was diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency by a progressive doctor. She meant well, but she missed the boat completely. For some people, the adrenal-busting cycle is caused by sleep disorders like sleep apnea. A healthy lifestyle alone (or supplements or other treatments that only target adrenals) can’t fix the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysruption caused by sleep apnea, and many of the systems will overlap. Nocturnal breathing pauses cause a stress response, elevating cortisol, increasing exhaustion, sabotaging sleep quality and all of the regenerative work our bodies are meant to do during sleep. For women, sleep apnea is likely to go undiagnosed, because doctors think it is so rare in women that they don’t usually consider it as a differential diagnosis (even in women with PCOS, who are known to have the same rate of sleep apnea as men). For young and slender women, sleep apnea is unlikely to be diagnosed until it has already caused long-standing biological changes, even if a woman has classic symptoms of sleep apnea like loud snoring, observed pauses in sleep breathing, and significant daytime sleepiness. Sleep dysruption is a form of chronic stress, so it can overlap with adrenal insufficiency, and treating sleep problems can be a big help to solving the adrenal problems.
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.
I’m VERY anxious to read the help we can do for ourselves for adrenal fatigue, as I am a mother of a 20 year old son who has multiple emotional, mental and behavioral disabilities. The last 20 years have been extremely stressful. I took the saliva test and my cortisol levels were off the chart. My doctor prescribed hydro-cortisone which I took for a period of time but I know I need to do more because the stress is ongoing. My physical health has suffered greatly. I’ve learned much on nutrition through webinars, some of which you, Heather have participated in,(thank you).
I got my saliva test results and my DHEA is extemely low. My cortisol is normal-ish at all four times of the day. Years ago I felt revved all the time and was a slight 105 lbs I have hardly changed my diet but in two years had more stress job change, less sleep, and now am up twenty plus lbs!! I am now depressed over it and have little to no umph like before. I am taking DHEA cream and licorice but only feel jittery then tired after. I eat a ketogenic Paleo diet as well. Iam 43 andfeeling worse than I have in over 20 years. I feel like there is no hope…
The largest difference between them is that people with adrenal fatigue usually have cortisol levels that fall in “normal” levels but not “optimal,” while adrenal insufficiency patients have cortisol levels consistently outside the normal range. In addition, most conventional doctors would say that stress is not a causative factor in adrenal insufficiency (which is “always caused” by damage from other, unknown sources), which seems unlikely.
Your diet will play a huge role in your healing from Adrenal Fatigue. If your physician does not recognize that diet plays a huge role, get another doctor immediately. If your doctor does recognize the importance of diet in healing your adrenals but does not work with a nutritionis, find one that he or she will team with. Please take your diet as seriously as you are taking your fatigue!
First, remember that any new dietary regimen or addition of supplements in your lifestyle should be implemented under the supervision of a physician/naturopath you trust. In general, introducing more plant-based foods into your lifestyle and eliminating stimulants, sugary foods and processed items with a ton of sodium or chemicals added to them is going to help you feel and live better, regardless of conditions you may or may not have.
She begins with a central issue: the nature of stress. As she explains it, stress is not people, places, things, or events. Stress is not any external factor that somehow does things to you. Those are stressors. Stress, however, is nothing more than your mind and body’s reaction to those outside stimuli. Moreover, stress is not inherently bad for you either. Some stress reactions can save your life – such as the fight or flight response that provides your body with the burst of energy you might need to escape from momentary danger. Exercise is another example of a type of stress that can have positive impact on your life.
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 email@example.com. Thanks so much.
Do you have Adrenal Fatigue? A few changes in your diet and lifestyle can go a long way to getting your energy levels back. You can also use some natural supplements to give your body the support it needs to recover. Dr Eric Wood and I teamed up to write The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, which contains a comprehensive plan to recover from Adrenal Fatigue.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your healthcare provider or 911 immediately. Any mention of products or services is not meant as a guarantee, endorsement, or recommendation of the products, services, or companies. Reliance on any information provided is solely at your own risk. Please discuss any options with your healthcare provider.
Well that explains it Dr. Northrup! After a difficult winter I was on my way to rejuvination and ran into a road hazard without warning. I have been freaking out ever since. Very concerned someone else will hit it and not be so lucky. I have withdrawn from my usual uplifting activities and feel as if I will emerg reborn. Living by a motto of “Eat right, get plenty of rest and exercise” has worked for decades, menopause is a trip! I will be preparing delicious meals to savor and add Licorice and Ginseng to replace caffine. Practice having more fun while “Celebrating peace and love always”. I was shaken hard enough in the accident that my pinky and ring fingers are numb, it was spreding to my palm and wrist but numbness has receeded to fingers. I was restless and having nightmares too. My hump on the back of my neck flattened. I am doing PT to keep it away. Sleeping with arms straight and down seems to help too. Driving can be stressful as it requires we be more alert. I had taken a side road to get away from a driver who was swerving and driving at inconsistant speeds and a tailgater who had been behind me for sometime on a dangerous two lane road know for head ons and off road accidents. Hummm, getting back to focusing on love and having more fun. . .Now!!!
"You don’t know how much I appreciate your new book, The Adrenal Fatigue Solution. I have been undergoing unrelenting stress for 7 years. I haven’t understood why I cry, have so little energy, and am irritable all the time. Now I do, and I know how to cope. Your selfless efforts in gathering this book’s information are so generous. Thank you and God bless you. I love you for your help."
The adrenals are a pair of glands that sit on the kidneys and produce several hormones, including the stress hormones epinephrine and norepiniephrine that are associated with the “fight or flight” response. Can you tire these glands out? In the absence of any scientific evidence, chiropractor and naturopath James Wilson coined the term “adrenal fatigue” in his 1998 book of the same name. Take a look at Wilson’s own extensive questionnaire, at adrenalfatigue.org. Do you ever experience the following? You may have adrenal fatigue.
Exercise gently at least 5 days per week, preferably morning and not late in the day. Try swimming, gentle bike rides, walking, yoga, stretching, or any restorative activity that incorporates breathing. Avoid high adrenaline activities, like kayaking, competitive sports, running, cross fit or high intensity training until you are well on your way to healing.
Do you feel that your energy levels are just at a permanently lower level than they used to be? Aging is often a factor in this, but chronic stress can be a major contributor to exhaustion too. If you’re one of those people who find themselves drinking more and more coffee just to get through the day, it might be time to look at the underlying cause behind your tiredness.
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.
As an NTP Practitioner for over 5 years this is taught to us as Certified Practitioners. Firstly it must be done by another person preferably a Professional who knows what to look for and is experienced. Do not shine directly in your eyes and the photo is misleading, it implies you can do it yourself, not recommended Secondly, this quite honestly not the way to fully assess your adrenal function. It gives a starting point but the best way is to have an ASI adrenal panel done called a Salvary panel. This is basic information and yes the book is a bit out dated with much more new reliable information out! Nora Gegedous has a new Adrenal e book out and I fully believe working with Practitioners who deal with this topic. The other Newly graduated NTP had very valuable information above consening the actual procedure. This is very individual and complicated. I have taken many advanced seminars on this subject and work with many clients very specifically.
The adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys like little kidney baseball caps, release several important hormones one of which is cortisol. Cortisol is one of your primary stress-related hormones and regulates your energy. Normally, it rises in the morning to help you wake up, then slowly goes down throughout the day, sinking at night so you can sleep well. Cortisol also helps regulate your blood sugar and pressure.
My life started to get better when I read this book. Every single improvement in my health over the past six months, and there have been many, have come from putting the advice in this book into action. I can not recommend it highly enough to people who want to do more, but just simply can not summon the energy and are tires of not knowing why they are so tired.
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?
It wouldn’t surprise me if almost everyone has adrenal fatigue in the day and age we live in. There’s different “levels” and/or severities of adrenal fatigue. I have had professional help in my diaginosis for adrenal fatigue by going to a naturopath doctor and I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Wilson’s book and supplements. They have put me on the road of recovery and I am so thankful. I was so sick with anxiety and insomnia that I had two separate times about 2 months apart where I was literally in bed for a week – which was horrible being a mom of 3 very young children. Thank God for my husband and family – I wouldn’t have been able to recover without their help and support! And thank God for Dr. Wilson!
Hi heather, thank you for all the time and energy you put into your blog. I always enjoy your posts while nursing my little ones to bed. I never leave a comment on anything but this time I had to. We had a very stressful move during my fourth pregnancy and I felt like a different person after that. A friend of mine gave me dr. Wilson’s book and his advice along with taking vitamin c, magnesium, and his own supplement, Adrenal Rebuilder, restored me. It was a very difficult time for me and I am so grateful for that book. I hope get the rest you need but I know how hard it is when your children are young.
A relatively new area of understanding, there are some who make the connection between adrenal fatigue and osteoporosis. It’s well-known that osteoporosis is often a result of imbalanced hormones. However, the sex hormones that are often named as the transgressors aren’t the only problem. Abnormally high or low cortisol levels are also associated with bone loss and osteoporosis risk. (36, 37, 38)
From the treatment perspective, there is much to be learned for those who are unfamiliar with the syndrome. The authors delve into lifestyle changes that can positively impact your stress levels, various medications and natural remedies that can be effective in limiting the damage done to your adrenals, and supplements that can help you to improve your immunity and overall health.
Debi please look up General Adaptation Syndrome. Back in 1936 it was entered into the medical literature and encompasses what the chiropractor tried to define and then some – there was no need to reinvent the wheel, but sadly the work is no longer well known. The man (Dr Hans Selye) who did the studies and defined the syndrome also appropriated the word “stress” from physics and it entered into medical vernacular as a result. Most of what we know of the stress response and the effects of stress is based upon the foundation of his work (as is our understanding of adrenal hormones). The bottom line is that by whatever name, adrenal insufficiency is real, it’s been very well defined and mapped and virtually undisputed since 1936, just not called by its proper medical name: General Adaptation Syndrome. It’s a syndrome because it’s a cluster of symptoms; it’s not a disease as is Addison’s.
Licorice root: This spice is available in extract form and helps to increase the DHEA in your body. (21) Licorice root is associated with some side effects and may sometimes be avoided by taking DGL licorice. (22) Pregnant women and those with heart, liver or kidney problems should avoid licorice root. Don’t take it for more than four weeks at a time. (23)
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.
However, he doesn’t really emphasize animal foods, which I believe are the foundation of a healthy diet (whether it’s eggs, butter, raw milk, grass-fed meat or otherwise). He doesn’t demonize saturated fats, but instead discusses all fats as if they are equal. It’s a step in the right direction, but I think saturated fats are too beneficial to be lumped in with other fats (and here’s four reasons why).
To conduct the test, sit in a darkened room, in front of a mirror. Take a flashlight and shine it across your eye, from the side of your face. In a hypoadrenal state, your pupil will not be able to hold onto its contraction for more than 2 minutes and thus will begin to dilate despite light repeatedly shining on it. In those with healthy adrenals, the contraction should last much longer.
In this book, Simpson covers the necessary basics: how the adrenals work, the nature of stress and the stress response, and the fundamentals of adrenal fatigue. This enables readers to learn about what this fatigue is, why it occurs, and how they can recognize it in their own lives. She then provides her remedy for this ailment, which involves dietary changes, supplementation, and important lifestyle alterations designed to decrease the amount of stress in a patient’s life.
Hi Dr. Jill. I’m in my 60s, and about 5 years ago I was diagnosed through testing with adrenal fatigue. I have high toxic metals, very low cortisol, but thyroid is normal. I understand that more sleep is restorative, but for the last 10 years I’ve been lucky to get 4 hours per night. I can go to sleep, but I can’t stay asleep. I’ve tried prescription meds, singly and in combinations (under a doc’s care), supplements of all kinds, and I just can’t stay asleep. My latest strategy is to go to sleep around 10 pm. Then when I wake up, I take Ambien to go back to sleep. Usually I can only sleep for another 2 hours, if that. I always feel sleep deprived and fall asleep at my computer or in meetings. My questions are:
Food is medicine. I always ate healthy, other than my favorite “healthy junk foods” of gluten-free pizza and stevia soda. However, I knew that if I was going to rehab my adrenal fatigue, I had to take my food medicine plan to the next level by making sure my diet was on point for hormone health. Here’s the 90-day food plan I used to improve my sleep and energy.
Thank you for your article! I just received saliva test results showing that I have low cortisol throughout the day. I’m on a supplement plan, but I’m wondering about some of your other recommendations. What is the benefit of going to bed at 10 PM For the adrenals? If I am awake between 7 AM and 9 AM, what do you recommend for being restful for the adrenals? Thank you!!
Well, any form of stress involves your nervous system. Specifically your sympathetic nervous system, a part of your autonomic nervous system. This system takes care of your blood pressure, digestion, breathing, heartbeat and sexual response. When these things need to increase because of a threat, your sympathetic nervous system is in charge and when they need to be relaxed, your parasympathetic nervous system cools them off.
Would there be anyway I could talk with you? – I have a 17 year old son, that has SUFFERED for the last 7 years with Adrenal Fatigue… I have tried everything i know to do. – He has NO energy, depressed almost all the time. Has dropped out of school, cries most everyday. —- Can hardly get out of bed in the mornings… The medical system, just dont seem to care. You can only weigh , measure and take ones blood pressure so many times. – There has to be someone that can help us.- I’m a single father and its killing me to see him suffer this way.
I found your site by searching again,,,,for the umpteenth time in 2 years I have found you…..Being in health care I am very aware of the anatomy and physiology of the body. (was my fav subject) I went back to confirm what my education has taught me….after being diagnosed with a Blanket Version of Dysautomia…..To make a long story short,,,my cardio was lazy and I fired him and found out I had a rare disease called MALS. Median Acruate Ligament Syndrome..I had lap surgery that helped immensely…After being hurt on the job, being considered disabled, lost my job, fiancé of 10 years suddenly died at 50, Brother being on life support after being hit head on by a drunk driver and taking care him for nine months, three heart attacks for me,,,,,,all this in 6 years…I am pretty stressed out….:) I noticed that any emotion good or bad raises my BP, adrenaline surges and even my hair will stand up on my body. Confirmed that the adrenal surges cause the latter….BP is all over the place…my new cardio is in favor of HRT…she believes females need them and the case study was too short and inconsistent….What do YOU suggest? I am a vitamin junkie,,,,thyroid, cortisol, levels are supposedly fine…..I have also read that the hypothalamus and amygdala is a factor the HPA axis…..thoughts? I greatly appreciate your time…..S.W.
He also spends a great deal of time targeting the root causes of this fatigue, linking these causes to one common factor: stress. His central premise is one that has been taken up by other authors in other forums, which is just one indication of how influential he has been in this area of health. That premise is simple: adrenal fatigue is the result of massive amounts of stress overwhelming the adrenal glands’ ability to manage and then recover from the effects of the stress response.
In a healthy person, your cortisol is high in the morning, which wakes you up and then the cortisol levels start to decrease throughout the day and into the night until they’re so low that you fall asleep. Now, when you’ve got adrenal fatigue, like I had for probably about 30 years (yes the majority of my life)–I’m only 34, you could wake up feeling like you got hit by a car and you have to drag yourself through your day. Then bedtime comes and you’re wired and can’t fall asleep and you have insomnia. Sound like you? There are millions of people dealing with this and Western M.D.’s do not address Adrenal Fatigue Treatment so it’s really sad to know that so many people are not getting the help they need. When I had adrenal fatigue, I felt depleted and wired and on edge and by body was so out of whack. It was awful.
Think about it like this: if your body is a car, and it’s run down and needs to get checked – you are most likely going to carefully drive it to the closest garage. What you are not going to do is race there as fast as you can, because you want to take it easy on your car and not cause it to fall apart before it even reaches the garage. That’s what your body is doing in this case, it is lowering your cortisol level because it does not want your body to be “running on empty.”
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We did not start her on any kind of hormone replacement. In some cases hormone therapy can be helpful, and if someone has an autoimmune disease called Addison's, it can be necessary. But for most people who live their way into stage 1, 2 or 3 adrenal fatigue, it's just a matter of living their way right back out of it and into balance with their bodies.
My sleeping and eating habits got worse over time, and suddenly I wasn’t able to handle life’s stresses anymore. Before, I couldn’t really see why this happened, but now it makes a lot of sense. I simply had a series of physical and emotional stressors that were more than my adrenals were capable of handling (mainly because they were not getting the support they needed through rest and a healthy diet).