This test tells us which point along the Adrenal Fatigue pathway the patient might have reached. In the initial stages of a stress reaction both cortisol and DHEA will be high. But as the body begins to struggle to produce sufficient stress hormones, DHEA levels start to fall. Put very simply, this is because the stress hormone production ‘steals’ resources from the sex hormone production. Further on in the development of Adrenal Fatigue, cortisol levels will begin to drop too. So this ratio, combined with other tests and information, helps us to determine which stage of Adrenal Fatigue the patient has reached.

This can be extremely fast and effective at treating the symptoms of allergies, asthma, skin problems, arthritis, and other illnesses. However, since many of these type medications contain a hormone that is synthetic and is often 17 times more in strength than what is needed by the body, they may repress and in some cases shut down adrenal function – creating an even larger hormonal inequality than prior to treatment. Additionally, the side effects may be severe, ranging from kidney failure to dizziness and in some cases death. Some of the more common corticosteroids are prednisone (brand names of Cortan, Deltasone, Prednisone). These medications have lots of side effects.
If you truly have adrenal fatigue syndrome your most definitely going to suffering from some other obvious condition as well. Failure of the adrenal glands To work properly would cause serious side effects in your body that you would notice far sooner then you would notice this so called syndrome. All the symptoms mentioned above can signify multiple different illnesses that are more likely for you to have then an adrenal problem, such as depression for instance or just being tired. Adrenal fatigue syndrome is a fad illness, if you go to any doctor saying you think you have it they will laugh at you. I’ve seen it happen. Try taking a nap and taking care of yourself.

When you experience some sort of stress (physical, mental or emotional), your hypothalamus lets go of a chemical that sends a signal to your pituitary gland and then your pituitary releases an alert to your adrenals, which then let a whole bunch of stress hormones out into your body. Your body makes adrenaline and noradrenaline, cortisol and dopamine and they’re there to help you when you’re experiencing stress. Stress can be a good thing or a bad thing. And also a very bad thing! Stress can also be emotional, mental and physical. I went under HUGE amounts of emotional stress as a child. I was highly sensitive and remember being yelled at and crying all the time because some of the people around me were very intense and angry and so I took all that on myself and it suppressed my immune system and my adrenals. Now that I look back, it all makes sense. I could feel myself being suppressed. I’m highly sensitive to what’s going on in my body, as well and so when I’m being suppressed, I notice it right away. Anything that your body must do to exert effort on these levels such as an exam, carrying heavy luggage or crying because you got in a fight with your father, is a form of stress. For example, planning a wedding can be stressful but fun. Planning a party can be stressful but fun. So, you see, stress can be fun but also have negative effects. Not all stress is bad stress. But dealing with a mean woman at work, like my days in fashion, can be a huge stress on your body. Getting let go from a job can be a huge amount of stress. Fighting with your in-laws or a customer service person can be forms of stress for your body, as well. So, what does all of this have to do with your health?
If you truly have adrenal fatigue syndrome your most definitely going to suffering from some other obvious condition as well. Failure of the adrenal glands To work properly would cause serious side effects in your body that you would notice far sooner then you would notice this so called syndrome. All the symptoms mentioned above can signify multiple different illnesses that are more likely for you to have then an adrenal problem, such as depression for instance or just being tired. Adrenal fatigue syndrome is a fad illness, if you go to any doctor saying you think you have it they will laugh at you. I’ve seen it happen. Try taking a nap and taking care of yourself.

Hi Jill. I have suffered from chronic back pain off and on usually low back or near the top of my hips in the back. This has been going on for about the last 6 to 7 years. The only type of Imaging my doctors have done is an x-ray, which only showed very very mild arthritis. I am 36 years old, 5 foot 8 in tall, 135 lb. I feel like I am not taken seriously by my doctors, because I am not elderly or overweight. All they tell me to do is take muscle relaxers or ibuprofen, or do all these different stretches including physical therapy. Nothing helps. I am wondering if adrenal fatigue could be to blame for this. I only drink one cup of coffee in the morning. But I do eat a lot of sugar, and have for years. Do you think it would be beneficial to start taking an adrenal support product? Thank you very much for any help!


Hi there! I am so glad that you are discussing this important topic. I suffered from adrenal fatigue for years (unknowingly), which in turn blessed me with premature brain degeneration at the tender age of 31. I was lucky to had found the right holistic doctor (his name is Steve Tashiro, and he is located in Denver, CO), who diagnosed me and enabled my healing. It took a long time to get to him – in the meantime I had been recommended lithium (for symptoms of bipolar disorder), sent home “to relax,” told to find a husband, and even named a hypochondriac by a reputable NYC doctor (!?). If you feel tired allllll the time, chances are more than great that your adrenals are off the wall. Get a doctor, GET THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS (company named Apex produces Adaptocrine, a supplement creates to support adrenal function, for example), and be ready to handle a very strict diet. It is so worth it in the end.

Adrenal glands play a huge role in stress response. Your brain registers a threat, whether emotional, mental or physical. The adrenal medulla releases cortisol and adrenaline hormones to help you react to the threat (the fight-or-flight response), rushing blood to your brain, heart and muscles. The adrenal cortex then releases corticosteroids to dampen processes like digestion, immune system response and other functions not necessary for immediate survival.
Adrenal fatigue is not recognized by the Endocrine Society or any other endocrinology society, but adrenal insufficiency is. One glaring problem for the adrenal fatigue concept is that the reported symptoms don’t match those from adrenal insufficiency, although there is some overlap. The adrenal fatigue symptoms are “mostly nonspecific” including being tired or fatigued to the point of having trouble getting out of bed; experiencing poor sleep; feeling anxious, nervous, or rundown; craving salty and sweet snacks; and having “gut problems,” says Nieman. For the most part, these do not match symptoms of chronic adrenal insufficiency, which is characterized by weight loss, joint pain, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dry skin, low blood pressure, and fatigue.
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.
When Adrenal Fatigue was first diagnosed many of these tests did not even exist. To help provide a diagnosis, doctors developed a series of more physical tests that can be conducted quickly in a doctor’s clinic or at home. These tests are clearly much less accurate than the blood, saliva and urine tests mentioned above, and positive results may reflect other health problems besides Adrenal Fatigue. However they can be a useful diagnostic tool in combination with all the other evidence provided.
Inadequate or poor quality water affects oxygenation of the tissues. Most diets are low in nutrients required by the adrenals. The reasons for this begin with how food is grown. Most food is grown on depleted soils.  Our soils of today contain a fraction of the magnesium as soils hundreds of years ago did.  Processing and refining further deplete nutrients. Habits such as eating in the car or while on the run further diminish the value derived from food and our ability to digest it.  Allergic reactions to foods such as wheat and dairy products can damage the intestines and reduce the absorption of nutrients as well.

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.
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.
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.
I felt all kind of terrible symptoms too and could feel I was on the way to an auto immune disease or cancer. I decided to take a gigantic break from it all and went to walk 250 miles in 3 weeks and it changed my life. I have let go of a lot of traumas from my childhood and as such have gained peace of mind and heart. Amazing! My symptoms have all but disappeared. I feel happier and lighter now. I recommend this therapy for all whatever your physical shape. One day at a time. How liberating!
I started taking Cortex (not Cortrex) an hour before each of my low cortisol times and it has really helped. I have had many of your same symptoms. I take two at 6:00 am and then three other times during the day. I am not a doctor so you may want to check with someone first. The Cortrex can make your heart race as it has adrenaline in it. Hope this helps!
Spending more time outside in the sun also helps boost levels of vitamin D, because your body manufactures this important vitamin/hormone when it senses sun on your skin. Vitamin D, is responsible for regulating over 200 genetic pathways, so make sure your levels are high enough. I recommend an optimal range of around 60 to 80 ng/ml. Ask your doctor about a simple blood test to help you keep track.
I found Dr. Lam's book overall more comprehensive in addressing all aspects of a person's life in recovering from adrenal fatigue syndrome. I have only been using Dr. Wilson's adrenal protocol for 36 days. Dr. Wilson's web site says it could take up to three months to see a difference, or even two years, depending on the state of the person's health. I am very encouraged in how much better I feel after 36 days.

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…
This is a doctor who specializes in both Western and Eastern medicine and thus combines a holistic approach with potential medications. I believe that this type of physician is best equipped to handle adrenal fatigue. You can also consider a functional medicine physician, which is a doctor trained to look at the body as a whole with an emphasis on searching for the underlying cause of your health deterioration rather than the symptoms.
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.

CoQ10 plays a vital role in helping the body to manage stress. Research has shown that supplementation with CoQ10 helps to reduce signs of inflammation in the blood and fight oxidative stress. Stress is a significant cause of inflammation, which – on top of adrenal fatigue – is linked to chronic health problems of the brain and cardiovascular system. Your stress-coping mechanisms become weaker with age, and are particularly vulnerable when cortisol is running low.
Addressing one stressor at a time is generally the best way to approach this. Identifying what makes you happy and what stresses you is the easy part, then begins the difficult part of making the changes that you need to make. This will often require a significant adjustment in outlook. For example, if a high-paying job is damaging your health, can you step off the corporate ladder and return to a simpler, more fulfilling life? And if a relationship has been causing you emotional stress for years, do you have the courage to pull the plug and start again? All these are issues that can hopefully be addressed with the support of family, friends and perhaps even a good therapist too.
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.

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).
If you’re healthy, your body will fall back into the relaxed state it was in before the threat and your body calms down. Everything shifts back to helping you digest, etc and your thyroid and reproductive organs go back to work. This relaxation response is spear headed by your parasympathetic nervous system, the other part of your autonomic nervous system. If you’re like many people, your stress will be high at work and your sympathetic nervous system will be in full gear helping you tackle everything that comes your way, then you shift into the parasympathetic nervous system at night when you’re with your lover or family or children and you can relax, watch TV, read, eat a nice dinner, cuddle, get ready for bed and perhaps have sex. All of which are quite relaxing to your nervous system. This is ideal.
Proponents of the adrenal fatigue diagnosis claim this is a mild form of adrenal insufficiency caused by chronic stress. The unproven theory behind adrenal fatigue is that your adrenal glands are unable to keep pace with the demands of perpetual fight-or-flight arousal. As a result, they can't produce quite enough of the hormones you need to feel good. Existing blood tests, according to this theory, aren't sensitive enough to detect such a small decline in adrenal function — but your body is.
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