Although primary adrenal insufficiency is considered a rare disease, understanding the connection it has with autoimmune thyroid disease is worthwhile, especially for a select (but small) group of people. In fact, one study suggests that primary adrenal insufficiency may be the culprit behind some people's persistent symptoms, despite treatment of their thyroid disease. 
Is It Me or My Adrenals? Your Proven 30-Day Program for Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue and Feeling Fantastic comes to us courtesy of Marcelle Pick, Nurse Practitioner and author of The Core Balance Diet. In this book, she addresses the subject of the adrenals and their impact on fatigue, but does from the perspective of a woman speaking to other women. And while some men might find that less inviting than a treatise that addresses both genders, there is no arguing the fact that much of its information and advice is applicable to both men and women.
I have a question. I experienced quite severe adrenal weakness symptoms after gradually increasing DHEA until I was taking 30 mg. a day. I couldn’t even exercise like I always have . I know now that I should have not taken it as I have a history of low blood sugar. I stopped the DHEA entirely and started takiing licorice root caps, 3 caps 3x a day with meals. I feel so much better! My blood pressure was not too low when I started, 120 over 72, but yesterday, it was 137 over 92 with a resting pulse of 66. I am afraid to cut out the licorice, because every time I cut it out entirely in the past, I don’t feel well. Even though I also take a good Adrenal glandular too. Maybe if I cut it down to 2 caps 2 times a day? i wonder if that would lower my blood pressure enough. Btw, I am a 62 year old female in good health otherwise and on no meds.

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.”
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.
This extends to more than just lifestyle and dietary choices. Patients also need to identify and eliminate the sources of stress in their lives. This can often be difficult, but it is a necessary part of restoring their health. Unhealthy relationships, stressful jobs, family quarrels, money worries – these all need to be eliminated somehow. Often a patient will feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders when these issues are fixed. As you would expect, that feeling also signifies a great deal of stress being taken off their adrenal glands and HPA axis too.
If you want to see how many people suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, just take a look around you. How many of your friends and family complain of being continually tired or having a weak immune system? You probably know moms or dads who spend long hours at work but don't get any rest at home. You might see other friends drinking several large coffees a day, yet still experiencing almost constant fatigue.
And to make things even MORE complicated “Experts” say that when you crave Salt, that is a sign of Low Aldosterone, but then others say that the Swelling before the Period is not just low Progesterone, but High Aldosterone as well, so how can i have “High Aldosterone” in the final stages of Adrenal Fatigue..i say Final because the Panic attacks, Heart Palps and Insomnia are over, i am just having Low Blood Sugar sometimes and Salt Cravings always. IS it possible to have alternating Aldosterone levels EVEN in AF?
For those of us deep into Stage 4, where levels of both the sex hormones and stress hormones have dropped substantially, treatment will take even longer. You should expect a treatment period of at least 12 months, possibly involving bio-identical hormone replacement as well as the dietary changes, lifestyle changes and supplementation mentioned above.
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.
In the book, Dr Wilson examines the history of adrenal fatigue and discusses the reasons why this common problem has become largely overlooked by the allopathic medical profession. Dr Wilson provides a blueprint of the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue. He includes the tests for this dysfunction, their efficacy, specific and key supplementation facts, lifestyle modifications, and other significant strategies for recovering: “I decided to write this book for the person suffering from adrenal fatigue. It is designed to be a self-help book…. I write it with the hope that it will provide you with information, guidance, encouragement and tools you need to recover from this sometimes subtle, yet debilitating, health problem” (p xxii).
Microbiome labs: The microbiome refers to the community of trillions of bacteria and fungi in your gut. Because gut health is the foundation of total health, especially brain and hormonal health, it is important to discover what is going on and deal with any underlying gut problems such as leaky gut syndrome, candida overgrowth, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in order to recover from adrenal fatigue.
I’ve just started taking Siberian Ginseng (in drop form) and just after the first dose, it had an immediate effect and I started to lose the water I had been retaining and I’m not feeling so “dead” in the mornings. I understand it’s best to take it for up to 3 weeks and then have a break from it. I’ll try 2 weeks and 2 weeks off maybe and see how that goes. I’m also using Natural Progesterone cream (morning and evening) – Emerita is the make – as well as other things but definitely noticed a huge different with the Ginseng. I shall continue.
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.
Sugar and sweeteners: Includes avoiding high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners as well. Avoid sugary foods, cereals, candy, sweets, etc. Be aware that sugar is an additive in many breads, condiments and dressings. Try to avoid as much extra sugar as possible. Seek the benefits of raw honey or stevia as an alternative, and always moderate your use of sweeteners of any kind.
In the book, Dr Wilson examines the history of adrenal fatigue and discusses the reasons why this common problem has become largely overlooked by the allopathic medical profession. Dr Wilson provides a blueprint of the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue. He includes the tests for this dysfunction, their efficacy, specific and key supplementation facts, lifestyle modifications, and other significant strategies for recovering: “I decided to write this book for the person suffering from adrenal fatigue. It is designed to be a self-help book…. I write it with the hope that it will provide you with information, guidance, encouragement and tools you need to recover from this sometimes subtle, yet debilitating, health problem” (p xxii).
Methylation labs: Methylation is a massive biochemical superhighway that happens 1 billion times every second in the human body. It makes a healthy brain, gut, hormones, and detox pathways and protects your DNA. All super important stuff. Genes that make methylation happen can be mutated in some of us. This decreases methylation and can cause a variety of health issues. I had multiple methylation gene mutations, one of which is the MTHFR gene.
What type of specialist (i.e., doctor, naturopath, etc.) is the most effective to help with this treatment? I have had thyroid issues since my 20s (I’m now in my 50s), including the periodic loss of hair in large spots on my head, weight gain (now to include the lovely layer of fat around my midsection), exhaustion after workouts, and on and on. I have also been told I have adrenal exhaustion. I would really appreciate some guidance.
My biggest qualm with Adrenal Fatigue has to do with the diet section of the book (and perhaps you suspected this). On one hand, Wilson does offer some very valuable advice: eat balanced meals that include fat, protein and carbohydrates; avoid refined sugars and fruit juices; salt is your friend, especially unrefined sea salt; and eat high-quality, natural foods.
Fish oil (EPA/DHA): There are a large number of benefits of supplementing with fish oil (or, for people on vegan or other plant-based diets, algal oil). Several of these include counteracting a number of adrenal fatigue-related symptoms and complications, such as diabetes, mental dysfunction, arthritis, immune system function, skin issues, weight gain and anxiety/depression.
One of the most difficult aspects of adrenal fatigue is the fact that medical science continues to avoid the subject. Despite their inability to diagnose many cases of extreme exhaustion without referencing adrenal function, there are many doctors who still stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the existence of this problem. That leaves patients with little choice other than to manage their own recovery program. The good news is that there is a wealth of information to be found in the many books on adrenal fatigue in the marketplace today.
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.
Hi Jill! I feel like I have just found gold after reading your site about adrenal fatigue. I have been doing so much testing the last year and a half as endocrinologist has been concerned about my symptoms. After the onset on some very serious stress 4 years ago I started noticing light headedness throughout day esp upon rising, crawling sensation across back and what I would call back spasms at my rhomboids that would make it difficult to breath, itching in the location, of what I know now are the adrenals, hair loss, fatigue around 3 every morning, up late at night , hard to rise or even have a functioning brain til at least 10, test resulting in inflammation, increased blood pressure (being managed), irritable bowel, Random weight gain, then lost and now sudden weight gain again and on and on and on. Every single symptom you listed. Just saw derm (referred by endocrinologist) and she said I have paresthesia. I am so thankful you have posted this information in the easiest way to understand as Ive been so concerned with what has been going on in my body and just to know that I may have an answer is such a relief (I think). I have recently started upping my vitamins worries I was deficient including ashwaganda, and starting rhodiola. I am very concerned about damage that has been done over these few years and want to immediately try to fix this. How can this affect my organs and health? And has there been remarkable damage to my body? I just was ordered to take a calcium screening and heart was great, lungs great etc. just worried. I will start following you advice and hope to get back to normal. Thank you, thank you for your education and advice.
Hi Jill, thank you for this. I have been trying to uncover the cause of what ails me, just looking at food culprit vs the underlying cause. I have reason to believe Adrenal fatigue may be an issue. I get to a point at work when stress just feels like it is literally through the roof, like there is so much pressure in my head and throat and chest with no where to go and I just can’t function. Do you have any recommendations for where can I get tested for adrenal fatigue in California? I have Kaiser and don’t want to spend a ton of time and money figuring this out, so any recommendations are much appreciate.
Adrenal Fatigue is a syndrome, meaning that it encompasses multiple systems and aspects of your health. This also makes it a very difficult condition to diagnose for a typical MD, whose training is typically focused on more acute conditions. In other words, MDs are great when you have an acute condition that sends you to hospital, but they're not so helpful when faced with multiple symptoms and general complaints of feeling 'tired and unwell'.
I was just diagnoised with adrenal fatigue by having my blood pressure taken laying down, sitting up, and then standing. If it continues to drop drastically then you have adrenal fatigue. I am now undergoing the cortisol salvia test and hormone blood work. I have suspected adrenal fatigue for 3 years now but I believe I have had symptoms since my twenties. I also have thyroid dysfunction that I have been treating also. I learned that treating thyroid can be difficult with adrenal fatigue. That has been true in my case. Post partum was very difficult for me. I was on thyroid meds and highly stressed. Child #4. I was not well before getting pregnant and believe I was already depleted then. I am so ready for healing.
When Jaclyn became a mom more than eight years ago, health food was the last thing on her mind, but when her son began to struggle with behavioral disorders, she dove in headfirst to begin learning about how to live and eat naturally. When she began to focus on paleo and GAPS diet foods, her son’s behavior began to improve, her children were healed of eczema and digestive problems, and her own thyroid disorder was healed. She blogs about raising her four boys to be happy and healthy at The Family That Heals Together.
The adrenal glands are 2 of the most powerful glands in the body. The adrenals produce a variety of hormones such as cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline. The adrenals modulate the body’s stress response, and are involved in numerous other biological functions including: digestive functions, inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses, and the adrenal hormones interact with a simplex of other hormones.

One of the realities of being a pharmacist is that we’re easily accessible. There’s no appointment necessary for consultation and advice at the pharmacy counter. Questions range from “Does this look infected?” (Um, yes) to “What should I do about this chest pain?” to more routine questions about conditions that can easily be self-treated. Pharmacists have an important triage role — advising on conditions that can be safely self-managed, and knowing when medical referrals are necessary or appropriate. Among the most common questions I’ve received in my time working in a retail pharmacy are related to stress and fatigue. Energy levels are down, and patients want advice and solutions. Some want a “quick fix,” believing that the right mix of megadoses of vitamins are all that stand between them and unlimited energy. Others may ask if prescription drugs, herbal supplements, or even caffeine tablets could help. Evaluating vague symptoms is a challenge. Many of us have busy lifestyles, and don’t get the sleep and exercise we need. We may also compromise our diets in the interest of time and convenience. With some simple questions I might make a few basic lifestyle recommendations, talk about the evidence supporting supplements and vitamins, and suggest physician follow-up if symptoms persist. Fatigue and stress may be part of life, but they’re also symptoms of serious medical conditions. But they can be hard to treat because they’re non-specific and may not be easily distinguishable from the fatigue of, well, life.


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?
To make matters worse, doctors often don't diagnose this problem. Dr. Wilson offers the example of a woman who has been to 37 doctors before finally receiving proper diagnosis and a renewed sense of hope. So, why don't doctors recognize adrenal fatigue? In medical school, they are only taught to look for extreme adrenal malfunction (Addison's Disease, which occurs when the glands produce far too little cortisol, and Cushing's Syndrome, which stems from excessive cortisol production) and dont know how to measure cumulative adrenal fatigue.
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)
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.
Rethinking Fatigue: What Your Adrenals Are Really Telling You and What You Can Do about It is a book by Nora Gedgaudas, the author of Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and A Longer Life. With expertise in both nutritional science and neurofeedback therapy, Dr. Gedgaudas brings a fresh voice to the debate concerning fatigue and adrenal function.

There are also a number of recipes designed to improve both your overall nutrition and your energy levels. For most people, however, the real value of this book – as is true with most “Dummies” books – can be found in its usefulness as a reference guide. Within its pages, there are specific sections on every critical vitamin and mineral, all of the major hormones involved in the adrenal cascade, cellular energy production, exercise fundamentals, and even depression.


Every challenge to the mind and body creates a demand on the adrenal glands. And the list of challenges is endless: lack of sleep, a demanding boss, the threat of losing your job, financial pressures, personality conflicts, yo-yo dieting, relationship turmoil, death or illness of a loved one, skipping meals, reliance on stimulants like caffeine and carbs, digestive problems, over-exercise, illness or infection, unresolved emotional issues from our past or present and more. The result is adrenal glands that are constantly on high alert.
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).
I had a doctor concerned about my adrenals and suggested a saliva test in 2009 because my cortisol was testing high- I didn’t do it. In April 2012 with another doctor I did a saliva test & my adrenals were off the charts. This Dr. handed me the adrenal support tablets with her face on the bottle bottle and did no subsequent testing. In October 2013 I wound up in the Endocornologist office. Her basic blood profile showed my cortisol high because of HCTH. After more subsequent testing and an MRI was discovered that I had Cushing’s disease- my set of symptom indicators were caused by a small benign tumor in my pituitary. I had a surgery in April 2014 and have been recovering my health steadily. I share this to say… If you are having testing done that shows your adrenals over functioning or underfunctioning you may need to see an Endocornologist to really have somebody who understands it working on the behalf of your health.
I have been suffering from rocking vertigo for 7 months now with no known cause. It was brought on by a period of high anxiety/panic attacks. The feeling hasen’t left me since this happened to me in June. I have been researching adrenals as a cause because of how it started although im not seeing rocking vertigo as a normal symptom. I would say I experience fatigue too but the vertigo is the main problem.
By purchasing "Adrenal Fatigue" you will be able to gain relief from the turmoil and restore your body into a state of calmness with a pervading sense of ease and clarity to soothe your mind and body. Not only that but with this step by step guide you will have a clear understanding of how the adrenal glands function when they are fresh and rejuvenated. You may not believe it now but by letting go and relaxing inside you can give your body the deep rest and cleanse that it needs. Living more harmoniously and in a tranquil state is a solution available to you by following this book.”

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:
This is a test that is rarely conducted by doctors, and even then usually only on hyperthyroid patients. However it can give a useful insight into the overall function of the thyroid. T3 is produced when TSH stimulates the thyroid. When used in conjunction with the other thyroid tests, this helps to give a complete picture of why the thyroid is underperforming. Optimal values should be somewhere in the 300-450 pg/ml range. However, the typical lab range allows values as low as 230 pg/ml.

Dr. Eric Wood is a licensed Naturopathic doctor with extensive clinical and teaching experience. He graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine with additional post graduate studies at the Benson Henry Institute of Mind Body Medicine at Harvard. Dr. Wood has worked in both private practice and consulting work, with experience in many different areas of Integrative and Mind Body Medicine. He has specialty training and expertise in the areas of oncology, infectious disease, Adrenal Fatigue and anti-aging medicine.


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.
Low energy and tiredness are among the most common reasons patients seek help from a doctor. Despite being so common, it is often challenging to come up with a diagnosis, as many medical problems can cause fatigue. Doctors engage in detective work, obtaining a medical history, doing a physical exam, and doing blood tests. The results often yield no explanations. It can be frustrating for clinicians and patients when a clear-cut diagnosis remains elusive. An attractive theory, called adrenal fatigue, links stress exposure to adrenal exhaustion as a possible cause of this lack of energy.
×