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.

“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.” – Lynnette Nieman, MD, president, Endocrine Society; senior investigator, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Md.
Indeed, an article from a São Paulo university was released in 2016 with the title: “Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review.” According to this review, results of acceptable studies available to them at the time had “conflicting results” and could provide no definitive proof of the disease, nor diagnostic criteria or adrenal fatigue treatment. (4)
What can cause adrenal fatigue in someone so young? I’m in my early 20’s and I have major adrenal fatigue. I don’t have any caffeine. I never drink coffee or soft drinks. I don’t drink alcohol at all. And I don’t have a lot of stress. I do have an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s and I’ve read that autoimmune diseases are stressful on the body. Could it be from that? I just don’t understand and I’m really worried because adrenal fatigue can be dangerous and if I already have it severe in my 20’s, how is it going to be in my 30’s and 40’s? I just don’t know what’s causing it to where I can address it.
Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia. As the name suggests, its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep but it is not a readily identifiable entity like measles or a growth on the end of your finger.
Eating right for one’s type of metabolism will help to ensure the proper amounts of sodium and potassium levels as well as raw materials for one’s unique biochemistry. In addition to this, understanding the regulatory effects that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system has with the endocrine system is also a very important part of the picture.
The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) sit atop the kidneys and are chiefly responsible for regulating the body’s stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamines, including cortisol and adrenaline. In other words, the task of your adrenal glands is to rush all your body’s resources into “fight or flight” mode by increasing production of adrenaline and other hormones. When healthy, your adrenals can instantly increase your heart rate and blood pressure, release your energy stores for immediate use, slow your digestion and other secondary functions, and sharpen your senses.
I had a horrifically stressful past two years with job changes and a death in the family and identified with the symptoms described above and more. After seeing regular doctors and a psychiatrist, I finally found a naturopath doctor who had me thoroughly tested. My DHEA-S level was below normal range and the 4x/day saliva test showed my cortisol level dropping over 90% from the mid-range of normal in the morning to the very bottom of the range by noon and lower the rest of the day. She called the pattern “flat lining.” So this is clearly not normal, but it’s also not a “recognized condition”? I’ve been taking two thyroid medications for nearly 30 years – including Armour Thyroid, which most doctors don’t know how to prescribe – and have now added an adrenal supplement. Once we got the right dosage I started to feel better within a few days. I can finally sleep and have more energy throughout the day. I don’t care if you think adrenal fatigue doesn’t exist. I am proof that it does, and that it can be treated.
It takes a short time for your system and brain to realize the issue has been corrected. But, a great deal of relief had come quickly. Within hours I was only dealing with the fatigue from the two-week ordeal. On occasion, I have to go back for a treatment but it is quick and painless. Obviously, there are other causes of Vertigo, but it is worth the time to check this possibility.
Carmen there is hope, I was on prednisone for more that 5 years straight, it was a long, awful, painful, and slow withdrawal from it. this was about a year and a half ago, i’ve had to do short bursts about 4 times since then, I like to breathe. At that time I also got off of high doses of morphine another withdrawal that was not pretty, I was put on methadone as i have chronic pain issues. After this time I started investigating herbs that might help me, and i have found a wealth of information on not just herbs, but on many other natural ways to heal, and I’m actually starting to feel better than I can ever remember and I’m 53, with 6 children, 7 grandchildren 3 of which I have been Mom to for the last year and a half.
Not included in the above piece by Dr Northrup about adrenal exhaustion is information about the affects of sustained stress on the adrenals leading to elevated aldosterone production. With work/life stress, extreme exercise and chronic dehydration (many people don’t get enough fluids) the adrenals will produce elevated levels of the hormone aldosterone in order to try to maintain a type of homeostasis. Aldosterone will push potassium, zinc and magnesium out of the body resulting in impaired immune function, poor digestion, compromised liver function, poorer iron absorption, and increased risks for oxidative stress.

The effectiveness of this multi-system treatment was further confirmed through the analysis of the cumulative findings of over 40 independent physicians and over 5,000 patients. Prior to the treatment at the Holtorf Medical Group, the patients had seen an average of 7.2 different physicians for the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia without significant improvement.
Scientists in China have designed a cohort study to examine the interaction of genetics, biomarkers and environmental exposures with health metrics lead to chronic diseases. A validated questionnaire, along with a large battery of tests, has led them to develop a classification referred to as “suboptimal health.” This phase is essentially a step between optimal health and diagnosable illness or disease characterized by “the perception of health complaints, general weakness, chronic fatigue and low energy levels.”
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. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.
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No ground is left uncovered in this book, as Dr. Wilson brings all of his experience and knowledge to bear in a Herculean effort to bring some semblance of ordered understanding to what had previously been a chaotic stew of confusing and sometimes contradictory assumptions. Everything is methodically explained, referenced, and indexed so that curious readers can do further research on their own to confirm the author’s premise and findings. He even includes a Glycemic Index table, a glossary of terms, and a host of illustrations scattered throughout the book’s various pages.

There is no test that can detect adrenal fatigue. Many times, a person will be told he or she has adrenal fatigue based on symptoms alone. Sometimes, a blood or saliva test may be offered, but tests for adrenal fatigue are not based on scientific facts or supported by good scientific studies, so the results and analysis of these tests may not be correct.
After that, she offers the outline for how you can be healed from adrenal dysfunction. This includes advice on diet, blood sugar maintenance, meal plans, and addressing digestive issues. Lifestyle changes are also a big part of this process, with sleep, relaxation, and exercise being major components of the recovery plan. There is even a section on supplements and extracts.
Chronic infections play a critical role in some cases of adrenal exhaustion. Chronic infections may originate in infected teeth or gums, though they can be located anywhere in the body. They contribute greatly to the toxic load of the body. Infections also cause inflammation and stress that must be countered using the adrenal hormones such as cortisol and cortisone.
Diagnosing Adrenal Fatigue from a single test or symptom is very difficult. To make an accurate diagnosis, doctors and naturopaths need to look at a range of tests, sometimes conducted multiple times, and take note of every symptom. This requires experience and a thorough knowledge of the various systems in your body, as well as some patience too. It may require two or three visits to the doctor before you can be sure that you have Adrenal Fatigue.

I live in the UK and am having great difficulty getting a diagnosis. Having read your article and taken your “quiz” I realise that I have most of the symptoms covered. My problem is to get my doctor (a General Practitioner) to recognise Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Do you know of anyone in the UK that I could consult? In the meantime, I will try all your Lifestyle tips, I shall enjoy the chocolate!


My hope is that you find the advice below unique and not entirely repetitive of what you have read to date. My hope is also that you realize the seriousness of the destruction adrenal fatigue can and will play in your life if you do not start early via treatment. I also hope you gain the knowledge quickly — if you do in fact suffer from adrenal fatigue — that you are most certainly dealing with more than one another health issue.
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.
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Low adrenal hormone levels may also be linked to low blood sugar. Normally, cortisol works to maintain blood sugar levels throughout the day, but low cortisol levels may not be sufficient to sustain blood glucose. When blood sugar levels drop, sleep is disrupted, which can cause you to wake earlier than normal – for example, between 1-3am. Eating a small, healthy snack before bedtime may help to combat this. Choose foods that are low in sugar and high in protein and/or healthy fats in order to help stabilize blood sugar without spiking it.
I had a horrifically stressful past two years with job changes and a death in the family and identified with the symptoms described above and more. After seeing regular doctors and a psychiatrist, I finally found a naturopath doctor who had me thoroughly tested. My DHEA-S level was below normal range and the 4x/day saliva test showed my cortisol level dropping over 90% from the mid-range of normal in the morning to the very bottom of the range by noon and lower the rest of the day. She called the pattern “flat lining.” So this is clearly not normal, but it’s also not a “recognized condition”? I’ve been taking two thyroid medications for nearly 30 years – including Armour Thyroid, which most doctors don’t know how to prescribe – and have now added an adrenal supplement. Once we got the right dosage I started to feel better within a few days. I can finally sleep and have more energy throughout the day. I don’t care if you think adrenal fatigue doesn’t exist. I am proof that it does, and that it can be treated.

You described exactly what I was experiencing this past Fall, and I developed POTS in February… it was terrifying to feel this way… and I only got worse overy the winter. I feel for you. Have you joined the Adrenal Fatigue Recovery group on Facebook? I’ve learned a lot on there. I found I was waking up at 4am due to low blood sugar, which caused my body to go into a stress state, which spiked my cortisol and caused me to wake up. I’d cook eggs and bacon and go back to bed. I found that eating a high protein snack just before bed would help, and eating a big high protein breakfast first thing in the AM kept my blood sugar more stable throughout the day. My blood sugar is under control now. Best of luck!


Any excessive stress can deplete the adrenals. Excessive workload, long hours, lack of sleep, or emotional stress are common.  Other stressors in cities are noise and electromagnetic pollution. Cell phones, microwave towers and appliances like televisions, cell phones, wearable electronics,  microwave ovens and computers give off strong EMF fields that can be stressful to our bodies
While understood as fairly safe when taken in the short-term, ashwagandha has not been studied for long-term usage effects. Too-large doses may lead to digestive symptoms including nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. People with diabetes, irregular blood pressure, stomach ulcers, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders or upcoming/recent surgery should not use ashwagandha.
Every woman who comes to our clinic with these symptoms gets an adrenal fatigue test, which consists of a series of tests of cortisol levels. And the results — in over thousands of cases — are remarkably consistent: only 1% have cortisol levels indicating healthy adrenal function, while 99% suffer impaired function, ranging from significant adrenal stress to complete adrenal exhaustion.
Dr. Wilson is the author of the “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” and coined the term “Adrenal Fatigue” based on years working with patients that he could not figure out how to help their symptoms improve. Dr. Wilson found with his research and work with clients that adrenal fatigue is more of a syndrome. His patients drove him to do the research to help find the right solutions to improve their adrenal function. Around 80% of patients go to their doctor to complain of fatigue but they don’t get the improvements they need as most doctors do not recognize adrenal dysfunction.
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 have been working in a very high stress environment for the last several months. Within a month of starting this job I started having what felt like heart attacks but which the ER docs told me were panic attacks. I ended up having to take a leave of absence to recover and finally resigned when I realized that I literally dreaded going back to work to that point that every time I thought about returning I felt the anxiety attacks starting. It’s been a month now since I quit and I still feel physically exhausted and unhealthy with frequent heart palpitations and dizzy spells. Drs including cardio can’t find anything physically wrong with me. Does this sound like adrenal fatigue to you? If so, How do I get my health back to normal? FYI I’ve been in perimenopause for about 3 years now I still get my period about once every 3-4 months and they are generally very heavy and last for about 3-5 days.

There is no test that can detect adrenal fatigue. Many times, a person will be told he or she has adrenal fatigue based on symptoms alone. Sometimes, a blood or saliva test may be offered, but tests for adrenal fatigue are not based on scientific facts or supported by good scientific studies, so the results and analysis of these tests may not be correct.
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.
To understand how adrenal fatigue develops, it is important to understand the original, evolutionary function of the adrenal glands. The adrenals are walnut-sized glands located on top of each kidney, and are important control centers for many of the body’s hormones. The outer layer of the gland, called the adrenal cortex, produces hormones including cortisol, DHEA, estrogen and testosterone. The centers of the glands produce adrenaline, the hormone named after them.
When the adrenals are chronically overworked and straining to maintain high cortisol levels, they lose the capacity to produce DHEA in sufficient amounts. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a precursor hormone to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and is necessary to moderate the balance of hormones in your body. Insufficient DHEA contributes to fatigue, bone loss, loss of muscle mass, depression, aching joints, decreased sex drive, and impaired immune function.
As I belong the forensic medicine branch and my observation is first rule out metabolic disorders, endocrinal disturbance , systematic diseases and any one defiantly find out the cause if they are not responsible then the fatigue is psychological if this is also not responsible than it is left for various environmental factors such as age, sex, life style, eating habits etc etc.
To that, all I can say is that adrenal fatigue is something I’ve seen personally. It is my opinion, through years of healthcare practice and supporting scientific evidence, that hypoadrenia is very real and associated with a number of complications. In addition, adrenal fatigue treatment is relatively non-invasive and is beneficial to your health, no matter the diagnosis. Of course, you should be under the care of a qualified medical professional, such as a functional medicine doctor, you trust and see them about any symptoms you experience (of any disease) so that they can determine appropriate treatment.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an androgen that is produced by both the adrenal glands and the ovaries. DHEA helps to neutralize cortisol’s immune-suppressant effect, thereby improving resistance to disease. (Cortisol and DHEA are inversely proportional to each other. When one is up, the other goes down.) DHEA also helps to protect and increase bone density, guards cardiovascular health by keeping “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels under control, provides vitality and energy, sharpens the mind, and helps maintain normal sleep patterns.

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