It is the observation of these scientists that suboptimal health, as an “in-between” status before disease, is a precursor to many health conditions and has been exacerbated by the culture shifts in the last several decades like Western lifestyle habits, pollution, poor diet and tobacco use. This study, intended to expand over subsequent years by large numbers, is an effort to legitimize some of the oft-ignored benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. (15)
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.

Adrenal fatigue is caused when the adrenal glands can no longer meet the demands made of them because they are simply over-worked. Naturally, the adrenals help the body to deal with stress by mobilizing the hormones required to keep the body functioning properly. However, when too much stress is present, whether physical, mental or emotional, the adrenal glands become over-stimulated and start to slow down – hence the term “adrenal fatigue”.
Wondering if any of you have this happening…my symptoms are worse each month around the same day the 20th. Starts out feeling flu like massive headache, body aches slight fever, nausea. And in 2-3 days it starts to dissipate and then moves to my lower back and nerve like radiating pain in my lower back. Usually lasting 2-3 days, this month it came earlier and lasted longer 6 nights to be exact. Happens like this each month. Today, the Endocrinologist told me it’s not hormones/menopausal. What the heck!!
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.

Hormones affect every function, organ and tissue in the body directly or indirectly. They react to each other as well as respond to conditions in the body in an intricate and highly sensitive balancing act. The adrenal glands work closely with the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in a system known as the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). (7)
As we discuss in The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, one of the major causes of Adrenal Fatigue is getting insufficient sleep. Getting more rest is, therefore, one of the best ways to recover.  However, when suffering from Adrenal Fatigue many patients wake up extremely tired and ‘foggy’, even after getting a long sleep. This can be caused by one of two factors.
A recent review of 58 studies concluded that there is no scientific basis to associate adrenal impairment as a cause of fatigue. The authors report the studies had some limitations. The research included used many different biological markers and questionnaires to detect adrenal fatigue. For example, salivary cortisol is one of the most common ordered tests used to make a diagnosis. The cortisol level, when checked four times in a 24-hour period, was no different between fatigued and healthy patients in 61.5% of the studies. The review raises questions around what should get tested (blood, urine, and/or saliva), the best time, how often, what ranges are considered normal, and how reliable the tests are, to name a few. In summary, there is no formal criteria to define and diagnose adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal hypofunction indicates an insufficient amount of cortisol and adrenal activity, exactly the opposite of adrenal hyperfunction. in adrenal hypofunction there is an excess in the amount of mineralcorticoids in the blood. This causes an increase in the amount of potassium in the cells and blood, and a decrease in the amount of sodium in the blood. Adrenal hypofunction, sometimes referred to as adrenal burnout, can result in chronic fatigue, exhaustion after exercise, abnormal fluid dynamics, low blood pressure and hypothyroid function.
Doctors urge you not to waste precious time accepting an unproven diagnosis such as “adrenal fatigue” if you feel tired, weak, or depressed. If you have these symptoms, you may have adrenal insufficiency, depression, obstructive sleep apnea, or other health problems. Getting a real diagnosis is very important to help you feel better and overcome your health problem.

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!
Until the adrenal fatigue controversy is teased out, focus on engaging in healthy habits like seeing your doctor for regular checkups, getting enough sleep, avoiding or moderating caffeine intake, and eating a nutritious diet. Some people opt for a low-glycemic diet (for its anti-inflammatory effect), but talk with your doctor first before embarking on this.

Standard doctors often dismiss cortisol test results because they fall “within the normal range” of cortisol. But feeling like crap isn’t normal, and you shouldn’t accept it. It’s similar with testosterone: 300 ng/dL is “within the normal range,” and so is 900 ng/dL. But if you triple your testosterone levels, I promise you’ll feel a lot different.
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