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.
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.
As you can see, this presents a number of issues, namely, the inability to distinguish this pattern and its resulting symptoms from other disorders. Wilson’s parameters for this condition are nonspecific which, unfortunately, has led to a great controversy around this topic, even though the very nature of cortisol and bodily hormones is that their effects are far-reaching.
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.
The adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys like little kidney baseball caps, release several important hormones, one of which is cortisol. You've probably heard about cortisol before since it's your major stress hormone. Cortisol is supposed to be higher in the morning when you wake up and slowly go down throughout the day so that you can sleep well. It's not necessarily a bad guy—it actually helps regulate your blood sugar and pressure—but you want cortisol to be in balance. Not too high and not too low.
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.
Hello, It all started about 8 months ago when my symptoms first started appearing. My first symptom was unexplained paresthesia through my body, usually around the neck area and extremities. After a while, it got the point where my legs would start hurting (burning sensation) on the inside after standing up for a while. After driving home from work at night, I felt wired, as if I had consumed 2-3 cups of black coffee in one sitting. I had to leave my job because of this. There was a period in where these symptoms were beginning to subside but gradually came back so I also stopped exercising and lifting. In the past 5-6 months I have changed my diet drastically, experimenting with different things such as gluten-free paleo, vegan, and even raw foodist at some point. My symptoms remain the same. I constantly battle with fatigue, I have trouble waking up in the morning(cold hands and feet and shivers upon waking up), extremely low libido, loose stool, and brain fog. I have an appointment tomorrow with an endocrinologist but would like to hear from you first. What can I do in the meanwhile to alleviate these symptoms? What might be the root cause of all this? Thank you!
Another big key to overcoming adrenal fatigue is taking the right supplements using supporting herbs. I always recommend eating the right foods to heal your body. However, it can still be a challenge to get enough of every nutrient you need every day. Therefore, it can be useful to wisely use dietary supplements for vitamins and minerals particularly vital for adrenal support.
Dr. Wilson also delves into the types of people and personalities who are commonly afflicted with this syndrome. He explains how different professions can leave certain people vulnerable to the type of stress that can overload their adrenals and result in this syndrome. Included also are examinations of how certain diseases have an adrenal component that can lead to adrenal exhaustion.
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 problem starts when cortisol stays high when it shouldn’t, often due to chronic stress. The result can be adrenal fatigue, which is not actually an adrenal problem but rather a brain problem. Typically, adrenal fatigue is when the brain-adrenal (HPA) axis isn’t working, so that the brain is not communicating appropriately with the adrenal glands to regulate cortisol. Symptoms include:
Toxic metals and chemicals often play a large role in adrenal burnout. Everyone is exposed to thousands of chemicals in the air, the water and the food. Other sources are dental materials and skin contact with chemicals. Over-the-counter and prescribed medications add to the body’s toxic load. Most people do not realize that antibiotics and many other drugs accumulate to some extent in the liver and other organs. Toxins may also be generated within the body due to impaired digestion. When food is not properly digested, it either ferments or rots in the intestines, producing many harmful substances that are absorbed into the body. A healthy body has the ability to eliminate many toxins on a daily basis. However, as adrenal weakness develops, the body’s ability to eliminate all toxins decreases. This produces a vicious cycle in which weaker adrenals impairs the elimination of all poisons, which then further weakens the adrenals.
Now, when your cortisol gets too high, your pituitary and hypothalamus slow down and so they don’t let go of any stress hormones and your thyroid begins to slow down. Now your thyroid stops producing as much thyroid hormone, which causes your metabolism to slow down and you all of a sudden start gaining weight, even though you haven’t changed anything about what you eat or workout. You start to feel fatigued, foggy and unmotivated. Also, when your stress is high, you convert more T3 into Part III (read Part III to learn more about Reverse T3), which slows things down and halts your metabolism even more.
Adrenal fatigue can affect blood sugar and sugar metabolism as stress normally causes the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, which helps raise blood sugar levels so the cells can more glucose to generate energy for your response to the stressor. The elevated blood sugar, in turn, requires higher levels of insulin to get the glucose from the blood into the cells. When this cycle is repeated frequently, the cells may become insulin resistant to protect themselves from too much glucose, especially when no energy-consuming physical action is taken in response to the stress. The greater the insulin resistance, the more insulin it takes to get glucose into the cells. In this way, chronic or repeated stress can contribute to persistent insulin resistance, and the resulting high levels of glucose (hyperglycemia) and insulin circulating in the blood that are likely precursors to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Allow yourself to accept nurturing and affection. If you didn’t learn how to do this as a child, you may need to practice it. Every morning before you get up, spend a minute or two reveling in a memory of a time you felt loved. Do the same at night. Imagine your heart being filled with this love. Use affirmations that help you feel deserving of this nurturing and love.
In The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, we have included everything you need to know about diet, stress management, exercise, supplementation, hormone replacement and much more. It gives you all the tools you need to get the right tests, identify what might be causing your fatigue, and begin restoring your energy levels one step at a time. You will also learn how to prevent your Adrenal Fatigue from reoccuring. Full recovery may take some time, but once you start on the right path you should begin to see your energy levels improving within weeks.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstance or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.
Because so much of adrenal fatigue is really brain-based, most of the natural medicines I use focus on supporting optimal brain health and the brain’s response to stress. Explore blends of adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, eleuthero ginseng, holy basil, and rhodiola rosea to give your adrenal axis some TLC. I also incorporated phosphatidylserine supplements into my routine. (Of course, consult your doctor before implementing any herbs or supplements.)
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’s no science to back it up. The Endocrine Society, the world's largest organization of endocrinologists (people who research and treat patients with diseases related to glands and hormones), flatly says that adrenal fatigue is not a real disease. And it says the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are so general, they can apply to many diseases or conditions (depression, sleep apnea, fibromyalgia) or stem from everyday life.