What differentiates adrenal insufficiency from adrenal fatigue? More often than not, adrenal fatigue is modeled by an overabundance of cortisol, often at the “wrong” times, while adrenal insufficiency is a consistent inability to produce cortisol. They are related, though — many natural medicine practitioners, such as myself, see adrenal fatigue as a precursor to adrenal insufficiency. In fact, a description of adrenal insufficiency from the Cleveland Clinic states that “its early clinical presentation is most commonly vague and undefined, requiring a high index of suspicion.” (41)

Adrenal Fatigue is a stress-related condition that occurs when your adrenal glands, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland are functioning below their optimal level. It is typically the result of chronic physical or emotional stress. Adrenal Fatigue results in symptoms like a weakened immune system, low energy levels, an inability to handle stressful situations, and cravings for salty or sugary foods.
Got this after a friend recently mentioned that she was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue. I had no clue about the condition and decided to research. This guide was incredibly informative despite its length. The author was straightforward with his facts that were both scientific and practical. I’m quite convinced to see a specialist now after reading this and realizing that I have a few of the most common symptoms. This just might have saved my life.
Adrenal hyperfunction indicates an excess of cortisol and adrenal activity. Adrenal hyperfunction is indicative of a loss of certain mineralcorticoid hormones, and consequently a loss in potassium through the urine. Adrenal hyperfunction can be a primary cause of hypertension (which quite often involves a loss of potassium and an increase in sodium in the blood and cells) as well as anxiety, irritability and headaches.
Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James L. Wilson is considered by many to be an invaluable resource for information about this syndrome, its impact on human life, and the proper way to address it. Wilson’s experience with adrenal function has earned him respect as an expert on the subject. And because he has spent time not only treating patients who suffer from adrenal dysregulation, but researching the science that underlies these problems, his work has helped to revolutionize many people’s understanding of adrenal fatigue’s impact on human health.
A part of the adrenal glands named the cortex is responsible for producing aldosterone, a mineralocorticoid which works with the kidney to regulate our fluid and mineral excretion. When the adrenals become fatigued, we produce less aldosterone and tend to excrete large amounts of important minerals in our urine. Individuals with depleted endocrine systems often report frequent urination, which is often attributed to age but may actually be caused by depleted adrenals.
This group of vitamins is the first step in getting your mind and body back into gear. B vitamins work together in helping the body create energy from the food you eat, while also supporting brain function and healthy skin, hair and muscles. Although the role of each B vitamin differs slightly, they’re all vital for a healthy metabolism and energy production.
Dr. Jill is Your Functional Medicine Expert! She uses functional medicine to help you find answers to the cause of your illness and addresses the biochemical imbalances that may be making you feel ill. She'll help you search for underlying triggers contributing to your illness through cutting edge lab testing and tailor the intervention to your specific needs as an individual. She may use diet, supplements, lifestyle changes or medication to treat your illness but will seek the most gentle way to help your body restore balance along with the least invasive treatment possible. Dr. Jill is a functional medicine expert consultant and treats environmental and mold-related illness as well
I’m in my early 20’s and have severe adrenal fatigue. It’s so bad that it has caused weight gain in the belly area, fluid retention everywhere, and severe hypoglycemia. I don’t understand how I have adrenal fatigue this bad when I’m so young. I’ve been on a third shift sleep schedule for about 6 years (going to bed anywhere from 3am-6am) but despite doing that, I sleep in late so I still get plenty of sleep. But I know people who have worked third shift for decades. So I’m assuming it couldn’t have caused severe adrenal fatigue after just 6 years, especially considering I’m still getting plenty of sleep? I’m guessing there are other factors at play here?
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your healthcare provider or 911 immediately. Any mention of products or services is not meant as a guarantee, endorsement, or recommendation of the products, services, or companies. Reliance on any information provided is solely at your own risk. Please discuss any options with your healthcare provider.
As most books in the “Dummies” series do, this one covers the full range of issues involving the adrenals and their impact on patient energy. It explains, in simple and easy-to-understand language, how the adrenals work and why they become fatigued. It details the symptoms associated with this type of low energy, and tests that can be administered to detect adrenal dysfunction. There is also a large amount of insight into the types of stressors that can trigger the stress response that contributes to adrenal overload and fatigue.
Also, before anyone decides to fully diagnosis themselves, first, they need to do research into the subject. I know for cortisol, if you have too much, it is bad for you as well, especially if you take a cortisol supplement and get angry with 10 mins, that means you have too much cortisol and need to level it out. You are the only person who knows what type of stress you are under on a daily basis.

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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?
B-Complex vitamins: Research has found that vitamin B12 deficiency may be associated with stress on the adrenal cortex in some animals. (25) Vitamin B5 is another commonly deficient vitamin in people with adrenal stress. Especially if you’re reducing or eliminating meat from your diet in order to fight adrenal fatigue, it may serve you well to take a high-quality B-complex vitamin supplement.
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.

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.
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.
Or, if you cannot afford the book, go to the author's website StopTheThyroidMadness.com and click on the tab "What We've Learned." Pay close attention to the section "Ducks In a Row," which I found particularly helpful. This will help you (1) Identify a physician who is best to treat you, and (2) explain what you need to know going into the appointment. If I would have had this book at the beginning of my health crisis, I would have shaved a year and half off of healing.

Or, if you cannot afford the book, go to the author's website StopTheThyroidMadness.com and click on the tab "What We've Learned." Pay close attention to the section "Ducks In a Row," which I found particularly helpful. This will help you (1) Identify a physician who is best to treat you, and (2) explain what you need to know going into the appointment. If I would have had this book at the beginning of my health crisis, I would have shaved a year and half off of healing.
Methylation labs: Methylation is a collection of biochemical actions in the body that happen 1 billion times every second. Healthy methylation helps to maintain a healthy brain, gut, hormones, and detox pathways, and also protects your DNA. However, some of us have genetic mutations that impair the methylation process. I have multiple methylation gene mutations, one of which is the MTHFR gene mutation, making me less able to absorb certain essential vitamins. This was useful information because I was then better able to supplement to make up for my nutritional deficiencies.

Once a diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency has been made, a computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen may be taken to see if the adrenal glands are diminished in size, reflecting destruction, or enlarged, reflecting infiltration by some independent disease process. The scan also may show signs of calcium deposits, which may indicate previous exposure to tuberculosis. A tuberculin skin test may be used to address the latter possibility.

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.


I had my saliva tests done, and the results showed that my cortisol level wouldn’t even register a number after 11am, dipped further off the grid at 4pm and a slight surge at 11pm. Understanding the inverse relationship with DHEA, that level was “off the chart high”. I’ve been on Adreneltone and cortisol manager supplement for almost 3 months and the fatigue only seems to be the same if not a little worse (I actually fell asleep during my daughters dance competition! )

Oysters are packed with zinc, and having a balanced trace mineral ratio between copper and zinc can help with healthy neurotransmitter function and adaptogen to stress. Increased copper and decreased zinc has been shown to contribute to brain stress and anxiety. Oysters – superfood of the sea – are a great way to achieve this balance to help ease your stress levels.
After read this book I found that you could probably are dealing with the adrenal fatigue symptoms and you may not knowing, been tired, living with stress or having anxiety could be by this reason, here you can find the root cause and ways to test if you are dealing this this fatigue syndrome, one of the principal rules is to change your diet where you can find many solutions here.
I was experiencing hair loss in huge amounts. My stress was through the roof last few years . My mom passed away of cancer seven months ago. Finally saw an endo Dr and found out my DHEA levels are soaring. My testosterone high. I have Pcos and Dr found a small benign mass on my left adrenal gland. I pretty much feel like crap all the time. Major panic attacks and anxiety, exhaustion, weight gain, stressed, depressed, headaches, body aches, left kidney pain. Now I have fast heart beat and high blood pressure. I’m on Aldactone and couple other meds. I just have severs fear if this small mass since cancer is in my family. The Dr thinks nothing of it as it seems to be build up hormone. I am afraid it will turn into something worse. And my anxiety makes me fear the worst. They are saying my thyroid is fine but I don’t believe that. Any suggestions? Thank you…….

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.
Studies in mice have shown that magnesium modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), helping to reduce anxiety and stress. In this way, it’s believed that magnesium can regulate the production of cortisol and prevent excess cortisol from being created. This ultimately helps to keep the nervous system in check, allowing the mind and body to feel more relaxed.
These stress hormones regulate everything from your mood to your digestion to your blood sugar to your stress response (acute short term and chronic long term stress), your immune response, blood pressure and so much more. Your adrenals are regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary glad along the HPA axis (the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axis). Now, let’s break this down.
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There are numerous supplements you can use for adrenal fatigue but remember, you have to get to the root cause of WHY you have adrenal fatigue before you start your adrenal fatigue treatment. If you don’t, the supplements will just be a waste of money! Talk to your Functional MD about the following supplements to support your adrenals. But please know that anything that supports your adrenals will increase your estrogen so this may lead to worse PMS, acne, weight gain or mood swings- something NO ONE told me about until recently. Probably because no doctor understood this!
While not specifically about adrenal fatigue, information in this book will be an important part of your healing process. Discussing all the components of a healthy lifestyle, such as eating healthy, sleep and the physical effects of stress and stress-related illness, Dr. Schwarzbein explains not only why you are so tired all the time, but why you can't get rid of that extra belly fat. An excellent explanation of how your hormonal imbalance causes degenerative diseases and accelerated aging, this book ties together the connections between adrenaline, cortisol, insulin and other metabolic hormones, and explains how you can make changes that will prevent or reverse diseases likeType II Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, and how you will lose weight as a result of healing your metabolism, and why it won't work to try to lose the weight BEFORE you get your hormones under control. This book outlines 4 different plans for recovery, depending on your current metabolic condition:
A start is leading a more holistic lifestyle overall, stay away from processed and refined foods, eat/drink fermented foods, get the sleep you need listen to your body and yourself and not others, there are so many out there that will offer advice much of it contradictory, go slow develop a new life style not just a temporary change. if you have the money go to a holistic or alternative medicine, or a doctor who believes in complementary medicine. beware of those who stand to gain financially from your problems.
Lifeworks Wellness Center is long recognized as one of the foremost natural health clinics in the US. At our Tampa Bay, Florida alternative medicine office we have been offering adrenal fatigue treatment and treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome for a long time and many of our patients have regained quality of life. Very few clinics offer natural adrenal fatigue treatment and so our patients fly in from all over the world because they simply can’t find clinics offering this treatment where they live. 

The skin darkening that concerns endocrinologists most often occurs in Addison’s disease, but not secondary adrenal insufficiency. The latter of these conditions is often not diagnosed quickly because people ignore symptoms until they are drastically obvious. People with adrenal insufficiency do experience severe fatigue, often not reflected by salivary cortisol levels. (40)
Another oft-quoted piece of evidence against the existence of adrenal fatigue is Todd B. Nippoldt’s interview with Mayo Clinic, stating essentially the same concerns. (6) Again, it is stated that consistent levels of chronic stress have no effect whatsoever on the adrenals and the only true endocrine disorders are those caused by other diseases and direct damage to the adrenal glands.
Testing for Adrenal Fatigue can take several forms. First we have the standard hormone tests, which include testing for cortisol and various thyroid hormones. These are the tests that your medical doctor will likely give you. Then we have the tests more frequently used by integrative doctors or naturopaths – these tend to look at the ratios of various hormones and neurotransmitters, in order to get a better idea of how a patient is feeling. And lastly we have a set of more subjective physical tests, which were mostly developed in the early days of Adrenal Fatigue diagnosis.
I've been disabled now for almost 10 years, but before that, I worked as an RN, BSN (with a certification in Infection Prevention) for over 30 years. I got my Bachelors in Nursing at a well-known University. Unfortunately, we, as students and as nurses, were indoctrinated with the belief that ONLY WESTERN ALLOPATHIC medicine was valid, and complementary and natural health were quacks. Some are, as well as some Western medicine doctors. It took me many many years to realize that our western medicine's practice of lab and radiological and other testings' means of diagnoses, followed by prescription medication as treatment, dictated by protocols and insurance companies, was doing more harm sometimes than good. I started believing in nutritional and natural means of helping my body heal itself was far better than medications in 2013. However, by that time, I was taking 10 prescription medications twice a day. In the beginning of 2016 I became so fatigued, I would fall back to sleep an hour after I slept 9 hours. I had SEVERE sleep apnea. I went to see an Endocrinologist, and ALL my results for Adrenal Insufficiency (Addison's Disease) were there- undetectable cortisol levels, undetectable epinephrine and norepinephrine in my 24-urine collections and blood tests. However, at the test that is called "The Gold Standard" for Addison's, my cortisol level went up 3 times the baseline after an injection of synthetic meds. So even with all these other abnormal tests and my overwhelming fatigue, I was told I didn't have Addison's and should come back for repeat tests in 6 months. If I sound angry, I am. I found an article on Wikipedia that said if your cortisol level goes up 3 times after that test, it indicates a pituitary or hypothalamus problem. The doctor "didn't think I had those issues". So, if YOU ARE LIKE ME, and you KNOW something is not right with you, and medical doctors ignore you, tell you it's all in your head, or you should just RELAX, READ THIS BOOK and others like it that deal with natural alternative healing. Use common sense in deciding what to try in helping your body recover health, but PLEASE TRY TO HELP YOURSELF and not totally rely on doctors who only give out pills, pills, and more pills. In fact, Dr. Wilson (who is NOT an MD, but is highly trained) writes a very vivid account of what western medicine has degenerated to right now. It is startling, and as an RN who worked in Quality and Risk, I know he is correct. Adrenal Fatigue is an epidemic today in the USA, where we live stressful lives and have stressful jobs. There is a test in the book that has been used to "diagnose" your tendency to have adrenal fatigue. And Dr. Wilson gives step by step actions we can take to "get our lives back", using nutrition, supplements, activities, and other natural remedies. He also tells about a simple saliva test for adrenal insufficiency or fatigue that the medical community refuses to accept. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, PLEASE CONSIDER buying and reading this book. If your doctor refuses to believe you are not well, help yourselves. Thank you for putting up with me if you read through this Long Review!!

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your healthcare provider or 911 immediately. Any mention of products or services is not meant as a guarantee, endorsement, or recommendation of the products, services, or companies. Reliance on any information provided is solely at your own risk. Please discuss any options with your healthcare provider.
Dr. John Tinterra, a medical doctor who specialized in low adrenal function, said in 1969 that he estimated that approximately 16% of the public could be classified as severe, but that if all indications of low cortisol were included, the percentage would be more like 66%. This was before the extreme stress of 21st century living, 9/11, and the severe economic recession we are experiencing.
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.
Healthy adrenal glands secrete appropriate amounts of cortisol, a hormone fundamental to optimal health. When released in normal levels, cortisol is essential to helping our bodies respond in healthy ways to stress and supporting a healthy immune response—without cortisol, the body cannot sustain life! Cortisol levels affect every tissue, organ and gland in the body. Balance is crucial.

In her book, this Certified Nutrition Specialist presents her central premise that the brain – not the adrenals – bears the most responsibility for what we commonly view as adrenal fatigue. Like Dr. James Wilson, Gedgaudas uses much of Hans Selye’s pioneering research into stress and our response to stressors as a starting point for her work. Unlike Wilson, however, she turns her attention almost completely away from the adrenal glands and toward the patient’s brain. In her view, it is the brain that is most at risk in our modern world, and it is the impact of stress on the brain that is at the root of most of modern man’s fatigue issues.
Here are some typical signs that you have adrenal exhaustion: You awaken feeling groggy and have difficulty dragging yourself out of bed. You can’t get going without that first cup or two of caffeinated coffee or tea. You not only rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get through the day but find you actually crave sweets, particularly in the late morning or afternoon. (Perhaps you’ve even been diagnosed with hypoglycemia.) Your thinking is foggy and you have memory problems. You suffer from recurrent infections, headaches and depression. At night, though exhausted, you have trouble falling asleep as the worries of the day replay in your head and you suffer from insomnia. Ordinary stresses have an impact that is out of proportion to their importance. You wonder what happened to your interest in sex. If this description fits you, your adrenals may be running on empty, even if all your conventional medical tests are normal.

There are a number of nutritional approaches for dealing with adrenal issues. Protocols should be devised for each individual accordingly, due to the highly individual nature of the body. Therefore, understanding your own blood test results is essential in order to figure out a clear strategy from improvement. Click here to read more about blood chemistry.


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. 
Chronic fatigue affects more than 1 million people in the United States, and those are just the extreme cases. We are a society that works hard, doesn’t sleep enough, and often seems to run on fumes and caffeine. Many of us constantly crave sugary foods and suffer from debilitating exhaustion. That exhaustion can be caused by different things, and chronic fatigue is multifaceted, but in many cases, one common aspect of the condition is something called adrenal fatigue.
A part of the adrenal glands named the cortex is responsible for producing aldosterone, a mineralocorticoid which works with the kidney to regulate our fluid and mineral excretion. When the adrenals become fatigued, we produce less aldosterone and tend to excrete large amounts of important minerals in our urine. Individuals with depleted endocrine systems often report frequent urination, which is often attributed to age but may actually be caused by depleted adrenals.
I just took dr Wilson’s test and scored in the “severe” range. Not really news to me… I’ve been depressed and burnt out for a whole now, although I find it interesting that there may be a physical reason why I’m feeling this way. Not sure what to really do about it though, since I’m already doing a lot of the things to “be kind”. What do I do now? Do you have a link to other posts that talk about how you recovered?
Dr James Wilson is the world’s authority on the stress syndrome known as adrenal fatigue. His book Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome is a commitment to the truth in defining and treating this well-known but poorly understood malady. Adrenal fatigue is not recognized by allopathic medicine or by the insurance or pharmaceutical industries in the United States. There is no International Classification of Diseases coding for adrenal fatigue. Some patients have a diagnosis of the extreme forms of adrenal stress known as Addison disease or Cushing disease. Where allopathic medicine falls short, naturopathic medicine steps up to the plate to shine, outweighing the possibilities for success: “there are no magic pills for adrenal fatigue but there are certainly key lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements that will greatly facilitate your recovery” (p 97).
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.

Here are some typical signs that you have adrenal exhaustion: You awaken feeling groggy and have difficulty dragging yourself out of bed. You can’t get going without that first cup or two of caffeinated coffee or tea. You not only rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get through the day but find you actually crave sweets, particularly in the late morning or afternoon. (Perhaps you’ve even been diagnosed with hypoglycemia.) Your thinking is foggy and you have memory problems. You suffer from recurrent infections, headaches and depression. At night, though exhausted, you have trouble falling asleep as the worries of the day replay in your head and you suffer from insomnia. Ordinary stresses have an impact that is out of proportion to their importance. You wonder what happened to your interest in sex. If this description fits you, your adrenals may be running on empty, even if all your conventional medical tests are normal.

Blood or salivary testing is sometimes offered but there is no evidence that adrenal fatigue exists or can be tested for.[1][3] The concept of adrenal fatigue has given rise to an industry of dietary supplements marketed to treat this condition. These supplements are largely unregulated in the U.S., are ineffective, and in some cases may be dangerous.[3]


Processed meats: An overload of protein can stress your hormones more than you might think, and the added hormones and lacking nutrition in conventional, processed meats (particularly red meats like beef and steak) can throw your system out-of-whack in quick succession. When buying meats for adrenal support, stick to grass-fed beef and free-range chicken or turkey, and eat these protein-heavy meats only in moderation.
The term "adrenal fatigue" was coined in 1998 by James Wilson, PhD, a naturopath and expert in alternative medicine. He describes it as a "group of related signs and symptoms (a syndrome) that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level." He says it’s usually associated with intense stress and often follows chronic infections like bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia.
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