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Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome –an Exhausting Battle

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome


Is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome Real?

Adrenal fatigue syndrome is a condition that has caused a lot of controversy in the medical community. Some feel it is a tremendously under diagnosed disease, and others believe the symptoms the patient has are for another reason altogether, such as prolonged stress is your life. The term "adrenal fatigue" was first used in 1998, by James Wilson, PhD, a naturopath and expert in alternative medicine.

There are other disorders that are attributed to adrenal disorders, such as Cushing's disease or the result of a pituitary gland tumor.

Adrenal fatigue according to Mayo Clinic’s endocrinologist, Dr. Todd Nippoldt, is a term applied to several nonspecific symptoms, which are listed below. Adrenal insufficiency shows up on numerous medical websites and alternative medicine websites.

Adrenal Glands

The walnut size adrenal glands set on top of the kidneys and are responsible for producing several hormones that are essential to life. Addison’s disease, which is one form of adrenal insufficiency, refers to inadequate production of some of these hormones.

The hormones are chiefly responsible for regulating the body’s stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroid and catecholamine, including cortisol and adrenalin. These are the chemicals that put your body into that “fight or flight” mode by increasing production of adrenaline and other hormones.

If you are healthy, the adrenal glands can instantly increase your heart rate and blood pressure, release your energy stores for immediate use, slow your digestion and other secondary functions, plus it can sharpen your senses.

Adrenal Glands on Kidneys

Photo Courtesy of aurorahealth

Photo Courtesy of aurorahealth

President John F. Kennedy


Addisons VS Adrenal Insufficiency

If you have Addison’s disease these are the signs and symptoms;

  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of body hair
  • Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)

This insufficiency is diagnosed by blood tests and special stimulation tests that reveal inadequate levels of adrenaline hormones. As many of you may know, President John F. Kennedy had Addison’s disease, and it was kept quite secret during his presidency.

Those that believe in adrenal fatigue syndrome think it is a mild form of adrenal insufficiency. According to the adrenal fatigue theory, modern life is so relentlessly stressful that the adrenal glands get overworked and just peter out.

They suggest that your adrenal gland is underperforming due to constant emotional stress or illness, and they further suggest lifestyle changes as a cure, meaning dietary changes and reducing the stress in your life.

Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. - Adrenal Gland Burnout


The chronic fatigues symptoms are:

  • Being tired for no reason
  • Getting lightheaded when you stand up quickly
  • Lowered blood pressure and blood glucose
  • Frequently get colds or infections and have a difficult time recovering
  • Feel as if you are constantly walking uphill
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Craving either salty or sugary foods to keep going
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • Unexplained pain in the upper back or neck
  • Increased PMS symptoms for women
  • Tendency to gain weight and be unable to lose it

Prolonged Stress - Not a Cause

Some physicians say there is no evidence that prolonged stress results in the adrenals producing less cortisol. The symptoms may be due to stress, fractured sleep, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. Furthermore, the symptoms mimic some other diseases as well, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or possibly Fibromyalgia.

Although there are no specific tests that will provide a true diagnosis of adrenal fatigue, there are tests that may contribute to an assessment. A blood test for cortisol can be done, but cortisol is at its peak at 8 AM.

It fluctuates throughout the day, plus if you are stressed being in the doctor’s office you will get a false positive. It is customary for a physician to get lab work for the adrenals together with the thyroid tests to rule out insufficiency, which sometimes occurs in long-standing hypothyroidism.

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Dietary Suggestions to Help Fight This Disease

Even though there has been little medical research into this problem there are many dietary suggestions which seem to help with these symptoms:

  • Add ground flax meal to your diet since it contains healthy dietary fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Magnesium may also help.
  • Add organic extra virgin olive coconut oil to your diet to benefit from the saturated fat that can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Add foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids to your diet in the form of fish oil, wild salmon, minimal amounts of albacore tuna, and sprouted walnuts.
  • Add mineralized salt to your diet, especially upon rising (1/2 to 1 teaspoon mixed in water) and at least a half-hour before your lowest energy point of the day; Himalayan crystal salt is preferred.
  • Eat lightly cooked animal and vegetable proteins (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes).
  • Eat dairy products with live, active cultures (probiotics), such as organic, unpasteurized yogurt and kefir (unless you are allergic to dairy).
  • Eat plenty of unrefined low-glycemic carbohydrates (brown rice, sprouted grains, and winter squash).
  • Limit intake of fruits that have a high glycemic index such as apricots, raisins, bananas, papaya, and mango.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and vegetable juices (kelp, sprouts, green and black olives, peppers, spinach, chard, celery, zucchini).
  • Add nutrient-dense and unprocessed foods such as sprouted nuts and seeds to your diet.
  • Drink purified water throughout the day

Avoiding Harmful Foods

There are foods to avoid:

  • All foods containing refined sugar or artificial sugar substitutes, such as aspartame, or Splenda. Choose a natural sugar like Xylosweet instead
  • All simple or refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, etc.
  • Foods high in potassium since they make adrenal fatigue worse (bananas, all melons, dried figs, raisins, dates, oranges, grapefruit, etc.)
  • Moderate amounts of caffeine may be okay but avoid excessive amounts
  • Alcoholic beverages should be drunk sparingly
  • Fermented foods such as cheese and wine
  • Fungi such as mushrooms
  • Pickled foods
  • Fungi such as mushrooms
  • Sodium nitrite found in processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils/trans fats found in many processed foods, deep-fried food, fast food, and junk food

How to Overcome Adrenal Fatigue

Other Tips To Improve Your Health

Regular exercise can help relieve anxiety, stress and tension, plus it is good for your body. If you have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, you may struggle with feeling like you don't have the energy to exercise.

Research has shown that even just 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week, can significantly help regain and maintain overall health as well as promote energy production. You should avoid highly competitive exercise programs. Just a brisk walk or bike ride is adequate.

In Summary

This seems to be a difficult disease, as it is not recognized by many medical doctors, and there is essentially no good treatment. Do not take extracts of the bovine adrenal cortex as it is absolutely ineffective because the hormones are present. Apparently this is listed on some of the alternative websites.

You can consider supplements from a class called adaptogens, which would include things like licorice root, ginseng. You would want to use them under the guidance of a trained integrative provider. You will have to look on the internet or in the phone book to find someone with schooled in this specialty, such as an endocrinologist.

Try to avoid stressful situations, and don’t expect too much of yourself. If some chore isn’t done, it can wait. Enjoy the company of loved ones, laugh and play every chance you get as that produces good hormones in your brain.

Do everything possible to avoid adrenal fatigue syndrome.

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2019:

Hi RTalloni, I agree with your take on the problem and I appreciate your comments.

RTalloni on September 17, 2019:

Thanks for this look at adrenal fatigue syndrome. It is possible that part of the remedy is a good part of the cause. Taking care of ourselves to try to avoid this problem is huge!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 17, 2019:

Hi Kari, It can be a ery difficult disease. I hope your friend is doing okay. Thank you for your comments.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on September 17, 2019:

This is a very informative article about this disease. I have a friend who is treated for this.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 05, 2013:

Norman Aqil, I think there many unanswered questions about this disease or syndrome also. Thank you for your comments.

Noman Aqil from Karachi, Pakistan on July 05, 2013:

I agree that it is really difficult to be diagnosed with adrenal fatigue as there are so many symptoms -- Sometimes, I think that it is not even a real disease!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 27, 2012:

icmn91, This disorder has so many symptoms and I think it may not always be easily diagnosed. I wrote this some time ago and was recently diagnosed with this disorder also. LOL! I hope your health improves and I certainly appreciate your comments.

icmn91 from Australia on November 26, 2012:

Seems to be behind a lot of health problems, including my gluten issues. I had trouble sleeping for years and years when I was young. Almost like a chicken-before-the-egg/egg-before-the-chicken effect!!!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 23, 2012:

I have lupus also. I'm glad the hub was helpful to you and I hope your health is improving. I appreciate your comments.

Nancy McClintock from Southeast USA on May 22, 2012:

I was told by an iridologist that I have this disorder. I suffer from lupus . Thank you for your insightful article

infonolan on May 13, 2012:

I just published a hub on this. Always great to know more about others' experiences with adrenal fatigue, and how diet can be of assistance.

infonolan on May 13, 2012:

I have lots of family with the syndrome. Unfortunately it recently seems to have gotten a hold of me. I'm currently using binaural therapy which seems to be helping. Haven't tried any dietary changes as I'm already gluten-sensitive and on a gluten free diet, but would love to know more about the impact of some of these foods on the whole pattern. I will be hubbing about how the binaural therapy youtube videos work:

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 17, 2010:

Suppport Med, Thank you for your comments.

Support Med. from Michigan on October 16, 2010:

An interesting article, well presented. Thanks for sharing this information. Voted/rated.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 07, 2010:

MartieCoetser, I hope you find a doctor that can solve your problem and I appreciate your comment.

Spiritual Growth, Thank you so much for your comment.

Katopsyd, I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comment.

kaltopsyd from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA on September 07, 2010:

I like the way this Hub was presented. Thank you for such an educating article.

Spiritual Growth on September 07, 2010:

Great hub- very useful. Thank you

Martie Coetser from South Africa on September 06, 2010:

Interesting info! According to the symptoms I don’t suffer this, though my adrenal glands seem to be hyper active. Still have to find out why and what to do. Thanks – this is relative info and bookmarked.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2010:

Lark, Thank you for your comemtn.

Mpg, I think that low thyroid symptoms are common to the low adrenal problem as the done doctor did lab work for both problems. With the thyroid problem at lease there is a blood test for a diagnosis. I wonder if you are on the right dosage. We have 3 people in our family with low thyroid and they finally got on the right dosage of medicine and started feeling better. Thanks for your comments as this really is a complex physical problem.

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on September 06, 2010:

Wow, there's a name for being constantly tired! In my case though it is a low thyroid but symptoms are similar.

Great hub with heaps of good info Pamela, thanks.

Lark on September 06, 2010:

Interesting topic

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 05, 2010:

SilverGenes, We do live in a fast paced world. I hope they figure out exactly what they are dealing with and find a treatment. Thanks for your comment.

SilverGenes on September 05, 2010:

Excellent article on the adrenals and I learned a lot I didn't know about them. It makes sense if we are under stress nonstop, as many are, the adrenals would burn out. Modern life certainly has its health risks.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 05, 2010:

Miata, I think you're right. I appreciate your comments.

Audry, You certainly would know about Addison's Disease. I appreciate your comments.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on September 05, 2010:

Well done Pamela - I didn't know some of that stuff and my Kodi had Addison's disease so learned a bit about the adrenals, etc. Thanks for the helpful info!

prettydarkhorse from US on September 05, 2010:

It is sad that it is not accepted diagnosis medically, but I have a hint it is just in the corner to be recognized, nice hub Pam, Maita

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 05, 2010:

Quill, I think you are right all the way around. We should do the right things at home but then the doctors should be able to figure this out. Thanks for your comment.

"Quill" on September 05, 2010:

Well don Pam... what an interesting read this has been as I think many are feeling listless and we take vits, eat well etc but something Docs should be looking more closely at.


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 05, 2010:

GPAGE, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate you comments.

Katem, I'm glad you learn a couple of new things from the hub and I appreciate you comments.

Minnetonka Twin, These symptoms are tough to figure out as they are similar to a couple of other diseases like I said, but you have to wonder if this is a disease the doctors just don't understand yet. Thanks for your comment.

Amber, On thing about Addison's disease, you know exactly what disease you have and it sounds like your treatment is working perfectly.

Billy, That is true. Thanks for your comments.

JY, I'm glad you liked the hub and thanks for your comments.

Saddlerider, It might be interested to compare her symptoms and compare them to these, although I think they will be similar. I hope she gets well soon. Thanks for your comments.

Boomer, It's always a good idea to get a thorough checkup occasionally. Other than that I would say, enjoy the nap. Thanks for your comments.

Boomer60 on September 05, 2010:

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is new to me. I have some of these symptoms except the weight loss. I have to agree with the aging process for me however. I take naps now when I never did before in my life. Thanks for the info!

saddlerider1 on September 05, 2010:

Thank you for this very wonderfully informative hub. I have a friend going through these problems and I will pass this information on to her. She has just been diagnosed with cronic fatigue syndrome.

John Young from Florence, South Carolina on September 05, 2010:

Pam, I think I have that...but then again I'm a hypochondriac. LOL Liked the hub, it was very informative.

billyaustindillon on September 05, 2010:

Excellent hub on Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome - I knew of chronic fatigue syndrome by word only and of one of those things people believe or don't - you put a great summary through of all the aspects and studies.

Amber Allen on September 05, 2010:

Hi Pamela

Great hub on Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and very well researched. I've got Addisons and have to take two types of steriod medication every day :( but at least I'm only topping up something my body isn't producing properly so I haven't had any side effects and since I've been taking the medication almost all of the symptoms I had have disappeared. One of the other symptoms of Addisons which I've had and still have to a lesser degree is that the lines on the palms of my hand are much darker than other people.


Linda Rogers from Minnesota on September 04, 2010:

I have heard of this a lot lately and know many who think they have this. Great information on this topic.

Katie McMurray from Ohio on September 04, 2010:

Amazing stuff on adrenal fatique syndrome. I learned a lot here today. thanks for the facts on this issue.

GPAGE from California on September 04, 2010:

pamela...I always admire how informative and organized your hubs are. This is very interesting. I have been taking a very good supplement for the adrenals. It seems to help me a bit.....thank you for such a fantastic hub. Best, G

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 04, 2010:

Prasetio, I am glad you liked this hub. Thank you for your comment.

bayoulady, I really wanted to see how the poll would come out because I suspected the results would be something in that range. So many diseases aren't diagnosed because there is no specific test and Chronic fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Lupus and many other diseases give you some of those symptoms. Thanks for your comments.

bayoulady from Northern Louisiana,USA on September 04, 2010:

Interesting,Pam. when I took your poll,67% say they know someone that has the symptoms, but is not being treated. I know several that would fit this profile.

rate up.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on September 04, 2010:

Great information. I am glad to visit your hub. You always make me impress with useful hub like this one. Very well description about adrenal fatigue syndrome. Thank you very much. ~prasetio

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 04, 2010:

Tom, I think that if true! Thanks for your comment.

Rev Lady, I'm not sure about the anemia. It wasn't listed in the references I looked at. Thanks for your comment.

RevLady from Lantana, Florida on September 04, 2010:

Another great informative and useful piece Pam. I wonder if it is related to anemia in any way. Thanks for your thorough presentation.

Forever His,

Tom Whitworth from Moundsville, WV on September 04, 2010:


I thought the fatigue symptoms were the natural process of aging!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great Hub.

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