What Is Adrenal Fatigue? – Causes and Symptoms

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on
List of symptoms of adrenal fatigue

Life moves fast and a lack of energy is a complaint for many. Fatigue or tiredness has become an increasingly common symptom, and there is a theory floating around that has taken on this issue. Adrenal Fatigue was a term coined by James M. Wilson, and it proposes that chronic mental, physical, or emotional stress taxes the hormone production of your adrenal glands and wipes out your energy levels. As of today, there has been no scientific research backing up this theory, but we will explore this issue while providing some facts around it.

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

The theory states that common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include problems falling asleep at night, staying asleep, difficulty waking up, and increased of food cravings, especially for salt and sugar. Even if a good night’s sleep is had, an individual with adrenal fatigue feels tired all the time.

What Are the Adrenal Glands?

You have two adrenal glands, each paired with one of your kidneys. They belong to your endocrine system along with your thyroid, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries/or testes, and parathyroid glands. These organs produce hormones that regulate growth, sleep, mood, metabolism, and your fertility.

What Is Adrenal Insufficiency?

Adrenal fatigue is different from adrenal insufficiency. Also known as Addison’s disease, adrenal insufficiency occurs due to the disruption of your adrenal glands due to nutritional imbalances. This causes them to stop producing aldosterone, the hormone that regulates blood pressure and salt levels in the blood, and also cortisol, the hormone your body uses to counteract stress, but cortisol does a lot more. It helps maintain blood pressure, slows inflammatory response, and also contributes to metabolism.

Autoimmune disorders account for the majority of cases of Addison’s disease where tuberculosis, fungal infections, and cancer account for the remainder of causes. [1]

The symptoms of adrenal insufficiency are mostly different and much more dramatic than adrenal fatigue. It usually begins with loss of appetite, weight loss, and weakness. Half of the people affected will have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms also include low blood pressure, dizziness, and darkening of the skin in scars, skin folds, areas like knees, elbows, knuckles, toes, and lips. If left unaddressed, it can be fatal.

Adrenal insufficiency can be treated with hormones to replace the ones not being produced.

How to Keep Your Endocrine System in Balance

If you’re under constant stress and feel chronic fatigue, you can take a few simple steps to keep your endocrine system in balance.

  1. Set time aside to rest. While sleep may be difficult to come by, when you take some time to wind down, it helps your body relax.
  2. Exercise. It may seem counterintuitive, but exercise decreases stress and reduces cortisol levels. [2]
  3. Avoid endocrine disruptors. These chemicals and some foods interfere with your hormones and can overly stress your adrenal glands if exposed in excess.
  4. Implement an adrenal fatigue diet. You need a variety of natural, organic foods including healthy proteins, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables for proper adrenal nutrition.
  5. Adrenal Fatigue Supplements. Iodine plays a large role in hormone balance. To promote hormone balance naturally, make sure you supplement with vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium and magnesium. For more information on a high quality vitamin supplement, I personally recommend IntraMAX®.

Hormonal imbalance affects every aspect of your body and life, and the effects create a wide variety of symptoms including feeling fatigued. As stated in this article, hormones regulate many body functions and is imperative to know how to take control of your health. I created a webinar where you can learn all about hormonal imbalance, from causes to symptoms and remedies. I highly recommend taking the time to watch it!

Now, if you do have chronic fatigue and your symptoms are seriously disrupting your life or you’re feeling depressed, you should see your healthcare provider to rule out more serious conditions.

References (2)
  1. Pituitary Network Association. Adrenal Insufficiency (Addison's Disease).
  2. Alghadir AH1, Gabr SA2. Physical activity and environmental influences on adrenal fatigue of Saudi adults: biochemical analysis and questionnaire survey. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Jul;27(7):2045-51. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.2045. Epub 2015 Jul 22.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Nicole Summers Robbins

    The adrenal diet suggests food comin actions that go directly against the Green Body Cleanse recommendations, specifically to eat protein and carbs together. How do I reconcile if I’m trying to cleanse but also recovering from adrenal fatigue?

  • Good question — you may want to separate those objectives to get the best results. Cleanse, then try the adrenal diet?


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