Adrenal fatigue

Adrenal fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is putative health disorder in which the adrenal glands are exhausted and unable to produce adequate quantities of hormones, primarily cortisol, the stress hormone of the body. Adrenal fatigue is not a recognized medical diagnosis. [cite web |url= |title=Adrenal fatigue: What causes it? | |publisher=Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research |accessdate=2008-08-03 ] General practitioners and psychologists routinely ascribe other causes, frequently psychological, for the symptoms commonly ascribed to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is recognized by alternative medicine practitioners, and the suffering of many people has given rise to an industry of supplements and treatments for this supposed syndrome.

There is considerable confusion regarding the relation of this putative disorder to another poorly understood syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome. The two may have common symptoms and it is difficult to distinguish them.


Persons described as suffering from adrenal fatigue often complain of chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, trouble getting out of bed in the morning, depression, low energy, inability to recuperate or regain energy levels, lack of endurance, decreased libido, weight gain/loss, and trouble handling physical or emotional stress.


Adrenal fatigue is not typically said to be caused by one source, rather a host of lifestyle factors that contribute to adrenal fatigue as a whole. Such contributing factors include: stress (physical and emotional), poor diet, lack of exercise, significant use of stimulants (caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines), lack of refreshing sleep, lack of relaxation, illness, being overworked, being post-surgery, as well as other stresses.

Adrenal stress is described as having a tendency to occur suddenly after a serious illness or stressful point in life.


Naturopathic treatment

According to various naturopathic specialists, adrenal fatigue can be treated and reversed with proper lifestyle changes and dietary considerations. By leading a lifestyle more conducive to health, avoiding stressful situations, and eating a balanced diet, the adrenal glands can supposedly repair themselves and return to proper functioning.

There is wide acceptance among the suppliers of supplements for the treatment of adrenal fatigue that the most important nutrient deficiencies are vitamin C and pantothenic acid(vitamin B5). Of the recommended herbal remedies, it is worth mentioning that licorice is claimed to slow down the breakdown of cortisol. This is said to keep more cortisol in the body, thus relieving some symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

The naturopathic treatment is known as a "long road"; the way to recovery is said to be long and difficult, with many ups-and-downs. However, naturopaths consider this more healthy than hormone therapy, since it is based on healing the body so that it can once again produce sufficient levels of hormones, rather than simply replacing the missing hormones.

Drug treatment

Considered to be of significant importance to the treatment of adrenal fatigue is the adrenal hormone cortisol. It is generally recommended by alternative medicine practitioners that in severe cases of adrenal fatigue, the patient should consume low-doses of cortisol for quick relief of symptoms. This also supposedly (never proven) allows the adrenal glands time to heal themselves, and then the person can be weaned off cortisol.

If there are other hormonal deficiencies (including thyroid and/or sex hormones), they should be corrected as well using either HT or supporting nutrients. The medical treatment (using cortisol mostly) is claimed to be quick and efficient, with no noticeable side effects. However most medical doctors consider this treatment dangerous. This results from the fact that cortisol is usually given in very high doses (~300 mg/day) to relief various serious illnesses, resulting in very serious side effects. The doctors believe that giving low dosages (~20–30 mg/day) would bear the same side effects, only taking longer. However, in one research paper it has been shown that low dosages of cortisol (<15 mg/day) or low dosages of prednisone (<10 mg/day) bear no long-time or short-term side effects in the patients, even at long-term treatment. [cite journal |last=Holtorf |first=Kent |year=2008 |title=Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis Dysfunction in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) |journal=Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome |volume=14 |issue=3 |url= |accessdate=2008-08-03 ]


As of 2008, adrenal fatigue is not an accepted medical diagnosis. It has gained popularity primarily through alternative medicine books which claim that this disorder has been ignored by the mainstream medical community, and offer cures for this putative disorder.

The term "adrenal fatigue" may also refer to:
* Addison's Disease
* Hypoadrenia
* Chronic fatigue syndrome
* Adrenal insufficiency


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