What is adrenal fatigue?

What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a term that is applied to a category of symptoms that are not specific. Although the word has found a degree of acceptance among alternative health providers, there is no clinical medical proof that the disorder exists.

Supporters of adrenal fatigue have reported since its inception in the late 1990s that the condition occurs and affects many individuals.

After a chiropractor came up with the diagnosis and published the details, the word first came about.

The term “adrenal fatigue” is discussed in this article and theories about the disorder are debunked, as well as the role of the adrenal glands and some medical conditions that affect them are examined.

Important facts about adrenal fatigue

  • There is no scientific evidence that adrenal fatigue exists.
  • Adrenal fatigue proponents claim that the condition is due to overworked adrenal glands producing too little hormones.
  • There are a number of disorders that do affect the adrenal glands.
  • Some supplements prescribed for adrenal fatigue might be dangerous.
  • Alleged symptoms of adrenal fatigue are tiredness, craving salt, and loss of body hair.

What is adrenal fatigue?

adrenal fatigue in girls
The adrenal gland serves an important function, but adrenal fatigue is not a real condition.

In 1998, in his book of the same name, the chiropractor and naturopath James Wilson first coined the word “adrenal fatigue.”

It affects people who experience long periods of mental, physical or emotional stress, according to individuals who propose adrenal fatigue as a real condition.

Shift employees, single parents, individuals with alcohol or opioid dependency, and others with demanding jobs are people who are allegedly more likely to contract adrenal fatigue.

There is however, no empirical proof, as stated above, that this condition exists.

An official statement on adrenal exhaustion was issued by the Endocrine Society, expressing the views of 1,400 endocrinologists:

“There is no scientific evidence to support adrenal fatigue as a legitimate medical disorder. Doctors are worried that the true cause of your symptoms can not be identified and handled properly if you are told you have this disorder. Adrenal fatigue treatment can also be costly, as insurance providers are unlikely to cover the costs.

Proponents of adrenal fatigue believe that medical science will finally catch up,” but research has shown no evidence, despite more than a decade having passed since its inception.

Despite this there are certainly genuine conditions that affect the adrenal glands.


The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are said to include:

  • tiredness
  • trouble getting to sleep and waking up
  • craving salt and sugar
  • unexplained weight loss
  • reliance on stimulants such as caffeine
  • nonspecific digestive problems

All of the symptoms above are relatively generic, but some kind of disease may indeed be signaled. However, many of the symptoms may also be triggered by nothing more than a busy life and a lack of sleep, or, alternatively, caffeine addiction, bad nutrition, or heightened stress levels.

The theory behind adrenal fatigue is that the adrenal glands are overworked, which are triggered during stress. Long-term stress causes these glands to become fatigued and unable to keep up with the demands of the body, according to people who agree that the condition exists.


A balance diet
A balanced, nutritious diet can offset many of the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue.

A particular diet for adrenal fatigue is recommended by some reports. It is possible to prescribe high-protein foods or supplements.

It is unclear what role, if any, the diet should take, or whether the additional protein is a good idea, given the lack of evidence surrounding this disorder. However the immune system, sense of well-being, and overall wellbeing are likely to be promoted by any nutritious, balanced diet.

This includes daily fresh fruit and vegetable intake, low fatty, sugary and refined food intake, and minimal alcohol and caffeine consumption. Eating a healthy diet is a secret to general well-being and can help avoid many of the adrenal fatigue-assigned symptoms.

For advice, anyone who is worried about symptoms should see a doctor. Asking a doctor about any significant dietary changes related to health problems is also relevant.


Some alternative health practitioners can take blood samples or use salivary cortisol testing to show whether a person has adrenal fatigue or not. As the disorder does not exist, however there are no real ways to diagnose it.

In their defense, people who believe in adrenal fatigue argue that modern research methods are not sensitive enough to pick up the reduced functioning of the adrenal glands, but that the symptoms are nevertheless felt by our bodies.

In relation to adrenal exhaustion, adrenal insufficiency, to fully understand the actual situation, here is a brief reference to the functions of the adrenal glands:

Adrenal gland function

In the human body, there are usually two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney.

The outer section of the adrenal gland, known as the adrenal cortex, produces androgenic hormones, cortisol, and aldosterone. Adrenaline, or epinephrine and norepinephrine are released by the inner portion, called the adrenal medulla.

A variety of essential tasks are carried out by these hormones, including:

Metabolism management, including inflammation management and blood sugar levels

  • regulating salt and water balance
  • regulating blood pressure
  • maintaining pregnancy
  • signaling the start of sexual maturation and controlling its progress through puberty
  • controlling the stress-related “fight or flight” response


The medical term used for cases in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough quantities of their hormones is adrenal insufficiency. The worst affected hormone is mostly cortisol.

This can include the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency:

Adrenal insufficiency can become a life threatening adrenal crisis in the worst-case cases, with symptoms including:

  • sudden, intense pain in the lower back, legs, or abdomen
  • severe diarrhea or vomiting
  • dehydration
  • loss of consciousness

When immediate treatment is not offered, the adrenal crisis can be fatal.

Some medically proven adrenal gland disorders are provided below. Some of these, if not treated properly can lead to adrenal insufficiency:

· Adrenal Tumors: These include adrenal adenoma, pheochromocytoma, and adrenocortical carcinoma.

· Addison’s disease: This disorder indicates that the adrenal glands do not contain adequate glucocorticoid, cortisol, and often typically includes mineralocorticoid, aldosterone, development deficiency. Abdominal pain, fatigue, and too much color on the skin are symptoms.

· Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: This is a category of disorders involving gene mutations that codify enzymes that are responsible for cortisol development in the adrenal glands. These factors also influence the growth of primary and secondary sex characteristics.

· X-linked Adrenoleukodystrophy: The myelin sheaths that protect the nerves are weakened by a genetic condition. The brain and the adrenal glands accumulate very long-chain fatty acids. Adrenal insufficiency is caused by this build-up.

· Cushing’s disease: because of a tumor in the pituitary gland, cortisol levels released by the adrenal glands are increased.

· Hyperaldosteronism: Too much aldosterone is released by the adrenal glands, leading to high blood pressure, high blood sodium and increased potassium and hydrogen ion excretion. This induces low blood potassium and a disorder called metabolic alkalosis that includes alkali levels.

· Hypoaldosteronism: Too little aldosterone is released by the adrenal glands, leading to decreased levels of sodium and excessive blood potassium and low blood pressure.


Always talk to a doctor before taking supplements to treat a condition.

By recommending that a person avoid alcohol, medications, caffeine, and cigarettes, many alternative practitioners will start treating’ adrenal fatigue. They will also suggest healthier food, more exercise, and better sleep. Of course, all of these improvements will make us feel better.

Despite a lack of scientific basis, there is a variety of products available to alleviate their “symptoms.” Supplements and vitamins also take the shape of these products.

As these kinds of supplements are not controlled by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they have not been checked for protection, and there is no guarantee that a tablet contains what it claims to contain.

It can be risky to take adrenal hormone supplements without an underlying medical condition. The adrenal glands may become dependent on or suppressed by supplements, and if they are interrupted, they will not start functioning again for some time. This can cause adrenal insufficiency or crisis and probably become life-threatening.

It is necessary to take advice from a medical provider for anyone experiencing troubling symptoms. While having symptoms that defy diagnosis can be frustrating, taking advice from untrained professionals can be counterproductive at best and dangerous at worst.

As a general rule, if a website both diagnoses a disease and sells the antidote, caution is recommended.

However if your symptoms are bothersome enough to control the habits of your everyday life, a doctor would be eager and able to help you figure out why your symptoms arise and help you find ways to cope with them.