Adrenal Fatigue – The New Epidemic?

Adrenal fatigue is something that I never thought much about until recently.  And it seems that now, everywhere I turn, someone is telling me that they have it.

Chronic Fatigue Photo


We are a stressed out culture.  Lots of information, little sleep, dependence upon caffeine, and loads of stress.  It’s no wonder that we are overloaded and that our bodies are feeling the effects.

Our adrenals are glands that help us have the proper response to stress.  In a nutshell, adrenal fatigue is what happens when your adrenals have been working too much and so get fatigued.  Basically, we are stressing ourselves to death.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I am going to refer you to two websites with more information.

First, for a more mainstream view, here is an article about adrenal fatigue by Dr. Mehmet Oz.  Essentially, he explains in medical terms what it is, gives some basic tips for avoidance, and then mentions some other conditions that you might wish to rule out when considering whether or not you have adrenal fatigue.

Second is an post on The Healthy Home Economist.  Sarah, an educator and chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation, takes us a few steps further into a holistic understanding and brings the classic Nourishing Traditions way of getting away from processed foods and getting healthy through whole foods.

I think  that these are both great starting places.

I never had heard of adrenal fatigue, but I think we really are in the middle of an epidemic that the mainstream medical community does not recognize and does not know how to handle.

Like in many other health arenas, we need to be our own health advocates.

I could go into a whole lot more now, but I need to watch my workload too.  Let’s get into this topic at a good pace and learn a lot together about how to deal with it.  Anyone for a book and a nice cup of herbal tea? :-)

(UPDATE: Read my post on “Could You Have Adrenal Fatigue? – Take This Quick Test.”)

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  1. Adrienne, Thanks so much for posting this! I needed to read it today (especially the link to the Healthy Home Economist post!).

  2. Adrienne, you are so right about this being an unknown to medical professionals. I was put on steroids, minimum of 30 mg./day, more when sick, for severe asthma in 1962. It was a wonder drug, the serious side effects of which were unknown. It was decades later before doctors knew to start trying to get me off. Never worked for more than a few days, I’d crash, in the hospital on IV SoluMedrol,tapering down on prednisone, but not able to get low. I’m adrenally insufficient (adrenals so assaulted by those doses all those years, they barely produce naturally) still taking 10 mg./day for the rest of my life. I’m 56. The last time my asthma landed me in the hospital I had to tell the new docs and APRNs how to treat me. Sad.

    • That is sad, Janet. I just came out of adrenal burnout with Theresa’s help. You really might want to give her a call.

      • Who is Theresa? As far as I can see, you didn’t mention a Theresa on this page. I am also finding it difficult to follow your posts on adrenals. Is there a way you can link to the next ‘installment’ at the bottom of each page? I know this is over a year old, so surely you wrote more.

        Love you blog. Follow you faithfully, as does my daughter.

        • Sorry – I referred to her in my other post on adrenal fatigue :-). Thanks for mentioning that!!

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            • Hi Iman. Thanks. Great minds think alike : wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/could-you-have-heavy-metal-poisoning-and-not-know-it-part-one/ :).

    • erna ruben says:

      Have you ever considered you also may have low aldosterone in addition to AF?
      If you’ve been messing with AF for so long because of ignorant doctors, low aldosterone becomes an additional problem to deal with.
      I have low thyroid (now at the right amount of T3), low cortisol (still working on that one with hydrocortisone), but my low aldosterone was the reason behind my asthma and shortness of breath. I am now on Florinef for a few weeks as I am slowly increasing this powerful medication, and it has done so much for my breathing problems. What a relief! Most doctors do not know or will ever consider endocrine problems as the reason behind breathing problems.

    • I’ve heard of Adrenal Fatigue. Many doctors do not accept the idea. As common as it seems, it isn’t Adrenal Insufficiency, which is a real problem and rare. It afflicts 1 in 100,000 people, according to my Endocrinologist. The problem could have began from my past use of steroids, infection, illness, having surgery (to remove my brain tumor), or even genetics. But, steroids (prednisone) ended up being the treatment. In my case my thyroid doesn’t produce hormones as it should and my pituitary gland hardly works. When a person is told to wear a medic alert ID stating you have “Adrenal Insufficiency,” you don’t play around trying to self medicate or go to a health food store for remedies. I had store personnel try telling me what to take for Adrenal Fatigue. If I didn’t know the difference I might have bought it. It is said that adrenal fatigue is stressed out adrenal glands that recuperate in time. If the stress persists too long, it could possibly result in Adrenal Insufficiency. People can die in an E.R. while a doctor is trying to figure out what the problem is. A simple shot of Hydrocortisone could be the difference between life and death. If you feel like you have adrenal fatigue, it might be a good idea to see an endocrinologist. A blood test and stress test can determine if it’s a serious problem. Whether it’s Adrenal Fatigue or Adrenal Insufficiency, it can literally be “a drag.”

  3. Hi Adrienne,
    I am so glad that we “less than new” (meaning older moms or perhaps new grandmas) started to address this topic a while back because now the awareness really is gathering strength with you “newer moms”. It is slow going with the medical community, however, especially where I live but hope springs eternal. Back in the late ’80s my family doctor was saying that my symptoms were stress related but gave me no help in how to deal with the stress. She just kept treating the symptoms with antibiotics and sulpha in a never ending cycle. I was becoming more and more depleted and discouraged. When I found Dr d’Adamo’s Eat Right for Your Type and discovered the physiology of a person with A bloodtype, it all began making sense to me. The allopathic medical community, historically in my experience, has viewed medicine/exercise/nutrition etc., as a “one size fits all” science. As I have had to explain to my “car nut” husband, he would not “feed” his turbo engine with regular gasoline although it would work but not optimally. Eventually the engine would begin to react adversely. Likewise, my A blood type body works best on a different mixture of “fuel” than his O blood type body.
    Back in the late 90s, my Naturopath got on board with the doctor that treated me for the yeast overgrowth (thanks to all of those antibiotics and birth control pills – go figure)and together with my new dietary choices we strengthened my adrenals. I have not addressed the heavy metals issue as the dietary changes seemed to work.
    The adventure continues…

    • You’re so right. I can only say about the metals that they are coming out. I will be posting more about it. We’ve had some very interesting experiences. I’ll hopefully do an interview w/ my practitioner as well. She’s an expert.

  4. Stress interferes even with the fertility of an individual. What would be your suggestion to combat stress, while planning a baby.

  5. Hi! I found your site while searching for info on essential oils. Very informative! Thanks! I have a family member that was just diagnosed with this. I was wondering if you have been using essential oils to treat this with success?