The term “adrenal fatigue” that you’ve probably heard everywhere from your best friend to that Facebook post, was first used back in 1998 by Dr. James Wilson, a naturopathic doctor and expert in alternative medicine. He describes it as a “group of related signs and symptoms (a syndrome) that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level.” He says it’s usually associated with intense stress and often follows chronic infections.

What Is It?

Dr. James Wilson says people with it may not have any physical signs of illness but still may feel tired, out of it, or not optimal and have fatigue that doesn’t get better with sleep and tend to crave foods constantly, primarily ones with salt. Your body’s immune system responds by slowing down when you’re under stress. Your adrenal glands, which are small organs above your kidneys, respond to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol. They regulate your blood pressure and how your heart works.

According to the theory, if you have long-term stress, like the death of a family member, divorce, serious illness, or merely a lot of work stress, your adrenal glands can’t continuously produce the extra cortisol you need to feel good. So the phrase of “adrenal fatigue” sets in.

How Do I Treat It?

There’s no approved test for adrenal fatigue. Blood tests can’t detect a small drop in adrenal production.

The suggested treatments for healthy adrenal function are a diet low in sugar, caffeine, and junk food, and some nutritional supplementation that most naturopathic doctors prescribe. Some people proclaim adrenal fatigue isn’t real and is somewhat a “myth” in the medical and health world. It’s difficult to argue as there’s not a lot of science to back it up.

The Endocrine Society, the world’s largest organization of endocrinologists who are responsible for researching and treating patients with diseases that fall under the category of glands and hormones believe that adrenal fatigue is not a real disease. They believe that the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are so general, they can apply to many diseases or conditions such as depression, sleep apnea, fibromyalgia or directly from the stresses of everyday life.

Adrenal Insufficiency

Another term used for adrenal fatigue is something called adrenal Insufficiency. Unlike adrenal fatigue, this is a recognized disease that can be diagnosed by a doctor. There are two forms of this condition, and both are caused by damage or problems with your adrenal glands that result in them not making enough of the hormone cortisol.

Symptoms of both forms include chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, weight loss, and stomach pain. You might also have nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, diarrhea, depression, or darkening of the skin. Adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed with a blood test that checks to see if your cortisol levels are too low. If you have it, you’ll need to take a hormone replacement.

It’s frustrating to have persistent symptoms your doctor can’t readily explain. But accepting a medically unrecognized diagnosis by an unqualified practitioner could be worse. Unproven remedies for so-called adrenal fatigue may leave you feeling sicker, while the real cause continues to take its toll. When you start researching about adrenal fatigue make sure you don’t try to self-diagnose but reach out to a medical professional that is passionate about helping you to reach optimal health levels to figure out the best strategy.

Who To See

Say what you will about adrenal fatigue, real or fake, there’s definitely something going on with your body if you don’t feel 100%. Most medical doctors will help you feeling back to “normal” which is by their definition a little bit different from what your normal is.

If you see a naturopathic doctor, who focuses on a form of medicine that focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. They will treat your “adrenal fatigue” with a little more care and attention to detail. Naturopathic doctors see many patients who seek refuge, as many medical doctors don’t seem to help with fatigue.

If you don’t feel 100% currently a naturopathic doctor can help.

If you haven’t done so already, we have partnered with Restore Rehabilitation and Wellness and have recently acquired a brilliant naturopathic doctor. Dr. Rory Gibbons is passionate about helping people feeling their best, and would love to take the time to meet with you and figure out the best strategy for your health.

You can book in with Dr. Rory Gibbons and talk to him about adrenal fatigue or any other health issue you might have by clicking here and booking in for your first appointment!