The Truth About Adrenal Fatigue - Your Questions Answered


Adrenal fatigue is a fascinating illness because it is rampant in Western society; however, most people aren’t actually aware of what it is, what causes it, or if they even have it.

In this post, we’re breaking down all of your questions about adrenal fatigue. We’ll answer your questions, including “What are adrenals anyway?” Read on to learn more about adrenal fatigue and how it can be addressed.

1. Is adrenal fatigue a real thing?

Adrenal fatigue is absolutely a real thing. In fact, it is rather common. Similar to chronic fatigue syndrome (which is a more commonly used term), adrenal fatigue is a term that refers to a collection of symptoms that occur when the body experiences chronic stress.

2. What do adrenal glands do?

The adrenal glands are two walnut-shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys. One of the main functions of the adrenal glands is to help the body to cope under periods of stress. The adrenal glands release hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, to help support the body during stress, and they are responsible for creating a “fight or flight” response. This helps to prepare the body to spring into action during demanding situations.

3. What causes adrenal fatigue?

The adrenals are meant to support the body during stressful times; however, most people in this day and age experience excessive amounts of stress. In the past, extreme stress and anxiety was not nearly as common. However, in modern Western society, adrenal fatigue runs rampant due to the high stress and high demand from work, relationships, and responsibilities. When the body experiences prolonged stress, the adrenals become run down from overuse, and they don’t work as efficiently as they should.

4. Can adrenal fatigue be reversed?

Adrenal fatigue can, in fact, be reversed. It often takes some time, effort, and serious dedication to your health to reverse adrenal fatigue, but it is most certainly possible! I personally went through adrenal fatigue and reversed it.

If you personally experience adrenal fatigue, I suggest using a holistic approach to bring the body back into balance. This involves proper diet, natural supplementation, stress management techniques, and serious lifestyle changes to reverse past damage.

5. What are the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

There are several symptoms that can be experienced if you have adrenal fatigue. Some of the most common include extreme fatigue and exhaustion. This is perhaps one of the most dominant symptoms. Stress as well as mood disorders, including mood swings and depression, are also common symptoms. Some other symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Weight gain or weight loss

  • Low blood pressure

  • Poor circulation

  • Sleep issues, including trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep

  • Muscle weakness

  • Cravings for stimulants such as caffeine and sugar

  • Loss of appetite

  • Digestive disorders

  • Nervousness

  • Anxiety

  • Lightheadedness

  • Headaches

6. Can adrenal fatigue cause weight gain?

Yes, adrenal fatigue can cause weight gain. When the body experiences chronic stress, a hormone called cortisol is released as a normal stress response. However, excessive cortisol circulating through the body can lead to weight gain. Cortisol specifically causes fat gain in the stomach area. If you hold excess weight around your tummy, you may not realize that it could be related to adrenal fatigue and stress.

I personally experienced weight gain when I went through adrenal fatigue. During this time, I steadily gained almost 45 lbs! Once I addressed my adrenal fatigue, my body slowly but surely returned to it’s healthy weight.

Note that some people actually experience weight loss during adrenal fatigue. This is often due to loss of appetite. If you are at a normal weight, note that it is still possible to have adrenal fatigue.

7. Is there an adrenal fatigue test?

Unfortunately, there is no one specific test that can be performed for adrenal fatigue. Testing for adrenal fatigue can involve many different individual tests. It can sometimes be difficult to obtain testing from your doctor. I highly suggest working with a naturopathic doctor to test hormones such as cortisol and DHEA, and obtain a full thyroid panel, to gain an understanding of how the adrenals are performing.

In the meantime, if you are curious to know if you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue, I suggest starting with a simple blood pressure test. A resting blood pressure under 110/70mm/Hg may be a sign of adrenal fatigue.

I also highly suggest using symptomatology to determine if you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue. There are many online questionnaires with symptoms that can help indicate if you suffer from adrenal fatigue.

8. Is there an adrenal fatigue diet?

Diet does play a role in adrenal health. Overall, a diet that is rich in healthy fats and protein from whole food sources can be very supportive for adrenal health.

When experiencing adrenal fatigue, the body often becomes depleted in B vitamins. A diet rich in B complex vitamins helps to support the body in times of stress. Furthermore, a diet that promotes a steady blood sugar is also highly beneficial for the adrenal glands. Some incredibly healthy foods that I suggest eating include:

  • Legumes

  • Lean protein

  • Eggs

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Whole grains such as quinoa

  • Vegetables, including dark leafy greens

  • Low glycemic fruits

Many foods should be avoided if you suffer from adrenal fatigue. As a general rule, foods that are low in nutrition, foods that are highly processed, and foods that raise blood sugar levels, should be avoided. Some of these foods include:

  • White sugar and flour

  • Caffeine

  • Soft drinks

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • Fried foods

  • Fast food

  • Processed foods

9. What are the best herbs for adrenal fatigue?

There are many wonderful herbs that can be used to address adrenal fatigue. My favorite herbs to use are adaptogenic herbs, which naturally bring the body back into balance. Some of these include

  • Ashwagandha

  • Holy basil

  • Rhodiola

  • Siberian ginseng

These herbs help to support the body in times of extreme stress, and they are wonderful for promoting energy, especially if you suffer with sleep issues.

Read the Signs

Since adrenal fatigue can be difficult to diagnose, I highly suggest reading the signs and symptoms as an indication of whether you suffer from adrenal fatigue or not.

If you think adrenal fatigue is affecting you, I suggest you seek medical advice from your primary health care physician or a holistic health practitioner such as a naturopath or nutritionist who is knowledgeable in adrenal fatigue.