ANALYSIS: Why Adrenal Fatigue is Not a Thing

Here are the alleged symptoms of adrenal fatigue:  tiredness, brain fog, lack of motivation, among other symptoms, you should first have a thorough evaluation with a medical doctor.   But the reality is that anemia, sleep apnea, autoimmune diseases, infections, other hormonal impairments, mental illnesses, heart and lung problems, and kidney and liver diseases are just some among many medical conditions that could cause the same symptoms.   So how can you tell whether you have adrenal fatigue.   Here’s the easy answer:  you don’t.  Because adrenal fatigue isn’t actually a medical thing.   You don’t have to take our word for it:  ask the doctors at Harvard University, Mayo Clinic, Cedar-Sinai Medical Center , Johns Hopkins and just about any reputable doctor.

What Are the Adrenal Glands?

The pituitary (a pea-sized gland in the brain) tells the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. In turn, “cortisol acts as a messenger from the adrenals, and tells the pituitary, ‘We’re good. We’ve made enough hormone. You don’t need to stimulate us any more, ’” It’s a self-regulating system.” The processes that control cortisol production can break down, for example in people who have Addison’s disease (when the adrenals don’t make enough cortisol) or Cushing’s disease (when they make too much).  They are the body’s pretty amazing way of keeping the body’s hormone levels regulated.

What Does the Science Say About Adrenal Fatigue

There’s no compelling science to support the notion that the adrenal glands are ‘tired’ and can’t provide adequate cortiso.  A recent review of 58 studies concluded that there is no scientific basis to associate adrenal impairment as a cause of fatigue. The authors report the studies had some limitations. The research included used many different biological markers and questionnaires to detect adrenal fatigue. For example, salivary cortisol is one of the most common ordered tests used to make a diagnosis. The cortisol level, when checked four times in a 24-hour period, was no different between fatigued and healthy patients in 61.5% of the studies.

In fact, multiple peer reviewed studies have debunked the adrenal fatigue diagnosis.  It started with a book published in 2001. The condition was soon accepted by several so-called medical societies—none of which are recognized by the Association of Medical Colleges or the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Note: adrenal fatigue should not be confused with chronic adrenal insufficiency, a verified medical problem. In addition to fatigue, that condition is marked by weight loss, joint pain, vomiting, anorexia, nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and dry skin. To diagnose this rare condition, doctors use a blood test that measures cortisol levels.

Health care providers who assert an adrenal fatigue diagnosis claim it is caused by the impact of chronic stress on the adrenal glands.   The biggest advocates of this diagnosis are homeopaths and chiropractors.   The “pitch” is that your adrenal glands are unable to keep pace with the demands of perpetual fight-or-flight arousal. As a result, they can’t produce quite enough of the hormones you need to feel good.This theory is simply unproven.  And they claim that traditional blood tests relied upon by the medical “establishment”  aren’t sensitive enough to detect such a small decline in adrenal function.  Then,  they will make a diagnosis based on a faulty test and sell you very expensive but useless—and potentially damaging—glandular adrenal supplements.

The Bottom Line

But there’s no scientific support for this diagnosis, let alone for a cure!  The term adrenal fatigue doesn’t exist.  Symptoms related to stress and exhaustion are absolutely real.  And the causes are likely also very real and verifiable.  Adrental fatigue is neither of those.   Is a medical professional diagnoses you with adrenal fatigue, our strong recommendation is to get a qualified second opinion.   And if they suggest you take nutritional supplements to ‘cure’ your adrenal glands, we urge you to walk away……as quickly as possible.

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