Autoimmune Disease, Fatigue

How Adrenal Fatigue May Be Causing Your Autoimmunity

Adrenal fatigue is related to autoimmune disease

And How Autoimmunity May Be Causing Your Adrenal Fatigue

Within the body, the immune system plays the role of the security guard that stops intruders from infiltrating the system and compromising it. Meanwhile, the endocrine system represents the chief executive officers that control how the body develops and grows from the moment one is born, throughout their adulthood, and into old age. Additionally, the endocrine system also develops the nervous system, the brain, the reproductive system, metabolism, and blood sugar to maintain energy levels and a healthy body. But, what would happen if something awry were to happen to one of these systems?

Toxic chemicals, bacteria, and other foreign antigens seep into our body on a daily basis and it’s the responsibility of the immune system to release antibodies to attack them and detox them out through the liver. However, if an immune system malfunctions, it can’t tell the difference between bacteria or healthy cells. Eventually, this will cause the immune system to attack itself and cause inflammation throughout the entire body which can lead to various chronic illnesses such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and many more. On the other hand, if a problem occurred within the endocrine system, this can also lead to chronic illnesses within the thyroid, adrenal glands, and neurological system.

Specifically, the adrenal glands in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that are found on top of the kidneys generate the body’s defense mechanisms by putting it on alert and enhancing its bodily functions. This occurs when the brain analyzes a stressful situation and sends a signal to the adrenal gland to release the hormones cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline. If this happens too much, this can burnout the adrenal glands, impair the endocrine system and induce hypothyroidism. This condition is initially called adrenal fatigue before it develops into Addison’s disease; an autoimmune condition.


While these conditions impact the body differently, it’s often questioned among doctors and scientists if adrenal fatigue plays a role in the development of autoimmune disease and vice versa.

How Adrenal Fatigue Impacts the Immune System

An article from Dr. James Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue website stated that the adrenal glands play a significant role in regulating inflammation (1). Cortisol is a powerful hormone that is not just used to handle stressors, but it contains anti-inflammatory properties to fight off other bacteria. It can reduce swelling, regulate white blood cells so that they don’t attack cells or tissues, and prevents it from “overshooting and causing damage or cell death¹.” Therefore, if one is constantly releasing anti-stress hormones to combat chronic stress, this will eventually deplete its hormone productions, thus leaving the body more vulnerable to inflammation. So, if the immune system suddenly turns against itself, inflammation will likely spread quicker and affect any part of the body from the joints, thyroid, gut, brain and, even the adrenal glands themselves. In most cases, adrenal fatigue often graduates into Addison’s disease if it continues untreated, however adrenal fatigue can also cause other chronic autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease (both a form of hypothyroidism). Stress impacts the thyroid similarly to adrenal glands and if it becomes overwhelmed, it can greatly influence one’s metabolism which can either cause weight gain or weight loss. Furthermore, adrenal fatigue can cause severe digestive issues and induce leaky gut, thus leading to irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

How Autoimmunity Impacts the Adrenal Glands

With any autoimmune condition, the immune system is constantly confused between healthy and malevolent bacteria, which puts it on overdrive attacking all cells and tissues. As a result, this increases the demand for cortisol and glucocorticoid, thus placing a lot of physical stress on the adrenal glands and impairing them. Autoimmune diseases related to the endocrine system (like Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease) in particular, have a significant effect on the function of the adrenal glands. The thyroid is another essential gland that affects metabolism and body temperature. Together, the adrenal glands and thyroid work to supply the body with essential hormones. However, if hypothyroidism were to occur, it can lead to a hormonal imbalance and result in either an overproduction or underproduction of cortisol. This causes patients to develop fatigue and are unable to handle stressors, which will further impair the adrenal glands.

Treating Adrenal Fatigue and Autoimmune Conditions

If detected, adrenal fatigue is a treatable disease. Meanwhile, autoimmune disease of any form is often chronic and incurable, although they can be managed and placed into remission as long as patients avoid triggers. Treatment methods for autoimmune disease include detoxification, autoimmune injections, hormone therapy (for hypothyroidism), intravenous therapies, supplementation, peptides and dietary changes. Adrenal fatigue treatment requires a similar regimen with the addition of hydrocortisone to replenish cortisol levels.

The precise cause for autoimmunity is still unknown, however it’s suspected that environmental toxicity, genetics, medications, and inflammation all play a role. Whichever one that your body is sensitive to can cause a few initial symptoms like fatigue. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, patients with either disease will consult with one of our practitioners to discuss their fatigue and other symptoms that they may be experiencing. Additionally, they’ll also provide medical background information to help their physician create the best treatment program to help them.

If you or someone that you know are currently suffering from an autoimmune condition or adrenal fatigue, please call to schedule an appointment with one of our practitioners at 727-466-6789.

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