Chronic Fatigue, Fatigue

Three Myths and Three Truths on Adrenal Fatigue

young person exhausted and stressed

Have you ever had random bursts of energy triggered by stressful situations, anticipation or excitement? This random energy is called adrenaline and it is a hormone released by the adrenal glands as a “fight-or-flight” response or during a period of extreme emotions. The adrenal glands are “small, triangular-shaped glands located at the top of both kidneys”¹ as stated by Hopkins Medicine. While these glands are responsible for releasing adrenaline hormones, it also serves the purpose of producing hormones that regulate the immune system, blood pressure and metabolism in the system. These hormones range from estrogen, testosterone and cortisol.

With that being said, those with adrenal fatigue may be deficient in one or more of these hormones that are supposed to be secreted from the adrenal glands. The condition was discovered in 1998 by Dr. James Wilson; a naturopath and alternative medicine expert. He described the condition as a group of symptoms that occur when the adrenal glands underperform their function in the body causing someone to feel tired without the presence of inflammation or chronic disease. Additionally, he theorized that the condition can be induced by frequent stress, lack of sleep and poor diet. However, even with the history behind it, the condition of adrenal fatigue is highly underrated in the medical field due to constant debates between medical professionals on whether or not it should be considered a type of illness.

At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we understand adrenal fatigue and the different diseases that can increase its risk of development. Unfortunately, many people have doubts about this condition due to the various myths that circulate the internet. To help our patients understand more about the illness, here are three myths and three truths regarding adrenal fatigue.

Myth: Adrenal Fatigue Does Not Exist

Truth: It does exist. This is possibly one of the biggest controversies that surround the medical industry. The reason why it’s so widely debated is because the causes of the condition are inconclusive and its symptoms can be a wide range of other official illnesses. The thing is, there isn’t just one simple medical cause to adrenal fatigue. It can be easily caused by one’s social environment or emotional state, making it too much of a “gray area” for conventional medicine to diagnose. Problems within the adrenal glands stem from excessive amounts of stress that the body can no longer handle, thus causing the glands to burn out. As a result, individuals may experience brain fog, a weak immune system, fatigue, and poor sleep quality. Additionally, adrenal fatigue can be brought on by other severe autoimmune diseases such as Addison’s disease and thyroid disease. On the flip side, these conditions may cause adrenal fatigue as a possible side effect since the adrenal glands are vital in hormone production.

Myth: Adrenal Fatigue Can Naturally Heal Itself Overtime

Truth: Since adrenal fatigue is widely associated with the term “stress”, it is assumed that it will heal if one were to limit their stress levels without the use of any treatment methods. This may work for some, however for others stress can create unhealthy behaviors, and it may take more than just “time” for adrenal fatigue to be treated. These erratic behaviors can range from unhealthy eating habits, alcohol use, over-the-counter drugs, smoking, and overall acting out of character. As a result, these poor decisions can cause health consequences such as toxic buildup. Furthermore, it has been proven that stress increases inflammation within the body. Inflammation has been described as “a body’s response to a threat” whether it’s a foreign antigen, bacteria or an emotional stressor². This causes the immune system to send pro-inflammatory cytokines to attack them from harming the system. Overtime, this can increase the risk of certain chronic conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Cardiovascular Disease, and Depression. These conditions can be debilitating and need immediate treatment, otherwise it will only worsen overtime.

Myth: Adrenal Fatigue is the Same as Adrenal Insufficiency

Truth: No, they are different. However, in conventional medicine, the term “adrenal insufficiency” is often used interchangeably with adrenal fatigue since most doctors can properly administer tests and accurately diagnose the condition. Adrenal insufficiency occurs when there is an issue with the pituitary gland (a gland located within the brain that produces cortisol) or damage to the adrenal glands. As a result, this causes the adrenal glands to under-produce hormones, and can lead to symptoms such as extreme tiredness, dizziness, nausea, confusion, low blood pressure and diarrhea. It definitely sounds similar to adrenal fatigue, doesn’t it? However, the two are not the same.

Adrenal fatigue develops over periods of chronic stress or strong emotional experiences. This can range from a death of a loved one, financial problems, relationship issues, etc. which can then lead to adrenal fatigue symptoms and risks of depression. Meanwhile, adrenal insufficiency is an ailment in the adrenal cortex often induced by an autoimmune disease called Addison’s disease. This disease ensues when the immune system attacks the adrenal glands and damages it leading to a depletion of hormones being released into the body. Both conditions have similar symptoms, therefore it’s easy for people to confuse the two, however knowing what causes them sets them apart.

Take Care of Your Adrenal Fatigue

At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we have an excellent team of practitioners that understand adrenal fatigue and how to treat it naturally. Those who feel the onset of symptoms can speak with a LifeWorks practitioner to receive an accurate diagnosis and treat it promptly. Adrenal fatigue can affect patients differently, therefore treatment programs may vary based on the symptoms that the patient is experiencing. However, most treatment plans require supplement regimens, dietary changes, peptides or intravenous therapies.

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

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About Dr. Minkoff

Dr. David Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then completed both a Pediatric Residency and a Fellowship in Infectious Disease at the University of California at San Diego. He worked at the University of California and Children’s Hospitals in San Diego as an attending physician in infectious disease while conducting original research on Ribaviron, a broad spectrum anti-viral agent to fight disease. He also co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine. In 1992, Dr. Minkoff’s attended a lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, widely considered the father of functional medicine, during which he had a eureka moment, and began pursuing the alternative health field with a vengeance, studying under the most accomplished thought leaders on natural & integrative healing. In 1997 Dr. Minkoff and his wife set up a small clinic to help friends with their medical problems. What began as an experiment blossomed into LifeWorks Wellness Center, one of the most successful clinics for complementary medicine in the United States.