Does adrenal fatigue exist?
Does adrenal fatigue exist? This is a controversial topic that many physicians debate. Note: Adrenal Fatigue is different from Addison's Disease which is a measurably decreased production of adrenaline from the adrenal glands.
Adrenal Fatigue has been traditionally described by wellness doctors and practitioners as the inability of our adrenal glands (stress hormone factories) to keep up with the tremendous amount of stress that we experience. However, it is far more complicated than this. The adrenal glands, in those without Addison's Disease, do not just give out.
Rather, the signals to prompt the adrenals to produce stress hormones (in the correct quantities needed for us to live) get altered by environmental factors like a poor diet, heavy metal toxicity, increased belly fat, stress, poor sleep, anxiety, and many more factors. This means that Adrenal Fatigue is secondary to other factors.
While we may call it adrenal fatigue, it is clear that it is more a collection of syndromes that contribute to a constellation of symptoms.
Learn More About Adrenal Fatigue
To discover those factors, we have to uncover the underlying root cause. While many people take supplements for adrenal fatigue, most are taking the wrong supplements. If one has too much stress affecting cortisol production, and they take supplements to "squeeze" more stress hormones out, they tend to burn out over and over again.
Why Does That Happen?
The adrenal glands make cortisol first which then gets converted into cortisone (not the same as a cortisone shot), this is the inactive form of cortisol.
When the body gets too stressed, more cortisone (the inactive form) is made to reduce the stress response.
When people take medications or supplements that divert the production of cortisol (active stress hormone), they are inducing further stress. Eventually, the adrenals get tired out. However, some people have a problem with not having enough cortisol production, in which case medications or supplements to increase cortisol may be used effectively.
Unfortunately, both types of people (those with too much active stress hormone and those with too little active stress hormone) have the same symptoms.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include:
- weight gain
- food cravings
- sweets cravings
- attention deficit
- brain fog
- irritable bowel syndrome
To complicate it further, there are other factors that can alter the brain's control of the adrenal gland. Fat tissue in our bodies can also produce cortisol. This can suppress our hypothalamus's activation of the adrenal hormone. Furthermore, the increased extra-adrenal production of cortisol by the fat cells can stimulate the conversion of norepinephrine to epinephrine in our adrenal glands. This can cause a person to be anxious lying in bed and unable to sleep.
To complicate things even further, our kidney and liver both have the ability to activate cortisol for cortisone. The kidneys can also deactivate the conversion of cortisol into cortisone.
The liver has the ability to reactivate cortisone to cortisol. So, if either organ is malfunctioning, it affects the stress response. As you can see, the body's chemistry is very complicated.
The only way to target these issues is to address the root cause of the problem. I can't stress enough that we have to target the root cause!