What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Since the turn of this century, Adrenal fatigue has been recognised as a clinical syndrome most commonly caused by our modern hectic lifestyle. It is a collection of symptoms that appear over time when the amount of stress exceeds the body’s ability to cope and the Adrenal glands are unable to restore normal function.

When stressed the body reacts by mounting what is called a stress response. Most of us have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response where we get a rush of adrenalin through our bodies, our hearts start racing etc…well imagine being in that perpetual state. All the time. Until the Adrenal glands simply get too tired and stop producing crucial hormones such as DHEA, we feel ‘tired but wired’ and go on a perpetual merry go round of drinking coffee for energy during the day, but are then unable to sleep through the night.

Also worth noting is the relationship between Cortisol production and sugar imbalances. Cortisol works hand in hand with insulin to provide enough glucose to the cells of the body for energy. More and more energy is needed when the body is under stress, and Cortisol is the hormone that makes this happen, thereby causing a rise in blood sugar.

So what are the symptoms? There can be many and varied signs because any Adrenal dysfunction will affect every single organ system in the body. Here is a list of the most common symptoms:

Abuse alcohol, drugs or food as a coping mechanism

Anxiety and/or depression

Energy slump especially in the afternoon around 3.00pm

Exhaustion/extreme fatigue

Frequent headaches

Gut dysfunction – indigestion, bloating, IBS symptoms

High blood pressure

Hormonal imbalances such as menopausal symptoms

Insomnia – can’t fall asleep and/or frequent waking through the night

Joint and muscle pain

Low body temperature

Lowered immunity

Low libido – you are just too tired!

Mood swings – you vary between anger, irritability, and feelings of overwhelm or sadness

Panic attacks

Poor concentration and memory

Poor stress tolerance

Racing heart beat – sometimes this even wakes you up at night

Sugar or salt cravings

Weight gain – especially around your waist and fluid retention

If you suffer from 3 or more of these symptoms you may be suffering from Adrenal insufficiency or fatigue. None of the above symptoms is a definitive diagnosis, however this group of symptoms is often the end result of someone who has been under extreme long term stress. Whether or not the stress is physical, emotional, acute stress or long term pressure, the person feels completely overwhelmed and is just no longer able to cope.

If you are chronically stressed as well as time poor and not eating properly, then a stress busting diet based on whole foods is a great option for you. You cannot just swallow down a bunch of supplements and expect to be brimming with health and vitality! Another benefit of a natural whole foods diet is it’s very good for blood sugar balance. This is because those with Adrenal fatigue can experience sugar imbalances which affect mental faculties, decreasing the incidence of forgetful and foggy brain!

Below is my recipe for a calming hot toddy – perfect as a relaxing bedtime beverage:


250mls of nut milk such as almond or cashew milk

½ teaspoon of ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger

¼ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or essence

Pinch of freshly cracked black pepper

6 drops of liquid stevia

2 star anise


Heat the milk in a small saucepan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until just warmed.

Add the spices, ginger, vanilla and pepper, stir to remove any lumps.

Remove from the heat and pour through a fine sieve to remove the grated ginger.

Add the stevia and enjoy.

Recovery from Adrenal fatigue is possible with the right combination of stress reduction tools, sufficient rest, herbal and nutritional therapies.

Free resource – My Top Ten Natural Stress Busting Tips:


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