Are You Just Tired or Could It Be Adrenal Gland Fatigue?

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


If you are constantly tired and never have energy, this exhaustion may point at adrenal gland fatigueExhaustion is common in today’s fast paced world. Modern society saddles us with daily stresses that leave us drained. Feeling tired at the end of the day, having no energy at the end of the week, or losing vitality as we age, is considered normal; but we know this cannot be good for our health. Chronic stress wears down the body over time; our bodies cannot stand this constant assault and it will eventually start to deteriorate. Inside the body, the adrenal glands are the first response to stress; and as they are pushed too hard for too long, they are usually the first to wear down and burn out. It is this breakdown of the adrenals we call Adrenal Gland Fatigue or Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.

During the early phases of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, the adrenals work furiously to deal with the constant pressures of a stressful daily life. The neuroendocrine system is put on overdrive and the body works hard to maintain its homeostasis. We feel discomfort in these stages, but for the most part, the symptoms are mild and easily brushed off as signs of aging. A weekend of rest will usually restore the body to normal vitality.

Adrenal Gland Fatigue

The adrenal glands cannot maintain this elevated level of function indefinitely if stressors are not removed; and if the body faces unrelenting and continued stress, the adrenals will weaken to the point where they start to break down. In these later stages, the adrenal glands break down first, then are followed by other organ systems that become unable to work properly. Many conditions we commonly think of as independent of each other can actually be linked to adrenal gland fatigue in various ways.

When the adrenals are worked beyond the point they start to break down, adrenal gland fatigue can creep into your lifeThere are actually 4 stages in the AFS continuum. Stage 3 is called adrenal exhaustion, and it has 4 phases within this stage. The body conserves its energy for the most vital systems, including the brain and heart. We do not have enough energy to tackle even our daily lives. We are tired and worn out. This is adrenal fatigue exhaustion, or stage 3. Stage 3 is significant because if not taken care of, further deterioration can progress, incapacitating the sufferer at the end. One can become bedridden and unable to take care of oneself.

Most people these days turn to coffee or energy drinks, or a sugary breakfast to kick off their morning. Most medical doctors don’t even recognize Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, and can end up prescribing stimulants to boost energy. These kinds of actions really make the situation worse; it is essentially throwing more coal into the fire while the engine is falling apart. How can we fix this? How do we lift ourselves out of adrenal fatigue exhaustion, repair the body, and keep it functioning smoothly in our hectic lives?

The most important thing to start with is a nutritional medicine approach to healing. The body is an amazing machine that can repair itself if given the right raw materials. The proper diet and nutritional supplementation gives the body the resources to maintain itself. Avoiding unhealthy foods that stress the body allows it to concentrate on rebuilding its energy and strength.

One of the most important things you can do for your body if suffering from adrenal gland fatigue is take time to rest and relax from stressThe other half of the equation is to reduce stress. The realities of modern life make escaping stress seem entirely out of the question, but small lifestyle changes, such as taking time out of the day to relax or meditate, help to settle and balance the body. When given a chance, the body will keep itself in top shape.

Body and Adrenal Fatigue Exhaustion

The healthy body has enough energy to make it through the day and even take on some challenges without feeling exhausted. Recurrent exhaustion is a sign that the body is not well or in need of repair. Unfortunately, too many are convinced that this is the normal state of affairs for the aging body, and completely unaware of their adrenal fatigue exhaustion. If you are feeling rundown and exhausted, but cannot figure out why or have written it off as part of the aging process, take a closer look. Are you simply tired or is there something more going on?

The neuroendometabolic (NEM) stress response is our defense against the body reaching a state of exhaustion through adrenal gland fatigue. Its perspective is that of a holistic or global approach on how our body handles the stresses we experience in life. With our rapidly expanding digital world, responsibilities and demands on the human psyche may well be at its highest point that it’s ever been. This is placing a significant burden on our bodies as stress continues to rise and eventually reaches a point where it is insurmountable. Our body’s toolbox, the NEM’s stress response complex, can be very effective in alleviating stressful pathologies in our body, one such example being our adrenals producing cortisol, one of the very best anti-stress hormones. It is key, that moving forward, we have an open mind to all perspectives in medical science and give light to alternative functioning medical modalities. This way, we can all contribute and walk together in reaching a point where we can be all educated in obtaining optimal health.


Adrenal gland fatigue