Why Is It So Hard to Find Professionals Who Know How to Fix Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Adrenal fatigue is widespread but not enough people know how to fix adrenal fatigueThere is no shortage of people suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. More likely than not, you know someone who has at least a mild form of Adrenal Fatigue, even if you don’t know it. That person could even be you! So if Adrenal Fatigue is so prevalent in the population today, why don’t more people know about it? And more importantly, why is it so difficult to find professionals who know how to fix Adrenal Fatigue? To understand this, let’s dive a bit into the nature of the condition.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Adrenal Fatigue involves a collection of symptoms—including chronic fatigue and pain, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and others—in what seems to be an otherwise healthy person. The symptoms are usually nonspecific and can range from extremely severe to functionally nonexistent. Furthermore, the presentations are often extremely different between two sufferers. Some may have particular difficulty with fatigue and lack of energy, while others can maintain a functional level of energy but have a very difficult time getting proper rest. The wide variety of symptoms, as well as the variety of presentations, between individuals suffering from Adrenal Fatigue is one of the first hurdles to proper identification of the condition.

Now, the collection of symptoms that are present in the Adrenal Fatigue sufferer also make it appear similar to other conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia; they all present with the somewhat similar and nonspecific symptoms of pain, fatigue, poor mood, etc. However, CFS and Fibromyalgia both have established protocols spelled out for medical diagnosis of the condition. Without recognition that adrenal fatigue is a problem, the medical community has no insight on how to fix adrenal fatigueOn the other hand, Adrenal Fatigue does not currently have recognition from the medical establishment as a medical problem, and therefore there isn’t a diagnostic protocol or test to easily determine whether someone is suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. So when someone is suffering from these symptoms, most medical professionals follow their diagnostic protocols, which point them in the direction of CFS or Fibromyalgia; they don’t consider the possibility of Adrenal Fatigue.

So if you are trying to find a way to recover from Adrenal Fatigue, the first challenge is to correctly identify your condition; but Adrenal Fatigue presents very nebulously and with great variation. Furthermore, it is easily confused with more easily diagnosable diseases such as CFS and Fibromyalgia. This confusion means that few health professionals know how to identify the condition. Once you do find a health practitioner who has a familiarity with the condition, will you get the help you need on how to fix Adrenal Fatigue?

Knowing Is More Than Half the Battle

Unfortunately, most health practitioners who are familiar with Adrenal Fatigue still do not have sufficient experience with the condition. Even health professionals have to learn or be taught, and while medical school and continuing education for doctors cover many health conditions, Adrenal Fatigue is not one of these. Remember, Adrenal Fatigue isn’t currently recognized by the modern medical establishment, so medical schools don’t teach it, few medical seminars or conferences focus on the condition, and—with a few exceptions—there are not many published textbooks that address or cover how to fix Adrenal Fatigue. The scientific knowledge base simply isn’t large enough yet. So most health professionals are not going to know very much, except what they encounter in their own practice; and as we saw before, Adrenal Fatigue can easily be mixed up with similar conditions like CFS and Fibromyalgia. We end up with a cycle whereby a lack of knowledge causes misidentification of Adrenal Fatigue, which contributes to a lack of knowledge. And so most health professionals, even those who are aware of the condition, don’t know how to fix Adrenal Fatigue.

Now as if this isn’t bad enough, if you read about the physiology behind Adrenal Fatigue, you’ll see it is an incredibly complex condition. While the trigger is simple enough—chronic stress exhausting adrenal function—the cascade effect it has on multiple systems throughout the entire body makes disentangling the symptoms a challenge. For instance, you might take a calming pill such as Valium to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, only to find you actually get worse and have a panic attack.

This is an example of a paradoxical reaction, often experienced by those in advanced stages of Adrenal Fatigue when the extracellular matrix is congested to the point that the body cannot handle most pharmaceutical strength compounds, and in severe cases may even react negatively to food products.

Education Goes Both Ways: Learn How to Fix Adrenal Fatigue

Educating the world on how to fix adrenal fatigue starts with everyoneSo what do you do if there is no one nearby who is both familiar with and experienced in Adrenal Fatigue recovery?

You must take an active role in your own recovery. Research and educate yourself about the condition and your body. Speak with your health practitioner and engage in a two-way conversation, not just a one-way flow of instructions from professional to patient. This won’t be easy, especially if Adrenal Fatigue is part of the picture, since you may already have less energy and functional capacity. However, in order to achieve a successful recovery, you must make sure you are in the driver’s seat, not the passenger’s, on the road the recovery.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Educating the world on how to fix adrenal fatigue starts with everyone


  • Emily says:

    Dear Dr. Lam, Thank you for all your informative articles. It’s a complex field and I know I have not grasped all I need to know. Pretty sure I have Stage 3 adrenal fatigue. I ache all over and have severe back pain beginning about two hours after I get up. (Roughly “4” on a scale of 1 to 10.) I am exhausted all the time. I realize this was caused by severe stress over the last two years. (Sin ndicted for a crime he did not commit and daughter came home disabled. Huge problems!) I am trying to meditate, with limited success. Went to my doctor who told me flat out that adrenal fatigue is not a disease and she could not help me. She gave me blood tests, said everything normal. Question: Do you have a “generic” list of supplements and vitamins that someone like me could take? What about DHEA and cortisol? I can’t go to a naturopath because I am living on Soc Security and insurance will not pay for it. Please help if you can. I am 73 and was in perfect health before this continuing crisis came into my life. Many thanks for all you do and God bless you!
    P.S. Is there no way that this illness can be recognized and properly studied? Millions of people are in dire need. It’s ridiculous to have medical insurance that won’t pay a penny when you are suffering from a major illness like this.
    P.S.S. And for that matter, WHY is it that the AMA refuses to recognize adrenal illness??

  • Robyn Hope says:

    I am 70 yrs old sans family and friends and am worried sick about my situation as I am unable to change things in my life. I am deeply depressed about the bleakness of my life, which prevents me from getting better.I eat well, exercise, and do my best taking care of myself. But I am afraid since my trauma 4 yrs ago, I will never recover from AF. Is there hope for me?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Dont give up. Continue your search for answers and solutions. Many have gotten better. You just have to watch the many video testimonials on my site to see .

      Dr Lam

  • Teresa Strong says:

    I was treated for adrenal fatigue for years. Turned out my problem was under treated hypothyroidism. I was under treated because my TSH is always low, even when my T4 is borderline low. Raising my thyroid medicine alleviated all my symptoms.

  • Tammy H. says:

    Love your website, Dr. Lam! So much helpful info here. I’ve suffered from adrenal fatigue for about a decade now. I remember my first visit to my M.D. PCP, when I became concerned about my decreasing energy. I was a busy mom of three then and he felt that answered the question of what was going on with my health. I disagreed as I’d always had an ample supply of energy, and continued to research on my own. At that point (in the very early stages), I found that taking milk thistle helped to relieve my symptoms and my energy returned, but not fully. Unfortunately I fear I’m in the later stages now and still have not found someone locally to work with on this. I’ve learned to be careful in who I ask questions of; during my last visit with an endocrinologist (an MD – ruling out thyroid issues), I found myself in the very awkward position of stepping on a proverbial land mine when I asked if he dealt with adrenal glands (seemed like a logical question since he was an endocrinologist) and adrenal fatigue. He launched into a tirade about how he “didn’t do that kind of testing there” , that the type of doctor that did do that sort of testing was basically fraudulent and that if it made me feel better psychologically to pursue that type of care and I felt that the cost was warranted, then I should feel free to do so as there may be some benefit in the “placebo effect”. As I listened to him, I could feel a small smile cross my face, as I am very familiar with naturopathy and its many benefits, and it obviously challenged him in a way that made him uncomfortable… Lesson learned! Please keep up the good work and thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Thanks for your encouragement and sharing of experience. Education takes time. The truth cannot be denied forever and in time doctors would know. We need to be patient and keep educating them step by step.

      Dr Lam

  • Janet Horsburgh says:

    I was first diagnosed with IBS, then CF. Epstein Barr Virus (chronic glandular fever), fibromyalgia and now AF Stage C. Most of these indicate gut health issues so i am seeing a homeopath/nutritionist/scio practitioner who believes (as i do) that i have a large build up of toxins that need to be cleared out so that I can start digesting nutrients better.

    I was very impressed with Jim Cross’ “Reboot” documentary and I’m veg juicing twice a day and otherwise following a paleo diet.

    Are there any special precautions i should take? The pain is getting slightlly better but i still feel very weak and exhausted and suffer from frequent bouts of brain fog. Im apparently very low on Vit D but the sun makes me feel worse!

    • Dr.Lam says:

      If you have AFS, eespecially in advanced stages, detox and juicing can be a two edge swords. it works for some and others can get worse. the key is not about the approach but about the body’s ability to tolerate, especially if they are in advanced stages. The right thing done at the wrong time can crash a system that is already fragile. Click Detoxification & Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome for more information.

      Dr Lam

  • karen says:

    I was given a vit. D3 shot for low D3. It has hurt my progress recovering from Adrenal Fatigue. Less energy, skin around corners of the nose and near one of my eyes is red and scaly. I also have all the other symptoms that would put me in stage 3+ but no pain. What supplements should I take? I have fresh veg. and fruit as juices and blender drinks daily.

  • Caroline Hillary says:

    I have such big issues here in South Africa. I bought your book and I know I’m in stage 3c but they keep trying to get me to take glandulars. I’m really afraid of how rapidly I’ve declined (this is my 3rd big crash in 4 years). I could really do with an online consultation with Dr Lam if possible. I will pay. I need to do something before I go into failure. I’m currently bed ridden almost, only leaving the house with assistance to see the doctors (over 8 specialists). My biggest symptom is the debilitating anxiety and depression. No natural supplements work for me now. The psychiatrist put me on benzos to control the anxiety. I take small doses though as I’m terrified of them. Please help?

    • Janet Horsburgh says:

      I recommend Dr Rowan (integrative doc) in Edenvale or one her partners. I am presently detoxing, mainly through juicing, although i have to do it gradually as my system can’t handle strenous detoxification yet. Have you ever watched Jim Cross’ “Reboot”?

    • Wilco says:

      Dr Stefan Schoeman in Pretoria east specialises in adrenal fatigue and have been one of the first doctors to identify and cure adrenal fatigue.

    • Sarah-Jane Goulding says:

      I’ve worked for many years with great practionioners for Adrenal Fatigue. Dr. Lana clinic with Dr Justin have got my health back to a place that I went for my first run in 2 years a few days ago… Dr Lams clinic is amazing. They know everything I’m sure there is to possibly know. I would go straight to the best and get well….