Is my exhaustion actually “adrenal fatigue?”

This is a question we hear over and over again at the clinic.  People come in having suffered from unexplainable fatigue.  It is debilitating, it is frustrating and it seems to be a never ending cycle which evades resolution.  We want to understand the origins of your fatigue from a whole health history, lifestyle perspective, and the functioning of your adrenal glands and endocrine system.

What are the adrenals?

The adrenal glands are walnut-shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney.  The hormones secreted affect the functions of every tissue, organ, and gland of the body and profoundly influence the way you think and feel. They also support and enable the body to deal with stress from every possible source, and keep the body’s reaction to stress in balance so they are appropriate and not harmful.

Stress is part of life and for the most part our body is able to moderate its effects, to a point.

What is a stress? What is a stressor?

Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has physical and emotional effects on us. and can create positive or negative feelings. Stress can be a positive influence and can help compel us to action; it can result in a new awareness and exciting new perspectives. As a negative influence, stress can result in wearing us down, making us more reactive, tense, while weakening our immune system, negatively impacting our physical health.

A “stressor” is anything that causes a disruption in the body balance (“homeostasis”). Stressors can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, or of an infectious source.

What do our adrenal glands do?

  • Through the secretion of adrenal hormones, our adrenals buffer stress on every level.  When we are tired and do not sleep, when we are hungry and do not eat, when we are stressed and cannot calm down our adrenals are hard at work secreting hormones (see below).
  • They moderate and support the anti-inflammatory action in the body, reducing the probability of allergic reactions.
  • Our blood sugars are maintained and regulated. The adrenals also determine how carbohydrates, fats and proteins are converted into energy, and how fats are stored and distributed.
  • Proper cardiovascular and digestive function is maintained.
  • And, after midlife they are a major source and producer of our sexual hormones.

What hormones do our adrenal glands secrete?

Our hormonal system is intricate and completely interwoven.  This explains how long term stress, and the overproduction of stress hormones, can severely impact our health and sense of well being.  The following hormones are produced by the adrenal glands.

1. Epinephrine (and Norepinephrine) → generates quick energy in “fight or flight” situations.  However, “fight or flight” situations can be generated by a sudden loud noise, lack of sleep, hunger, and any type of prolonged stress.

2. Cortisol → blood sugar regulation, anti-inflammatory actions, immune response modification; heart and blood vessel toning, central nervous system stimulations, stress reaction normalization

3. Aldosterone→ regulation of sodium & potassium which regulates blood pressure

Other hormones produced by the adrenal glands which are integral to supporting production of anti-oxidants, tissue repair, sexual hormones, balancer of cortisol, and anti-aging functions are: DHEA, PREGNENALONE, ESTROGENS, TESTOSTERONES, ANDROSTENIDIONE→

What are the Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

If you lokoe  at the list below and note a  multitude of symptoms that applies  to you, it would be beneficial to make an appointment for an evaluation.


How do we determine the causes of Adrenal Fatigue at Pearl Natural Health?

We want to get to the root of your fatigue and bring you back to health. When you come in to the clinic we will listen to you and you will get a thorough workup from an integrative perspective.

We will take a complete medical history to establish the role adrenal ill-health may play in relation to your concerns and problems

We will conduct a physical examination with emphasis on examination of the eyes, orthostatic blood pressure readings, and other signs and symptoms indicating poor adrenal function

We will explore the function of your adrenal glands through lab testing, which is usually a salivary adrenal panel known as an Adrenal Stress Index Test, but can include other adrenal tests such as serum cortisol, 24 hour urinary cortisol, cotrysin stimulation test, serum ACTH, serum sodium and potassium tests, serum epinephrine test, and others

Depending on your symptoms, other tests may be requested such as metabolic chemistries, thyroid function tests, food allergy and food intolerance evaluations.

Most doctors do not customarily evaluate patients for adrenal fatigue, but only the end stage process of Adrenal Failure, which most patients with adrenal fatigue do not meet.  However, we have found over the years that many people have functional symptoms of adrenal fatigue which can  be diagnosed and treated effectively.

How do we Treat Your Adrenal Fatigue at Pearl Natural Health?

It is important to start a process of treatment that offers relief of your symptoms, improves your energy, and moves you towards correction of the underlying problem. To determine contributing factors you will complete a four-day trial of treatment, which can take up to a month.  In addition to the medical history and labs, you will have a Nutritional Evaluation, you will receive your first acupuncture treatments and we will create a treatment plan that meets your individual needs.  We may recommend a stress reduction program to give you the skills and tools you need to manage and reduce the ill effects of stress

Nutritional supplements, herbs ( either western or Chinese), bio-identical hormones (such as DHEA, prenenalone, thyroid, cortisol, adrenal extracts, and constitutional treatment such as homeopathy orChinese medicinemay be recommended to support your healing process.

We work with you consistently over time to support the recovery of normal adrenal gland function without continued use of medicines.  We have seen the amount of time required for adrenal treatment varying from time periods of 2 months to 2 years. In rare cases, people could continue to take natural medicines for adrenal functions, long term

We want you to regain your health and have the tools and skills to maintain it.  For this reason we offer our Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program and consistent support in the development of health supportive dietary and lifestyle skills.

Conservative Suggestions For Adrenal Fatigue

Life style habits cannot be emphasized enough in the treatment of adrenal fatigue. No supplement or acupuncture treatment can override continued negative stress and its impact upon the quality of life we live.  Have you spent quiet time reflecting on how you spend your energy, where you spend your energy, and how you reinvest in your energy on a daily basis?

How is your sleep?  Do you eat regular meals? What foods could you eliminate from your diet that may be depleting you, such as excess caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates, or poor quality and processed food?  Do you take time for yourself to recharge at all during the day, week, month, and year?  Do you exercise?  Do you have a spiritual or meditation practice?  Do you have a community of friends?

When was the last time you took a deep, relaxing breath?  Try it right now, in this moment and notice how your body begins to relax.

Take a look at your food plate.  Is there a variety of color (green, red, beige, orange/yellow, white, black)?  Do you have vegetables in each meal?  Are you getting an adequate variety of animal and vegetable protein in your diet? Are your fats high quality?  We can help you in strategies to improve and change your way of eating.

Adrenal imbalance is often the missing piece in the treatment of many health problems.

Consider an adrenal assessment, and possible treatment if you suffer from any of the following symptoms:


Call us today  at 503 230-8973 to set up a complimentary consultation to see if we can help you regain your vitality.

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Read more about the causes of chronic fatigue

Read what our patients have to say about our treatment programs