3 Ways to Get Adrenal Fatigue

It’s no secret that I’ve been burned out and run down these last few months, I’ve openly talked about it and I’m sure my long time readers have probably noticed lack of enthusiasm in my writing. I know a lot of other women who are struggling as well, whether they are mothers of young children like myself or women who are dealing with infertility and dealing with work and all things associated with that. The cause for many of our “rundown” symptoms can actually stem from one place – the adrenals.

I recently had some muscle testing done at my chiropractors and I was not really surprised to learn that my adrenals are in major need of help.

The adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney and produce about 35 different hormones within the body. These hormones actually help the body adapt to life, to work properly, and to reproduce. This gland is also very sensitive to stress of all kinds—
emotional, psychological, and nutritional.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Weight gain/inability to lose weight
  • Loss of libido
  • Increased susceptibility to illness and illness lasts longer than normal
  • Foggy memory
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Need stimulants for energy (coffee, soda, etc)
  • Worsening PMS
  • Dry skin
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia
  • Acne
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Cravings for salt or sugar/carbs
  • Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with daily functions

3 Ways you may be causing adrenal fatigue

  1. Consume too many sugars and refined carbohydrates. When we eat too many foods that cause drastic spikes in our blood sugar levels, what happens is that after insulin is released to bring the levels down, they drop to low, causing the adrenals to produce cortisol. This cortisol will bring blood sugar back up to levels needed to feed the brain. (ever feel ‘comatose’ after lots of sweets? It’s because your blood sugar has dropped to low and there is no food for your brain.) When consuming to many carbs, the adrenals have to work harder to balance your blood sugar.
  2. Using coffee or caffeine for quick energy can also cause adrenal fatigue as the caffeine signals excess neuron activity in the brain, which then sends the pituitary gland signals to produce a hormone that gets sent to the adrenals to tell them to produce adrenaline. The adrenaline then puts us into a “fight or flight” mode creating a constant push-and-pull reaction within the body. In other words, it causes internal stress.
  3. Constant and prolonged stress is also one of the largest contributors to adrenal fatigue. Whether it’s stress from a job, a marriage in crisis, major illness or death of a loved one, or self-imposed stress at home or work, your adrenals are not able to keep up after a while. There are a lot of stresses we can not control, but we can try to change our reactions to them as well as take extra care of our poor adrenal glands!

I’ve made all the above mistakes as I tried to “just get through” this week, this month, this project……

It’s so easy to fall into bad habits thinking they are temporary. That I can use coffee just this afternoon to stay up until 2am to just get this one thing done. Life is full of enough stress as it is, before we add to our own bodies stressors, that we need to be aware of what we do each day. Because when you hit adrenal fatigue, the road back to health is not an easy one.

Next week I’ll cover a bit more about what I’m doing in my life and diet to overcome adrenal fatigue, but tell me……

is this something you may be suffering from yourself?

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Yes! I have felt all these things. Being a stay at home mom for 12 years and basically the pillar of support for the entire family, I finally started to feel the stress come over me in the last few years but knew nothing other than to press on. Well, that didn’t help and I actually believe I have now gone beyond adrenal fatigue and into the beginning stages of Fibromaylgia. As of January 3, 2010, I needed drastic help. I scoured the internet and found all these helpful websites for healthy eating and ditched gluten, dairy, soy, hfcs, all processed foods and then finally grains. My health has improved greatly. My diet is whole foods, lots of healthy fat and I am grateful, I feel so much better! I am always trying to improve, so thank you for your website!! I am saddened by the state of the American diet. I thought I ate “healthy.” What our media and government would have us believe is horrifying! It is really hurting Americans in order to make big profits for food companies. Thank you for getting the work out about real food and real health!! Keep up the good work.

  2. I am consistently guilty of stressing out my adrenals! It’s probably the biggest issue every time I go to the chiropractor! Hoping that I can really focus on “fixing” that problem post-pregnancy.

  3. I have been feeling this way for…a long time!!! LOL!!!

    Waiting on the edge of my seat to find out what foods I can or shouldn’t eat to help this.

  4. I’m so glad you posted this! I have experienced many of these symptoms and never had connected them to the adrenal glands. Please keep posting on how to help this!

  5. This is something that I have been dealing with for years. I have done various things over the years that have helped but not consistently enough. It wasn’t until I learned that it was affecting my fertility that I became more proactive about finding the missing pieces to my already healthy lifestyle. My thyroid, FSH and progesterone levels all became affected. Slowly I am nourishing my way back to health naturally. Thank God for wheatgrass and acupuncture (among many other things)! They have really helped me get through the day. And Thank YOU for bringing awareness to this issue. There are so many people being treated for symptoms of other health problems that stem from the adrenals, and they are not getting any better because the adrenals are being ignored. P.S. I love that you are getting adjusted. Everybody should!

  6. Absolutely! And I am so taking on your sugar detox challenge – very excited, but also nervous about it because my eating habits seem to revolve around whatever is convenient at the time. I’m going to have to make some major changes in my life. Long overdue…

  7. Yes I am definitely feeling this right now. My muscles by my kidneys also hurt.. wonder if thats connected?

  8. Unfortunately, I do think I am again suffering from adrenal fatigue. I was initially diagnosed a few years before our daughter was born. Based on my medical history as well as my mother’s pregnancy with me, my chiropractor believed I’d had adrenal issues since birth. It took nearly a year of supplements, diet change, extra rest and chiropractic care to finally feel well.

    This time around, I’ve been feeling the effects for nearly six months, so I am looking forward to hearing what you are doing to overcome adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, my chiropractor moved and I’ve yet to find another to replace her, so I’m on my own for now.

    Thank you for offering your experience and research here on your site!

  9. Yes, I’m dealing with this as well. The adrenal fatigue and estrogen dominance/progesterone deficiency got to the point of causing gallbladder pain/attacks last fall. So I’m working on resolving this naturally to avoid surgery.
    I had a poor diet in my 20s (low-fat and I’m assuming too much sugar) and have been very stressed for many years. I have a copper toxicity too (found out by hair analysis…my number was off the charts) which is also related to the adrenal fatigue/estrogen dominance.
    My diet has been much better in the past few years, but its been hard to undo the years of damage (and with various old and new stressors still coming).

  10. This has been me the past few years too! My naturopathic doctor and has given me some herbal support to help with the recovery. I’m guessing this is at the root of my struggle to get pregnant a second time. Recovery takes so long (although the doctor tells me it took me a long time to cause the damage to my adrenals that I have) and every time I start to feel better I start to push myself and then I go right back to where I started. I forget that I need to just let my body heal. Following the Gaps diet has been a huge help to me as well. I’m still working on not internalizing all of my stress because that also sends me backward in the healing process. I’m looking forward to the advise that you post!

  11. Heather M says:

    I have been struggling with Adrenal fatigue for, at least, 4 years since the birth of my daughter. I believe the “lead player” is the rediculous amount of coffee I drink, then stress. Coffee is definately a drug, I can’t seem to kick it. I have tired Dandy Blend and Teecino and they just don’t cut it for me. With out my coffee I feel like I have been run over by a freight train and don’t know how to overcome that. Looking forward to reading your post.

    Diana Reply:

    @Heather M,

    Heather I am laughing out loud… I’m with ya, I’ve tried everything– and I can’t seem to kick the coffee. It’s really quite ridiculous because I eat so healthfully but I start my day off with like 3 cups (to be honest) of coffee in the morning. I know the caffeine is a major part of it but I also think coffee is a comfort food for me. I have tried many times to eliminate caffeine from my diet, with the encouragement of my husband (who won’t touch coffee with a ten-foot pole)… but I really haven’t found a way to do it. Any suggestions in this area would be much appreciated.

    Maria Reply:

    @Diana, My addictive drug is sugar. God has been weaning me away from it for several years now. I finally realized I turn to sugar when I don’t feel loved. Somewhere I read that in the times when the emotional stuff makes you crave your chosen drug, tell Jesus what’s going on, then tell Him you’d like to give Him the chance to give you a better fix before you turn to sugar or whatever you crave.

    This hasn’t been miraculous for me, but slowly I am seeing that my heart is turning away from sugar and towards Jesus.

    Keep praying and begging God to do whatever it takes in your life to help you make healthful choices and to heal your body. That is the ONLY way we can make progress. Will power just doesn’t cut it.

  12. I love it that you’re posting about this! I was just reading in my herbal book that the reason someone may feel very tired after exercising is because the adrenals are not producing like they’re supposed to. This was me! Everyone told me how great they feel after exercise. I knew something was wrong with me since I had a severe energy drop for the rest of the day. The herbal book said that licorice is excellent for healing the adrenals and the insulin problem (which go hand-in-hand.)

    I’m looking forward to your other posts!

  13. A great post. I can definitely think about certain times in my life when I was probably suffering from adrenal fatigue. I can also tell a major difference when I learn how to deal with my stress appropriately. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I think my husband has issues with his adrenals. Too much work and not enough time to relax. But not really a way to fix this right now (we’re living on $1700/month for a family of 4). We’re praying for God’s provision to find my husband a real “day off”. Fo now I’m trying to feed him healthy foods — whole grains, healthy fats and fruits and veggies. He really likes his carbs (thankfully he is all for whole grain carbs) so can’t cut those out! Looking forward to learning more!

  15. I highly, highly recommend Diana Schwarzbein’s books. Adrenal burn out is one of the two major topics of her books, insulin resistance being the other. They mesh very well with the NT philosophy. Just ignore the baloney about soy foods. Her exercise advice is radical. I mean, 99% of health professionals will think ur crazy lol. And she’s an endocrinologist with years of experience treating diabetics, etc. She knows her stuff and goes very indepth so you can understand her reasoning.
    but the thing I liked the best (and I LOVE all of it!) is the permission to sleep if I’m tired. If you feel like you got run over by a mack truck when ur coming down off caffiene, well then—->sleep. Take a nap or 2 a day and go to bed by like 8pm. Even moms of toddlers can go to bed by 8pm. Yes, you can! Along with improving your diet, you will feel stronger in a week or so.
    I feel phenomenal now compared to a couple months ago. I had no trouble coming off stimulants (caffiene, sugar, etc) so I know my adrenals werent burnt out but they were probably somewat fatigued. The ability to sleep consistently well at nite is awesome!

  16. Thanks! I’m definitely going to pass on this article.

  17. I have been suffering from adrenal fatigue for almost 8 years (and I’m only 25!). I have been diagnosed with it over and over, by MDs and chiropractors and everyone in between. While improving my diet, getting sufficient sleep, and using homeopathics provided some real help in the past few years (I didn’t get good results from glandulars, herbs, or pharmaceuticals), what has made the biggest difference for me is a regular meditation practice, biofeedback work, and altering how I relate to my family of origin with the help of a Bowen family systems coach. I have gained more ground, not only subjectively but according to external measures, in the past 6 months since beginning a meditation practice than I did in the previous 5 years of avid alternative health/real food research and exploration. I completely agree that diet is extremely important, but for me, it wasn’t enough. I believe that I’m finally on my way to a full recovery, though it will probably take a few more years (yes, I’ve been quite ill). I wish I had discovered meditation earlier in my journey, but I also have a unique story now because I already tried all the other stuff. Mindfulness meditation was where I started, though I’ve since discovered a few Christian sources for meditation instruction, which is wonderful. It’s a lost spiritual discipline in the Church, even though it has a long history among Christians of the past.

    Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up Reply:

    @Alison, Alison, I’d be really interested in the Christian sources for meditation if you care to pass them on to me. I agree that while food is pivotal, the spiritual aspect for me has been huge in overcoming fatigue.

  18. Hi Donielle.

    Liked your guest post at KS.

    I suspect you have read about this, but just in case…Ann Louise Gittleman’s book Why Am I Always So Tired?
    It is on copper and its role in adrenal fatigue. I have more info in my Whole New Partners page on my website. It really is a keeper.
    I also am doing some really deep work (our whole family is) on heavy metals and adrenal burnout. Maybe we could share resources.

    I would love to connect some time about fertility issues as well…maybe at the next blogger meeting.
    You are doing a great service.
    – Adrienne

    donielle Reply:

    @Adrienne, Thanks for the book recommendation! I’ll jot it down and add it to my list for sure as the thyroid and adrenals are next on my list to read about.

  19. Wow Donielle. About 5 minutes before receiving your latest email update, I was talking about ‘adrenal fatigue’ and how another mom I know told me it took her two years to find out that is what was causing her exhaustion. She mentioned it to me because of the ‘misery’ I’ve been in the past few months. Reading the symptoms…. there is no question for me that I am dealing with this. In a serious way…. so, I’m just grateful you’re starting this conversation in a realm I’m connected to! I need to get started.


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