If you find yourself exhausted all the time, you might be wondering: What are the best supplements for adrenal fatigue? While it’s one thing to be tired after a long day, feeling fatigued every day for no apparent reason can be an indication of a larger problem. So, could it be adrenal fatigue? The answer is complicated.
First of all, what are adrenal glands?
Adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys, and they’re responsible for producing a handful of hormones. Cortisol, aldosterone, DHEA and androgenic steroids, epinephrine, and norepinephrine all come from your adrenals. John Hopkins Medicine says that some hormones produced by your adrenals are responsible for reactions to stress and maintaining your immune system, while others regulate metabolism and blood pressure. All of these hormones play important roles in keeping your body healthy, so when you face adrenal insufficiency, or possibly adrenal fatigue, it’s easy to see why your body is exhausted.
What is adrenal fatigue?
According to Dr. Josh Axe, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, chiropractor, and clinical nutritionist, adrenal fatigue is your body’s response to too much stress, anxiety, and poor diet. He tells Woman's World, “Adrenal fatigue is a very common medical condition that has some controversy surrounding it. A similar diagnosis, which is referred to as a kidney qi deficiency, has been around for nearly 4,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM and Eastern medicine, practitioners don't single out individual organs as much as they look at systems of the body and how they interact with each other and how they function when they are over-stressed. Emotions of fear and anxiety tax the adrenals, which can lead to adrenal fatigue, along with a poor diet."
To combat this, many experts recommend common sense practices, like reducing stress, getting regular sleep, and eating a healthy diet. While those are good habits for everyone, Dr. Maria Fleseriu M.D, F.A.C.E., Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) and Neurological Surgery, and director of Oregon Health and Science’s (OHSU) Pituitary Center, doesn’t consider adrenal fatigue to be an actual medical condition. She notes that it hasn’t been recognized by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology, Endocrine Society, or Pituitary Society. “A recent systematic literature review (3,470 analyzed articles with 58 studies who fulfilled the inclusion criteria) confirmed that there is no substantiation that ‘adrenal fatigue’ is an actual medical condition," Dr. Fleseriu says.
So, is adrenal fatigue real?
Many doctors and naturopathic doctors in the alternative medicine realm believe that adrenal fatigue is a significant medical problem that can be helped with supplements and dietary changes. The doctors who validate adrenal fatigue believe that it is a lesser version of adrenal insufficiency.
However, according to conventional medicine, adrenal fatigue isn’t an accepted medical diagnosis. On this side of the argument, doctors say that non-specific symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, depression, and low blood sugar are found in many other diseases and conditions. Narrowing down your mental and physical health problems to just adrenal fatigue can prevent you from finding other underlying causes of your symptoms.
Dr. Fleseriu finds that that the “diagnosis” is more of a feeling than an actual medical condition. She tells Woman’s World readers, “The idea of the adrenal getting ‘tired’ from stress has not been proven at all and additionally, we have clear-cut clinical studies showing that cortisol gets actually high and not low with stress. Interestingly, the symptoms of ‘adrenal fatigue,’ are very vague, multi-organ, non-specific, [and] are not even overlapping too much with the ones caused by adrenal insufficiency."
While she supports the growing awareness surrounding cortisol problems and abnormalities, Dr. Fleseriu believes the proper diagnosis is essential when it comes to helping patients. “When we think that patients could have symptoms related to the cortisol being either too low (or too high for that matter), we need to ensure the proper and reliable scientifically proven screening, followed by confirmatory diagnosis,” she says.
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There is still much debate surrounding adrenal fatigue in the medical community. If you're interested in reading more, the book Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome - Reclaim Your Energy and Vitality with Clinically Proven Natural Programs by Dr. Michael Lam is a great start. It covers everything from the symptoms to the scientific evidence Dr. Lam has found showing that adrenal fatigue is a real medical problem. He also includes the methods he used to help patients recover from the condition. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of extreme fatigue, please consult with your doctor.
The Best Supplements for Adrenal Fatigue
If you decide to take supplements to boost your energy, there are several vitamins and herbs that may help boost reduce stress and fatigue. These minerals, superfoods, and antioxidants help your body in many ways. The supplements listed below are what many naturopathic doctors recommend for reversing possible symptoms of adrenal fatigue. As always, it is best to consult your doctor before starting any new medicine or supplement.