Adrenal Fatigue Revisited [Recovery]

Several years ago, I wrote a post on the subject of adrenal fatigue. I don’t recall exactly what prompted the rant, but I’m sure it had something to do with a personal trainer or MD-turned-author trying to make a quick buck by pushing supplements. It really annoyed me (still does, really) that people who should know better would jump on bandwagons built on almost insultingly simplistic science. Capitalize on the general mistrust of mainstream medicine and you’ve got a set of passive income streams in the making.

I think that this is a topic worth revisiting. It appears that my original article, now almost five years old, garnered some attention in the last day or two, so I thought it’d be worth addressing some of the “interesting” replies. More importantly, my understanding of stress and fatigue has progressed since those days, so this post can serve not only to debunk “adrenal fatigue” claims, but to explain how stress actually works and what might be happening in lieu.

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A New Explanation for Adrenal Fatigue and Metabolic Damage?

If you’ve read some of my older rantings, you’ve seen that I don’t terribly care for the phrase “adrenal fatigue”. A survey of medical literature just doesn’t agree with the idea of an adrenal dysfunction. Yet, many people have complained of having the symptoms. The same goes for the “damaged” [sic] metabolism. This has a little more evidence in the literature, yet it’s often used as a catch-all term for a certain set of symptoms.

In the past, I’ve considered this to be a function of simply too much stress and little to no attention paid to recovery. For example, the people most often complaining of both of these symptoms are usually doing the Standard Female Fitness Regimen – 2-3 hours of cardio every day, an equally stressful weight-training plan (if any at all), and a diet that might add up to 900 calories of chicken and broccoli – combined with the normal stresses of life. Some will exhibit signs of thyroid disease and either hyper- or hypocortisolemia (which are actually pathological conditions, mind you, that should be diagnosed by a medical doctor).

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Adrenal Fatigue: A Quack Disease for the New Millennium

Adrenal fatigue is the new fad for all the quack doctors and fitness trainers of the modern day. Just don’t ask anybody with medical training.

Why, you may ask? Well, when this first started cropping up as the Next Big Thing, I did a little checking around on Google, and the top results were from a doctor yes, but not in the way you might think. The results belonged to one Dr. James Wilson. More accurately, his website designed will all the standard Inner Circle Marketing cliches.

For obvious reasons this set off my bullshit alarms at once; if you Google search any real disease, you’ll find that actual, you know, information pops up, not some doctor using his MD as an appeal to authority while he tries to sell you things.

I didn’t give up, though. I went over to Pubmed, which is a repository of health and medical research that contains an index of virtually every medical-related publication. Again, if this were a valid thing you’d expect a good number of results.

The search string “adrenal fatigue” returned zero (0) matches.

By now I’m 95% convinced this is garbage. But, just to be fair and to prove to myself that it’s the case, I dig around a little more.

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