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Why am I so tired? (part 1)

Slow start in the morning? Foggy brain? These might be signs that your adrenals need attention.

Adrenal fatigue is a term coined by Dr. James Wilson, a naturopath and chiropractor in the late 90s. He describes adrenal fatigue, or hypoadrenia as the overstimulation of your adrenals by chronic stress over time, leading to sometimes too much and sometimes too little cortisol in your bloodstream.

What is stress?

Stress is a lifestyle disease. Learn about the 4 truths and 4 effects of stress in my free ebook, “The Stress Effect”. You’ll also find out why zebras don’t get ulcers and we do, why stress attacks the heart, and the real reason for practicing yoga—it’s not so that we can turn ourselves into human pretzels.

Download free ebook

Is adrenal fatigue real?

It depends on whom you ask. The concept of adrenal fatigue came from alternative medicine. Since the signs of adrenal fatigue can be rather general and also related to other diseases, many allopathic (Western) medicine practitioners don’t view adrenal fatigue as a real condition. Allopathic medicine traditionally views adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease) or total endocrine failure (Cushing’s syndrome) as real conditions. There are diagnostic lab tests for those. Allopathic doctors will order blood and other tests to find out if you are experiencing adrenal insufficiency or total endocrine failure.

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Adrenal fatigue is a functional disorder

Adrenal fatigue is a functional disorder, not a structural disorder or pathological disease. Allopathic doctors can detect an organ, or pathological, disease because they can observe and quantify changes in the cells, tissues or organs through standard biological markers, or biomarkers.

On the other hand, a functional disease has symptoms but the disease process is unknown, undetectable or unquantifiable (or unaccepted) by science today. From outside, everything looks normal. Many functional disorders, including IBS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and GERD, were initially not considered diseases in allopathic medicine. But now that standard symptom- and exam-based diagnostic criteria are available, they are.

A functional disorder is an imbalance

Ayurveda talks about imbalances long before the allopathic definition of the word “disease”. The idea is that just because you don’t have an allopathic disease diagnosis or quantifiable disease biomarker, it doesn’t mean that you are completely healthy.

Symptoms and sensations of any kind are signs of imbalances in body, mind and spirit. Even if current scientific means cannot measure or accept them, they are very real to the person experiencing them. That’s why I’m among the many who believe that adrenal fatigue is real.

Thankfully, there’s more and more focus on this topic. For example, the adrenal stress index (ASI) can now look at how stress symptoms are affecting the functioning of your adrenal glands. And saliva tests are becoming common to test for Cushing’s syndrome.

Learn more about adrenal fatigue in part 2!


This blog is not intended to diagnose medical conditions or to give medical advice. It’s merely a presentation of different viewpoints and my personal experiences. Many thanks to dr. Jeff Turner of Living Ayurveda and dr. Krista Farey, MD, allopathic doctor and ayurvedic practitioner for their review of and contributions to this post.  


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