• Nicole Peterson, LAc

Top 5 Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

Updated: May 22, 2019

Do you suffer from one or more of the following symptoms?

1. Fatigue and/or "Wired & Tired"

2. Depression

3. Digestive Problems

4. Weight Gain

5. Hormone imbalances

If you have one or more of those complaints, your adrenal glands may be one major culprit.

What are the adrenals?

The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys located in your low back area. They produce hormones that are responsible for the "fight or flight" reaction to situations that we face. When under stress, the hormone called cortisol is stimulated in order to tell your body how to survive.

What are the causes of adrenal fatigue?

  • Stress (now or in the past) - emotional, traumatic, family problems, death of a loved one, moving, divorce, work related, financial stress. Long-term stress depletes cortisol over time. Rate your stress using the Holmes-Rahe Stress Test.

  • Poor Diet - skipping meals, high carbohydrate diet, high sugar diet, high processed food diet, vegan diet, low protein diet, overeating, dehydration, high caffeine intake

  • Pain & Inflammation - Long-term pain causes a depletion of cortisol leading to adrenal fatigue.

  • Poor Lifestyle Habits - too much or too little exercise, going to bed after 10pm, erratic sleep patterns

  • Childbirth & Child-rearing - Having a child especially the second or third child can be very stressful for women. A very common complaint that I hear from women who are seeking treatment is, "Ever since I had my child 2-3 years ago, I have not been the same since (exhaustion, moody, hormone imbalances, etc)."

What does cortisol do?

In order to survive a stressful situation or an immediate threat, cortisol triggers the body to do the following:

  1. Stores Fat - Cortisol works with insulin to stabilize your blood sugar. If cortisol is out of balance, your body will start storing fat instead of burning fat. Symptoms: belly fat, weight gain, diabetes, sugar cravings

  2. Rush of Energy - You feel an “adrenaline rush” typically followed by an energy crash. Symptoms: fatigue, anxiety, depression, moodiness, wired & tired feeling

  3. Slows Digestion - The immune cells that line our digestive tract are regulated by cortisol, so if your cortisol levels are depleted, you are prone to digestive problems. Instead of using energy to digest food, your body instead brings blood to your muscles so you can act quickly under stress. Most people are familiar with ulcers related to stress which is a great example of how the digestive system is linked with cortisol levels. Symptoms: digestive issues like bloating, ulcers, heartburn, yeast, food allergies, constipation, diarrhea

  4. Depresses the Immune System - Your body prioritizes survival over healing. Symptoms: frequent common colds, allergies, slow healing, cancer

  5. Disrupts Female Hormone Balance - The main adrenal hormone is made from progesterone, so when you are under stress, you deplete your progesterone levels which are important for the uterine lining, mood stability, and menstrual cycles. Estrogen is made from DHEA which is another adrenal hormone. Chronic stress depletes estrogen levels causing hormone imbalances. Symptoms: menstrual complaints, infertility, PMS, etc.

  6. Contributes to Heart Disease - Research shows that imbalances of cortisol can also cause chronic degenerative diseases.

Is there a way to treat adrenal fatigue?

Yes, at our clinic we use Salivary Adrenal Lab Testing from Biohealth Labs to assess the current state of your adrenal function. The lab results will indicate which stage of adrenal fatigue you have: Stage 1, 2, or 3.

Specific supplements and herbs are prescribed to address each stage. Acupuncture is an effective way to support your adrenal health, decrease stress, and reduce inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle modifications are also recommended to support your treatment.

Most patients feel better after about 1-6 months of treatment, and they continue the adrenal program for a year or more depending on the severity. With proper testing and treatment, people can reverse the negative impacts of chronic stress on their bodies.

Case Study & Testimonial

Below is a testimonial of a patient named Will who began to feel extremely tired about 2 years after the birth of his twins one of whom has Down's Syndrome. It was also a time when he was working as a professor, going to graduate school, and starting his own consulting business.

He went to his general doctor who did all of the blood work, and the labs revealed that he was Vitamin D deficient. The doctor prescribed Vitamin D, but he felt no change after several months of taking it. The doctor had nothing else to offer him because all of this blood work looked fine.

He came to me for treatment. I had him do a salivary adrenal test which revealed that he was in Stage 3 adrenal fatigue. Click below to see how he is doing after a year on the adrenal supplements.

If you think you may be suffering with adrenal fatigue or would like to learn more, feel free to contact us to make an appointment or set up a free consultation.

Nicole Peterson, LAc, MAcOM is a licensed acupuncturist in Ashland, Oregon. She loves sharing her passion for natural approaches to health through her online blog and at her clinic, Ashland Family Acupuncture located in downtown Ashland at 208 Oak St, Suite 106E.


Historic Ashland Armory

Ashland Family Acupuncture

208 Oak St, Suite 106 E

Ashland, Oregon 97520


Tel: 541-631-9649



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