Adrenal fatigue is a term that encompasses a range of signs and symptoms that result when the adrenal glands are functioning below normal and necessary levels. The adrenals glands are located just above the kidneys and are responsible for producing epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), cortisol, progesterone, DHEA, oestrogen, and testosterone.
Adrenal fatigue encompasses a range of symptoms and is a form of fatigue that is not relieved by sleep. People with adrenal fatigue may look and act relatively normal with any obvious signs of physical illness, but may experience and general feeling of unwellness and tiredness. These people often find they need stimulants, such as caffeine, to get moving or prop themselves up during the day.
It is a syndrome that was first described in medical texts in the 1800’s and although is recognised by the World Health Organisation, it is now not recognised by the conventional medical community as a distinct syndrome. Over the past 100 years doctors have argued whether it is a legitimate condition or not, with most arguments based on the fact that science has yet to determine a way to test for its existence.
In natural and alternative therapy communities it is widely accepted as a real syndrome and believed to be one of the most mis- and undiagnosed conditions. Some estimates are that 75-80% of Western adult populations suffer from some degree of adrenal fatigue.
It differs from adrenal insufficiency, or Addison’s disease. In Addison’s disease adrenal function is at the extreme low end and is often caused by an autoimmune dysfunction. It is recognised as a medical condition and diagnosed through a series of tests designed for extremely low adrenal function.