Years ago, when I recovered from severe chronic health issues, I resolved never to be a spectator in my own life again. I will ride the bull, say yes to the CNN interview even though I’m running on a few hours of sleep, and draw silly faces on all the eggs in my fridge.
And I still feel that way, except maybe I will do it tomorrow . . . after a long siesta. . . or later, like when the cows come home. Because frankly, my “Need To Do” list (go to the grocery store) and my “Want To Do” list ( take a NAP) have not been getting along lately. Yes, I love life and want to do ALL THE THINGS, but maybe I shouldn’t try to do them all at once, you know?
Lately I’ve noticed that I’m dragging in the afternoon and have less patience with the potami. Though in the past I would have beat myself up for my “bad attitude” or tried to give myself a pep talk to snap out of it, this time I’m taking a different approach. I’m acknowledging that my adrenals are tired, and I’m taking steps to give them the rest they need.
What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
The adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys, support us through stressful events. They secrete hormones that make us resilient in times of difficulty, like a sleepless night, illness, surgery, stress at work, stress at home, loss of a loved one, meltdowns at the store with toddlers, financial pressure, etc. The challenges – whether they’re short-term, long-term, severe or relatively mild – can sometimes overwhelm the adrenals. Because the effects of stress on the adrenals are cumulative, multiple sources of stress tend to compound the problem.
Unfortunately, some types of stress are hard to spot. In his book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. James Wilson mentions a study which measured the stress hormones of a group of nurses working in a pediatric unit. They weren’t aware of any particular stress in their lives, but their lab tests told a different story. According to Dr. Wilson, they “were totally unaware of being under stress, but their cortisol levels were elevated by 200-300%.”
When our adrenals help us through stressful times – perceived or not – they need a recovery phase afterwards. Just like weight lifters need to take a break between workouts so their muscles can rebuild, the adrenals need rest to stay strong.
And now we all see the problem, right? Modern life is incredibly stressful, and most of us don’t get a lot of downtime. Over the course of years, this can weaken our adrenals, making us less able to adapt to stressful events, less productive and more easily irritated.
Are you nodding your head because this sounds familiar?
Then read on – I have good news! My husband and I recently took the kids on a much needed trip to the shore, and I managed to read up on adrenal fatigue and create a plan for my recovery. I was expecting to feel overwhelmed, but just the opposite happened. I discovered several simple things I can do to care for tired adrenals, which I’ll be sharing with in future posts. But first, I’ll bet you’re wondering if your low energy levels could really be related to adrenal fatigue.
What Are The Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue?
Though they can vary from person-to-person, according to Dr. Wilson you might have adrenal fatigue if you can say “yes” to some of these statements listed in Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome:
- My ability to handle stress or pressure has decreased.
- I seem to have decreased in cognitive ability. I don’t think as clearly as I used to.
- I tend to avoid emotional situations.
- I am chronically fatigued; a tiredness that is not usually relieved by sleep.
- I have decreased tolerance. People irritate me more.
- My thinking is confused when hurried or under pressure.
- I am frequently cold.
You can take Dr. Wilson’s full adrenal fatigue quiz here.
Think You Might Have Adrenal Fatigue? Take This Test!
If any of the statements from the adrenal fatigue checklist sound familiar, you’ll want to take the iris contraction test. Now, please keep in mind that – as I wrote in my post on the Vitamin K shot – “Best Boo-Boo Kisser South Of Puckett’s Gas Station” is about as official as things get for me professionally. I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice or a diagnosis. I’m just passing along information from someone who is a medical professional that I found helpful.
Basically, the iris contraction test measures your body’s stamina in response to light stimulation. If your stamina is decreased, this test plus your overall symptoms may indicate that your adrenals are having difficulty supporting you through stressful events.
Here’s what you’ll need to take the test:
- Weak (not too bright) flashlight or pen light
- Stopwatch or watch with a second hand (I use a stopwatch app on my phone)
- Dark room
Iris Contraction Test Directions:
In a dark room, sit or stand in front of a mirror for about a minute to allow your eyes to adjust to the light. “Then shine a flashlight across one eye (not directly into it) from the side of your head. [Mommypotamus note: Some practitioners say to keep the light about six inches away] Keep the light shining steadily across one eye and watch in the mirror with the other. You should see your pupil (the dark circle in the center of the eye) contract immediately as the light hits your eye. This occurs because the iris, a tiny circular muscle composed of small muscle fibers, contracts and dilates the pupil in response to light. Just like any muscle, after it has been exercised beyond normal capacity, it likes to have a rest.
The pupil normally remains contracted in the increased light. But if you have some form of hypoadrenia [Mommypotamus note: This is the clinical term for adrenal fatigue], the pupil will not be able to hold its contraction and will dilate [open back up] despite the light shining on it. This dilation will take place within 2 minutes and will last for about 30-45 seconds before it recovers and contracts again. Time how long the dilation lasts with the second hand on the watch and record it along with the date. After you do this once, let the eye rest. If you have any difficulty doing this on yourself, do it with a friend. Have a friend shine the light across your eye while both of you watch the pupil size.
Retest monthly. If your eye indicates you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, this also serves as an indicator of recovery. As you recover from adrenal fatigue, the iris will hold its contraction and the pupil will remain small for longer.” (Source: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome)
A Quick Note
I thought this info shared by Susie, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, in the comments below was helpful so I’ve updated the post to include it:
“Couple of things to keep in mind for people taking this test:
To address some above comments, in having tested quite a few people this year in NTP school, I find most people’s pupils pulse (release, contract, release, contract, rather quickly), rather than completely releasing for a prolonged period of time. What you’re looking for is a sustained, non-pulsing contraction for 30 seconds. The longer the sustained contraction, the better. Pulsing is better than fully releasing, and some people don’t contract at all, which would be a big indicator.
Secondly, this is an EARLY indicator of adrenal fatigue. Pupillary contraction is not nearly as high on the priority list for your adrenals as, say, blood sugar control or blood pressure maintenance. So not doing well on his test doesn’t mean you’re in dire straights and need major intervention. Having reactive hypoglycemia or scoring poorly on a postural hypotension test (blood pressure dropping when you stand up, getting dizzy/tunnel vision when you stand) are better indicators of real hypoadrenia.”
Okay, I May Have Adrenal Fatigue. What Now?
As Dr. Wilson mentions in his book, there is no test for adrenal fatigue like there is for Strep B. It is diagnosed by assessing symptoms and physiological signs such as iris contraction, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. If the questionnaire I linked to and the iris test both suggest the possibility of adrenal fatigue, it might be wise to request a saliva cortisol test from your healthcare provider – that’s what I did.
A saliva cortisol test is taken at home using a simple kit. Basically, you spit into a vial several times a day, then send the samples in for analysis. The lab will review how your cortisol levels ebb and flow. I’ll explain more in future posts, but for now what you need to know is that an abnormal pattern suggests HPA axis dysfunction, which suggests adrenal dysfunction. (HPA stands for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal.)
Quick note: According to Chris Kresser, the best lab test to go with is done by BioHealth, as some other labs have less reliable results. You can request information about their test on this page.
Feeling stressed about the possibility of a positive result? According to Dr. Wilson, in most cases you are your own best advocate when it comes to healing. Some of the nutritional advice is dated, but overall I thought his book was helpful. I’ll be sharing more insights from it (and others) as I go, but if you’d like to you can pick it up here.
Update: Here are my top 15 ways to be kind to your adrenals
I’ll also be sharing tips for helping the adrenals function optimally in future posts. Stay tuned!
Read My Comment Policy
Thanks for posting this!! I did the test, and my pupil didn’t hold the contraction more than a few seconds. Every few seconds it would dilate and then contract ever few seconds after, over and over. Does this mean I have adrenal fatigue, or do I need to go get my eyes looked at?!? lol!
My eyes were dilated for over two minutes.
There is no evidence to support anything in this article. Adrenal fatigue, or hypoadrenia, isn’t a real condition. Honestly though it’s a good way for alternative medicine doctors on YouTube to sell supplements though ??
Sooo my diagnosed Cushings disease by a medical dr is fake? This is great news!!! Sooo glad I listened to you instead of my dr!
Don’t just leave this go. Search for additional second options or Other professional advice. Also. There are a few very good Alternative medical items to check info.
Adrenal Fatigue/ adrenal Crisis/ Addison’s disease/ Cushing disease are all very real and extremely serious and dangerous medical conditions. They can be fatal. Don’t play around with attempting to self diagnose. If you feel you are nearing adrenal fatigue, get help from an endocrinologist! There is a test for it. The first step is simply a blood test checking your cortisol level. If it’s in a dangerous place, you are sent for an ACTH stim test. Not a flashlight test. A real test. I have Addison’s disease and nearly died because I didn’t know anything about it and there are not enough doctors around the area that treat it.
Not true at all! If your adrenals are supplying too much cortisol, it can wear them out!
Thanks for posting!! I have suspected that I have adrenal fatigue. I did the test. My pupils did not hold the contraction more than a few seconds!! Then they dilated for a few seconds, then contracted for a second. Over and over. It seemed to not be able to hold either. Does this mean adrenal fatigue or do I need my eyes checked?? 🙂
Hi Heather, did you wait a minute or so to let your eyes adjust before the test? I am not a practitioner so I can’t really interpret your results, but it might be worth looking into further. The questionnaire I link to in the post goes to Dr. Wilson’s site, which has more information.
Yes, I waited and for two minutes it went back and forth. I will look at Dr. Wilson’s site. Thanks so much!!!
This same thing happened to me too! My pupil went back and forth from shrinking to opening up more…
Soooo I just did the test and within a few seconds of my pupil becoming smaller it went back larger…it was probably 3-5 seconds and then kept getting smaller then bigger then smaller….not sure if i did it right but ……..
Exactly the same happened to me! I’m torn between it meaning that we’re perfectly normal, or that we are so far up on the adrenal fatigue spectrum we can’t even hold the contraction for more than a couple of seconds!
I did the test on my 16 year old daughter and her eyes did the same as mine, however my husbands held contracted for a longer period. It does describe what Ive been feeling the last several months….something to investigate i guess…:)
My husband has HORRIBLE adrenal fatigue – I’m looking forward to learning how you are healing!
How is he doing? I am current being treated for adrenal fatigue by a holistic Doctor. I have it terrible. It is causing me to have panic attacks.
I had panic attacks from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed. Terrible!!!!!
I have the same situation but I was diagnosed with Candida overgrown & Candida diet took care of it! You can google candid diet ! Good lock! Sometimes taking prescription like low dosage of Ativen ca help along with your diet! It did for me! It comes down the nerves!
I am interested in reading the protocol your practitioner put you on for recovery of Adrenal Fatigue. I did the saliva test along with hormones. The Dr called me and said most people tell me they are tired but their test results are negative for Adrenal Fatigue. He was fascinated with my results being ghastly and the fact I was functioning. Well barely but according to him they thought I would be bed bound. Waiting on follow up appointment to begin the journey to recovery.
I know the feeling I’m experiencing exactly the same- I wont even go to a shopping centre and longer & keep loosing balance & dizzy.
I agree I have lived in the condition of stress for 4 years lost 40 pound chill all the time I need help
That is so me! Usually I am exhausted but too restless to sleep. I can’t wait for the follow up!
PS Any chance you could do an article on cell/tissue salts?!
While your information has the potential to be helpful, I find your fear based headlines tiresome. Consider changing your tone to maintain followers like me.
Hi Amy, I’m sorry you feel that way. I intended the title to be empowering for those who have been wondering about this subject, but I’d be interested in hearing what would have resonated more with you.
Thank you for your response, for clarification, it was the Facebook headline I take issue with:
Do you ever wake up tired, feel overwhelmed by stress, or have a difficult time being patient with your little ones?
You might have adrenal fatigue. Here’s a simple test you can do to check for it at home.
How To Test For Adrenal Fatigue At Home
Years ago, when I recovered from a debilitating illness, I resolved never to be a spectator in my own…
I understand you have to ‘grab’ readers attention, but I think the first paragraph could apply to anyone with children. Not every tired impatient moment is a sign of a larger problem. I’d like to see some hope/solution in the headline. Such as: ‘some ways to get your energy back!’ or ‘you don’t have to feel tired every day, this test can help!’
Thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing more positive, hopeful headlines.
Thanks for clarifying, Amy. While I agree that not every impatient moment is indicative of adrenal fatigue, sometimes we have to identify a problem in order to move forward with a solution. My description was intended to help do that. Perhaps my writing style just doesn’t resonate with you – that’s okay!
I love your suggestions on article descriptions, however they don’t seem like a good fit for this particular post because it doesn’t offer ideas for regaining energy. It is simply an invitation to take a quiz and possibly a home test.
Hope is most definitely my goal, and I am excited to continue this series with strategies for healing. I’d love it if you continue to participate in this series and other posts, but it’s not a good fit for you I totally understand.
Unbelievable how ridiculous so many of these people are. If you didn’t have it before, you would now after reading the hatefulness of these comments. You were amazing to the troll “that took issue” with your headline. I’m just shaking my head. The nerve. She obviously has problems dealing with her kids. Instead of looking at herself, she attacked the headline.
It was an amazing article. One that has helped me beyond compare.
There is nothing wrong with your writing style Heather… life isn’t always sunshine, but this article is far from negative. Good read!
I totally agree!
“Cater to me” Waaahhhh!
Maybe that is why she was sick, finding fault with others has an impact on our bodies. Let her remarks go over your head you are doing a great job.
Probably has adrenal fatigue – isn’t one of the symptoms irritation? 🙂
My life has changed since 5 years ago. I think I have adrenal fatigue. What should I do first?
Hi heather. When will u be putting up your next post on how you dealt with your adrenals
Hi Usmaan, I posted the follow-up article here: https://mommypotamus.com/adrenal-fatigue-treatment/
This was a great article!!
“Fear-based headline?” Huh?
How is “do you have adrenal fatigue” fear based?
People die of adrenal Fatigue. People that know the true term of adrenal Fatigue and symptoms can find this fearful. I had it, doctors ignored it. I burned out, had to quit my job, it damaged my kidneys and almost killed me. A homeopathic doctor saved my life. It takes years to reverse. No one tells you that.
How is this headline “fear based”? I think most people will read this as an invitation to learn more, not to scare people.
Everyone comes from different backgrounds and have various experiences that affect their outlook on life; therefore, their view of something might be totally different than someone elses perspective. I like how you responded Heather, because after all we are real people even though we don’t talk face to face we still need to try and understand each other. This is part of life learning from one another.
That’s true Christine. We also lose our “tone” of voice a lot of times when we type. After reading the headline again, I can see how someone could read that as fear based if you switch the type of tone.
AMY;. You are just plain RUDE! If this isn’t for you, the Er n don’t read it! Period! Us others rather enjoy it!!
This will not be an accurate test if the person has Hippus, a condition that causes the pupil to contract and release regardless of adrenal function.
So sorry you have adrenal fatigue but so glad you are covering this. I have it too and quite honestly I become overwhelmed by researching how to help myself. You tend to make things easier to understand and I’m thankful this is something you will break down.
This is a great podcast from Sean Croxton and Nora Gedgaudas on this topic – could be a good book to read too.
Can’t wait to see what some of your suggestions are for helping to fix it….
In all the articles I’ve read concerning adrenal fatigue and the causes, (and yours was good, by the way) I’ve never seen it addressed when one has been on high doses of prednisone for several months. This may not fall under adrenal fatigue because the adrenal has literally been completely shut down until the dosage falls under 7 or so mgs. I wonder at what point the adrenal will atrophy to the point it never starts back up. The first time I went off prednisone after having been on it for a year and a half, it took a year before I could feel back to normal and start losing the 58 pounds I had gained during that time. I had to go back on it last September and just got off again last month. Just wondering and would love to hear what someone (other than a traditional MD) has to say. (Can’t bash prednisone, don’t ‘cha know, cause it’s a “wonder drug”!)
Dr. Wilson does mention corticosteroids, though based on your brief description of the relationship between them and adrenal function I’m not sure whether the info would be new to you. It’s definitely something I hope will be covered in the other books I’m reading right now.
Carmen there is hope, I was on prednisone for more that 5 years straight, it was a long, awful, painful, and slow withdrawal from it. this was about a year and a half ago, i’ve had to do short bursts about 4 times since then, I like to breathe. At that time I also got off of high doses of morphine another withdrawal that was not pretty, I was put on methadone as i have chronic pain issues. After this time I started investigating herbs that might help me, and i have found a wealth of information on not just herbs, but on many other natural ways to heal, and I’m actually starting to feel better than I can ever remember and I’m 53, with 6 children, 7 grandchildren 3 of which I have been Mom to for the last year and a half.
Now i’m still currently on some meds but am slowly decreasing. The first things i started out with was eating healthier, fruits, veggies, less processed foods, and using essential oils, (no I’m not a distributor) I buy mine at my local natural food stores, I continued having issues and was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and found out that nightshade vegetables which I love and ate plentiful amounts of aggravated it, within a few days of stopping them I felt better, still had a lot of stomach issues, my doc suggested stopping gluten. around this time I also started drinking and making my own kombucha. During this time I’ve been adding more homemade fermented foods such as milk kefir, homemade yogurt, lacto-fermented lemonade, also things like chia, flax and hemp seeds, coconut oil, cocoa, natural salt, and sugar not refined, also canned and fresh fishes, and I even bought liver the other day. Now I’m sure there are others out there who will tell me other things i should do like eliminate all sugars, and other things, but I listen to my body, and I might get there one day, but there is hope, don’t get overwhelmed take it one little step at a time, and most of all listen to your body what works for one person may not work for you, or you might not be ready to do for one reason or another, As for diet there are so many out there, what I do is investigate them all and chose the parts of them that I can do, do I recommend one over another, the best i can say is I have in some ways a restrictive diet, but not super strict, I like meat, I agree we need more plant based foods in our diets, I try to make things I eat/drink nutrient dense, and I go by the 80/20 rule, since non of us are perfect, but when we go off no big deal, go right back to what you were doing, and if needed make some changes. think, Bad, Good, Better, Best, like fruit and veggies, Bad is none, Good is eating them, Better is fresh and mostly veggies, Best would be all organic, and so on.
Sorry this was so long but I felt I needed to offer some hope for you, as when I first started things seemed so overwhelming, expensive, hard to do, but I came along some good blogs that said, start with babysteps, I’ve been at this for about 9 months now, I still have a ways to go i’m sure, there are still times I have problems and issues, and I ask for advise that so many will offer readily especially if they have something to gain, and much of it’ll be contradictory. read it with some skepticism, and do the AA motto take what you want and leave the rest. My biggest things is I now try to get the things I need from foods, not supplements. start slow especially with things like ferments and detoxes/cleanses, as your body can go into what is called a healing crisis, basically all the bad stuff in your body is killed off to quickly and overwhelms your body as it tries to get rid of it. So time, patience, babysteps, and most of all listen to your body and yourself, and forgive yourself. Good luck hope you feel better I know it is an uphill battle sometimes, but worth it in the end, Oh and one thing I forgot is get some exercise everyday even if it’s in small bursts, I personally like yoga.
Lori, I loved your entire comment. So hopeful, patient, and wise. This new world of social media… so much great help out there especially for getting involved and doing your own research. But also so much judgment, condemnation, lies and more. Baby steps is so true. Starting where it matters most to you is so important as habits change and hope is born. Thank you for being an encouraging voice! Keep up your good work for your own health.
Hi heather, thank you for all the time and energy you put into your blog. I always enjoy your posts while nursing my little ones to bed. I never leave a comment on anything but this time I had to. We had a very stressful move during my fourth pregnancy and I felt like a different person after that. A friend of mine gave me dr. Wilson’s book and his advice along with taking vitamin c, magnesium, and his own supplement, Adrenal Rebuilder, restored me. It was a very difficult time for me and I am so grateful for that book. I hope get the rest you need but I know how hard it is when your children are young.
Thank you, Maria!
Is this a book or a website? Best Boo-Boo Kisser South Of Puckett’s Gas Station. I’ve found that foot zoning and body code have helped me a lot in recovering from unhappy adrenals, thyroid, and liver. The foot zoning helps teach the body how to heal itself and releases trapped emotions. The body code finds the imbalances and rebalances them while releasing the trapping emotions. I think red raspberry leaf tea or is it peppermint tea that helps with adrenal function. I’m wondering if my pillow is off gasing and making it harder to get a good night sleep. There’s gotta be a healthy pillow that provides good support without being noisy like the buckwheats pillows.
As you say at the end, “it may be an indication of adrenal fatigue”. If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue, then have a salivary panel done with a qualified professional. Depending on the stage you are in, would depend on the supplemental support you would take.
Blindly following what worked for one person without consulting with a professional is pure foolishness.
If you read her article, then you would have known that she stated she wasn’t a medical professional and to contact our own. Its also a common sense thing to consult a medical professional that knows your medical history before switching things.
Thank You for another Very Helpful, Informative Post as well as ALL of your posts! I’ll be doing this test. PS: You have a Beautiful Family!
Also keep in mind that those symptoms are also signs of Lyme disease if you have had any recent tick bites. Lyme can also cause adrenal fatigue. Hope you feel better!
Hi! Thank you so much for sharing!
I too am healing from adrenal fatigue. A good friend of mine referred me to a lady(a good friend of mine now) who practices Applied Kinesiology (muscle testing) and with her help, a well as some changes that I’ve made in my personal life and at home…. I’ve come to have great results! Not 100% but a mark improvement from where I was several months ago.
She tested me for the right supplements which have helped me a lot too.
During those months I had very bad insomnia. But I’m so blessed to be able to sleep better. Like yourself I’m a mommy and it can be very debilitating when you are so tired and all you want is to lay down. But during this season I’ve also been grateful because I’ve grown closer to God and have learned to extend grace to myself and those around me.
I tend to lean on the perfectionist side and I’m learning to just relax and appreciate some messes… Like the endless crumbs under the table
Saliva test works good. I was at the “bottom of the chart” when my integrated
female doctor put me on a diet and Adren Al, a strong Ortho product. This was/is
not a quick fix, after all, I didn’t get to the bottom of the chart in 10 days. It was
a lifetime of taking care of others, running a business and never giving myself
any slack. Ever really look at the color of the skin under your eyes? Mine were
really dark. Insomnia all my life. Once a problem, maybe always a problem if you
do not change your lifestyle.
That is why I am back on Adren Al – maybe someday I will learn.
Couple of things to keep in mind for people taking this test:
To address some above comments, in having tested quite a few people this year in NTP school, I find most people’s pupils pulse (release, contract, release, contract, rather quickly), rather than completely releasing for a prolonged period of time. What you’re looking for is a sustained, non-pulsing contraction for 30 seconds. The longer the sustained contraction, the better. Pulsing is better than fully releasing, and some people don’t contract at all, which would be a big indicator.
Secondly, this is an EARLY indicator of adrenal fatigue. Pupillary contraction is not nearly as high on the priority list for your adrenals as, say, blood sugar control or blood pressure maintenance. So not doing well on his test doesn’t mean you’re in dire straights and need major intervention. Having reactive hypoglycemia or scoring poorly on a postural hypotension test (blood pressure dropping when you stand up, getting dizzy/tunnel vision when you stand) are better indicators of real hypoadrenia.
Thank you, Susie! I’m in the middle of a project right now but later on I’m going to add this comment to the main post. So glad you stopped by!
Susie Yarbrough, NTP
I only just saw your reply and inclusion of my comment; glad I could help!
Thank you again!
I’ve read that another sign of adrenal fatigue is waking up at 3 a.m. nightly. A few days ago I discovered an adrenal cocktail that is suppose to help you sleep through the night. I have only tried it once and did get an extra 45 minutes of sleep before waking up. I need to continue daily for results.
If anyone is interested in the cocktail, search for the “Rejuvination Institute” and “Why do I always wake up at 3?” (I’m not affiliated with this site.)
Thank you for posting this! I read it to my husband this morning over breakfast and it resonated with both of us.
Looking at your beautiful vacation photos leads me to believe you were staying in my backyard! Did you vacation in Northwest Florida perchance?
Yes, ma’am, and we plan to be back early next year. Maybe somehow we can meet up!
Kristen @ MIX
Mama, it is AS IF we are living parallel lives! 🙂 Minus the third precious child, farm, and homeschooling, this is me, SPOT ON. I am JUST FINISHING this book as well, after getting confirmation from the saliva test that my adrenals are “maladapted” (the calm before full-blown adrenal fatigue) and I’m trying like H-E double hockey sticks to modify my lifestyle (the # culprit – ongoing, compounded stress for YEARS, plus broken sleep for 18 months – nursing babes, and all!) to rebuild those reserves. I’m really looking forward to your series! Thank you for sharing your story! Lots of love! xo
Glad you’re talking about this issue. I’ve healed my adrenal fatigue tremendously, though I won’t claim it is 100% gone. I was in pretty awful straights 2 years ago.
Have you heard about the method of temping for adrenal issues? Erratic temps throughout the day (you take them at 3 hours intervals for several days) is another indicator. Consistent low temps is more just a general indicator of thyroid.
Seasonal allergies, BP drops, strange muscle weakness, “Sergent’s Adrenal White Line” and many other odd symptoms also showed me I had adrenal issues.
I also hope you bring up the issue of hyper-adrenal issues that often precede the crash, but can look similar to suppressed adrenals.
Looking forward to upcoming posts on this to add to my own boatload of notes on healing adrenals, as I get asked often about what I’ve done for my own healing.
Hi there! I am so glad that you are discussing this important topic. I suffered from adrenal fatigue for years (unknowingly), which in turn blessed me with premature brain degeneration at the tender age of 31. I was lucky to had found the right holistic doctor (his name is Steve Tashiro, and he is located in Denver, CO), who diagnosed me and enabled my healing. It took a long time to get to him – in the meantime I had been recommended lithium (for symptoms of bipolar disorder), sent home “to relax,” told to find a husband, and even named a hypochondriac by a reputable NYC doctor (!?). If you feel tired allllll the time, chances are more than great that your adrenals are off the wall. Get a doctor, GET THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS (company named Apex produces Adaptocrine, a supplement creates to support adrenal function, for example), and be ready to handle a very strict diet. It is so worth it in the end.
It wouldn’t surprise me if almost everyone has adrenal fatigue in the day and age we live in. There’s different “levels” and/or severities of adrenal fatigue. I have had professional help in my diaginosis for adrenal fatigue by going to a naturopath doctor and I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Wilson’s book and supplements. They have put me on the road of recovery and I am so thankful. I was so sick with anxiety and insomnia that I had two separate times about 2 months apart where I was literally in bed for a week – which was horrible being a mom of 3 very young children. Thank God for my husband and family – I wouldn’t have been able to recover without their help and support! And thank God for Dr. Wilson!
This can also be known as “I’m pregnant and have a 2 year old and a 1 year old” disorder!
I am curious about which institution Susan is attending for Nutritional Therapy. Her insight was thorough and helpful. Seems the school has a very in depth hands on curriculum. Would love to further investigate as I am looking into a few. Thanks so much in advance for any advice.
I will be checking back for your follow up posts. Needless to say, I am 5 months post partum, and I know my adrenals are probably maxed out. I have several of the symptoms you listed, and will do the iris test at some point. Please continue this series because I really need the help!
i have been on entocort steroids for a year now 9mg and recently down to 6 mg – I want to get off but have been told to go slowly due to adrenals. Can you explain why to me and how I should go about this. I did the eye test and mine pulsed as well. I sleep great but also take ketotifen which is a mast cell stabilizer and makes me very sleepy. Can you also tell us what do to for adrenal support thx
Bard, be careful, as adrenal fatigue, and or shut down, that can happen when going off of steroids, can be much different than from natural (best way I could think of to describe it) adrenal fatigue caused for to much stress and all the other wonderful things we do to ourselves.
Does Dr. Wilson talk about the feedback loop between the adrenals and the brain?
I am curious to know if his therapies treat the whole system.
I can not find any help on this subject. I have all of the signs and have only seen reference to his book for sale. Is that all we can do is buy his book? Where is the help?
Heather ~ Mommypotamus
Darice, I’ll be sharing some ideas over the next few months, but I do think the book would be a worthwhile investment.
A start is leading a more holistic lifestyle overall, stay away from processed and refined foods, eat/drink fermented foods, get the sleep you need listen to your body and yourself and not others, there are so many out there that will offer advice much of it contradictory, go slow develop a new life style not just a temporary change. if you have the money go to a holistic or alternative medicine, or a doctor who believes in complementary medicine. beware of those who stand to gain financially from your problems.
I was just diagnoised with adrenal fatigue by having my blood pressure taken laying down, sitting up, and then standing. If it continues to drop drastically then you have adrenal fatigue. I am now undergoing the cortisol salvia test and hormone blood work. I have suspected adrenal fatigue for 3 years now but I believe I have had symptoms since my twenties. I also have thyroid dysfunction that I have been treating also. I learned that treating thyroid can be difficult with adrenal fatigue. That has been true in my case. Post partum was very difficult for me. I was on thyroid meds and highly stressed. Child #4. I was not well before getting pregnant and believe I was already depleted then. I am so ready for healing.
You should clarify that adrenal fatigue is not a medical condition. In fact, there is not scientific evidence supporting the concept of hypoadrenia and is not recognised by the medical community as a pathology.
We don’t need scared people, thinking that they’ve got false illnesses.
Thanks for the great article. Tried this today and had the pulsing. I am looking forward to future posts on how you are helping yourself with adrenal fatigue.
Interesting article. I was diagnosed by my MD (endocrinologist) with Adrenal Insufficiency about 18 months ago. I am also a type 1 diabetic with other high-risk chronic diseases. He put me on a low dose of Cortisol twice a day. I have been hospitalized in ICU due to Adrenal Failure, which can be fatal if not treated. If you suspect adrenal issues, see your doctor.
I completely agree about seeing an endocrinologist. I was diagnosed with Addison’s disease 14 yrs ago after being ill for almost a year with “no cause”. Your blood pressure could drop to fatal low pressure. Mine was 84/40 and I was placed in the cardiac unit of the hospital for constant monitoring with a heart monitor.
Please be careful if your symptoms become severe.
I’m VERY anxious to read the help we can do for ourselves for adrenal fatigue, as I am a mother of a 20 year old son who has multiple emotional, mental and behavioral disabilities. The last 20 years have been extremely stressful. I took the saliva test and my cortisol levels were off the chart. My doctor prescribed hydro-cortisone which I took for a period of time but I know I need to do more because the stress is ongoing. My physical health has suffered greatly. I’ve learned much on nutrition through webinars, some of which you, Heather have participated in,(thank you).
Bring it on, don’t delay. I’m so looking forward to reading what you have to offer!
Not sure if anyone has posted a similar response. My left pupil does not contract…I was diagnosed with a parasympathetic nerve disease in my 20’s…Meaning the muscle in my eye works — it’s the nerve that doesn’t work to make it operate. You may just want to double check with an opthamologist (MD).
While I haven’t tried this yet, a test I have at my optometrists, they have discovered that my pupils do not dilate at all. Mine are always small. Even at night when pupils get larger mine remain small. Could this be due to AF?
I did this but , I felt something fall behind my eye! Within an hour , I lost balance, got dizzy and fell to the ground. Please be careful an ck if this is ok as a test or not.
I did shine directly.
If you truly have adrenal fatigue syndrome your most definitely going to suffering from some other obvious condition as well. Failure of the adrenal glands To work properly would cause serious side effects in your body that you would notice far sooner then you would notice this so called syndrome. All the symptoms mentioned above can signify multiple different illnesses that are more likely for you to have then an adrenal problem, such as depression for instance or just being tired. Adrenal fatigue syndrome is a fad illness, if you go to any doctor saying you think you have it they will laugh at you. I’ve seen it happen. Try taking a nap and taking care of yourself.
TAKE A NAP???? You obviously never experienced chronic fatigue caused by this “imaginary illness.”
Ugh! How will a nap help when I wake up after a long sleep and am more weak and tired than when I went to sleep.
As an NTP Practitioner for over 5 years this is taught to us as Certified Practitioners. Firstly it must be done by another person preferably a Professional who knows what to look for and is experienced. Do not shine directly in your eyes and the photo is misleading, it implies you can do it yourself, not recommended Secondly, this quite honestly not the way to fully assess your adrenal function. It gives a starting point but the best way is to have an ASI adrenal panel done called a Salvary panel. This is basic information and yes the book is a bit out dated with much more new reliable information out! Nora Gegedous has a new Adrenal e book out and I fully believe working with Practitioners who deal with this topic. The other Newly graduated NTP had very valuable information above consening the actual procedure. This is very individual and complicated. I have taken many advanced seminars on this subject and work with many clients very specifically.
Concerning I meant to say!
HI. You mentioned that you were going to share some of what you have found to work for adrenal fatigue but I can’t find it on your site yet…. Am I missing something? Thanks.
I will totally try this.
The book Adrenal Fatigue is to be found for free download if you google around. I have just found it.
Thank you so much for the article! A friend sent it to me. I had never heard of this and the symptoms fit me perfectly. It’s frustrating to know I’ve lived with this for so long without knowing.
Did you ever complete additional follow-up articles in addition to this one? I’ve been dealing with similar issues and performed the iris contraction test and experienced non-stop wavering. I reached out to my endocrinologist and she informed me that adrenal fatigue is not a medical diagnose and does not exist int he medical world. I’ve had thyroid tests done and all came back normal, yet I still have symptoms. Thanks!
Try finding an integrative medical doctor that will perform a 24 hour saliva test. I have/ had severe adrenal fatigue and have been healing for 6 months now. I am a completely new person from what I was 6 months ago. Thanks to a practitioner who believes in natural healing from the roots up.
I’m hoping maybe you can unconfuse me. I recently had an adrenal stress index done as well as a full thyroid panel because I’ve experienced all the symptoms you’ve mentioned above and more (headaches, inability to lose baby weight despite trying, etc). I’ve even taken the questionnaire you linked ( and a few others) and they all come back indicating some amount of adrenal fatigue.
My confusion is this. Every test my new doctor just ran came back normal. I’ve been ignoring how I felt for 6 years and I finally hit a point where I couldn’t go on being so exhausted, but I have no answers. On the one hand I suppose I should be happy things are normal, but on the other hand I’m just so sick of feeling horrible.
One particular question I have is, can large amounts of coffee skew the results of a cortisol saliva test? My doctor wanted me to do what I normally do in a day and the results were normal, but journal for me is 3-5 of extremely strong black coffee a day ( my most awake moments are about an 1 hour long after each cup, expect the one at the end of the night and then I crash hard). The fatigue has gotten do bad that I’m crash after doing the simplest things like cooking for my family.
I’ve had some people point out that I have 6 kids ( youngest is 3 months), but I don’t feel like this it’s a normal level of fatigue. I just want to feel better.
Oh, almost forgot, tried the iris test. Mine pulses constantly.
I had a doctor concerned about my adrenals and suggested a saliva test in 2009 because my cortisol was testing high- I didn’t do it. In April 2012 with another doctor I did a saliva test & my adrenals were off the charts. This Dr. handed me the adrenal support tablets with her face on the bottle bottle and did no subsequent testing. In October 2013 I wound up in the Endocornologist office. Her basic blood profile showed my cortisol high because of HCTH. After more subsequent testing and an MRI was discovered that I had Cushing’s disease- my set of symptom indicators were caused by a small benign tumor in my pituitary. I had a surgery in April 2014 and have been recovering my health steadily. I share this to say… If you are having testing done that shows your adrenals over functioning or underfunctioning you may need to see an Endocornologist to really have somebody who understands it working on the behalf of your health.
Just came across this post via Pinterest. Was interested in reading your follow ups & results. Where can I find those posts? Thank you.
I just took dr Wilson’s test and scored in the “severe” range. Not really news to me… I’ve been depressed and burnt out for a whole now, although I find it interesting that there may be a physical reason why I’m feeling this way. Not sure what to really do about it though, since I’m already doing a lot of the things to “be kind”. What do I do now? Do you have a link to other posts that talk about how you recovered?
You went to the shore?! Are you a Jersey Girl?
Thank you Mommypotamus!
Appreciate the free and EZ health tip. Definitely have adrenal issues that have made me quite sick. Will see an endocrinologist soon. Wish I would have seen this years ago. Hope you will continue to promote the early detection and screening of Addisons.
This not at all how Addison’s is dianosed. Addison’s testing usually entails an 8 am cortisol draw at a lab. They will also usually conduct an ACTH stim test to confirm. I hope you made it to an endo. They will not diagnose you with adrenal fatigue as there is no such diagnosis, and thus, no such diagnosis code. Your insurance company will not recognise adrenal fatigue either.
This comment comes from a place of concern. This blog post scares me because I have adrenal insufficiency, which is a real endocrine condition characterized by dangerously low or non existent cortisol production. What scares me is the thought of people diagnosing themselves with adrenal fatigue, when they are actually experiencing early warning signs of adrenal insufficiency. I have seen naturopaths and holistic doctors make this mistake, and don’t find out until their patient is in a dangerous emergency state called Arenal Crisis, which is where you slip into shock and die from lack of cortisol. It is also why I am sitting in the hospital right now sharing my concerns with you.
Hello, I was wondering how you are feeling now, what took you to the er and what was the result? Thanks!
At stated in the post, she says to contact your doctor for any concerns.
Also, before anyone decides to fully diagnosis themselves, first, they need to do research into the subject. I know for cortisol, if you have too much, it is bad for you as well, especially if you take a cortisol supplement and get angry with 10 mins, that means you have too much cortisol and need to level it out. You are the only person who knows what type of stress you are under on a daily basis.
As for adrenal fatigue, which is different from insufficiency, can vary, as stated above as well, and you should always go see your doctor.
I tested myself, then people in my family. This test comes out positive for all of us, including healthy, happy, young people. I’m not so sure it’s an indicator of any issues…
My doctor used this test on me to see if I was suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Hi Heather, (I accidentally posted this to your recent sleep article when I meant to put it here,sorry!)
I’m trying to find info for treating during pregnancy the adrenal hpa axis dysfunction. I’m very concerned because I am 8 weeks pregnant and I just found out about a month before i got pregnant, through a saliva test ,showing flattened cortisol levels, and the lab doctors that reviewed my hormone test said it looks like I have the hpa axis adrenal dysfunction. There is so little info I have been able to find on suppliments safe during pregnancy to help this. This condition is causing low progesterone even with being on progesterone prescription and topical pro-gest emerita, and i got one progesterone shot,levels only went from a 15 to 18.5 in 3 weeks on supplimenting. I’ve been doing a lot of research and found out how dangerous this can be if not corrected during pregnancy. If you can help in anyway I will be so thankful!
Hello, thank you for writing this post. Last year, I suffered from extreme adrenal fatigue (I had to sleep at least 13 h a day for over two months, not to mention nausea, shakiness and other symptoms) and, to be honest, I still feel the results of exhausting my organism almost to the breaking point. I am very glad you wrote this post as I believe it is important that people know about this health issue and not undermine its meaning on their health and wellness.
I took Dr Wilsons test and scored 136 on the now asterisk questions, anything over SIX means go see a health practitioner ASAP. Hahahaha. So I guess I should be dead? Im def know Im crashing worse – from taking that test, seeing how things have worsened from the past to now. Ah well.