Adrenal fatigue

Find out what causes adrenal fatigue—and what you can do about it.

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What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is when your energy levels are off. The term is misleading because it’s not just an adrenal gland issue—but a state in which hormonal disruption affects several parts of the body.

The main hormone involved is cortisol. This plays a key role in making you feel energised. If you don’t produce it in the right amounts, you can feel fatigued. You may struggle to get out of bed in the morning or even feel ‘tired but wired’.

This state is more accurately described as ‘HPA axis dysfunction’. But whatever you call it, there are lots of ways to address it.

What causes adrenal fatigue?

Lots of things can contribute to adrenal fatigue, or HPA axis dysfunction:

Leaky gut.

This allows bacteria to be released into the bloodstream, leading to inflammation. Chronic inflammation begins to affect the delicate feedback mechanisms between the brain and the adrenal glands.

Poor diet.

High-sugar, low-fibre diets cause the adrenals to release cortisol to help balance blood sugar. Over time, cortisol doesn’t work as effectively as it should.

Food sensitivities.

Foods that don’t agree with you can cause an inflammatory reaction. This leads to excessive release of cortisol, which gradually affects your adrenal function.

Chronic infections.

These cause the body to release cortisol as an anti-inflammatory measure. Eventually, the cells stop responding to cortisol.

Chronic stress.

If too much cortisol is released too often, the feedback mechanism between the adrenals and glands in the brain stop working properly.


Exercise is essential for good health, but excessive exercise becomes stressful for the body, contributing to adrenal insufficiency.

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3 natural remedies for adrenal fatigue

The approach will vary depending on how severe the fatigue is. Here are a few starting points:


Consider an adaptogen supplement.

These herbs have been found to support proper adrenal function.

Take a herbal formulation

Cut down on sugar.

A blood-sugar roller coaster makes your adrenals work very hard. Give them a break by reducing your sugar intake.

Sugary foods

Prioritise sleep.

Sleep is hugely important for recovery. Practise sleep hygiene and try to get a full eight hours each night.

Meditation for mindfulness

Associated symptoms of adrenal fatigue

Low libido
Swollen joints
Salt cravings
Low stress tolerance
Difficulty waking
Food sensitivities
Brain fog
Poor immunity

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