My dear friend Don and I laughed harder than we had in weeks while we were driving together recently. Don was telling me how tired he’s been feeling lately; that when he wakes up in the morning, he feels about 80% as tired as when he laid down to go to sleep! I shook my head. We were stopped at a light behind a heavily bumper stickered car. Don said, “They should make a bumper sticker that says, ‘I wonder if Jesus was this tired too’.” And we laughed, even though we realized something was seriously wrong.

The Symptoms
A few months later, I was on the phone with a girlfriend, and she was telling me about her symptoms of adrenal fatigue. It was a bit scary when I realized that Don had been waking up feeling tired, I’d been getting tired around 1PM and needed either a nap or caffeine or sugar to make it through the rest of the day, and we both had been experiencing pounding hearts when lying down to nap or sleep. The other symptoms of adrenal fatigue are; loss of head hair, feeling rundown or overwhelmed, craving salty and sweet snacks, feeling more awake and energetic after 6PM than you do all day, slow to start in the morning, gastric ulcers, afternoon headaches, feeling full or bloated, blurred vision, unstable behavior, becoming shaky or light-headed if meals are missed or delayed, cannot stay asleep or cannot fall asleep, and dizziness when moving from sitting to standing or lying to standing.


What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
I started researching, and discovered that 66% of people in our modern world experience this disorder to one degree or another. This is no surprise to me, as I hardly know anyone who doesn’t over-use coffee (For 14 years, I always had a strong cup of green or black tea to get going in the morning, and usually another cup in the afternoon). Stress is the main issue, and it permeates our lives in many forms. Here’s what Diane Sanfilippo has to say about the many causes of adrenal fatigue and recommended supplements to overcome it. Her entire article is an excellent read, by the way.


“Contributors to the stress that leads to adrenal fatigue can be lifestyle stressors including but not limited to: lack of sleep, poor food choices, use of stimulants, pulling “all-nighters” or “pushing through” a day despite being tired, perfectionism, staying in no-win situations for too long, over training, lack of fun or stress-relieving practices. Those who are: students, medical professionals, single parents, unhappily married, unhappy or unsatisfied at work, are self-employed or starting a new business, abuse drugs or alcohol, have alternating shift schedules or who are the “all work and no play” types have lifestyles that lead to adrenal fatigue. Furthermore, life events that can lead to adrenal fatigue include: unrelieved pressure or stress at work, any crisis or severe emotional trauma, death of a loved one, major surgery, extended or chronic illness, sudden change in life situations such as loss of a job or moving without much friend or family support in a new location and repeated or extended chemical exposure. (Wilson, 17-18) The problem of stress might not be such an issue if we weren’t compounding many stressors over the course of days, weeks, months and years without much downtime for our systems. So, while the condition of adrenal fatigue can come on suddenly as triggered by a traumatic or severe life event, most commonly it is experienced after a gradual, cumulative effect of multiple stressors.”


Salmon Salad Table
How Do We Heal?
Nearly each of us are bombarded by multiple stressors in our modern world. So, how do we work to heal our adrenal glands?

  • Wean yourself off more than one cup per day of coffee and other stimulants. Ideally, we shouldn’t need any stimulants to get going in the morning, or to keep going in the afternoon. A fresh green juice each morning is a wonderful way to get lots of oxygen-rich chlorophyll to the brain, which, I find energizes me nicely. Don & I make a green juice about 4 mornings a week with: 3 carrots, 6 stalks celery, 1 large cucumber, 1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger and/or fresh turmeric root, 1 clove of garlic, and 1/2 bunch either cilantro, parsley or dandelion greens (or all three). This combination is very cleansing and nourishing, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and soothing to the digestive system. Recommended teas to substitute for coffee are: Tulsi (aka: Holy Basil), Ashwaganda, Ginseng, Ginger, Licorice Root, and Ginko Biloba. CAUTION: use only small amounts and light steeping of ginseng, ashwaganda, or any other stimulating herbs, as they work the adrenals  – just use enough to take the edge off your caffeine-withdrawl tiredness and headache, and within a couple of weeks you won’t need these herbs anymore either. You want to work toward waking up naturally with all the energy you’ll need for the day, as our bodies are designed to do. What’s normal and encouraged is to begin feeling tired and then lying down for a nap around 4 or 5PM.

  • Get more sleep. Getting to bed by 10PM at the latest is encouraged, before your second wind kicks in around 11PM. And, sleeping in until 9AM whenever possible is necessary for full recovery in severe cases of adrenal fatigue.

  • Eat a well balanced, low glycemic, whole foods diet with lots of organic vegetables and fruit, plenty of good fats (especially Omega 3s), and the kind of protein that works best for your nutritional type. Here’s Joseph Mercola’s free nutritional typing test.

  • Never skip breakfast, and make it a protein meal

  •  Get enough re-mineralized water each day

  • Don’t spike the blood sugar, even with with high glycemic complex carbs such as bread products, corn, white rice, potato, and super sugary fruits such as melon. The lower glycemic fruits are berries, green apple, lime, lemon, currants, cherries, apricot, guava, grapefruit, kiwi, papaya, orange, peach, and plum.

  • Avoid trans-fats such as french fries, all other fried food from restaurants, and cooking at home with refined vegetable oils like canola, soy, and “vegetable” oil.

  • Learn to establish healthy boundaries in unhealthy or draining relationships – practice saying ‘NO’ to demands of your time and attention so you can have time to take care of yourself.

  • Whatever you aren’t enjoying in your life, take steps to change or leave the situation.

  • Exercise in ways that are fun for you, and don’t over exercise or under exercise.

  • Schedule time each day to play with people you love or your pets. Laugh several times a day.

  • Journal about everything you’re grateful for.

  • Take vitamin C, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and vitamin .

  • Take pregnenolone and DHEA, as needed.

  • Avoid becoming over-tired.