Stubborn Adrenal Fatigue (Part 4)

September 6, 2015

If you’ve read the first 3 posts of this 4-part then you might be feeling confident that you know what adrenal fatigue is, whether or not you have it and what you need to do to get rid of it. Unfortunately it’s not always a straightforward path. Making lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments or diagnosing the infection or pathogen behind underlying inflammation does not always come forth right away. I’m going to talk about what are usually the biggest obstacles to adrenal recovery. The featured image of this post is a famous painting of Sisyphus by Titian from the Prado Museum in Madrid. In Greek mythology Sisyphus was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action forever.  Tackling adrenal fatigue can feel like this. It did for me.

Woman Sleeping 2002


Getting yourself to bed earlier than normal takes discipline and commitment, especially if you are attached to night time activities such as late-night TV, socializing, or a job that demands your attention well into the evening hours.

Bad or Insufficient Lab Testing Does Not Detect Underlying Pathogen

If you’re not working with a reputable functional medicine doctor, naturopath or nutritional therapy practitioner then you run the chance of getting shoddy advice about which lab tests to take for either confirmation of adrenal fatigue and/or diagnosis of an underlying infection or pathogen. Only the top labs do a good job of identifying pathogens. In a previous post I mentioned BioHealth Labs in Torrance, CA. They are considered the premium laboratory for salivary cortisol, H. Pylori and a host of other pathogens.  ( For SIBO consider either Genova Diagnostics in North Carolina ( or Commonwealth labs in Massachusetts (


People who train hard and look lean are not always healthy. Stress is anything that triggers your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, adrenaline or noradrenaline.Most of us have been told that the more exercise the better. But cortisol levels rise after 45-60 minutes of strength training. If you train more than 45-60 minutes you are probably over training.

Insufficient Dietary Adjustments

A stress response can be happening on a systemic level on a daily basis if you are eating food that you don’t tolerate – your weekly gluten-bomb cheats that you think aren’t so bad… they are. and your body is trying to recover from the inflammation in your gut without reprieve.

Unrecognized Need for Therapy to Overcome Troublesome Emotional Patterns

This is a tough one. Most people are unaware of having negative emotional patterns because they’ve had them all of their lives. It takes either the ability to listen to feedback from close ones

Mindful Eatingmindfuleating1

Our emotions are closely tied to how we eat. Many of us eat more than we need for a variety of reasons; entertainment, it feels good, it suppresses negative feelings, or we simply have bad childhood-based habits around how much food we eat. Some of us grew up with parents telling us that we had to eat all of the food on our plate no matter how hungry we were. It can take some retraining to emerge from this multiple decades old neural groove. Getting in touch with your true satiety is the key challenge here. Keep in mind that when most people first feel hungry they are actually thirsty.  They’re just not aware of it. Not having enough fats in the diet can also create a late satiety trigger. If you already have good quality saturated fats at each meal, then look into mindful eating. Most people do not relax enough when they’re eating because they’re in a rush or in the habit of shoving food down their mouth and not paying attention to the eating experience. I recommend a book called Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays to explore this more deeply.

Worldview or Spiritual Connection

This can be a sensitive topic if you are dead set against re-evaluating how you experience the world or if you are already dedicated to a particular religion. If you’re not religious I’m not suggesting that you convert to a religion or become religious. Meditation can do wonders for stress reduction. There are many kinds of meditation so you need to explore which type will work for you. The Internet is not a bad way to start the exploration.

Your Thoughts Thinking

Many of us tend to be hard on ourselves. We want to excel at work, with our hobbies or athletic endeavors. We’re also sensitive to negative feedback at work, or negative environments. It’s easy to let our thoughts turn into runaway trains. We can convince ourselves that things are much worse than they really are. How we respond to events feels more realistic than the gravity of the event itself. We project, we assume, we are scared. If we didn’t have a great upbringing or were raised by parents too busy with their own issues we are more likely to be victims of constant negative thinking.  Negative thought affect the body.  At the beginning of my adrenal recovery path I sought out psychotherapy. I was lucky to find a good therapist who helped me overcome negative thinking. The insights I had back then, 20 years ago, continue to help me manage stress today.


Support liver detox pathways. This has to do with the exciting new area of methylation. This needs its own blog post but if you want to learn more about this google ‘methylation liver detox.’

Other Ways To Manage Stress

  1. Keep a gratitude list
  2. Take short frequent breaks from work throughout the day, even if it’s just a 5-minute walk around the block.
  3. Deep Breathing
  4. Nurture social contacts

Back to Part 3