Addressing Adrenal Fatigue

Do you routinely wake up in a fog and hit the “snooze” button, rinse and repeat, until what seems like an hour has passed? Do you rely on coffee to make it through the work day? Do minor disputes or challenges leave you feeling overwhelmed? If these symptoms sound familiar, you may have a common condition—although one that’s rarely diagnosed properly—called adrenal fatigue.
The adrenal glands sit over the kidneys, where they play a significant role in the body, secreting more than 50 hormones necessary for life, including epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), progesterone and testosterone. Since they produce so many essential hormones, the adrenal glands are responsible for many of the functions we need to stay alive and healthy, including energy production (converting food to energy), fluid and electrolyte management, fat storage, and hormonal balancing (including cortisol, which regulates blood sugar, blood pressure and controls the strength of the immune system). *Source: natural news

So, what can be done? It may sound relatively simple, but the first and easiest step requires you to buy into a more relaxing way of life. Learn to enjoy every day, don’t let the minor daily stresses of life get you down, sleep well, and relax! Taking this advice seriously will do more for you than any pill will.
Laugh. When you’re laughing and having a good time, free of stress and enjoying life, your adrenal glands can work on repairing themselves. Associate yourself with people, friends and acquaintances who make you laugh, and avoid sources of negative energy in your life (those people that look negatively on everything, you know the ones). Take time every day to do the things that bring you joy and make you smile. Life is short. Stop wasting time dwelling on past failures or shortcomings, and instead focus on your accomplishments and your goals for the future. 
Meditate. No, you don’t have to take on a life of celibacy as a Buddhist monk in Tibet (unless that’s your thing), but taking a half hour a day to be alone with your thoughts can be extremely restorative, both mentally and physically. Do yoga if you want, but close it down with at least 10 minutes of quiet meditation fuelled only by the sounds of your breathing. 
Sleep more. If you’re one of those people who subscribe to the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” theory, you may find yourself dead sooner than later! OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but seriously, sleep is a necessary component. You need to refuel to take on the day, and quality sleep will set you up for success. Try to sleep in a little on weekends and aim for 7+ hours a night. Some need more, and some may get away with less, but the prevailing thought is 7-8 hours of quality REM is necessary.
Use Nutritional Supplements
Supplements can be a great aid in your efforts to conquer adrenal fatigue.
  • Melatonin: Helps re-establish better sleep patterns. Try 3 mg nightly. It helps you fall asleep quicker and you’ll wake up refreshed without the grogginess of other OTC sleep aids.
  • Vitamin C: This should be your No. 1 supplement if you have adrenal fatigue. Manages cortisol. 2-4 grams per day is necessary.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of enzymatic reactions in your body. Magnesium (and other minerals) are best absorbed at night. Sea salt is a good addition to meet your daily requirements of this mineral. It’s theorized that too much calcium supplementation isn’t effectively absorbed if you’re lacking in magnesium. Take in enough of both through diet.
  • Licorice Root: This is the herb that’s best known for helping to combat adrenal fatigue. It can also be used to decrease symptoms of hypoglycemia. Don’t eat the candy; drink the herbal tea. I have a ritual where I drink a cup every night before bed. Herbal tea always gets me in the mood… for sleep. 
  • Rhodiola Rosea: Another popular supplement for battling chronic fatigue and stress. 200mg split in the AM and early afternoon is usually enough to see noticeable benefits. 

Again, focus on lifestyle changes first and add in supplements later.

 Things to Avoid

  •  Alcohol: Drinking to relax your inhibitions denies the adrenal glands of the ability to perform that task naturally for themselves. Drink in moderation! 
  • Coffee: You have to let your adrenals fully recover from stress. When you take in caffeine to fuel your day, it prevents the adrenals from producing the right level of energy naturally. A cup or two a day won’t kill you, but don’t rely on coffee for all your energy needs…
  • Refined sugars: See above! The odd binge is probably unavoidable, but DON’T make it a daily thing.
  • Negative Norms: Those people who make it their mission to bring you down! Drop them like a bad habit. (Sorry to any Norm’s who may read this. I just used the name for alliteration purposes).

As always, I recommend you check out my inspiration and educator, John Meadows, at 


Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.