An Exhaustive Battle Over Adrenal Fatigue

I borrowed this title from a Chicago Tribune article written written by Julie Deardorff in August of 2010. As I began researching Adrenal Fatigue I had no idea the topic is so controversial. You can guess the war is between tradition medicine and alternative practices. While Adrenal Fatigue seems to be increasingly common, there remains an unwillingness among medical doctors to diagnose it. Those who believe they are experiencing adrenal fatigue or exhaustion are fighting an uphill battle for legitimacy  even as the term gains traction in alternative health circles and among Americans seeking a solution for chronic and unexplained fatigue, depression and malaise. Common symptoms also include difficulty falling asleep, inability to wake up in the morning, cravings for salt and sugar, anxiety and overall exhaustion.

The disorder is not recognized by most conventional medical specialists, major medical associations and even integrative medicine pioneers such as Dr. Andrew Weill, who reject the idea that excessive stress weakens the adrenals and causes health issues. However, according to those who believe in the adrenal fatigue theory, our life is so relentlessly stressful that our adrenals get overworked and peter out. James Wilson, a naturopath and chiropractor based in Arizona, coined the term adrenal fatigue in 1998 and has written what some call a definitive guide for patients. Many espouse lifestyle changes, dietary changes, exercise programs and supplements as the answers to improving the way you feel.

So, is adrenal fatigue real? “Yes and no, says Dr. Brent Bauer, Director of the complimentary and integrative medicine program at the Mayo Clinic.”  I think it depends on who you talk to. Adrenal fatigue symptoms are very real for the people experiencing them. But it is a real medical condition? Medical research has found no definitive way to test for adrenal fatigue. The doctor’s bible of diagnostic codes, the ICD 10 does not recognize it as a medical diagnosis and the insurance companies will not pay.adrenal-fatigue

However, “any doctor worth his/her salt understands that the term “adrenal fatigue” means mild adrenal insufficiency, The Hormone Foundation statement readily admits that adrenal insufficiency IS a real diagnosis. To me, they seem to be denying the possibility that some people may have a mild form of a real diagnosis. That’s short-sighted and excessively arbitrary” Richard Shames, MD

Resources: Hormone Health Resources

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