Adrenal Fatigue by Dr James Wilson – Book Review #adrenal #adrenalfatigue

Adrenal Fatigue by Dr Wilson – Book Review

People diagnosed as bipolar often end up suffering from chronic fatigue. I wanted to understand how this may relate to poorly functioning adrenal glands, so I researched on-line, talked with nutritionists, experimented with my diet and read two chunky books about Adrenal Fatigue. This book, simply called Adrenal Fatigue is for me the better of these books.

Adrenal Fatigue covers everything you might want to know, including recognizing adrenal gland problems, blood and saliva tests, adrenal fatigue book dr wilsonwhat adds up to causing the problems, why adrenal function is often not being recognized, how the adrenal glands function and what to do to feel well again.

I was amazed at the strength of opposition from drug companies, most mainstream doctors, endocrinologists and health services (such as the UK’s NHS) to the phrase Adrenal Fatigue. The official line from all these people is that adrenal glands cannot be fatigued, with only extreme adrenal dysfunction being recognised and considered treatable. The extremes are; Cushing’s-Syndrome, where the adrenals produce far too much cortisol and Addison’s-Disease, where the adrenals produce far too little. Both of these extremes are said by mainstream doctors, and perhaps crucially by insurance providers, to be unrelated to the fatigue that millions suffer. Most doctors are unable to react to test results that show the adrenals are not at peak performance as their training is that this does not need any medical response.

Dr Wilson (who was the first to use the phrase Adrenal Fatigue) along with a significant minority of doctors and nutritionists around the world, is saying we need to pay more attention to our adrenal glands. How well our adrenal glands are able to work depends on many factors whilst changes in lifestyle can get most people who are suffering from fatigue back to something like their normal selves.

Perhaps the oddest thing about this conflict between Dr Wilson’s supporters and the established health services is that the latter recognise a condition called Adrenal Insufficiency, which they say has nothing to do with Adrenal Fatigue – even though it has EXACTLY THE SAME SYMPTOMS! Maybe this disagreement is just about the label and really it makes no differences whether years of stress and poor diet have caused our adrenal glands to be fatigued or insufficient. Either way, it feels real when you find yourself having to go to bed (or in extreme cases just lie down on the floor, unable to even walk to a bed) in the middle of the day.

What I have learned from the book, which is supported by strong evidence and many experts other than just Dr Wilson?

  1. The approved saliva test is well established and does indeed give a good indication about how your adrenal glands are working during the day of the test.
  2. Although improving diet and gradually doing more gentle exercise will almost always help, having fewer stressful events/fewer stressful days will make the biggest difference and allow for the most rapid recovery.
  3. The book’s recommendations for dealing with adrenal fatigue are so closely related to what is known to be good for general health and fitness that following Dr Wilson’s advice will improve almost anyone’s health, regardless of your beliefs about adrenal fatigue/insufficiency.  The book is full of good health advice.
  4. The scientific part of the book is good science and matches well with the chemistry I learned when completing my BSc many years ago. Facts such as the adrenal glands convert cholesterol to cortisol in order to help you cope with every day stressors and have any energy at all are indisputable.

Did Dr Wilson’s book help me?

Yes, definitely! While reading the book I made some small dietary and lifestyle changes. These have allowed me to have more energy and to have that energy for more hours per day. This is not the same as cured but it could well be that I am on a good road of recovery from the extreme fatigue (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) I was suffering from.

How did the book help?

There are lots of ideas in the book that all helped a little. It was useful to be reminded that I need good healthy fats to make enough cholesterol to allow all the other hormones to be made as needed. Without eating healthy fats everyday our adrenals are going to struggle

The idea that made the most difference for me was almost the simplest in the book and is in some ways so obvious that my GP, and all the other specialists I have met with, missed it. Dr Wilson does not make a fuss about stress and poorly functioning adrenals causing sodium depletion. He just states it, as a well-known fact. However, this led me to look closely the records I had made for my nutritionist about the exact amounts of every food and drink I consumed on many days during 2013. It turned out that without eating processed foods (such as bread, cakes and takeaways) I was not having anywhere near enough sodium in my diet. Meanwhile by eating fruit, nuts and generally a lot of things I felt would be good for me I had increased my potassium intake.

The net effect of low sodium and high potassium was that I was suffering variable and often very low blood pressure. By monitoring my blood pressure and gradually increasing my sodium intake up to the UK’s recommended daily amount, I feel I have twice as much energy and half as much fatigue, just through that one change. An example of this: after moving house my washing machine just sat in the kitchen unconnected as I did not feel able to even attempt to move it to plumb it in. After just two days with a little extra sodium (half a teaspoon of sea salt) I moved the machine and plumbed it in as if I had never a fatigue disorder.

Were there ideas from Dr Wilson that may not have been so good?

I could not see anything wrong or illogical in Dr Wilson’s work. However, I am not convinced about Dr Wilson’s supplements. A friend bought me a bottle and I took one a day. I cannot say that I took these long enough or enough per day to say whether the tablets were useful or not. After a few weeks I did not like the smell of the tablets and stopped taking these. Being meat based I wonder if this supplement might be of greatest benefit to those who do not normally eat much meat?

Overall, I am going to say, that if you have any interest at all in how people can be less fatigued this is essential reading and I highly recommend ‘Adrenal Fatigue – The 21st Century Stress Syndrome’ by Dr James L. Wilson.

Roger A. Smith, Rethinking Health Ltd

Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue – Part 2 – Diagnostics #adrenal #adrenalfatigue #bipolar

Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue – Part 2 – Diagnostics

We can come to believe we have bipolar disorder by going down a check-list and finding we match just about all the symptoms.

Adrenal Fatigue has similar check-lists such as Dr Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue questionnaire:

If you are living a busy stressful life and unable to relax you will most likely get a high score on both bipolar and adrenal fatigue check-lists.

My scores indicated severe Adrenal Fatigue, which makes sense considering what I been through and my lifestyle. However, are quizzes like these truly diagnostic? They do not tell us much about the causes. Our responses are based on our own feelings and not precise measurements.

With bipolar this is all we have. It is not possible to scientifically diagnose anyone with bipolar as there are no blood tests, brain scans or anything like that for bipolar. There cannot be as bipolar is simply a word used for anyone who has extreme struggles with their moods, regardless of why they are struggling.

Adrenal Fatigue differs from bipolar: Accurate laboratory based tests for adrenal function/dysfunction have been available for decades.

  •  Adrenal Fatigue Saliva Test: The adrenal glands produce hormones including cortisol and DHEA. These small molecules travel to all parts of your body including the saliva glands. The test involves spitting in a sample tube for laboratory for analysis. This is better than blood tests as it is less stressful and allows for several samples in one day. It is how the cortisol and DHEA vary during the day that allows the precise measure of your adrenal function. One day of testing will confirm your level of adrenal fatigue. Results are provided as a graph, showing changes throughout the day.

My adrenal function test results from April 2013 – click image to see it enlarged:


Adrenal function test results

Cortisol is naturally high in the morning and decreases towards bedtime. If it does not start high enough or drops too rapidly you have most likely got a problem.

DHEA is so central to hormone production that a good level of this is needed at all times. Low results indicate lifestyle changes (perhaps better diet and more rest) are needed.

This test may be better described as a test for Adrenal Dysfunction as the test tells us about how our adrenal glands are performing rather than being directly related to how fatigued you are feeling. Adrenal dysfunction means your energy levels stop matching what you need and when you need it. Dysfunction eventually leads to fatigue.

What does all this mean?

  1. Nobody, not even you can prove you have a disorder called bipolar.
  2. Doctors can measure and say for certain how your adrenal glands are performing and if under-performance is affecting your mood.

If you have been diagnosed/labelled with bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, M.E. or similar then ask your doctor about having your adrenal glands tested through saliva testing. If your doctor says, “No” then consider paying for this test. I think it cost me about £80. If you want me to look up exactly what I paid and where I had the test done, then contact me through the comments option on this blog or through

%d bloggers like this: