We are tired of 'adrenal fatigue'

S Afr Med J. 2018 Aug 28;108(9):724-725. doi: 10.7196/SAMJ.2018.v108i9.13292.


There are numerous articles in the lay press discussing the existence and under-diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. Proponents of adrenal fatigue state that millions of people have under-active adrenal glands due to repeated stressors, resulting in numerous nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, joint pain and weight gain, among others. In studies to date, proposed methods to assess adrenal fatigue have produced conflicting results and the methodology for assessing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis has often been inappropriate. Furthermore, only a minority of studies have actually examined the HPA axis. Current evidence does not support the existence of adrenal fatigue or the usefulness of supplements to support adrenal function.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Insufficiency / diagnosis*
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / diagnosis*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology*