Adrenal Fatigue and Your Microbiome

Adrenal Fatigue

We’ve all had those days when we feel completely wiped out, unable to cope with the daily stresses life throws at us.

Some refer to this state of unrelenting exhaustion as ‘adrenal fatigue,’ a term commonly used in alternative medicine but not recognized in conventional Western medicine. However, it might be time to reconsider our understanding of this controversial condition, especially in light of recent insights into the gut microbiome’s impact on our health.

In this context, the work of Brehan Crawford stands out. At Crawford Wellness, Crawford combines his deep knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with insights from Western biomedicine to offer a comprehensive approach to health. His expertise has led to a focus on conditions that Western medicine often struggles to diagnose and treat effectively, such as adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia. Through this lens, we will delve into the intriguing possibility that what is often labeled as “adrenal fatigue” could be more accurately understood through the concept of gut dysbiosis.

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Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue, as it’s currently understood, is a term used to describe a set of non-specific symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances, and digestive problems. It’s believed to occur when the adrenal glands aren’t functioning optimally, primarily due to prolonged physical, mental, or emotional stress. However, all these symptoms are the same or similar to gut dysbiosis.

A New Perspective

Recent research into the gut-brain axis provides a compelling new perspective on the origins of conditions like adrenal fatigue. This axis refers to the complex, bidirectional communication network that links our central nervous system (including the brain) with our enteric nervous system (the intrinsic nervous system of the gastrointestinal tract). Our gut microbiome, the community of trillions of bacteria residing in our intestines, plays a crucial role in this dialogue.

The microbiome is incredibly diverse, comprising beneficial (probiotic) bacteria that aid in digestion and support immune health, as well as potentially harmful (pathogenic) bacteria. A healthy balance of these microbes is critical for maintaining our overall health and well-being. Disruption of this balance – known as gut dysbiosis – has been linked to a host of health issues, including anxiety, depression, autoimmune disorders, and even neurodegenerative diseases.

Microbiome Imbalances and Adrenal Fatigue

So, what does this have to do with adrenal fatigue? Research indicates that gut dysbiosis can cause chronic inflammation, which puts the body in a state of constant stress. This continuous stress response could theoretically overtax the adrenal glands, leading to symptoms commonly attributed to adrenal fatigue.

Furthermore, the gut microbiome directly influences the production of various neurotransmitters and hormones, including cortisol – the primary stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Dysbiosis could, therefore, potentially disrupt cortisol production, resulting in the variety of non-specific symptoms that characterize adrenal fatigue.

The Chinese Medicine Perspective

Understanding health conditions through different medical philosophies broadens our understanding and potentially offers alternative treatment options. As we delve deeper into the possibility of gut dysbiosis contributing to adrenal fatigue, it’s worth exploring how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) interprets and treats these symptoms.

Adrenal Fatigue, Gut Dysbiosis, and Traditional Chinese Medicine

In TCM, symptoms often associated with adrenal fatigue and gut dysbiosis may be viewed as imbalances of Qi (vital energy) or the presence of pathological factors like “Wind” and “Dampness”. These concepts might seem foreign to those accustomed to Western medicine, but they provide a different yet valid, framework for understanding and treating health issues.
Interpreting Adrenal Fatigue: The Role of Wind and Dampness

Consider a condition like fibromyalgia, which shares similar symptoms with adrenal fatigue, In Triditaion Chinese Medicine, fibromyalgia’s wandering pain – pain affecting different parts of the body at different times – is often associated with the pathological factors of Wind and Dampness. TCM believes in treating these underlying factors first to alleviate symptoms effectively.

Lingering Pathogens and Gut Dysbiosis

In biomedical terms, the concepts of Wind and Dampness can be likened to the presence of multiple lingering pathogens in the body, such as the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), which can be reactivated by the presence of biofilm-forming bacteria. These pathogens and bacterial overgrowth contribute to gut dysbiosis, thereby causing inflammation, overstimulation of the adrenal glands, and, eventually, symptoms attributed to adrenal fatigue.

The TCM Treatment Approach

TCM uses herbal formulas to address these imbalances, such as Xiao Chai Hu Tang combined with San Ren Tang. This over 2,000-year-old formula is the most commonly used in TCM for removing lingering pathogens and expelling Wind, thus relieving wandering pain.

The star ingredient, Bupleurum Chinese (Chai hu), is known for its multitude of health benefits, such as anti-inflammation, immunomodulation, anti-fibrosis, and the promotion of digestive enzymes. This, in combination with other ingredients like Scutellarie to combat bacteria, Phinelia for breaking up biofilms, and ginger to warm the GI tract, can help restore balance in the body.

Additionally, TCM emphasizes the importance of sweating. This natural bodily process releases dermcidin and lactoferrin, your body’s own anti-fungal and anti-microbial compounds, which contribute to maintaining a healthy skin microbiome. Drinking hot herbal tea, engaging in gentle physical exercise, and utilizing practices like saunas and breath-holding can further promote sweating and potentially enhance symptom relief.

Acupuncture also plays a role in cultivating your microbiome. The Oxford Academic Journal of Inflammatory Bowel Disease states, acupuncture has demonstrated beneficial roles in the regulation of gut dysbiosis, intestinal barrier dysfunction, visceral hypersensitivity, gut motor function, depression/anxiety, and pain. This explains how acupuncture and herbs are so effective at making you feel better.

Chinese medicine doctors have actively worked to balance these microbiomes for thousands of years and have developed it into a highly sophisticated art and science. They discovered that the key to developing a more harmonious life starts with your microbiome and cultivating an internal garden.

Moving Forward

As we move forward in our understanding of the interconnectedness of health conditions like adrenal fatigue, gut dysbiosis, and fibromyalgia, we see a valuable space where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) meets Western medicine. Taking into account this holistic approach which merges Western diagnostics with attention to gut health and the application of TCM, could indeed be the comprehensive pathway to wellness that many have been seeking.

A noteworthy expert in this field is Brehan Crawford at Crawford Wellness. He combines these various elements to provide personalized care for those navigating chronic conditions. Alongside this, Crawford Wellness offers a range of products designed to support your health and well-being journey. Notably, the Wind Tea – an ancient formula modernly applied, aimed at removing lingering pathogens and rebalancing the system. He also uses Microgard Plus. 

Microgard Plus offers a promising solution for those suffering from Adrenal Fatigue, helping to alleviate symptoms by supporting the stomach microbiome. 

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About the Author

Author Willard Sheppy Exporing the Coast

Willard Sheppy is a writer and healthcare practitioner who seamlessly melds scientific knowledge with practical applications in engaging and authoritative articles. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Oregon State University and a Master’s in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the distinguished Oregon College of Oriental Medicine.

In his work, Willard skillfully combines his extensive educational background in scientific research with his practical experience as a healthcare practitioner. Willard balances his life with martial arts and cherished family adventures. As a father of three, he often leads his family on camping and hiking trips along the breathtaking Oregon coast.

Connect with Willard on LinkedIn at or learn more about his services at Embark on this journey towards holistic health with Willard!