Adrenal Burnout Syndrome

By Dr. Lawrence Wilson

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.


Definition.  Adrenal burnout involves depletion of vital nutrients in the adrenal glands.  Often, toxic metals replace some of these nutrients, so that just taking supplements is not effective in reversing the condition.

Adrenal burnout results in symptoms such as low blood pressure, weakness, and fatigue that is not relieved by rest and sleep.  It is very common today.

In our experience, it can be reversed without taking hormones or anti-depressants, and without chelation therapy.  We owe a great debt to Dr. Paul Eck, whose deep interest in the adrenal glands inspired this article.

In this article, we use the terms adrenal burnout, adrenal insufficiency and adrenal fatigue or exhaustion interchangeably.

Note: In nutritional balancing science, one never focuses on just one organ or gland.  The reason is that the body works as one whole system, not as a collection of organs and glands.

This article focuses on the adrenal glands because of their central role in the body.  However, in reality a corrective program for the adrenals must address all aspects of body chemistry, diet, lifestyle and detoxification – not just the adrenal glands.


The adrenal glands are rounded, sort-of disc-shaped glands about 3-4 inches across.  One sits atop each kidney, located on either side of your lower back, just above where the ribs end.

You may at times feel a sensation of pressure in this area when under stress.  However, muscular tension and other factors also commonly cause pain or a sensation of pressure in this area.
            The adrenal glands are essential for life.  They secrete a number of hormones that prepare our bodies to respond to stress.  These include adrenalin, also called epinephrine, noradrenalin, also called norepinephrinecortisol and cortisone.  The adrenal glands also produce aldosterone, estrogens, testosterone, progesterone, pregnenolone and DHEA.
            These hormones regulate many body activities.  Of greatest importance for this article is that the adrenal hormones, particularly adrenalin and cortisol, activate the body’s fight-or-flight response.
            This consists of increasing the amount of glucose or sugar in the blood, raising blood pressure, and promoting increased energy production.  There are many other effects of the adrenal hormones, but we will focus on these effects for now.
            Of great importance to our discussion is that the adrenal glands are innervated and stimulated by activity of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic or automatic nervous system of the body.  This is the part of our nervous system that activates when we must respond to threats to our life.


Adrenal insufficiency or burnout is commonly associated with the following symptoms, which can vary from mild to extreme.

  • fatigue
  • decreased tolerance to cold
  • poor circulation
  • low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia)
  • low blood pressure
  • allergies
  • apathy or depression
  • low stamina
  • low self-esteem due to low energy output
  • joint aches and pains
  • low levels of gastric hydrochloric acid
  • tendency to constipation
  • muscle weakness
  • need for excessive amounts of sleep
  • fears, due to low energy and secondary copper toxicity
  • lowered resistance to infection
  • subnormal body temperature


The medical profession is far behind when it comes to understanding adrenal gland problems.  In 2018, most doctors still do not recognize adrenal insufficiency, adrenal exhaustion or adrenal burnout as real health conditions.  This is very unfortunate because they are so common.  The official medical beliefs about the adrenal glands are:

  1. Either the adrenals work fine, or they do not work at all.  This is the prevailing viewpoint, even though it makes no sense.  Doctors are well aware, for example, that most other glands such as the thyroid, pancreas, pituitary, ovaries, and testes can have many degrees of dysfunctions.  Why should the same not be true of the adrenal glands?

(When the adrenals don’t function well at all, doctors call it Addison’s disease, for which they give cortisol or cortisone for life.  With a nutritional balancing program, so far, all diagnosed cases of Addison’s disease have responded well, and did not need to stay on the cortisone therapy.  We do not know whether this will occur in all cases.

  1. If you are tired, depressed or have low blood sugar they say you need anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs or other drugs.We do not agree.  The first course of action should be to assess and then heal the adrenal glands, in most cases.
  1. Blood, urine or saliva hormone tests for the adrenals are adequate tests.  This is incorrect, in our experience.

We find that a properly performed and properly interpreted hair mineral analysis is just as good, and perhaps better than any hormone tests to assess adrenal activity.

The hormone tests do not give the same information as a correctly interpreted hair mineral analysis.  A mineral analysis not only reveals a great deal about the status of the adrenal glands, but it may tell us why the adrenals are not functioning properly, such as the condition of the sympathetic nervous system.  This is intimately connected to the adrenal glands and their functioning.

  1. The medical answer for adrenal problems is usually a drug.This is unfortunate.  So far, we find the answer is not a drug.  Instead, one needs to change the diet and lifestyle, remove two dozen toxic metals, and balance and renourish the entire body.  Then the adrenals begin to function normally and one’s energy returns.
  1. Doctors ignore a simple adrenal test they could do in their offices called the Ragland Test or Ragland Sign.This is a very simple test in which the doctor takes your blood pressure while you are lying down and relaxed.  Then the patient suddenly stands up and the doctor or assistant takes your blood pressure again.  The pressure should go up.  In those with weak adrenals, it often goes down and the patient feels weak, shaky and/or a little dizzy.  It is a crude test, but quite simple. Several other simple tests can be done to check your adrenals in a crude way.  One is to look in the mirror and shine a strong light like a flashlight in one eye.The pupil of the eye (the black part in the middle) should contract quickly and remain contracted.  If it does not, the adrenals are most likely fairly weak. 

Another crude test you can do at home is to gently run the tines or spikes of a fork or similar object across the inside of your forearm.  They should leave little lines on your forearm that should turn red quickly.  If they do not turn red within about 10 seconds, this is another crude indicator of weak adrenals.  These tests are not perfect, but can be done safely at home with no formal instruction or training.


The adrenal glands may develop various types of problems.  The terminology can be confusing.  Standard medical terms are:

Cushing’s disease.  Severe overactivity or hyperfunction of the glands is called Cushing’s syndrome or Cushing’s disease.  It is characterized by a ‘moon face’, obesity in the trunk, muscle weakness, poor wound healing, kidney stones and often psychological symptoms.
            This condition is relatively rare and usually caused by a tumor of the adrenal glands that secretes cortisol or cortisone, two of the important adrenal hormones.  It could be caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland, or perhaps in the hypothalamus.

Addison’s disease.  A type of extremely low adrenal activity is known as Addison’s disease.  It is characterized by weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, changes in skin color, dehydration, anorexia, nausea, decreased cold tolerance and dizziness.  It is considered a fairly rare condition.
            Addison’s disease could also be caused at times by a tumor on the adrenal glands that shuts down the glands completely.  It may also be caused by a severe shock to the system, as happened in the famous case of president John F. Kennedy.
            Mr. Kennedy developed Addison’s disease when his small patrol boat was suddenly rammed by a Japanese destroyer on a dark night during World War II.  Most of the crew were killed instantly.  He survived, but the shock damaged his body and he developed Addison’s disease as a result.

Some people diagnosed with Addison’s disease really have adrenal insufficiency and respond well to a development program.

Adrenal Insufficiency.  Medical doctors do not use this term, but it is a useful one because it is a very common condition.  It means underfunctioning adrenals, and can vary from mild to extreme.

Some doctors also distinguish between primary adrenal insufficiency, secondary adrenal insufficiency and tertiary adrenal insufficiency.  Primary means the problem is within the adrenal glands themselves.  Secondary means the adrenal glands are not the problem, but rather the problem stems from the pituitary gland.  Tertiary means the problem stems from the hypothalamus.

We observe that in many cases, the adrenal glands themselves are toxic and nutritionally depleted.  This would be a primary adrenal insufficiency.  At other times, the cause of the problem is more due to an autonomic nervous system imbalance, which would also be called a secondary adrenal insufficiency.  In the rare cases of tumors, these can be primary (located in the adrenal glands), secondary (located in the pituitary gland), or tertiary (located in the hypothalamus).

Some holistic doctors and nutritionists use blood, urine or saliva hormone testing and suggest there are three or four stages of adrenal insufficiency.

Burnout patterns.  We use different names for the same phenomena, such as fast oxidation and slow oxidation.  In addition, we can assess burnout patterns on a hair test.  Many people have 5 or more of these patterns.  In general, the more burnout patterns that are present, the more severe the condition.  

Adrenal burnout syndrome, adrenal exhaustion or adrenal fatigue.  These terms are used by some physiciansinterchangeably with adrenal insufficiency.

Differences between adrenal insufficiency and full-blown Addison’s disease:

  1. In most cases, adrenal insufficiency or burnout can be corrected using natural methods.  We do not need to use cortisone therapy or any bio-identical hormone therapy for this condition.  They are not needed with a proper development program.
  2. Unlike full-blown Addison’s disease, adrenal insufficiency or burnout is very, very common today among adults.

Fatigue versus adrenal burnout.  Adrenal burnout syndrome differs from simple fatigue in that burnout is not relieved by getting a few good nights sleep, as is the case with fatigue.
            This is the case because adrenal exhaustion is not just a sleep deficit, although that may be an aspect of the syndrome. Burnout is a deeper derangement of the body’s energy-producing system, of which fatigue is one symptom.

Cortisol reversal.  Some doctors also diagnose an interesting adrenal problem called cortisol reversal.  In this situation, cortisol levels are low in the morning when they should be higher.  Then, later in the day, they increase and are too high in the evening and at night.  We consider this to be an autonomic nervous system imbalance that may be related to a phenomenon called sympathetic dominance.

These are some of the major terms used today to describe adrenal problems.  However, If one uses nutritional balancing science for correction, it is not necessary to test for and distinguish among these conditions, in my experience.  The reason is that a properly designed nutritional balancing program will correct all of them.  For this reason, in this article the words adrenal insufficiency, adrenal fatigue, adrenal weakness or adrenal burnout syndrome may be usedinterchangeably.

The term Addison’s disease is not used as much in this article.  However, in my limited experience with it, this condition also responds excellently to a nutritional balancing program.


Signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, when a patient complains of fatigue, depression or other symptoms that are often related to the adrenal glands, most of the time the doctor does not ask the right questions and does not run tests of the adrenal glands.
            Instead, patients are told to take a vacation, or given an anti-depressant, or told it is “in their head”.
            The right questions, however, would often be enough to assess the condition fairly accurately.  These would include “How many hours of sleep are you getting?”, “Do you use caffeine or other stimulants”  and “What other symptoms are you having?”.  Let us examine how this can often identify adrenal burnout, even without other testing.

A common sign, for example, is a low blood pressure in the absence of other obvious causes. Usually, the person will also often feel fatigued, even though one sleeps well.  If one is not sleeping, the problem may simply be a sleep deficit.  One may not feel tired, however, if you drink coffee, other caffeinated beverages or use other stimulants.
            Another common symptom is depression.  Others include joint pain, cravings for sweets, pain in the low back area and perhaps excessive thirst or craving for sweet and salty foods. Together these symptoms can help one decide if one needs further testing.

Physical tests.  Several tests that should be part of every physical examination may be helpful.  These are discussed in a separate article on this site entitled Adrenal Exhaustion – Physical Signs.


Hair mineral analysis is a very exciting, cost-effective and non-invasive test.  I have used hair tissue mineral analysis to help assess the condition of the adrenal glands for almost 30 years with more than 25,000 clients.  I am very satisfied with the results using hair analysis for adrenal assessment and to guide the correction of all types of adrenal imbalances.
            Hair analysis indicators for adrenal insufficiency or burnout on a hair mineral test.  To be accurate, the hair sample must not be washed at the laboratory.  For each of the adrenal burnout mineral patterns below, there is an article on this website that describes it in more detail.  The patterns are:

  • A slow oxidation rate.The slower the oxidation rate, the more likely one is in adrenal burnout or exhaustion.
  • A sodium/potassium ratio less than about 2.5:1. The lower the ratio, the worse the adrenal condition, in general.
  • A double low ratio pattern.This consists of a sodium/potassium ratio less than 2.5 plus a calcium/magnesium ratio less than about 4.
  • Three low macromineral pattern.This occurs when three of the four macrominerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium) are lower than their ideal values of 40 mg%, 6 mg%, 25 mg% and 10 mg% respectively).
  • Four lows pattern.This occurs when all four of the macrominerals above are below their ideal levels.
  • Perhaps other imbalances, such as a copper level of 10 mg% (100 parts per million) or more, a phosphorus level of less than 12 mg%, and perhaps others.  These are less reliable.

Quantifying adrenal burnout. Each of the following criteria adds a multiple to the burnout pattern.  For example, if two of the following indicators are present, I call it double burnout.  The hair must not be washed at the laboratory for any of these criteria to be valid.

  1. Slow oxidation, especially very slow oxidation, with a calcium/potassium ratio greater than about 200 (ideal is about 4).
  2. A calcium shell may overlap with very slow oxidation but may be a separate burnout indicator.
  3. A sodium/potassium ratio less than about 2.5.  If the sodium/potassium ratio is very low, then adrenal exhaustion is usually more severe.
  4. A sodium level less than about 11 mg%.
  5. A potassium level less than about 5 mg%.
  6. Four lows pattern, also called four low macrominerals.  This is a double burnout pattern.
  7. Phosphorus less than 12 mg%.  Phosphorus less than 10 may be a double burnout indicator.
  8. Three poor eliminator patterns (very low metal readings), is a burnout indicator.  Six poor eliminator patterns is a double burnout indicator.  (see Poor Eliminator Pattern below for the exact criteria).  The minerals to look for are copper, iron, manganese, lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum and nickel.

When more than one of these indicators are revealed, one refers to the situation as double burnout, triple burnout or perhaps quadruple or quintuple burnout.

What if no adrenal exhaustion patterns appear on the test?  In rare cases, none of the adrenal burnout patterns appear on the first or even the second hair mineral analysis.  This occurs because other factors such as toxic metals may rarely mask the burnout patterns.

In these cases, we begin a nutritional balancing program based on what is revealed on the test.  The true condition of the adrenals will be revealed on a mineral analysis retest in several months, in almost all cases.

Program design. The specific patterns revealed on the hair mineral test are not only helpful to assess the condition of the adrenal glands.  They also tell us how to proceed to correct the condition.

The patterns tell us a person’s oxidation type oxidation rate, tendency for inflammation and infection, deficiencies of important minerals such as zinc and others, and much more.  Using this information, a program is designed that will slowly rebalance the body chemistry, improve the functioning of all the glands, and restore health.


Blood, urine and saliva hormone testing.  Many holistic doctors today are testing the levels of adrenal hormones in the blood, urine or saliva.  I do not use these tests, as a rule, for the following reasons:

  1. They are not needed.We find the hair mineral test, when understood properly, provides plenty of information about adrenal activity and how to correct the diet and lifestyle, and recommend other healing modalities to rebuild the adrenal glands.
  2. Cost.Hormone tests in particular are usually several hundred dollars and must be repeated at regular intervals.  This is prohibitive for many people, especially compared to the hair mineral test.


Excessive stress, an important cause of burnout, can be from many sources. Chemical toxicity and nutritional depletion are among the physical causes. Mental, emotional or spiritual stress may be a major factor. Financial, family or other stress may also contribute to burnout.
            Any excessive stress can deplete the adrenals, especially when weakened by poor nutrition. Working too much or emotional stress are two common causes.  Excessive stimulation, especially for children, is another cause. Fast-paced, high-stress, fear-based lifestyles are a sure prescription for adrenal burnout.
            Other stressors in cities are noise and electromagnetic pollution. Cell phones, microwave towers and appliances like television, microwave ovens and computers give off strong electrical fields.

Nutritional Deficiencies are a common cause. When under stress, the need for nutrients is much greater. Carbohydrates, when excessive in the diet, stress the adrenals. Diets low in protein may also create deficiencies. Inadequate or poor-quality water affects oxygenation of the tissues.
            Most diets are low in nutrients required by the adrenals. These include B-complex vitamins, vitamins A, C and E, manganese, zinc, chromium, selenium and other trace elements. The reasons for this begin with how food is grown.  Most food is grown on depleted soils. Processing and refining further deplete nutrients. 
            Habits such as eating in the car or while on the run further diminish the value derived from food. Also, allergic reactions to foods such as wheat and dairy products can damage the intestines and reduce the absorption of nutrients.

Toxic metals and chemicals often play a large role in adrenal burnout.   Everyone is exposed to thousands of chemicals in the air, the water and the food. Other sources are dental materials and skin contact with chemicals.  Over-the-counter and prescribed medications add to the body’s toxic load.  Most people do not realize that antibiotics and many other drugs accumulate to some extent in the liver and other organs.
            Toxins may also be generated within the body due to impaired digestion.  When food is not properly digested, it either ferments or rots in the intestines, producing many harmful substances that are absorbed into the body.
            A healthy body has the ability to eliminate many toxins on a daily basis.  However, as adrenal weakness develops, the body’s ability to eliminate all toxins decreases.  This produces a vicious cycle in which weaker adrenals impairs the elimination of all poisons, which then further weakens the adrenals.

Chronic infections play a critical role in some cases of adrenal exhaustion.   Chronic infections may originate in infected teeth or gums, though they can be located anywhere in the body.  They contribute greatly to the toxic load of the body.  Infections also cause inflammation and stress that must be countered using the adrenal hormones such as cortisol and cortisone.

Stimulants damage the adrenal glands.  They whip the adrenals.  Caffeine, sugar and alcohol are among the most common stimulants. 
            Less obvious but no less important stimulants may include anger, rage, arguing, hatred, loud music, fearful news and even movies full of suspense or violence.
            Other activities that may act as stimulants and must not be overlooked include vigorous exercise, sexual preoccupations, recreational drug use or other thrills.  These often provide a temporary “high”, which is caused in part by the secretion of high amounts of adrenal hormones.  However, over time, this weakens the adrenals and can eventually lead to adrenal depletion and insufficiency.

Stimulant use, however, can also be a result of adrenal burnout.  While stimulants can cause or contribute to adrenal weakness, some who use stimulants do so because they are in adrenal burnout already.
            Stimulants are attractive to one in burnout to provide temporary energy. This is an important appeal of the drug culture, both legal and recreational.  It is also the appeal of loud music, sexual addiction, and even anger.
            These activities or attitudes can provide enough adrenal stimulation to allow a person to feel better temporarily.  This is an important reason why giving up one’s addictions can be difficult.  When one gives them up, one must face the fact that one is exhausted, depressed and often just feels awful due to adrenal burnout.  It is safe to say that most people addicted to stimulants or other drugs including cigarettes, cocaine, marijuana, and others has some degree of adrenal insufficiency.

Unhealthy responses to stress are another cause of adrenal burnout.  These include habits of worrying, or becoming angry or afraid.  Don’t worry, be happy is a great prescription for adrenal burnout. This applies particularly to high strung, nervous individuals and those with very active minds, as they are especially prone to adrenal burnout.

Congenital weak adrenals.  Many children today are born with weak adrenals due to their parents’ nutritional deficiencies.  This is not a genetic problem.  Instead, it is due to the nutritional imbalances of the mother, in particular.  These are passed through the placenta to the unborn child.
             For example, if the mother is zinc-deficient, as most are, the baby is born low in zinc and often high in copper, cadmium or other minerals that substitute for zinc to a degree.  Fortunately, this means the problem can be corrected, though it is better to prevent it, of course.  By age three or four, these children are in burnout.  They are often sick, depressed and have difficulty in school.  Some of these children react to the situation by becoming hyperactive,  compulsive, obsessive or by developing various other behavior problems.
            On their hair mineral analyses, these children are often in a state of burnout at this early age, a relatively new phenomenon, in my experience.  By gently rebuilding their body chemistry, however, their behavioral and other disorders generally vanish in a few months to a few years.


Common symptoms include fatigue, some weakness and often depression.  Others may be a craving for sweets, low blood pressure and low blood sugar.  Low energy impairs every system of the body.  Thus, secondary symptoms can range from impaired digestion, aches and pains to chronic or recurring infections.

            Emotional and mental symptoms.  Often, emotional and psychological symptoms are present or even predominant. Depression is very common.  Apathy, despair and even suicidal tendencies are also quite common.  Emotional instability, mood swings, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and irritability are also common symptoms associated with adrenal burnout syndrome.  The world can look evil, one loses faith in people, and a hopeless attitude is not uncommon.
            Compulsiveness and obsessive-compulsive tendencies may be associated with adrenal burnout.  One may become addicted or very attracted to excessive exercise, sex, loud music or other forms of excitement. The unconscious goal is always the same, to stimulate the adrenals into activity.

            Many areas of life affected.  Adrenal burnout affects every area of life.  One may lose interest in friends, family and work.  Relationships often suffer when one person in the relationship goes into adrenal exhaustion.
            Unfortunately, many with adrenal burnout function on anger and resentment. These act as adrenal stimulants, providing a negative energy with which to function.  Most of the world, in fact, functions on the negative energy of anger.

Bigger implications.  While it is beyond the scope of this article, entire nations can go into adrenal exhaustion as a result of wars, famines and other catastrophes.  When this occurs, the attitudes of the people change, and with it the leaders they elect.
            This has happened many times in history, and is an important hidden factor in our politics of today in America.  For example, a population in burnout does not feel capable of taking care of themselves.  They will vote for more and more government welfare programs, often bankrupting the nation, without understanding the consequences of their votes.


Low cortisol symptoms.  Low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low temperature, depression, joint pain and allergies may result from low levels of cortisol.  Multiple chemical sensitivityis an extreme allergic condition associated with adrenal burnout.  Later, blood pressure may rise as toxic substances build up in the arteries and kidneys.

            Copper toxicity and burnout.  Elevated copper and low zinc related to adrenal burnout impair the immune system. Chronic infections may develop.  The stage is also set for the development of degenerative conditions.  Cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases may be end-stage results of toxic accumulation and energy depletion.

            Thyroid imbalances and burnout.  Often secondary to adrenal exhaustion are other glandular imbalances such as hypothyroidism.  The thyroid gland and the adrenals have a very close relationship and stress on one always affects the other.
            Much less common is the development of a secondary hyperthyroidism, or overactivity of the thyroid.  This may be a compensation for low adrenals, as the condition will disappear as the adrenals are allowed to rest and rebuild.
            The adrenal glands produce estrogen and progesterone.  They are the main source of these hormones after menopause.  Premenstrual syndrome and hot flashes often have to do with weakened adrenal glands.

Reduced cellular energy production.  Depression and apathy are often the result of low energy production in the cells.  Also, cortisol provides a natural ‘high’.  Thus, low cortisol can contribute to feelings of depression and even despair.  Unsure if there is energy to get through the day, anxiety may occur. Irritability is common as one is less able to handle even minor stress.

Burnout and metal toxicity.  When the adrenals are weak, copper builds up in the body. Elevated copper enhances emotions. Panic attacks, bipolar disorder, mood swings and schizophrenia are related to copper imbalance.  As one’s energy level declines, other toxic metals build up as well.  Mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic, beryllium and others contribute to hundreds of physical and emotional symptoms.


Myth #1.  Adrenal burnout is psychological.  Burnout is a breakdown of the energy system of the body. Vital minerals are depleted or “burned out” (used up) and replaced by toxic metals. Psychological stress may be a cause, and burnout can affect one’s emotions and behavior. However, burnout itself is biochemical, not only psychological.
            Recovery may involve improving emotions and dealing with psychological issues.  However, it also involves rebuilding body chemistry because it is a physical condition as well.

Myth #2.  People in burnout have no energy and cannot work.  Many in burnout hold full-time jobs or other active lifestyles.  They may also appear in good health.  However, they are often tired or stressed. They may require stimulants in order to keep going. Some bury themselves in their work to forget how tired they feel.  One can go on like this for years in some degree of adrenal burnout.  This usually stops, however, when burnout gets very serious, as there is not enough energy to continue working hard and living a very active life.

Myth #3.  Vigorous exercise is good for burnout.  Vigorous exercise can be attractive to those in burnout. Exercise may temporarily make one feel better.  While it may provide a boost, vigorous exercise further exhausts the bodies of those in burnout. People in burnout need to reduce exercise, often to a minimum.  This helps conserve their energy and helps to allow their adrenals to rebuild.
            Exercise in moderation can assist circulation and oxygenation, factors that may help with burnout.  However, excessive exercise of any kind uses up energy and adrenal reserves that individuals in burnout do not have and cannot afford to lose.

Myth #4.  A vacation, a diet or a nutritional supplement can cause recovery from burnout.  Most people never recover from burnout, although they could if they followed a nutritional balancing program to the letter.  Recovery also requires a strong commitment to healing.  Recovery also takes at least several years.  If one recovers faster, one was not in adrenal burnout.

Myth #5.  Burnout occurs mainly in men. In fact, it is more common in women today. This is due mainly to lifestyle changes in women.  Many women now work outside the home and raise the children as well.  Many are also in single-parent homes or both parents work just to pay the bills and taxes.
            Women are also more prone to copper toxicity, thyroid imbalances and other factors that can contribute to adrenal burnout.  Women also do not realize in most cases they are different from men and have greater needs for rest and sleep.  For all these reasons, we see more burnout in women today than in men.

Myth #6.  Burnout only occurs in those in high-stress jobs. Burnout occurs in all groups, regardless of occupation, income or educational level.  In fact, many homeless people are burned out.  This helps account for why they may give up hope or be incapable of holding a job or supporting a home.  In addition, burnout is a worldwide phenomenon today and is not limited to certain parts of the globe.

Myth #7.  Burnout occurs only in adults. In fact, it is common today in children and even babies. Most children today are being born nutritionally depleted and toxic as a result of the ill health of the parents. This can be measured with mineral analysis.  Minimal brain dysfunction, chronic ear or other infections, crib death, delayed development, learning disorders,failure to thrive, ADHD, autism and anti-social behavior may all be symptoms related to adrenal dysfunction in our children.
            Vaccination, wholesale drugging of the children and other abominations led by our public health authorities and the medical profession are only making the problems worse in the long term.  Children usually respond very rapidly to nutritional balancing program.  This is not at all the same as throwing a lot of good food and vitamins at a child.  It must be targeted, based on a properly performed and correctly interpreted hair mineral analysis.  I teach this science to anyone who will listen.

Myth #8.  Burnout affects only physical health.  Burnout affects every area of life.  Family and work are often affected.  Relationships often suffer. One may lose interest in everyone and everything.  There simply is not enough energy available for intimate relationships or for activities beyond those required for survival.  Friends, family and employers are often unaware of what is occurring, which only worsens the situation.

Myth #9.  A hectic lifestyle causes burnout.  This may be one of many causes.  Oddly, however, a hectic lifestyle can also be a result of burnout.      Excessive activity, overwork and a very busy life can be a way to stimulate one into action and a compensation for feelings of exhaustion.  When such a one stops working and running around, he will feel just how exhausted and perhaps depressed he really is.
            A hectic lifestyle can therefore be a stimulant, like caffeine or loud music.  It always makes burnout worse, but it may be the result of burnout, not the original cause.

Myth #10. Overwork for years causes burnout. This is possible. However, adrenal burnout  may also occur quickly due to a single shock or just a few traumas that occur in rapid succession.  In some cases, however, it is not be related to any single trauma or activity.  Often a combination of factors causes burnout.
            Whether one goes into burnout from an illness, accident, divorce, overwork or other stress depends very much on one’s ability to handle stress, rather than the absolute amount of stress.  In other words, some people handle stress and trauma far better than others.  For this reason, we recommend a grounding, centering meditation to everyone with adrenal exhaustion.  For more information about this, click on the article on this website entitled, Meditation.

Myth #11.  Burnout is an overused term without a scientific basis.  Just because burnout doesn’t show up on x-rays or certain blood tests does not mean it is not real.  Burnout can be measured and quantified using tissue mineral testing and hormone testing.  The term is not overused.  In fact it is greatly underused.  A large percentage of the population is in burnout and it would be helpful if physicians understood it better, even if they have no drug “cure” for it.

Myth #12.  Plenty of sleep will take care of burnout.Unfortunately, this is not so. The person in burnout  is unable to regenerate itself adequately during sleep.  In fact, waking up tired after 8-10 hours of sleep is a primary symptom of burnout.   Like a weak battery, the body does not recharge itself during sleep.

Myth #13.  Cleaning out toxins will take care of burnout. The accumulation of toxins that occurs as the body can no longer remove them properly contributes to burnout. Exposure to toxic metals or chemicals can be an important factor in burnout.  Eliminating them is helpful.  However, energy is required to release toxins. If the energy system is weak, just fasting or detoxifying will not be enough.  Fasting, in fact, can and usually does make the situation worse.
            One must rebuild the entire energy system by balancing body chemistry and providing nutrients as well.  A one-month or even six-month ‘cleanse’ is nowhere near adequate.  It can take over a year just to replenish one mineral.

Warning – For those in later stages of burnout, some yin detoxification programs such as fasting, raw foods or even chelating agents can be dangerous.  This is because therapies can further deplete certain minerals or unbalance body chemistry in ways that can be quite dangerous.  Also, the eliminative organs are compromised.  As a result, toxins that such programs release from various storage tissues may be redeposited in more vital organs such as the brain.  This can significantly worsen one’s health. 
            A gentle, complete program of rebuilding and nourishing the body must accompany any efforts to eliminate toxins.  In fact, as vitality improves, toxin elimination will proceed on its own.

Myth # 14.  One will come out of burnout when one changes whatever factor or behavior caused the burnout. This means that if you just quit your stressful job or your stressful marriage, you wil recover from burnout.
            I wish this were true.  It is not how it works, however.   As one goes into burnout, vital minerals become depleted and toxic substances replace them. The toxic metals become part of the structure of enzymes and even parts of organs and glands.  For this reason, although one changes one’s diet, lifestyle, attitudes or behavior, the toxins remain.  This is very frustrating for people who expect a recovery after they leave a stressful situation such as a bad marriage, for instance.

Myth #15.  To recover from burnout, just reestablish close communication with those who are close to you. This is the cure for burnout in one popular book.  Re-establishing excellent communication with those you love is always helpful.  However, in my experience it is usually not enough.  In fact, it can be a source of frustration.  Reason for this are:

  1. As stated earlier in this paper, your loved ones often do not and cannot understand what has happened to you.
    2. Burnout often affects your perception and attitudes.  Therefore, re-establishing good relationships can be complex.
    3. Burnout is usually a multi-faceted problem that demands a more complete approach than just communicating better.

Myth #16.  To get out of burnout, one needs to get back in touch with oneself.  As with Myth #15, this is an excellent concept, but in my experience is not nearly enough for recovery.  One reason is that getting in touch with oneself is often complicated when the brain has excessive toxins, thanks to adrenal exhaustion.
            Burnout, for example, often causes terribly low self-esteem because one’s energy is low and thinking is foggy or clouded.  Adrenal burnout causes most of its victims to become overly introspective.  This is helpful in some ways but damaging in others.  The positive side of this is discussed at the end of this paper and is very important not to miss.

Myth # 17.  One can recover from burnout in a matter of months. It takes at least two years and often longer.  Layers of toxins, infections and other adaptations and compensations must be undone.  Each adaptation uses up energy so that when one begins correction, there is little energy to work with. This slows progress and is one reason correction takes several years.
             Eliminating toxins that have become integral parts of the organs and glands also takes time, like rebuilding a house.  Also, most people must replenish twenty or thirty trace minerals.  This takes time, even if one does all the correct procedures to restore one’s health.
            If one truly recovers in a few months, a person was not in severe burnout.   However, often, a small recovery can feel like a cure when it is not.  As an analogy, those in burnout need an overhaul, not a tune up.  One needs to commit to doing whatever it takes and devoting a few years to healing.  This needs to become one’s primary occupation or job for a while, allowing all other interests and activities to become secondary to the commitment to healing.

Myth #18.  Burnout is not an important medical problem unless the stress of burnout causes high blood pressure or another symptom. Burnout is degenerative exhaustion.  It sets the stage for all degenerative diseases, because energy is a common denominator of health. 
            All illnesses start with fatigue. The body is like a newer car with power steering, power brakes and power windows. When the power goes down, the entire car stops working right. Burnout is a serious medical problem, although symptoms may be vague and unrelated to a specific disease.

Myth #19.  Burnout is a new phenomenon. In fact, burnout is as old as humanity.  Understanding adrenal exhaustion can even help us understand the rise and fall of civilizations.  For example, it is known that many great civilizations, including perhaps our own, have fallen slowly or even suddenly.  Why does this occur?
            One way to understand the fall is that the people, as a whole, go into adrenal burnout and cannot sustain the intellectual, cultural and social traditions of the culture.  Wise leaders and strong traditions become replaced with vulgar habits, lower moral standards and leaders who sway the people’s passions, but do not appeal to their higher sensitivities.
            Constant wars, as occurred in Europe, can also contribute to burnout.  Toxic technology can also take its toll.  The Roman Republic was famous for its lead water pipes, for example.  We are famous for our medical drug cures and surgeries, both of which involve a lot of toxic chemicals.  Industrialization has brought large amounts of many toxic metals into our homes, air, water and food.
            Even oppressive political and economic systems can contribute in some nations.  This is a problem with the socialist and fascist ideologies that spring up around the world.  They repress the people and, as a result, the people do not function well after a time.
            Freedom, in contrast, tends to help people live better and function better.  This was the goal of the founders of America.  I hope we have not lost sight of the absolute value of freedom and liberty, as opposed to all other values such as diversity or environmentalism.

Myth #20.  Burnout only affects one generation at a time.  This is perhaps the most pernicious aspect of burnout. Children born to burned out parents will be born nutritionally weaker and thus more prone to adrenal fatigue themselves.   Children today are going into burnout, as a result, at a younger and younger age.  So the story of adrenal exhaustion cuts across generational lives.  This was ably demonstrated by Dr. Weston Price, DDS, in his classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

Melting pot nations like America have an advantage in this regard.  New immigrants are often the more ambitious ones that are in better health and can help rejuvenate the population.  Also, nations that emphasize freedom and individual rights allow people to devise better ways of coping and maintaining their health that those that are stuck in rigid prescribed social structures.


Recovery from burnout is certainly possible.  Nutritional balancing has helped thousands come out of burnout.  However, be prepared to spend several years on a nutritional balancing program.

This does not mean you cannot work or take care of your family during this time.  However, lots of rest is critical and recovery still usually takes several years of effort.  The following is an outline of the nutritional balancing approach for program for adrenal burnout:

  1. A diet of mainly cooked vegetables and animal protein.  Avoid all vegetarian, raw food and fasting regimens.  For much more information about this diet, click on the Slow Oxidizer Diet Plan.
    2. Only spring water or carbon-only filtered water to drink.  Adults need about 2-3 quarts daily.  If you need more, most likely your water is not hydrating your body well.  For example, reverse osmosis water is cleaner, but does not hydrate the body nearly as well as the others above.  Please avoid drinking it.  Also, be sure to avoid alkaline water systems, “drinking water” or tap water.
    3. An improved lifestyle.  Loads of rest is the single most important lifestyle change.  For some other details, click on The Healing Lifestyle and many other articles on this website about lifestyle.
                4. About 7 or 8  nutritional supplements.  These must be targeted and individualized using a properly performed and properly interpreted hair mineral analysis.  For more information, click on Nutritional Balancing And Why I Use It.
                5. A detoxification protocol is helpful, though perhaps not always needed.  This involves the use of a near infrared sauna and perhaps coffee enemas or colonic irrigation.  This is included with all nutritional balancing programs.  For some general information about these procedures, click on Detoxifcation Procedures.
                6. The pushing down exercise.  This is extremely healing and powerful. Click on Meditation to learn more about this excellent and simple procedure.
                7. Shifts in your attitudes and perspectives on life, when needed.  Attitudes of forgiveness, letting go, positive attitudes, gratitude, spirituality or prayer can speed up healing greatly.  Several articles on this website such as Letting Go and others discuss how important these can be for healing.

Addressing all these aspects is the way to assure success.  The preceding are general suggestions only.  If possible, work with someone on our list of recommended practitioners.  These are the only people I can recommend.  Others, no matter what their education or experience, often do not know how to correct adrenal burnout syndrome.  You may also work with us by mail if you prefer.  Click on Find A Practitioner for the list of approved practitioners.

What about adrenal and other testing?  In general, I require only the hair mineral analysis, with repeated tests every six months for several years.  Food allergy testing may be helpful, but usually not needed, in cases of severe food intolerances.
            I do not require hormone, blood tests or other types of tests, although I am happy to review any tests you may have.

What about bio-identical hormone replacement therapy? Nutritional balancing can almost always rebuild the hormone system of the body.  All hormone replacement gets in the way of this task.

Nutritional balancing, as a rule, does not require or recommend any hormones.  They are all somewhat toxic and have other problems, as well.  For more information, click on Bio-identical Hormone Replacement.

What about anti-depressants and other drug therapies for burnout?  I very rarely recommend any pharmaceutical or over-the-counter drug for any reason.
            Exceptions include if one absolutely cannot sleep, perhaps.  But this is one of the few exceptions.  In almost all cases, correcting the body chemistry takes care of most symptoms.  I do not take people off prescribed medication.  That is a matter between you and your prescribing doctor.


Adrenal burnout can be the best thing that happens to a person.  It can be a wake up call.  Often, some area of life is out of balance or alignment.  Addressing burnout is often the starting point for a deeper exploration of self and of life at a deeper level.  Most people live superficially.  Correcting adrenal burnout often causes a person to begin to live at a much deeper level and to understand the body and mind from a more spiritual perspective as well. 

This was the case for me, and for many patients I have worked with.  I suffered from adrenal exhaustion for a number of years.  As I began to understand the condition better, I made many changes in my diet, lifestyle and most critically, my thinking.  I also forced myself to do coffee enemas, to walk every day, to use a sauna, and to meditate daily, although I did not enjoy doing any these things, at first.
            I let go of some family ties and other relationships that I discovered were toxic and harmful for me.  Eventually, I also moved out of the polluted city, although the process was terrifying because I had very little energy or money to accomplish the move.
            Perhaps most important was the need for more subtle changes in attitudes and mental tendencies.  I realized how important it is to give up all victim thinking and negative thinking.  I had to let go of thinking of anyone else as a victim, either, although that may sound like a strange attitude.  I have written about this in other articles on this website.
            I also dwelled upon and developed the spiritual or deeper part of myself.  This is an incredible benefit if you can make yourself do it.  In the process, I had to leave behind the superficial life style that I, like most people, had lived most of my life.
            These shifts have served me extremely well, as they have served thousands of others I have since worked with.  Thus, I have learned it is wrong to think that adrenal burnout, or any serious condition, is just a curse to be “handled” as quickly as possible.  If you act this way, you may miss the greatest blessing of your life.

Source: Dr. L. Wilson – Adrenal Burnout