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The Top 7 Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Mistakes

An image of a woman in distressAdrenal fatigue recovery can be confusing, challenging, and slow. Without knowledge and support, your health may keep getting worse. In this article, we will cover the seven most common adrenal fatigue recovery mistakes people make. These mistakes are avoidable with the right guidance and knowledge.

Learn More:

» Read our complete long-read article on 7 Adrenal Fatigue recovery mistakes
» Adrenal Fatigue FAQs
» Take our 3-minute test to see if you may have Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a result of chronic stress. Its symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, mild depression, PMS, infertility, low libido, frequent infections, hypoglycemia, salt and sugar cravings, food and drug sensitivities, heart palpitations, hair loss, and dry skin.

If you've suffered from a combination of any of these symptoms, it's very possible you have AFS. You may have even gone to your medical practitioner and been given medication for these symptoms, such as antidepressants or hormone replacement. But because these medications don't address the root cause, your symptoms will eventually worsen as AFS progresses.

The Complexity of Adrenal Fatigue Recovery

Because the adrenal glands are part of a large network of organs and systems that fight stress, their dysregulation can create a cascade of problems throughout your body. This network is called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, and it is your body’s global response to stress.

Your NEM is composed of six circuits: The Hormone, the Bioenergetics, the Cardionomic, the Neuroaffect, the Inflammation, and the Detoxification circuits. However, even if only your adrenal glands are affected, it can bring dysregulation to all the other circuits. This is why AFS symptoms are so varied.

Even if you do identify AFS as the culprit, recovery is not always straightforward. Making a wrong move can impact your entire NEM. These are the seven most common adrenal fatigue recovery mistakes that can set back your AFS recovery efforts.

1. Improper use of nutritional supplements.

The use of gentle nutrients is central to adrenal fatigue recovery. Timed and dosed correctly, they can recharge your depleted nutritional stores and give you the energy you need to recover. Supplements used in adrenal fatigue recovery come in different categories:

  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Herbs
  • Glandulars
  • Hormones and prohormones

You can take supplements to fill in nutritional gaps left over by your diet, or you can take them in therapeutic doses to give you a boost. In order to get the most out of them, and in order to avoid their possible negative effects, you should be aware of the following points.

Don’t Use Supplements to Prop Up a Bad Diet

Seven common mistakes everyone makes on Adrenal Fatigue recoveryIt doesn’t matter if these supplements are of the best quality; the bulk of your nutrients should still come from a good diet. Also, supplements cannot counteract the negative effects of a bad diet. With adrenal fatigue, an adrenal fatigue diet is absolutely necessary.

Natural Doesn’t Always Mean Safe

Secondly, you need to understand that even natural supplements can have medicinal effects. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is suitable for you. You need to take the right kind of supplement for your specific condition and needs.

Don’t Take The Shotgun Approach

Closely related to that is a common but very detrimental mistake we see a lot of AFS sufferers make: taking the shotgun approach where you take a cocktail of many supplements. Under no circumstances should you just take a bunch of different supplements hoping some combination of them will do the trick.

The best-case scenario here is that if you do improve, you won’t know which supplements to credit. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll overload your Detoxification circuit and increase the toxic load on your body. This can lead to sensitivities, paradoxical reactions, and even adrenal crashes.

Don’t Take a Random Dose

Even if you know the RDA of a supplement, it may not be what your body needs. Your health and your needs are specific to you. That’s why taking a standard dose may not be effective or good for you. The optimum therapeutic dosage needs to be individualized. It is also important to keep in mind that your dosage can change as you progress through recovery.

Pay Attention to the Delivery System

How a supplement is delivered makes a big difference in how bio-available it is. You should research the best delivery system for the supplements you will use. That way, you can be sure your body will absorb them properly.

Don’t Try to Figure It Out Alone

Because of all the above factors, supplements can be quite tricky to figure out. This is especially the case if you have different conditions as well as supplement sensitivities, which is common for those with more advanced AFS. But because gentle nutrients are some of the best adrenal fatigue recovery tools out there, you shouldn’t avoid them altogether. Your best bet is to follow the guidance of a health professional with a lot of experience in AFS.

This brings us to the second mistake that many people make in adrenal fatigue recovery.

2. Inexperienced healthcare providers.

An image of three doctorsAlthough AFS is a very common condition, mainstream medicine does not recognize it yet. Most of our clients come to us after having gone to many doctors only to be sent home after being told there’s nothing wrong with them. Others are given medications that only temporarily relieve symptoms. Some have spent months or years trying to follow their doctors’ orders, to no avail. Some have tried alternative therapies with little to no success and spent thousands of dollars in the process.

Adrenal fatigue recovery is very individual-specific, and it needs to be adjusted along the way. So it requires a very experienced hand that knows the ins and outs of the journey. It also needs someone that knows all the possible pitfalls.

Another problem we frequently see with conventional physicians is that they are specialized in one narrow focus area. Care is only on this area and not on the whole person. For example, if your symptoms are depression, brain fog, heart palpitations, and light-headedness, that will most likely require two or three different specialists if you go down the conventional path. A psychiatrist and a cardiologist, for example. On top of that, these specialists will most likely not coordinate with each other enough to link these symptoms.

After going through many tests and workups, you’ll probably end up with a bunch of different medications. You’ll also be given steroids to control the symptoms. And although steroids can be useful in severe cases for a short while, you can easily become dependent on them. Chronic steroid use can lead to a catabolic state and systemic organ breakdown.

3. Excessive use of prescription drugs and medications.

The excessive use of medications comes with the territory when you’re under the care of conventional medical practitioners. As well-intentioned as these physicians may be, the end result is an overload on your system. The following are some of the problems that you can face when taking prescription drugs:

Covering Over Symptoms

The symptoms you’re experiencing should not be seen as the enemy. In fact, they are valuable messages your body is trying to send you. They are the clues you are given to help you figure out the root cause. Suppressing them with medications will keep the underlying cause hidden, and it will also make it difficult for you to tell whether you’re improving or not. If you can’t see which way your symptoms are going, you won’t know if what you’re doing is helping.

Toxic Overload

The other problem with over-medicating is the amount of extra work you are putting on your Detoxification circuit, especially your liver.

All medications have to be processed by your system, and the liver has to get rid of what’s left over. If you have AFS, you’ll probably also have some congestion in your liver and detoxification system. In adrenal fatigue recovery, one of the aims is to detoxify the system gently, so that your Detoxification circuit runs smoothly and your body’s toxic load decreases. This then allows inflammation to subside, which is one of the biggest stressors on your health.

But if you go down the conventional route, and you take a bunch of different medications or supplements for your symptoms, you will only add to the work your liver has to do. An already exhausted and congested liver won’t be able to keep up. Then your body’s toxic load will rise, creating more inflammation, and adding more stress on your adrenals.

This makes AFS progress even faster, and it creates other health problems as well.

Side Effects

An image of a sleeping womanAnd, finally, many medications have troubling side-effects. As mentioned above, steroids can easily lead to dependency, a catabolic state, and organ breakdown. To help your insomnia, you might end up becoming dependent on sleeping aids, which will make sleeping without them even more difficult when the time comes. To deal with the frequent infections, you might take antibiotics, which will kill the good bacteria in your gut and lead to dysbiosis in your microbiome. This is a big cause of leaky gut and gut inflammation.

Some anti-anxiety medications are highly addictive, such as benzodiazepines, and their withdrawal is extremely painful and challenging. Benzodiazepines and opioids are now finally being recognized as too dangerous to prescribe unless absolutely necessary, but millions of lives have been destroyed in the process. It's often better not to take the risk with other medications unless you really need them.

4. Failure to recognize paradoxical and unusual reactions.

A paradoxical reaction is when a therapy or supplement has the opposite effect of what it was meant to do. For example, some pain medications can actually increase pain as a paradoxical reaction. Paradoxical reactions are very common in more advanced stages of AFS when taking supplements or medications.

This is why adrenal fatigue recovery has to be individualized. A supplement that really helps one person can create a paradoxical reaction in another. A dosage that was good for you a couple of months ago may be something you react to with unusual sensitivity today. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all in recovery.

Another complicating factor is that it sometimes takes a while for a paradoxical reaction to show up. You might be taking a supplement now that you won't react to until a few weeks or months after stopping. At other times, you might react immediately to a new supplement. In some cases, a supplement may initially give you a boost only to be followed by a crash.

These intricacies of recovery are another reason you need to follow the guidance of an experienced professional when taking supplements.

Common Paradoxical Reactions

Knowing the signs of paradoxical reactions can help you look out for them and report them to your health professional so you can adjust your dosage or change your supplement altogether:

  • Increased fatigue
  • A sense of malaise
  • Increased anxiety
  • Sudden onset of anxiety and panic attacks
  • A feeling of impending doom when resting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fluctuating blood pressure
  • Increased brain fog
  • Waking up in the middle of the night
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness when resting
  • Slow and difficult recovery after exercising
  • Sudden mood changes, such as crying for no reason
  • Constipation after taking vitamin C or magnesium, instead of them helping with bowel movements

5. Failure to recognize multi-organ involvement.

An image of the internal organAlthough AFS is the result of the adrenals overworking and then becoming exhausted, it is not limited to the adrenals.

That’s because the adrenals are only one component of the NEM’s Hormone circuit. And the Hormone circuit is linked with every other NEM circuit. And hormones, like cortisol, affect the entire body.

The adrenal glands’ secretion of cortisol and other stress hormones begins with the control center in the brain: the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. This hormone cascade is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. But this control center also regulates other hormone-releasing organs, such as the thyroid and gonads. There’s the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis.

And because the adrenals are part of the triad of the Hormone circuit, they also affect the other two components. For example, in women, this triad forms the ovarian-adrenal-thyroid (OAT) axis. It’s also why you see so many AFS symptoms related to the reproductive system, such as PMS, low libido, and infertility.

Not recognizing the links between the different organs and systems involved will make adrenal fatigue recovery slower and more challenging. And recognizing them will make it easier and quicker.

When you improve the state of one of the components, the adrenals, for example, it will affect the other two components. That’s why we tell our female clients that in order to get their reproductive health back on track, they should address their adrenal fatigue. The same goes for clients that have thyroid issues.

6. Over-reliance on laboratory testing.

The next common adrenal fatigue recovery mistake is relying too much on lab testing. That’s because AFS is not easily detectable in these tests, and not many health professionals know which tests to conduct.

Several tests give possible indications of AFS, such as testing for salivary cortisol, DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol. But test results alone are not enough.

You need an expert to tie the test results to the symptoms you are presenting. The variations in the way AFS presents in different people can make it difficult to see the overall picture. And even in the same person, lab results will vary depending on the current stage of AFS.

That’s why, in our opinion, the signs and symptoms your body is showing you are a better gauge of AFS. These, plus your medical history, can give an experienced clinician all the information needed.

7. Lack of a comprehensive recovery program.

An image of a woman looking out to the horizonLast but not least, a big adrenal fatigue recovery mistake is not having a comprehensive recovery program in place. If you don’t take into account your body, mind, lifestyle, and environment when composing your recovery program, it won’t work properly.

A good program will include:

  • The use of gentle nutrients that are suitable for your body, timed and dosed correctly.
  • A customized adrenal fatigue diet that is anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense, based on your blood and metabolic types.
  • A stress management system that has enough support to help you through any pressures you might be facing.
  • Good sleep hygiene practices that will allow you to get good quality rest and sleep without the use of sleeping aids.
  • Gentle exercises, like adrenal breathing and adrenal yoga.

Following these steps under guidance will give you dramatic results without the side-effects of medications.


Adrenal fatigue recovery can be complicated if you try to do it alone. It can also backfire if you follow a treatment plan given by a health professional not experienced in the condition. There are many recovery mistakes you need to watch out for, and the most common of these are outlined above.

But one way to ensure you avoid all of them and get the best results in the quickest way is to follow a comprehensive recovery plan customized to your individual state and needs.

Learn More:

» Read our complete long-read article on 7 Adrenal Fatigue recovery mistakes
» Adrenal Fatigue FAQs
» Take our 3-minute test to see if you may have Adrenal Fatigue

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

There are many adrenal fatigue recovery mistakes that you can make. But from what we’ve seen over the years, there are seven that are the most common. Avoiding them can make your recovery journey much smoother and quicker. Find out what they are so you can prepare.