What differentiates adrenal insufficiency from adrenal fatigue? More often than not, adrenal fatigue is modeled by an overabundance of cortisol, often at the “wrong” times, while adrenal insufficiency is a consistent inability to produce cortisol. They are related, though — many natural medicine practitioners, such as myself, see adrenal fatigue as a precursor to adrenal insufficiency. In fact, a description of adrenal insufficiency from the Cleveland Clinic states that “its early clinical presentation is most commonly vague and undefined, requiring a high index of suspicion.” ( 41 )
Our current understanding of adrenal function is still at its infancy at best. It is therefore very difficult for any health professional to have a good grasp of the Adrenal Fatigue condition from a purely pathological and physiological perspective. The number of physicians with true expertise in advanced Adrenal Fatigue is very small. Those who are good in this gain their expertise not from textbooks, but from years of clinical experience. There is no short cut, because text-book cases are few and far between. Because the full recovery cycle can take years to complete in severe cases, practitioners with little experience will find it hard to handle cases other than the most mild and straight forward ones.