Adrenal fatigue, also known as hypodrenia, is term used in alternative medicine to describe the belief, scientifically unproven, that the adrenal glands have become exhausted an unable to produce hormones. The supposed effect of adrenal fatigue is the reduction of cortisol production, leading to a general sense of fatigue.
James M. Wilson coined the term adrenal fatigue in 1998 and a wide range of dietary and herbal supplements now exist in order to treat this "condition." Most doctors and the scientific community in general maintain that adrenal fatigue is not a genuine medical condition, noting that there is no evidence to support the idea that long-term stress drains the adrenal glands of their ability to function.
Many individuals believe that a group of symptoms occur following prolonged periods of mental, emotional, or physical stress. These symptoms usually include fatigue, difficulty falling asleep or waking in the morning, the need for caffeine during the day and sugar or salt craving. Believers maintain that during these periods of long-term stress, the adrenal glands, located just above the kidneys, are unable to produce enough cortisol to meet the body's demands.
Adrenal insufficiency, however, is a real medical condition, caused by damage to the adrenal or pituitary glands, and can be diagnosed through blood tests. Adrenal fatigue is a blanket term to describe an unknown underlying condition that requires real medical diagnosis.