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Adrenal Fatigue Treatment With Chinese Medicine

Adrenal fatigue syndrome is a common stress-related disorder, in which the symptoms are strongly influenced by circulating cortisol levels.

Particularly when living in Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city —the culture is all about restaurants, night life, coffee—a fast paced busy society.

When this society naturally pushes us to greater heights, bodies tend to suffer—with weak adrenals and the daily struggle to cope with stress, people are in a state of constant “burn out”.

These stress effects may be prolonged, abundant, frequent and intense.

And don’t we know it!

So Where Does Adrenal Fatigue Stress Originate?

In modern lifestyle, stresses come from all directions including:

  • physical
  • mental
  • emotional
  • biochemical
  • hormonal
  • thermal
  • internal & external

Or toxicity-related issues including overuse of drugs, alcohol, sugar and coffee.

In western terms, the stress affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis—preventing the body from maintaining homeostasis and causing varied debilitating symptoms.

Do I Have Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms?


In more than 10 years of clinical practice in Melbourne, I have treated a broad spectrum of patients including:

  • fertility
  • hormonal disorders
  • thyroid disorders
  • digestive disorders
  • anxiety & depression
  • chronic pain management
  • neurological disorders

The list goes on.

But, among all these patients, there is a high prevalence of adrenal fatigue symptoms.

Some of the adrenal fatigue symptoms include:

  • tired in the morning and need caffeine or other stimulants to function
  • emotionally and physically worn out
  • get stressed easier and take longer to recover from illness
  • eight hours sleep is just not enough
  • decreased libido
  • craving for salty food
  • difficulty focusing, concentrating and remembering
  • hypoglycemia symptoms
  • mild depression and anxiety
  • exhausted and run down most of the day, energy kicks in after 6pm

For some of you, this might be just another day at the office—isn’t this how everybody feels!

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome Patterns and the Kidney


The Kidney—what does that have to do with adrenal fatigue you might ask?

In Chinese medicine, our kidney is the organ that stores our vital energy called Qi. Each of us is born with varying amounts of energy, which the Chinese call our ancestral Qi. Kidney Qi manages our vitality, aging, reproduction, physical and emotional endurance.

Chip away at that Qi and your body will let you know about it. A person with strong kidney energy has the coping mechanisms to delay the possibility of adrenal burnout—as opposed to a person who has a weaker constitution.

The less ancestral and vital kidney Qi you have the sooner the chance of adrenal burnout. One must also consider the Thyroid gland—another important organ that is closely related to kidney Qi and adrenal health—perhaps a topic for another article.

The 4 Major Patterns of Adrenal Exhaustion

In my South Melbourne clinical practice there are 4 major patterns of adrenal exhaustion that we see:

1. Kidney & Heart imbalance

Kidney and heart imbalance is one of the most common disharmonies of adrenal fatigue.

This pattern usually occurs in stressed people who use the brain in excess—constantly overthinking.

The adrenal fatigue symptoms associated are:

  • insomnia
  • heart palpitation
  • anxiety & depression
  • heart conditions
  • emotion instability
  • fibromyalgia and so on

2. Kidney & Spleen imbalance

Our digestive system is most critical—of course this is the way we receive the nutrients from our food. It will come to no surprise that a compromised digestive system can affect us—blocking our small intestine energy resulting in adrenal fatigue.

With these patterns, we see symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • craving for sweets
  • Hypoglycemia
  • brain fog
  • muscle weakness
  • poor digestion
  • food intolerance and so on

3. Kidney & Liver imbalance

Stress is constant and inevitable in modern lifestyle especially manifesting in the form of anger and frustration. Alcohol, overuse of drugs and prescription chemicals will also weaken and compromise our liver.

Clinically these kind of patients always have:

  • headaches & migraines
  • irritability
  • hormonal symptoms
  • acne
  • irritable bowel syndrome and so on

4. Kidney & Lung imbalance

With stress and fatigue associated with lung deficiency, symptoms include:

  • allergies
  • hay-fever
  • recurring respiratory infection
  • cold & flu
  • asthma

Chinese Medicine Treatment for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

As you can now feel there is no “one size fits all” treatment when it comes to adrenal fatigue syndrome. Chinese medicine treatments for adrenal fatigue include a combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture.

Lifestyle modification, stress management techniques and appropriate diet changes are all options. 

What Is the Expected Recovery Time After Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosis?

Great question!

In western medicine, a twelve-week timeframe for clinical improvement with adrenal fatigue is not uncommon.

With treatment you can expect a change in mood, happiness, stress level, digestion—not to mention sleeping quality, and more energy.

In a mild case, with an adrenal fatigue treatment and the right lifestyle approaches, a six-month recovery is likely.

If you have any questions regarding your adrenal fatigue treatment, get in touch with me ASAP —I would love to help.

Written by

Dr Scott Ling
Dr. Scott Ling is the Chief Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Acupuncturist and the founder of Sustain Health. He holds a PHD Doctorate Degree in Chinese medicine from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. Dr Ling’s extensive qualifications also include a Master of Reproductive Medicine (western medicine). Due to his unique medical background, Dr Ling’s approach stresses on the integration of Chinese and Western medicine to ensure patients get the greatest benefits from the best of both medical systems.
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