Craving sugar and gaining weight?
Some may diagnose this cluster of symptoms as Adrenal Fatigue … but is it actually a real condition?
This is a sales-free look at the facts.
What is Adrenal Fatigue and the Function of Adrenal Glands?
Adrenal fatigue refers to a cluster of common symptoms one might experience when under long-term mental or emotional stress.
It's also known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, HPA Axis Disregulation or Hypoadrenalism.
The concept was introduced in 1998 by chiropractor and naturopath James Wilson. Since then it has become very popular among alternative health practitioners.
The adrenal glands—small organs above the kidneys that produce certain hormones—help to manage stress. But they are said to grow tired or fatigued when overworked for a long period of time.
As a result they produce inadequate amounts of hormones that influence stress, such as cortisol. At least, that's the theory.
"Adrenal fatigue is not a real medical condition. There are no scientific facts to support the theory that long-term mental, emotional or physical stress drains the adrenal glands and causes many common symptoms."
So there is clearly a divide in opinion between alternative and conventional medicine.
Summary: Adrenal fatigue is a condition said to be caused by long-term stress. However, it is not recognized in the medical community.
Adrenal Fatigue vs. Adrenal Insufficiency
It's important not to get these confused.
Much like Hashimoto's disease it cannot be treated with diet and lifestyle alone. Without proper hormone replacement medication, adrenal insufficiency is life-threatening.
Adrenal fatigue, if it exists, is not immediately dangerous.
Summary: Adrenal fatigue should not be mixed up with adrenal insufficiency, which is a rare yet serious condition treated with strong hormone medication.
Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms Are Subjective
It's human nature to try and make sense of patterns and clusters.
Clusters of symptoms are no exception and we often give them a non-scientific name, like Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Adrenal fatigue is another example. These are several symptoms listed on James Wilson's AdrenalFatigue.org website:
- Always tired
- Feeling stressed
- Struggling to keep up with daily tasks
- Reliance on caffeine through the day
- Strong cravings for sugar or salt
- Low libido
Immediately it's clear how broad and unspecific symptoms are. No doubt they are real, but they easily overlap with other known medical issues.
The real issue is that the symptoms are not objective, nor measurable. That is, there is no validated symptom score to assess how mild or severe a case may be.
Summary: Symptoms of adrenal fatigue are real, but so broad that they overlap with other medical issues.
Adrenal Fatigue Tests Are Not Accurate
Proponents claim existing blood tests are not sensitive enough to detect small declines in adrenal function.
So the only criteria for diagnosing adrenal fatigue are the non-specific symptoms.
Therefore it's not actually possible for health practitioners to determine what classifies as adrenal fatigue and what doesn't, assuming it is a real condition.
But researchers note salivary cortisol is not necessarily representative of blood cortisol. Numerous other factors including adrenal sensitivity, cortisol binding, estrogens and HPAA responsivity influence the saliva reading. This makes it an unreliable stress biomarker on its own (3).
Additionally, treatment endpoints are as non-specific as the diagnosis.
In other words, without measurements there is no way to confirm when a patient's adrenals are corrected or "cured." It's the reason why studies must use adrenal fatigue questionnaires to measure results instead of testing physical or chemical changes (4).
If this were the case for other common medical conditions, like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, the doctor would never know when to increase, decrease or stop medication.
Summary: There is no way to accurately test or measure adrenal fatigue. Therefore practitioners cannot actually prove who has it, nor when it has been corrected.
Adrenal Fatigue Supplements
Few medical conditions are broad and unmeasurable.
Fibromyalgia is one of them, perhaps adrenal fatigue is another.
Despite this, supplements for adrenal fatigue and associated natural remedies are more common than ever. Even the creator of adrenal fatigue, James Wilson, sells his own line of supplements online.
Keep in mind that given the non-specific nature of adrenal fatigue, there is no way to develop a supplement to specifically treat it. Nor a way to test if that supplement is effective.
Nutrition supplements should be used to supplement deficiencies linked with a particular condition. However, only a handful of studies even mention adrenal fatigue let alone have tested for associated nutrient deficiencies.
There are also many hormone supplements available that promise to treat this condition. But these can do more harm than good if they aren't required.
Adrenal Crisis is not uncommon in patients receiving inappropriate adrenal hormone treatment.
Summary: Adrenal fatigue supplements are sold by many alternative health practitioners, including the creator of adrenal fatigue. However, it's not possible to develop or test a supplement's effectiveness without a way to measure the problem condition first.
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment and Diet Changes Do Help
Many claim that adrenal fatigue "treatment" restored their health.
They lost weight, have more energy and feel fantastic. Of course this is great to hear, but actually not surprising.
The typical adrenal fatigue treatment protocol includes eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting out sugar-laden and starchy junk food, exercising more, improving sleep quality and taking measures to reduce stress.
These recommendations address the fundamental aspects of good health, also known as the pillars of health. Anyone who improves one or more of these diet and lifestyle aspects will feel better to some degree.
But whether adrenal gland function actually shifts as a result of these changes is debatable and not possible to prove from observation.
Summary: An adrenal fatigue diet and treatment protocol may help improve an individual's health. But this is because it encourages important diet and lifestyle improvements, rather than a boost to adrenal gland function.
Could Adrenal Fatigue Be Subclinical Adrenal Insufficiency?
Some proponents claim adrenal fatigue is a mild or early form of adrenal insufficiency and should be formally recognized as such.
But in cases of subclinical hypothyroidism, doctors are able to measure a patient's blood TSH levels. This provides an objective measurement used to determine diagnosis and treatment efficacy.
As this isn't possible with adrenal fatigue it's difficult to confirm this theory, though it is interesting.
Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?
It's frustrating if you constantly feel unwell to have a doctor that seems unable or unwilling to discover the true problem.
I understand that, because the symptoms are very real. It's the reason adrenal fatigue has become such a popular alternative approach to this type of scenario.
However, there is no scientific evidence to validate the concept. Without any reliable method of measuring adrenal fatigue it's near impossible to make the "diagnosis."
That said, believing one has adrenal fatigue can sometimes be beneficial. It provides a "physical" reason for individuals to take action and improve their diet and reduce stressors. This is why so many experience improvements.
But if the real problem is more sinister than poor diet and high stress, accepting adrenal fatigue as the root cause can be dangerous. It only prolongs the time required to discover what's really causing symptoms.
Add to that the unproven adrenal fatigue supplements pushed on desperate customers and you start to question how helpful or ethical this diagnosis is.
In the end it's clear that taking measures to improve your diet and better manage the stressors in your life is key to getting your health back … Whether adrenal fatigue exists or not.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Diet vs Disease.
Offshore oil and gas drillers have discarded and abandoned more than 18,000 miles of pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960s, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.
The industry has essentially recovered none of the pipelines laid in the Gulf in the last six decades; the abandoned infrastructure accounts for more than 97% of all of the decommissioned pipelines in the Gulf.
The pipelines pose a threat to the habitat around them, as maritime commerce and hurricanes and erosion can move sections of pipeline.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement does not conduct undersea inspections even though surface monitoring is "not always reliable for detecting ruptures," according to the GAO.
For a deeper dive:
The survey compared six environmental concerns: drinking water pollution; pollution in rivers, lakes and reservoirs; tropical rainforest loss; climate change; air pollution; and plant and animal species extinction. While most Americans showed concern for all of these threats, the majority were most worried about polluted drinking water (56 percent), followed by polluted rivers, lakes and reservoirs (53 percent), Gallup reported.
"When it comes to environmental problems, Americans remain most concerned about two that have immediate and personal potential effects," Gallup noted. "For the past 20 years, worries about water pollution – both drinking water and bodies of water — have ranked at the top of the list. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, laid bare the dangers of contaminated drinking water and no doubt sticks in the public's minds."
According to a new study, 61.4 million people in the U.S. did not drink their tap water as of 2018, Asher Rosinger, an assistant professor of biobehavioral health, anthropology and demography at Penn State, wrote in The Conversation.
"It's important not to blame people for distrusting what comes out of their tap, because those fears are rooted in history," Rosinger explained.
Meanwhile, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency surveys found that almost 50 percent of rivers and streams and more than one-third of lakes are polluted and unfit for swimming, fishing and drinking, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported. Without action, concerns over water quality will become increasingly relevant as the demand for fresh water is expected to be one-third greater by 2050 than it is today.
Gallup researchers have tracked environmental concerns among Americans since 2000, and water quality worries have consistently ranked high, Gallup noted.
The survey also revealed an environmental partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans. For example, 68 percent of Democrats were highly concerned about global warming compared to 14 percent of Republicans.
Another recent Gallup survey found that 82 percent of Democrats believed that global warming effects had already started compared to 29 percent of Republicans. "That's a gap of 53 points; for comparison, in 2001, the gap was a mere 13 points," Grist reported.
Similarly, a 2020 Pew Research Center report revealed the widest partisan gap to date concerning whether or not climate change should be a top policy priority. Protecting air and water quality ranked as the second most divisive issue among Republicans and Democrats, The New York Times reported.
"Intense partisan polarization over these two issues in particular" has been growing for decades, Riley Dunlap, a professor emeritus at Oklahoma State University, told The New York Times last February. "Voters take cues on their policy preferences and overall positions," he added. "President Trump has, in the past, called climate change a hoax and all that. You get a similar message from many members of Congress on the Republican side. And most importantly, it's the message you get from the conservative media."
Gallup's latest figures also showed that concern about environmental threats either increased or remained the same between 2019 and 2020.
"The fluctuations in worry levels since 2019 are largely driven by Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, who became more worried, on average, about the six environmental problems in 2020 during the presidential campaign and are now less worried with Joe Biden as president," Gallup reported.
While surveys like these are "not a full-blown diagnostic rundown of the nation's psyche," they are informative tools for understanding how and what Americans are feeling and thinking, Grist reported.
Climate Change Threatens Coffee – But We’ve Found a Wild Species That Could Help Save Your Morning Brew
By Aaron P Davis
The world loves coffee. More precisely, it loves arabica coffee. From the smell of its freshly ground beans through to the very last sip, arabica is a sensory delight.
Robusta, the other mainstream coffee crop species, is almost as widely traded as arabica, but it falls short on flavor. Robusta is mainly used for instant coffee and blends, while arabica is the preserve of discerning baristas and expensive espressos.
Consumers may be happy, but climate change is making coffee farmers bitter. Diseases and pests are becoming more common and severe as temperatures rise. The fungal infection known as coffee leaf rust has devastated plantations in Central and South America. And while robusta crops tend to be more resistant, they need plenty of rain – a tall order as droughts proliferate.
The future for coffee farming looks difficult, if not bleak. But one of the more promising solutions involves developing new, more resilient coffee crops. Not only will these new coffees have to tolerate higher temperatures and less predictable rainfall, they'll also have to continue satisfying consumer expectations for taste and smell.
Finding this perfect combination of traits in a new species seemed remote. But in newly published research, my colleagues and I have revealed a little-known wild coffee species that could be the best candidate yet.
Coffee Farming in a Warming World
Coffea stenophylla was first described as a new species from Sierra Leone in 1834. It was farmed across the wetter parts of upper west Africa until the early 20th century, when it was replaced by the newly discovered and more productive robusta, and largely forgotten by the coffee industry. It continued to grow wild in the humid forests of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, where it became threatened by deforestation.
At the end of 2018, we found stenophylla in Sierra Leone after searching for several years, but failed to find any trees in fruit until mid-2020, when a 10g sample was recovered for tasting.
Field botanists of the 19th century had long proclaimed the superior taste of stenophylla coffee, and also recorded its resistance to coffee leaf rust and drought. Those early tasters were often inexperienced though, and our expectations were low before the first tasting in the summer of 2020. That all changed once I'd sampled the first cup on a panel with five other coffee experts. Those first sips were revelatory: it was like expecting vinegar and getting champagne.
This initial tasting in London was followed by a thorough evaluation of the coffee's flavour in southern France, led by my research colleague Delpine Mieulet. Mieulet assembled 18 coffee connoisseurs for a blind taste test and they reported a complex profile for stenophylla coffee, with natural sweetness, medium-high acidity, fruitiness, and good body, as one would expect from high-quality arabica.
C. stenophylla growing in the wild, Ivory Coast. E. Couturon / IRD, Author provided
In fact, the coffee seemed very similar to arabica. At the London tasting, the Sierra Leone sample was compared to arabica from Rwanda. In the blind French tasting, most of the judges (81%) said stenophylla tasted like arabica, compared to 98% and 44% for the two arabica control samples, and 7% for a robusta sample.
The coffee tasting experts picked up on notes of peach, blackcurrant, mandarin, honey, light black tea, jasmine, chocolate, caramel and elderflower syrup. In essence, stenophylla coffee is delicious. And despite scoring highly for its similarity to arabica, the stenophylla coffee sample was identified as something entirely unique by 47% of the judges. That means there may be a new market niche for this rediscovered coffee to fill.
The taste testers approved of stenophylla's sweet and fruity flavour. CIRAD, Author provided
Breaking New Grounds
Until now, no other wild coffee species has come close to arabica for its superior taste. Scientifically, the results are compelling because we would simply not expect stenophylla to taste like arabica. These two species are not closely related, they originated on opposite sides of the African continent and the climates in which they grow are very different. They also look nothing alike: stenophylla has black fruit and more complex flowers while arabica cherries are red.
It was always assumed that high-quality coffee was the preserve of arabica – originally from the forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan – and particularly when grown at elevations above 1,500 metres, where the climate is cooler and the light is better.
Stenophylla coffee breaks these rules. Endemic to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, stenophylla grows in hot conditions at low elevations. Specifically it grows at a mean annual temperature of 24.9°C – 1.9°C higher than robusta, and up to 6.8°C higher than arabica. Stenophylla also appears more tolerant of droughts, potentially capable of growing with less rainfall than arabica.
Robusta coffee can grow in similar conditions to stenophylla, but the price paid to farmers is roughly half that of arabica. Stenophylla coffee makes it possible to grow a superior tasting coffee in much warmer climates. And while stenophylla trees tend to produce less fruit than arabica, they still yield enough to be commercially viable.
The stenophylla harvest on Reunion Island. IRD / CIRAD, Author provided
To breed the coffee crop plants of the future, we need species with great flavour and high heat tolerance. Crossbreeding stenophylla with arabica or robusta could make both more resilient to climate change, and even improve their taste, particularly in the latter.
With stenophylla's rediscovery, the future of coffee just got a little brighter.
Aaron P Davis: Senior Research Leader, Plant Resources, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Disclosure statement: Aaron P Davis receives funding from Darwin Initiative (UK).
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
On Thursday, April 22, the world will celebrate Earth Day, the largest non-religious holiday on the globe.
This Earth Day falls at a critical turning point. It is the second Earth Day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and follows a year of devastating climate disasters, such as the wildfires that scorched California and the hurricanes that battered Central America. But the day's organizers still have hope, and they have chosen a theme to match.
"At the heart of Earth Day's 2021 theme, Restore Our Earth, is optimism, a critically needed sentiment in a world ravaged by both climate change and the pandemic," EarthDay.org president Kathleen Rogers told USA TODAY.
Last Earth Day marked the first time that the holiday was celebrated digitally to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This will largely be the case this year as well.
"Most of our Earth Day events will be virtual with the exception of individual and small group cleanups through our 'Great Global Cleanup' program," EarthDay.org's Olivia Altman told USA TODAY.
Tuesday, April 20: A Global Youth Summit begins at 2:30 p.m. ET featuring young climate activists like Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Villaseñor. This will be followed at 7 p.m. ET by "We Shall Breathe," a virtual summit organized by the Hip Hop Caucus to look at issues like the climate crisis, pollution and the pandemic through an environmental justice lens.
Wednesday, April 22: Beginning at 7 a.m. ET, Education International will lead the "Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit." Talks will be offered in multiple languages and across multiple time zones to emphasize the importance of education in fighting the climate crisis.
Thursday, April 22: On the day itself, EarthDay.org will host its second ever Earth Day Live digital event beginning at 12 p.m. ET. This event will feature discussions, performances and workshops focusing on the day's theme of restoring our Earth through natural solutions, technological innovations and new ideas.
"EARTHDAY.ORG looks forward to contributing to the success of this historic climate summit and making active progress to Restore Our Earth," Rogers said in a press release. "We must see every country rapidly raise their ambition across all climate issues — and that must include climate education which would lead to a green jobs-ready workforce, a green consumer movement, and an educated and civically engaged citizenry around the world."
EarthDay.org grew out of the first Earth Day in 1970, which drew 20 million U.S. residents to call for greater environmental protections. The movement has been credited with helping to establish the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to pass landmark environmental legislation like the Clean Air and Water Acts. It has since gone on to be a banner day for environmental action, such as the signing of the Paris agreement in 2016. More than one billion people in more than 192 countries celebrate Earth Day each year.
This legacy continues. The organization called the scheduling of Biden's summit a "clear acknowledgement of the power of Earth Day."
"This is a critical stepping stone for the U.S. to rejoin the world in combating the climate crisis. In concert with several planned parallel EARTHDAY.ORG events worldwide, Earth Day 2021 will accelerate global action on climate change," EarthDay.org wrote.
Super-emitters are individual sources such as leaking pipelines, landfills or dairy farms that produce a disproportionate amount of planet-warming emissions, especially methane and carbon dioxide. Carbon Mapper, the non-profit leading the effort, hopes to provide a more targeted guide to reducing emissions by launching special satellites that hunt for sources of climate pollution.
"What we've learned is that decision support systems that focus just at the level of nation states, or countries, are necessary but not sufficient. We really need to get down to the scale of individual facilities, and even individual pieces of equipment, if we're going to have an impact across civil society," Riley Duren, Carbon Mapper CEO and University of Arizona researcher, told BBC News. "Super-emitters are often intermittent but they are also disproportionately responsible for the total emissions. That suggests low-hanging fruit, because if you can identify and fix them you can get a big bang for your buck."
The new project, announced Thursday, is a partnership between multiple entities, including Carbon Mapper, the state of California, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Planet, a company that designs, builds and launches satellites, according to a press release. The project is being implemented in three stages.
The initial stage, which is already complete, involved the initial engineering development. NASA and Planet will work together in the second stage to build two satellites for a 2023 launch. The third phase will launch an entire constellation of satellites starting in 2025.
The satellites will include an imaging spectrometer built by NASA's JPL, NASA explained in a press release. This is a device that can break down visible light into hundreds of colors, providing a unique signature for chemicals such as methane and carbon dioxide. Most imaging spectrometers currently in orbit have larger pixel sizes, making it difficult to locate emission sources that are not always visible from the ground. However, Carbon Mapper spectrometers will have pixels of around 98 square feet, facilitating more detailed pin-pointing.
"This technology enables researchers to identify, study and quantify the strong gas emission sources," JPL Scientist Charles Miller said in the press release.
Once the data is collected, Carbon Mapper will make it available to industry and government actors via an open data portal to help repair leaks.
"These home-grown satellites are a game-changer," California Governor Gavin Newsom said of the project. "They provide California with a powerful, state-of-the-art tool to help us slash emissions of the super-pollutant methane — within our own borders and around the world. That's exactly the kind of dynamic, forward-thinking solution we need now to address the existential crisis of climate change."