Adrenal fatigue…. Sick often, tired all the time, afternoon slumps, stressed out?
What are adrenals?
The adrenals are 2 small glands that secrete many various hormones, which include; adrenaline, cortisol, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA’s to name a few. They are responsible for energy production, fat storage, stress management and fluid and electrolyte balance.
One of the major hormones; cortisol is responsible for regulating blood sugar and blood pressure and immune function. Our adrenals begin to lose efficiency when people face prolonged stress over a period of time or stressors of a very significant and intense nature. There are 3 stages of adrenal insufficiency which include the: alarm phase, resistance phase and the exhaustion phase.
Signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency may include but are not limited to:
• Afternoon slumps
• Sleep troubles
• Cravings for foods high in salt and fat
• Increased susceptibility to illness and infection
• Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
• Mild depression
• Lack of energy
• Easily stressed
• Muscular weakness
• Increased allergies
• Light headedness when getting up from a sitting or laying down position
• Decreased sex drive
• Frequent sighing
• Inability to handle foods high in potassium or carbohydrates unless they’re combined with fats and protein
• Increased urination frequency throughout the night
Although adrenal insufficiency is one condition, it can certainly increase the risk of and severity of other medical conditions, such as; Addison’s disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression to name just a few. Adrenal disorders are also always worsened by poor diet and or nutritional deficiencies.
What can I do about it?
• Address negative coping mechanisms such as- recreational drugs, alcohol, caffeine, stimulants, occupation.
• Exercise- moderate intensity.
• Sleep hygiene practices
• Epsom salt baths
• Limit caffeine
• Avoid refined carbohydrates
• Limit alcohol
• Eat a whole food diet
• Eat regularly (small meals)
• B vitamins- great for supporting energy production and supporting a healthy stress response
• Vitamin C- for efficient immune function and stress reduction
• Antioxidants- help reduce oxidative stress and support the energy production cycle
• Magnesium- Helps support healthy nervous system function
Some great herbs that have; nervine trophorestorative, sedative, adaptogenic, adrenal restorative and or tonic actions are useful in the management of adrenal insufficiency.
• Siberian ginseng
• Rhodiola rosea
• Rehmania glutinosa
• Withania somnifera
(Disclaimer; do not take any herbal medicines without recommendation from a health care professional who has knowledge of any supplements and medications you may be taking, as well as your medical history. Nutritional supplements and herbal medicines may have contraindications or cautions that need to be considered. The condition may include other signs and symptoms as well as lead to other medical conditions which are not listed above).
Adrenal fatigue management can take anywhere from 6-24 months treatment to fully restore function and to feel 100% better.
Hechtman, L (2014) Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, Chatswood, NSW, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier