Adrenal fatigue is one of the most under-diagnosed illnesses I see in practice.
The main purpose of the adrenal glands is to enable our bodies to deal with stress- be it injury, trauma, infection, illness, allergies, life stress.
The main adrenal hormone is CORTISOL. Cortisol (and DHEA another adrenal hormone) influence and regulate:
1. Blood sugar levels, think low blood sugar, headaches, irritability
2. Metabolism, think abdominal fat, sugar and/or salt cravings, low thyroid function, decreased muscle mass
3. Inflammation, think pain and gut problems
4. Heart and blood vessel function, think high BP, palpitations
5. Nervous system, think brain fog, anxiety, depression, fatigue, low libido
6. Sleep, think insomnia
If the above aren't enough to make you feel like running (or dragging your feet more likely) to the hills, then I don't know what would. Patients that see me with Adrenal Fatigue are truly one of the sickest bunch of people I see in clinic. Thankfully, there's a lot Naturopathy can do...but it takes time. Allow 3-6 months for full resolution of symptoms, but you'll be feeling much better along the way.
So how do I go about getting these lovely glands back in working order? NUTRITION, HERBAL MEDICINES, and LIFESTYLE.
The food we eat (or don't eat but should) is critically important. There are foods and beverages that rob the adrenals of much needed nutrients. B vitamins (preferably activated form), Vit C (preferably mixed ascorbate form) Magnesium (not oxide form), if depleted, prevent our bodies from sleeping well, our immune system from fighting, our brain from thinking clearly, and stuff up our metabolism, which prevents us losing weight when we need to. Don't get caught up in organic Vs non-organic or what colour vegetables to eat, just ensure you eat 7 or so servings per day. That might mean a big salad for lunch and soup with dinner, or a vegetable juice and steamed veggies or a salad wrap and stirfry. Avoid caffeine and alcohol during your adrenal program and ensure 6-8 hours sleep from no later than 10pm. As sleep is often poor in adrenally fatigued people, your Naturopath may need to address this as a priority in the treatment plan.
There are herbal ADAPTOGENS that restore and nourish the adrenal glands back to good health as well as help reduce anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. Your Naturopath or Herbalist can formulate a herbal mixture specific to your needs. And the quality of herbs we use in the dispensary is of the highest grade, and therefore more effective.
And importantly, many of us need to learn positive stress coping strategies to get us through ...regular exercise, realistic time management, counselling, yoga, meditation and massage...choose your life enhancer, probably not all but at least two. Don't wait for anyone to hand these to you on a platter, don't wait for the right time, don't wait till you're so ill, you can't make good health decisions...give yourself the SELF-CARE you need to recover and function well and enjoy the life you've been blessed with. In time as you feel more motivated, more energetic, more well, the LIFESTYLE and FOOD strategies will take care of your big picture long term wellness, and any Herbal Medicines or supplements will play a more supportive role.
If you think you may be experiencing many of the above health problems, take the Adrenal Quiz now