Friday, June 5, 2015

Adrenal Fatigue

When is tiredness more than just tiredness? When it goes on day after day for seemingly no reason and interferes with your everyday life. Sounds like depression, but for many it is something more than even that, it is adrenal fatigue.

What is adrenal fatigue? It is a syndrome characterized by a list of symptoms a mile long. Because it is such a long list many doctors don’t recognize it. It can be misdiagnosed as depression or stress, or thyroid problems, because the symptoms of these things overlap and contribute to the problem.

What to the adrenals do? Although the adrenal gland makes the stress hormone cortisol it makes other hormones that are critical to our everyday life. These include:
  • Mineralcorticoids. These regulate the balance of salt to water within the body and help to maintain blood pressure.
  • Glucocorticoids. These increase blood glucose levels by regulating the conversion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates into energy. They are also involved in regulating blood pressure, immune response and inflammation reactions.
  • Gonadocorticois: These are the sex hormones.
  • Epinephrine: This is the fight of flight hormone. It raises your heart rate and your blood sugar and rushes that blood to the muscles and the brain.
  • Norepinephrine: Works with epinephrine.
  • Plus many more
What causes adrenal fatigue? We all understand muscle fatigue. It is when you overwork or overstress a muscle. Even though the adrenal gland isn’t a muscle it can be overworked in much the same way.

What overworks the adrenal gland? The biggest cause is stress, but there are many types of stress that we don’t think about.
  • Traffic Jams
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Feeling out of control
  • Striving for good grades
  • Work pressures
  • Poor diet
  • Poor relationships
  • Losing a job
  • Losing a loved one
  • Losing a pet
  • Worrying
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Getting too much exercise
  • Stimulants such as coffee and sugar
  • Poor digestion
  • Dieting
  • Money problems
  • Tax time
  • Exciting television shows
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Over packed schedule
As you can see stressors can come from all directions. Unless we join a monastery and sit meditating all day there is no way to avoid dealing with stress. The key is to learn to handle stress well and to provide our bodies, and therefore our adrenals the nutrients they need. Part of providing good nutrition is to get rid of the poor nutrition choices. These include:
  • Processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Sugars (including excess natural sugars)
  • Gluten
Instead you will want to include plenty of vegetables, especially fermented ones. These will provide enzymes, probiotics and fiber. Other foods to look for are those that are strong in B Vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Omega 3’s. If you can’t get enough from your foods, or your digestion is off it is fine to reach for good quality supplements.

Herbs can also be extremely helpful in healing your body. The types you are looking for in order to heal your adrenals are called adaptogenic herbs, because they help your body adapt to stress. These include:
  • Astragalus
  • Ashwagandha
  • Licorice
  • Shisandra
  • Holy Basal
  • Ginseng
  • Rhodiola
  • Eleuthero
  • Cordyceps
Along with these come some lifestyle changes that will be helpful. They include:
  • Cutting back on your activities. Saying ‘no’ to things that aren’t critical.
  • Spend time in meditation or prayer
  • Get gentle activity every day.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Let go of stressors you can’t change. (Your attitude about being stuck in traffic)
  • Pamper yourself. A warm bath with Epsom salts can be very relaxing.
If we take care of our bodies they will take care of us. If doing these things for a month or two doesn’t help make an appointment with your doctor. There may be an additional problem that is preventing your body from healing. For most situations even those can be healed by following this protocol, but it is always better to be safe rather than sorry.


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