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Addressing Adrenal Fatigue

Hormones often go haywire. And that’s for women and men. For ladies, the hormonal cycle means this is something we are typically a little more aware of, but men can have hormonal imbalance too!

The adrenal glands sit above the kidneys, some people can feel discomfort in this area when under stress.  They produce lots of different hormones, and that’s why adrenal fatigue is a very common modern imbalance.

You might firstly think of adrenaline when we talk of the adrenals, but they also control cortisol, testerorone, estrogen, DHEA, aldosterone and more.

The word hormone means “urging on” and that's what they do - keep you fired up and ready.  There are many hormones in the body, over 30 in fact.

 

Some of The Key Hormones

  • Testosterone, estrogen and progesterone are the most well known because of their role in the menstrual cycle and as sex hormones, so they are hot topics of conversation.
  • Insulin was the first hormone identified.  It's produced by the pancreas, and regulates glucose, produces digestive enzymes, and well known because of its role in diabetes.
  • Adrenaline prepares us for fight or flight and is also a nerve transmitter.
  • Cortisol (which can be triggered in excess by stress), plays a role in fighting infection, weight control and supports neuron function.
  • Melatonin is a hormone that triggers sleep; it acts as an antioxidant, and helps your body deal with stress.
  • Thyroxine is the hormone of the thyroid gland, it keeps your metabolism working and supports energy function.
  • Serotonin is the happy hormone!  Levels are low in those that suffer from depression.  It balances your mood and helps your memory.  It needs tryptophan in the diet, and insulin to release it.
  • Leptin tells your body when you've had enough to eat. Those with weight issues often have leptin resistance – this is closely related to insulin issues, which can lead to diabetes. In fact, leptin should probably be addressed before insulin for diabetics!
  • Aldosterone regulates electrolytes and fluid, and has an important role for blood pressure. How interesting that dietary advice on salt, and the types of salt we eat is all wrong and there’s a hormone issue at play here.

 

Why Does Adrenal Fatigue Happen?

Not all hormones are produced by the adrenals, but there are complex, interdependant relationships between them, and dysfunction can easily occur. 

Here’s some examples; lets say you are overworked and stressed and add in an estrogen or testosterone imbalance, then all of a sudden, health issues can occur.   Or bereavement causes elevated cortisol and adrenaline, and combined with anxiety, puts the body under intense pressure.  Or perhaps serotonin levels are low because of a health issue such as chronic fatigue, then on (flawed) dietary advice, salt intake is drastically lowered causing aldosterone issues.  Or a long term night worker with major melatonin issues experiences a sudden stressful life event.  The examples are endless in the modern demanding lifestyle.  

We should also mention that a high sugar, processed food diet places massive pressure on the adrenals over time, and this too is part of this modern epidemic for those who don't eat well.   Additionally, chronic / long standing infections can be responsible for adrenal fatigue. 

 

What Does Adrenal Fatigue Look Like?

Mild adrenal fatigue may simply cause lethargy, but this is something to be addressed.  If you can’t get going in the morning without lots of tea or coffee, then you may need to make some changes.   In the long term, if undue pressure is placed on the body in general, and the adrenals specifically, then full blown adrenal fatigue can be a serious issue, and recovery may take many months.   For some people, reaching this point may in fact be a positive turning point in life; the classic “burn out” sometimes means that life needs to change, and it is time to start honouring your body.

Adrenal fatigue symptoms can have other causes, and it is essential to consult with your GP if you have any health condition that is ongoing and / or serious.  Adrenal function however is a tricky area as many GPs will not entertain this as an issue, unless at the stage of for example Cushings or Addisons Disease. Typically they will offer no testing /support if there is a lower (but important) level of dysfunction.  Very helpfully, the Department of Health have been quoted as saying "we aware of the existence of the term and are watching developments in the field'.

Thankfully there are some forward thinking doctors around the World who have clearly shown that this IS an issue that needs addressing, and have developed extremely effective protocols.

There are other options these days of testing kits, basic crude tests you can do yourself, and some complementary practitioners do offer tests, have a look around on Google for these if you wish to explore this.  Certainly for some, working with a naturopath or similar may be very helpful.

 

Typical Signs of Adrenal Fatigue

Not all of these will necessarily be present, and some are only seen in severe cases. If numerous examples of these are occurring, and the GP has signed off on all tests to say there are no “serious” medical issues, then adrenal fatigue could well be at play.  But these are issues that are not simply psychological, they are very real, and potentially very debilitating.

  • Excessive fatigue / exhaustion
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Salt cravings
  • Over tired in the morning with more energy in the evening
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration and / or memory
  • Emotional "hopelessness"
  • Poor circulation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low sex drive
  • Over sensitive to bright sunlight and / or cold
  • Hollow cheeks
  • Muscle weakness
  • Patches of hair missing on arms, legs or pubic area

 

How to Resolve Adrenal Fatigue

Individual causes will of course vary, and it will be important for you to assess these if you are to move forward, however...

First things first – get to bed!  This is absolutely key, you must must must rest. If your adrenals are fatigued, and you don’t take this step, you will never heal.  10.30pm should be the latest, if you can be in bed before 10 even better.  You will need to do this consistently, likely for several weeks. 

De-Stress and relax – sometimes easier said than done, but addressing your lifestyle issues is paramount for good quality of life, let alone adrenal fatigue.  If you feel your adrenals are suffering, then you simply must do whatever it takes to look after yourself.  You will find some helpful ideas in this article – Natural Ways to Ease Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Natural lighting- try to keep your lighting natural in the evenings, so candles ideally.  If this does not suit, then at the very least keep lighting low and relaxing, this simple process can really help when it comes to exhaustion and fatigue.  Interestingly, it can also help leptin resistance, so is also recommended if slimming.  For daytimes, try daylight spectrum bulbs in the home and office if you can.

Exercise - carefully - in severe / long standing cases, exercise will NOT help; if you push your body too hard through this, you may slow your recovery down.  Extensive over-exercising can in fact be a contributory cause.  But, exercise is healing, so work gently with your body when it is ready.  We feel Yoga and Tai Chi are as good as it gets when it comes to healing exercise and both can be gentle. If you find a local class or teacher, they will be able to help you with some specific positions and movement that will help the adrenals.  Walking in the countryside or by the sea is wonderful for mind, body and soul and can really help you to relax.  

Rebounding can be highly beneficial.  Because it flushes the lymphatic system and has a positive impact on the entire hormonal system, many practitioners recommend this. But this can be quite energising, so just a little at a time would be important for those with long standing / severe adrenal fatigue. But it has many all round health benefits, is easy for all ages and great fun.

Reduce or ideally eliminate coffee.  If you love your coffee, then keep it to a maximum of one a day. Switch your other drinks to green, or herbal tea.

Eat Naturally – it is essential remove all processed foods from the diet, especially refined sugar and grains.  Keep food real, simple and fresh.  We send “Eat Naturally” guidelines free with all orders.   And below you will find more ideas when it comes to food.

 

Food, Diet and Adrenal Fatigue

Salt - please get some full spectrum salt into your system as a priority.  “Low salt” is nutritional dogma, and should be avoided by those with adrenal dysfunction especially, and other groups such as the elderly and pregnant, but in fact, by everyone!  We recommend half to a teaspoon of the simply wonderful Celtic Sea Salt in warm water daily, you can still also season your food.  This simple step will have many all round benefits, but if you have adrenal fatigue, it is vital. 

Breakfast– don’t skip this whatever you do.  And make sure it is within an hour of rising as a maximum, ideally half an hour.  And make it a protein based start to the day.  On this issue, you may find this article a good read We'll Have an Egg for Breakfast Please.

Don’t snack – this will not help matters, regular meals are better.  And try to have your evening meal before 6pm ideally allowing plenty of time before that early night you need.

Fruit – go carefully here, we eat far too much fruit generally these days, and the Government “5 a day” mantra has been a major cause of this.  The sugars, even though natural, are not good for those with adrenal fatigue, once or twice a week should probably be seen as a maximum.

Protein – pack this in to your diet, again fresh and natural.  Eggs and dairy are wonderfully healing.  For vegans, this can be tricky, there are some lovely pure hemp proteins available now, and of course nuts and seeds are ideal.  If using soya, please ensure it is traditional, fermented soya not the Westernised highly processed type.

Good fats – butter and Coconut Oil are incredibly healthy, and very healing for the adrenals, enjoy these freely.

Vegetables – remember these are carbohydrates, so go easy if weight / diabetes is an issue, and carbs themselves can stress the adrenals in some people (again, please avoid refined carbohydrates). But they are packed with good nutrition, and right now, that’s what your body needs.  So on balance, a moderate intake of vegetables will help the recovery process. In particular, try to included leafy green vegetables. 

 

Supplements and Adrenal Fatigue

We are extremely limited in what we can say here, however, the following may be useful. For most people, just one or two of these with the tips detailed above will help matters.

Zell Oxygen is an incredible natural B Complex, and if you have that “wired but tired” feeling, we would strongly recommend you add this.

Chlorella will provide foundation nutrition to ensure all bases are covered. When it comes to adrenal fatigue, the overall nutritional basis can often be compromised, and certain nutrients lacking. Even if eating organic, there has been a depletion in the vitamin and mineral content of our food because of demineralised soils, so if your health is poor, a broad spectrum supplement, in a totally natural form can make a world of difference.

Wild Yam has general hormonal benefits and is packed with nutrients, it will gently nourish the adrenals.  You can also grab these from your supermarket too for some lovely meals.

For some people, the adaptogen Peruvian Maca can play a useful role, especially for ladies with menopausal issues.

 

To Close

Finally, we urge you to look after yourself at all times, but especially if you are torn and frayed and a little worn out by life.  If you have made it to the bottom of this article, then perhaps you really do need to slow down a little and that’s often true whether or not adrenal fatigue is an issue!

Should you have any questions on this article, or indeed anything else, then as ever, please do contact us.

 

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