But Is Adrenal Fatigue A Real Disease
The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys and produce several hormones, among them, cortisol. When under stress, we produce and release short bursts of cortisol into the bloodstream. The adrenal fatigue theory suggests that prolonged exposure to stress could drain the adrenals leading to a low cortisol state. The adrenal depletion would cause brain fog, low energy, depressive mood, salt and sweet cravings, lightheadedness, and other vague symptoms.
Numerous websites mention how to diagnose and treat adrenal fatigue. However, the Endocrinology Society and all the other medical specialties do not recognize this condition. The Endocrinologists are categorical: “no scientific proof exists to support adrenal fatigue as a true medical condition.” This disconnect between conventional and complementary medicine adds to the frustration.
How To Reverse Adrenal Fatigue
If you constantly feel tired with sleep disturbances, digestive problems, body aches, and nervousness, you could be suffering adrenal fatigue.
But dont confuse it with adrenal insufficiency, a medical condition referring to inadequate production of one or more hormones from the adrenal gland. This can be a result of medical or surgical problems.
Adrenal fatigue is considered a milder form of adrenal insufficiency but without the underlying conditions. Adrenal fatigue has often been linked to chronic stress and burnout.
Learn more about adrenal fatigue and how to reverse it for health and wellbeing.
Strategies To Heal Adrenal Fatigue
The adrenal glands help the body to adapt to stress and reproduce through the unique compounds they produce and secrete. Over 50 essential hormones are produced within the adrenal glands. These hormones are critical to health and vitality. When we are overstressed, the adrenals pump out stress hormones until they fatigue and crash, which can be devastating to the body.
Although the adrenals are no bigger than the size of a walnut, they have an incredibly important role in the human life cycle. Some of the many different hormones created by the adrenals include steroid hormones such as adrenalin, norepinephrine, cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen and testosterone .
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Address The Root Causes Of Your Fatigue
Overcoming your fatigue is about addressing the true underlying causes. You may need some help figuring out what these are. Once you know where your fatigue is coming from, focusing on your digestion, your thyroid health, your iron levels, your diet, or your unique stressors can have you feeling energetic again in no time.
What To Do If You Have Symptoms
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue can replicate other health issues, and your first step toward recovery from adrenal fatigue should be to seek the help of a medical professional. For example, these symptoms can also be found in those suffering from medical conditions like anemia, sleep apnea, autoimmune diseases, and mental health conditions. A functional medicine doctor can listen to your symptoms and run diagnostics to confirm whether you have adrenal fatigue or another condition.
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Get Vitamin D Levels Into A Healthy Range
Spending more time outside in the sun also helps boost levels of vitamin D, because your body manufactures this important vitamin/hormone when it senses the sun on your skin. Vitamin D is responsible for regulating over 200 genetic pathways, so make sure your levels are high enough. I recommend an optimal range of around 60 to 80 ng/ml. Ask your doctor about a simple blood test to help you keep track.
Recovering From Adrenal Fatigue: How We Can Help
Adrenal fatigue. Is it real or imagined? Go ahead and google adrenal fatigue and youll find a plethora of articles from trusted sources that tell you it simply is not a real thing. Theres no scientific evidence.
But what most medical science does agree on, is something called Adrenal Insufficiency. Adrenal Insufficiency is a recognized condition where your adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones for proper body balance. Adrenal Fatigue is simply a precursor to the more serious condition of Adrenal Insufficiency. So whether you want to wait to put a label on it until it is completely debilitating and shows up clearly in tests is irrelevant to us. But what is important is finding out whats actually going on in your body and how we can treat it.
Below we outline steps for recovery from adrenal fatigue.
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Q: Why Is An Accurate Diagnosis So Important
A: Unfortunately, adrenal fatigue doesnt truly explain whats going on in your body, which can lead to misdiagnosis, mistreatment and unpleasant side effects. Even more concerning: A diagnosis of adrenal fatigue can potentially mask something else going on in your body something that should be further explored with your care team.
Sometimes, patients who have been misdiagnosed with adrenal fatigue are prescribed prednisone or advised to purchase expensive adrenal supplements to replace the cortisol that is presumed to be missing. But patients experience no benefits from taking these medications and in fact, taking prednisone can result in negative side effects and could ultimately even suppress your bodys own ability to produce cortisol.
Often, it turns out that patients misdiagnosed with adrenal fatigue actually have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome , a surprisingly common condition. Patients may also have various underlying illnesses, making a thorough workup with your primary care team a vital part of your care plan.
Its very important that doctors spend enough time gathering your history details and performing tests before diagnosing the problem and beginning treatment. Sometimes, we can start to help a patient immediately by making modifications to their diet, prescribing an exercise regimen and/or recommending specific supplements.
Chinese Medicine And Adrenal Fatigue From A Western Medicine Perspective
Aside from balancing yin and yang, Chinese medicine has a scientific basis that supports those with adrenal fatigue. Heres how Western medical research views the benefits of Chinese medicine for adrenal health:
- Chinese medicine reduces stress and cortisol levels.Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands secrete too much cortisol in response to daily stressors. Studies show that Chinese medicine calms the nervous system to ease reactivity, reduce the frequency of adrenal cortisol release, and reduce overall stress.
- Chinese medicine regulates the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. According to research, several different Chinese herbal compounds were found to regulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal gland axis, thereby changing stress behaviors that correspond to adrenal fatigue.
- Chinese medicine relieves the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Studies show that adrenal fatigue symptoms like high blood pressure, insomnia, weight gain, brain fog, and anxiety can all be alleviated with the help of Chinese medicine.
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Causes Signs Symptoms Treatments And Controversy
With James L. Wilson, PhD
Excess stress causes the adrenal glands to increase cortisol production.
If you’re feeling tired and fried, chances are you’ve probably heard of adrenal fatigue and wondered if it may be the source of your constant exhaustion. But what exactly is it, and how do you know if it’s what’s causing your lack of oomph? Let’s investigate.
Adrenal fatigue is an increasingly common yet sometimes controversial diagnosis used to indicate depletion of the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenals for use in the regulation of blood pressure. In response to stress, the adrenals release greater amounts of cortisol. Adrenal fatigue is thought to occur when the adrenals have become overtaxed by excess cortisol release and can no longer produce levels of cortisol necessary for optimal body function.
James L. Wilson, PhD, who coined the term adrenal fatigue in his book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome, describes the adrenals as two little glands that sit over your kidneys and are about the size of two large grapes and weigh about five-to-eight grams.
According to Wilson, The adrenals put out over fifty hormones. We often only hear about DHA and cortisol, but forty percent of womens estrogen or progesterone are made in the adrenal glands and about forty percent of testosterone in males is made in the adrenal glands.
The Importance In Addressing Hormone Health
When your adrenal glands are acting up, your overall health is going to be affected. If your routine has become difficult due to exhaustion or lack of focus, you may want to start by getting tested for adrenal fatigue. A healthcare provider can determine adrenal insufficiency with a simple saliva test, and from there you, can get more guidance on how to treat your unique situation head-on.
Your hormones affect your mental, physical, and emotional healthencompassing all areas of your holistic well-being. The process of promoting hormone balance can be difficult, but ultimately, it starts with lifestyle and nutrition choices. IIN covers all of this and more in our Hormone Health course, designed to teach Health Coaches how to best develop an individualized plan that supports their clients body and its synchronicity.
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Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
If youre feeling tired all the time, its completely normal to reach for the occasional cup of coffee or energy drink to keep your productivity up.
But caffeinated drinks might do more harm than good when it comes to your adrenal glands health.
When you drink coffee, your adrenal glands become overstimulated and they produce more cortisol. As a result, you feel more energetic and awake.
But once the effect wears off, your cortisol levels drop drastically. Your adrenal glands become more fatigued than they were in the first place.
To avoid such rapid highs and lows in your cortisol levels, try to gradually reduce your caffeine intake and avoid caffeinated drinks after 2 PM.
This way, your body can flush out all the caffeine by nighttime and you can fall asleep more easily at night.
Cravings For Salty Foods
A part of the adrenal glands named the cortex is responsible for producing aldosterone, a mineralocorticoid which works with the kidney to regulate our fluid and mineral excretion. When the adrenals become fatigued, we produce less aldosterone and tend to excrete large amounts of important minerals in our urine. Individuals with depleted endocrine systems often report frequent urination, which is often attributed to age but may actually be caused by depleted adrenals.
This means that Adrenal Fatigue sufferers effectively lose the ability to balance the levels of minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium in their blood. In turn, this leads to cravings for foods which will replace the sodium that we have lost. If you find yourself suddenly craving salty snacks, you could be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue.
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What Is The Treatment For Adrenal Fatigue
The treatment for adrenal fatigue is essentially lifestyle advice, including sleep, diet and exercise. Talk with your doctor to discuss how you are feeling so that your doctor can arrange tests if needed and also provide you with advice and support.
It is very important to reduce stress and improve relaxation. See also the separate leaflets called Acute Stress Reaction and Stress Management and also the leaflet called Relaxation exercises.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Avoid junk foods and processed foods. Also avoid or reduce coffee and any other stimulant drinks and reduce your intake of sugary drinks and foods. See also the separate leaflet called Healthy Eating.
Regular exercise is also important. See the separate leaflet called Exercise and Physical Activity.
It is very important to have enough sleep and to stick to a consistent sleep routine. For more information see the separate leaflet called Insomnia and the leaflet called Sleep diary.
There is no evidence that supplements are of any value, and some supplements may be harmful.
Avoid Caffeine Which Pushes Your Body Beyond Its Limits
If you are feeling tired in the morning and If you use coffee or diet soda to feel good, you are likely to feel bad about two hours later. This is when the caffeine crash happens. If you eat a high sugar or starch breakfast, you will also feel an energy crash about two hours later. This is because your blood sugar plummets.
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The Best Supplements For Adrenal Fatigue
In an ideal world, wed get all the nutrients we need to restore adrenal health from a well-balanced diet. However, adaptogenic herbs arent typically part of everyday foods, and no matter how well we eat, a stressful day can really burn through all our nutrient stockpiles. The best supplements for adrenal fatigue are those formulated to address fatigue and stress symptoms by delivering key nutrients in therapeutic amounts.
Adaptisol is formulated with the adaptogenic herbs astragulus, eleuthero, cordyceps and rhodioloa to address symptoms of adrenal fatigue and restore energy levels. Adaptisol aids the bodys natural ability to adapt to stress, enhances mental clarity, and supports healthy immune function.
Adaptogens help to protect the body from the effects of excess cortisol and prevent cortisol overproduction in the first place. Adaptisol is designed for women whose symptoms cluster around the tired” end of the adrenal spectrum, including extreme fatigue, brain fog, lack of focus, mood changes and weight gain.
Serinisol is formulated with minerals and natural adaptogenic compounds to restore your calm and ease sleep disruptions. When stress is ongoing, cortisol does not return to normal levels as intended and instead can stay high for long periods. This will affect your body negatively, leading to symptoms like anxiety, sleeplessness and impaired memory.
Get Serious About Meditation
Meditation of any kind is one of the most powerful ways to deal with stress, and it can go a long way toward normalizing your cortisol levels and treating adrenal fatigue.
If you want to take your meditation to the next level, I suggest 40 Years Of Zen. It uses advanced neurofeedback technology to give you the brain of a lifelong Zen monk in five days. You can also check out this Biohackers Guide To Meditation for other ways to improve your meditation and find more inner calm. If youre new to meditation, start slow, with just 5 minutes a day, and work your way up.
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The Myth Of Adrenal Fatigue
When patients present claiming that stress has worn out their adrenal glands, it can be easy to discount their belief in adrenal fatigue but they often have real symptoms that require treatment.
If more proof is needed that the Internet provides a wealth of information and misinformation, endocrinologists need to look no further than the increasing number of patients who claim a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue.
Although current medical science recognizes no such condition, physicians need to take the complaints and symptoms of these patients seriously, according to Endocrine Society President Lynnette Nieman, MD, who is a senior investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Our role is to be good active listeners to determine if there is a true medical disorder lurking among the complaints. It is very important to take the person seriously, not to brush them off and say there is no adrenal fatigue. These people are suffering from something, so we need to take the suffering seriously.
The patient may have already been to see a naturopath who promotes the condition, so may be taking supplements of unknown formulations to treat it.
Here Are 20 Steps To Heal Adrenal Fatigue:
1. As soon as you wake up, drink a glass of water along with 1/4 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt. Then, throughout the day, have a pinch of sea salt with each glass of water and also use it to season your food. Daily total consumption of about 2 teaspoons of Celtic sea salt is a good place to start. The 80+ minerals in the salt will help nourish the adrenals and endocrine system.
2. Eat breakfast within one hour of waking. If you wait any longer than this, it can cause your blood sugar levels to decrease too much and your adrenals can start producing excess cortisol.
3. Eat regular meals throughout the day and include some protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat in each meal. I know this is a simple step, but skipping meals can put a strain on the adrenals.
4. Remove all processed foods from your diet. Processed foods are a stressor on the body, and the goal is to remove stressors as much as possible to help support the adrenals.
5. Only do low-impact exercise like walking, pilates, gentle yoga or stretching. High impact exercise puts strain on the adrenals, especially when the adrenals are already fatigued. If youre having trouble losing weight, I know this can seem counter-productive, but Ive seen clients lose weight by resting and following the steps Im listing here.
8. Spend more time outdoors. Getting fresh air and being in nature helps reduce the stress response in the body.
13. Consider taking B Vitamins I recommend Cataplex B from Standard Process.
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What Do You Eat
While a lower carb diet is fabulous to reduce inflammation and many symptoms of thyroid disease, eating this way for too long can put stress on the adrenals and cause hormonal imbalance. So its important to get good, healthy carbs into your diet each day such as: potatoes , root vegetables, peas, properly prepared legumes or gluten-free grains , apples, pears, berries, and beets.
I like Dr. Christiansons idea of eating one golfball-size portion of carbs at breakfast, two golfball-size portions of carbs at lunch, and three golfball-size portions of carbs at dinner. Using this method, dinner should be the largest meal of the day. And most importantly, dont stress about your food. Do the best you can, and let the rest go.
Inability To Handle Stress
Do you find that the slightest amount of stress leaves you feeling overwhelmed? Adrenal Fatigue sufferers often have a difficult time dealing with physical or emotional stress. This is for exactly the same reasons that are behind that unrelenting feeling of tiredness. It all comes back to the low hormone levels associated with late-stage adrenal exhaustion.
When we encounter stress we depend on our adrenals to release hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These hormones regulate our stress response and allow us to increase our strength, focus, and awareness when we need it. However, when the adrenals are fatigued they struggle to release the necessary amount of these hormones. Patients with Adrenal Fatigue often report a lack of enthusiasm, feelings of apathy or disinterest, irritability and anxiety.
There are many strategies that you can follow to improve your ability to handle stress. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, light exercise, and the use of essential oils can all help.
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