Fight Or Flight: The Limbic System In Overdrive
The limbic systems job is to assess your environment consistently, both internally and externally. It first receives informationor stimulithrough the blood supply or sensory nerves and perception. It then filters that stimulus through your past experiences and belief systems. Then it determines whether the environment is safe or if there is a possible threat
When the limbic system perceives a threat, it tells the adrenals, via the HPA Axis and the ANS, to get busy flooding our body with stress hormones. These stress hormones are adrenaline and cortisol, and they help our bodies mobilize and kick in our fight-or-flight response.
The adrenaline and cortisol tell your heart to beat faster and give you the oxygen you need to avoid danger. They increase blood sugars for energy and prepare your muscles for whatever is coming your way, no matter how big or small the threat.
Most Adrenal Fatigue patients have an over-sensitive Limbic System that inaccurately assesses the environment, perceiving threats everywhere. The fight or flight response can be life-saving when it is turned on for a truly threatening situation. But if its triggered by more trivial stressors, the constant flood of adrenaline and cortisol causes tremendous wear and tear on your body.
Real Support Not Just A One
We have become used to living in a world where there seems to be a solution for everything. Advertisers have led us to believe that we can expect immediate results and weve been brainwashed into believing that one-size-fits-all is the answer to our problems. Its important to remember that phytotherapy isnt a magic bullet, either. What it offers us is an additional source of extra energy and support as we take the necessary steps towards healing the adrenals. However, in order to have optimal adrenal gland functionality we need to be honest with ourselves, and acknowledge and address the root causes of stress in our lives.
I am reminded of a patient, whose toddler son was admitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She became sleep deprived and depressed upon her sons release, taking care of him 24/7. She also began to notice that her elevated blood sugar levels were entering into a pre-diabetes danger zone.
After intense discussion and evaluation of what was happening in her life and body, I recommended that she start with a combination herbal/mineral supplement. Very soon, she started to feel much better but unfortunately her new sense of well-being tipped her overboard. She felt so invigorated that she joined a gym, took on more responsibilities at work and at home, and started writing a book!
Natural Remedies For Adrenal Fatigue
Working with your doctor, you may be able to overcome some of these problems with a short course of medication to address the symptoms immediately. Using natural remedies and lifestyle changes can help offset the long-term issues and give you the best chance to overcome adrenal fatigue permanently.
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Myth #2 There Is No Known Effective Treatment For Adrenal Fatigue
This is an absolute untruth as well. If you know the cause, you can work on a treatment.
Mainstream medicine isnt looking for root causes. They are looking to mask symptoms using band-aid solutions, such as analgesics, hormone replacement, and surgery.
Since conventional medicine doesnt understand or believe in the condition as a wholeor the cause of the conditionthen of course theyre not looking for a treatment for the condition.
Adrenal Fatigue, simply put, is a conglomeration of symptoms. Fatigue, body-wide pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety are some of the most common. Reproductive and thyroid hormone disorders, digestive dysfunction, and immune weakness are often present, too.
It is sometimes a tricky condition to treat, but with a holistic, multidisciplinary, and multifactorial approach, people get their lives back.
Medicinal Herbs Used To Treat Adrenal Fatigue Naturally
Herbalists and many other alternative practitioners rely on herbal medicine, which happens to be the basis for many prescription drugs. Herbal remedies can take the form of teas, tinctures, oils, creams, and pills. Many herbs can be poisonous or interact dangerously with prescription drugs, so it is best to use them only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Here are some herbs Ive used to treat adrenal fatigue for my patients:
Find Your Solution
As a holistic and functional medical practitioner, I have found the strengths in using diverse forms of intervention. I believe that each health professional has their own unique expertise and whether one consults with a herbalist, naturopath, or functional medicine practitioner it is all about you and finding the solution that is going to work best for your condition. Many times finding that solution may require seeing multiple practitioners.
Ive borrowed a phrase from healer and best-selling author Caroline Myss because I think it sums up so beautifully the other key factor behind adrenal fatigue. She says Our biography becomes our biology if we do not pay attention. No matter how disciplined we are about cleaning up our diet, taking our nutritional supplements, and getting regular exercise, if we dont attend to the emotional piece of the puzzle, our adrenal symptoms wont go away.
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Will This Approach Work With Afs
If you are familiar with how to properly treat AFS, you may have already noticed some similarities with proper CFS treatment. Lets compare the approaches:
The most important thing for AFS sufferers is to avoid stress, similar to the stress reduction strategy employed in CFS treatment. AFS sufferers also need to be careful with their diet to avoid processed foods such as refined sugars, and balance their nutrition to let the bodys natural healing functions start the body on the road to recovery. Natural supplementation is a very powerful recovery tool, but must be used carefully improper administration of too much at the wrong time can stress the body and cause crashes that set back recovery.
How Adrenal Fatigue Goes Unchecked
Today we live in a world that is troubled with so many challenges. Its a relief to know that although your adrenal glands serve a number of functions within your body, their primary responsibility is to help you react and survive in the face of stress. Sometimes we may not feel stressed, but stress comes in many disguises: physical, emotional, perceived, psychological, environmental, infectious, or any combination of these. Because your adrenal glands work in tandem with your body and mind, they have the ability to respond to every kind of stress.
Unfortunately, your health-care practitioner is likely to ignore or dismiss adrenals as the source of your problem unless you are suffering from either Addisons disease, in which case your adrenals severely under produce, or Cushings syndrome, in which they severely overproduce. These two conditions are well understood by conventional medicine. But if your adrenal imbalance is less extremeas is true for hundreds of thousands of U.S. womenyour practitioner is unlikely to recognize your condition. Thats because, despite the enormous body of science relating adrenal problems to a wide variety of symptoms, adrenal fatigue is not a commonly accepted diagnosis.
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Myth #1 There Is No Such Thing As Adrenal Fatigue
Weve been studying this condition for over 40 years, and we were writing about its symptoms before it even had its name. Its very real. Ask anyone whos had it and healed from it.
While its true that you wont find an ICD-9 medical code for Adrenal Fatigue, it exists as a condition. Because conventional medicine focuses on treating only symptoms, no one can seem to agree about what to call or do with Adrenal Fatigues common group of symptoms as a whole.
So when you read Adrenal Fatigue is not real, think of the hundreds of thousands of patients who have healed from more or less the same set of symptoms using the same proven protocol.
Adrenal Fatigue What Is It
Adrenal fatigue is a catch-all for a group of symptoms that all point back to an imbalance of hormones. Your doctor may believe that your body is just not able to produce the right quantity or quality of hormones. It could link to a more significant problem, so its always good to check with your doctor if you feel these symptoms.
It’s prevalent in todays society to find many people with some variation of adrenal fatigue. The amount of stress were under daily means we produce an excess amount of cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that helps us deal with stress by increasing blood pressure, increasing blood flow to the body, retaining fat around our middle, and causing nervous energy.
In the distant past, when we were chased by saber-tooth tigers, cortisol was a beneficial hormone, as it helped us get away from those tigers. And in the process of running away, the exercise destroyed the cortisol. So, by the time we were safe, the cortisol was burned off.
Today, we don’t have saber tooth tigers. We have deadlines, traffic jams, and kids. They cause us a considerable amount of stress, but we have a difficult time releasing it. We cant yell at or attack our bosses. We have nothing to smash to pieces when we’re stuck in a traffic jam. And we certainly can’t hurt our own kids, emotionally or physically.
So, what can we do? Exercising is an excellent way to get rid of cortisol, but many people have difficulty finding time to do that exercise. So, what can we do?
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How Is Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosed
There is no test which can tell whether or not you have adrenal fatigue. A 24-hour salivary adrenal test has been used to check the function of the adrenal glands. However, many doctors, including adrenal gland specialists, do not consider that this test is appropriate to measure the function of the adrenal glands.
A 24-hour salivary adrenal test involves taking saliva samples four times during 24 hours. The samples are usually taken at 8 am, 12 noon, 4 pm and midnight. The early-morning steroid level should be the highest level of the day but may be reduced if the adrenal gland is not working properly.
You may need blood tests to make sure there are no other reasons why you feel very tired, such as anaemia or an underactive thyroid gland. Further tests will also be needed if there is any concern that your adrenal glands are not working properly.
Get An Adrenal Fatigue Test
You can just follow the advice at the bottom of this article , but if you want to be really sure that you have adrenal fatigue, I recommend getting a cortisol test from a functional medicine doctor.
Standard doctors often dismiss cortisol test results because they fall within the normal range of cortisol. But feeling like crap isnt normal, and you shouldnt accept it. Its similar with testosterone: 300 ng/dL is within the normal range, and so is 900 ng/dL. But if you triple your testosterone levels, I promise youll feel a lot different.
Its the same with cortisol. In the morning, normal cortisol is anywhere from 7-28 ug/dL in the afternoon, its 2-18 ug/dL.Thats a huge range, and the reason I dont suggest a standard doctor for a cortisol test. You dont want normal you want optimal.
A functional medicine doctor will look more carefully at your cortisol levels and be able to tell you if you have adrenal fatigue.
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This Is How To Recover From Adrenal Fatigue
Recovering from adrenal fatigue depends upon you. It means changing your lifestyle, changing your relationships with other people, and taking good care of yourself. I tell my patients to treat yourself just like you would a newborn babywith a lot of loving care and attention. When you are tired, go to sleep. When you are hungry be sure you have plenty of healthful, nourishing food. When you are stressed by someones demands, learn to say no, at least temporarily. In this way, you will slowly learn to take the stress off your adrenal glands and allow them to heal.
How To Naturally Treat Adrenal Fatigue
You can naturally treat adrenal fatigue symptoms with diet changes, meditation practices, regular exercise, and minimal supplementation.
Incorporating osteopathic manipulation treatments can also help your muscle tissues relax and improve circulation in the body. Acupuncture treatments can harmonize the flow of Qi in your body, and specific herbs can assist in bringing your body back to baseline cortisol levels.
Meditation If you experience the adrenal fatigue symptoms mentioned above, stress is likely contributing to your fatigue. Incorporating a daily 15 minute meditation practice during which you slow your mind and breathe deeply can help reduce your stress level. In the long term, a good daily meditation practice can help reduce many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Plant-based diet A diet to reduce adrenal fatigue can assist your body in detoxifying itself and relieving the physical symptoms of fatigue. Remember, a large complaint of adrenal fatigue sufferers is feeling fatigued all of the time. A plant-based diet can make it easier for your body to digest food. A temporary absence or minimal presence of meat can also aid in the detoxification process. More specific diet recommendations are found below.
Exercise Starting an exercise program can be very difficult when you feel fatigued. But gently exercising over a period of 3-4 weeks can help you start feeling better. I specifically recommend starting a very basic yoga routine.
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Two Simple Options For Stimulating The Relaxation Response
2. Another option for lazy meditators, according to Dr. Christianson, is to use light/sound machines or binaural beats. When you see lights or hear sounds that pulse in certain frequencies, your brain waves mimic those frequencies. During meditation, the brain goes into what is called and alpha state.
Light/sound machines use both visual and auditory components to help the brain achieve an alpha state, while binaural beats use only sound. The light/sound machines are pretty pricey, but I decided to invest in one because I knew I would use it regularly. I have, and it works really well as a reset button when Im tired and not thinking clearly.
A more affordable option by far is to listen to binaural beats on headphones. Because alpha waves are encouraged by pulsing sound alternately into each ear, headphones are a must. Dr. Christianson likes Brainwave, which you can find on Amazon.
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Make Sleep A Priority
Ahhh, if only it were that easy, right? I admit I am totally counting the days until my kids can wake up and make ME breakfast, but Im not waiting until they let me sleep in to get good rest. Instead, I use these 18 science-backed tips to get deeper, better sleep. I dont do all of them at once, I do incorporate most of them daily. Feel free to pick and choose what works for you.
Adrenal Fatigue Is The Underlying Cause Of Most Disease
Adrenal Fatigue causes, contributes to, and is associated with almost every major illness today.
Thats a bold statement, I know.
First, its important to understand that Adrenal Fatigue involves so much more than the adrenals and fatigue, because this condition is truly a complete Stress Response System Dysfunction .
When dysfunctional, the Stress Response System is at the root of a broad range of illnesses and disorders.
Rather than irresponsibly and incorrectly treating these illnesses and disorders as symptoms in and of themselves, they should be used as an indicator of a deeper dysfunction.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue
Doctors diagnose adrenal fatigue by looking at a series of symptoms. But, not every sign appears in every person, and sometimes symptoms can indicate a different problem. Be sure to work with your doctor if you think you may have adrenal fatigue.
Here are some of the symptoms attached to adrenal fatigue.
- Inability to remember things
Tired But Wired Top 5 Tips To Heal The Adrenal Glands Naturally
Exhausted despite a full night of sleep? Feeling stressed, overwhelmed and forgetful? Relying on coffee for energy? Constantly hungry and craving salty, crunchy foods? Bloated and gaining weight, especially around your midsection? Feeling lightheaded or dizzy upon standing? If so, your adrenal glands may be to blame.
- The adrenals are two small glands approximately the size of a walnut that sit atop each of your kidneys. Their primary function is to process all incoming stress, but they also play a role in hormone production, digestion, the metabolism and fluid balance.
- When stress is high, the adrenals get overworked and extreme exhaustion, impaired memory, bloating, insatiable cravings and dizziness upon standing may ensue. Healing the adrenals is a critical piece to weight loss, energy, immune health and a well-functioning brain.
- Top tips include: eat a protein-rich breakfast, swap coffee for matcha, avoid intense workouts, upgrade the quality of your salt and experiment with adaptogens.
- To learn more, join us for the Thyroid-Adrenal Reset Lunch & Learn where we provide a deeper understanding of the adrenal glands and additional tips to re-balance naturally.
The good news: the body is a miraculous, self-healing mechanism. With the right support, you can heal your adrenals and regain energy, mental clarity, strength and hormone balance. Here are our top tips:
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