You’ve Got Dark Under
Sure, you might not be getting enough sleep. But dark circles crop up when stressors like fatigue, emotional stress, or dehydration disrupt healthy circulationand that shows through your thin under-eye skin, says Sandra Chiu, a Brooklyn acupuncturist, skin expert, and the founder of Treatment by Lanshin. If your dark circles are accompanied by a sunken, hollowed-out look, that often indicates a more serious issue with the kidneys, Chiu warns, and you should see a doctor.
The fix: Slow. Down. No amount of eye cream or concealer or will help if you’re overworked, exhausted, and overwhelmed by emotional stress. Chiu’s so-simple-it-hurts rule? “Do less, and be still more,” she says.
What To Avoid When Your Adrenals Are Fatigued
Sugar and high glycemic foodsinstead, choose sweet vegetables like carrots or beets which have low net carbs but lots of beneficial nutrients.
Caffeine & alcohol can interfere with adrenal function so its best to avoid these when adrenals are fatigued.
Stressful situations, relationships and work environmentswhile not always easy to change if youre experiencing adrenal fatigue, its an important part of maintaining hormone health.
Can Poorly Controlled Blood Sugar Cause Adrenal Fatigue
Yes, one common cause of adrenal fatigue is out of control blood sugar. Low blood sugar makes the adrenal glands work hard to make cortisol which raises blood sugar levels. During severe adrenal fatigue, the adrenal glands cannot produce enough cortisol. The symptoms of low blood sugar are dizziness, shakiness, and irritability. These are also symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
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Blood Glucose: Its A Balancing Act
Another underlying contributor to HPA dysfunction is blood sugar imbalance. Constant stress and high levels of cortisol raise blood glucose, and so do carbohydrates. Carbs, which give us quick bursts of energy, are not the enemy. But not all carbs are created equal. Carbs with high fiber content, like whole-grain bread or sweet potatoes, provide us energy to get through the day. Dr. Ratté stresses the importance of eating balanced meals made up of protein, healthy fat, and fiber. And, of course, staying hydrated by drinking at least half of your body weight in water.
Located in Bloomington, Northwestern Health Sciences University is a pioneer in integrative natural health care education, offering degree programs in chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, massage therapy, medical assisting, medical laboratory programs, post-bac/pre-health, radiation therapy, and B.S. completion. Its Bloomington clinic is open to the public and provides chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, nutrition, and cupping.
Why Does Adrenal Fatigue Happen
Adrenal fatigue might be attributed to prolonged physical, emotional, and mental stress. In turn, this can give rise to a variety of health issues like poor sleep quality, inflammation, or even blood sugar spikes. Adrenal fatigue is believed to be caused when the adrenal glands become incapable of meeting the demands of a constant fight or flight response attributable to chronic stress. When you are subjected to stressful situations, your adrenals react by releasing cortisol to help your body prepare for a dangerous predicament. However, if such a situation is for one reason or the other prolonged, your adrenals will in the long run become worn down. This makes them unable to respond to stressful circumstances.
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Adrenal Fatigue And Your Hands
Surprisingly, theres a lot your hands can tell you about the state of your adrenal health. As one of the first places to show signs of ageing, whats less commonly known is that your hands can also act as a barometer for your general wellbeing.
For example, many people with adrenal exhaustion find that the skin of their fingertips gradually becomes covered with vertical lines, and fingerprints can seem to get fainter. This is a clear warning that your adrenals are under stress. Cortisol dysregulation has long been associated with lower levels of collagen, which your body needs to maintain skin thickness. Sweaty palms are another sign that often goes unnoticed, but it may in fact be an indication that there are underlying issues with your thyroid.
Illustration Of Woman With A Low Battery Icon Hovering Above Head
Dragging your feet at the end of the day? Find yourself longing for a nap by noon? Come to think of it, do you ever feel rested? As Americans, it is part of our culture to burn the candle at both ends. We rise to all occasions at both home and workto our own detriment. It’s no wonder so many of us are exhausted, anxious, and overwhelmed.
A controversial term, adrenal fatigue is often used to describe a host of vague but debilitating symptoms. Described as the depletion of cortisol from the adrenal glands, Western medicine providers do not believe this catch-all diagnosis exists. After all, conventional doctors train in acute care. They prefer to find a specific problem to fix and prescribe short-term solutions.
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Testing For Adrenal Fatigue It Can Be Tricky
If you go to a traditional doctor to see if your cortisol is skyrocketing or flat-lining, they will order a blood test. Unfortunately, this can give a very inaccurate or incomplete picture. It might show that your cortisol levels are fine in the morning, but wont show that your cortisol levels may be barely there by 3pm when you are having an energy crash. Also, blood tests only show the total value of cortisol and not the free value which is what your body utilizes.
Urine or saliva testing is a far more accurate way to check cortisol levels. Good tests will check your levels around four times over the course of the day.
Im also a fan of the DUTCH test.
Instead of collecting many samples, you need only one sample which involves placing urine on filter paper and letting it dry.
You can also check your adrenal function at home.
Take The Right Supplements
While itd be great if we could get all of our daily nutritional requirements from food alone, its rarely possible. The way in which food is grown, stored, processed and cooked destroys much of its nutritional value. Although most whole foods still harbor plenty of health benefits, they may not have enough of the vitamins and minerals you need to recover from adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue also wreaks havoc on the ability of your gut to absorb nutrients from food, as chronic stress hinders normal digestive function. Thats why supplements are a great way to top up your bodys nutritional needs, especially when your stores of a certain nutrient have been depleted for a while.
Here are some of the best supplements to help you recover from adrenal fatigue:
This group of vitamins is the first step in getting your mind and body back into gear. B vitamins work together in helping the body create energy from the food you eat, while also supporting brain function and healthy skin, hair and muscles. Although the role of each B vitamin differs slightly, theyre all vital for a healthy metabolism and energy production.
B12 is particularly important in fact, its commonly referred to as the energy vitamin. Its needed for nerve function, mood regulation and the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, which aids energy production in the cells. Vitamins B12 and B6 are also linked to positivity and mental alertness.
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Treatment Of Adrenal Fatigue
“Optimal adrenal health is one of the major keys to the enjoyment of life,” according to Dr. Wilson. If you have adrenal fatigue, you can fully live life again by making the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes to treat your disorder.
Treating adrenal fatigue is as easy as:
- Adopting a natural whole-foods diet
- Avoiding junk food
- Drinking high quality water, not from the tap. Distilled or spring waters are best
- Eating five to six servings of vegetables each day through juicing or adding them to meals
- Avoiding white flour and other processed grains
- Adding sea salt to your diet, replacing your table salt
- Taking 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day
- Taking a high strength B-complex supplement
- Taking high quality fish oils
- Adding licorice root extract and kelp to your diet
- Doing a detox and using an infra red sauna
- Replacing toxic chemical products used around the house with non-toxic alternatives
- Spending some time in the sun each day
- Doing something fun each day
- Getting lots of rest
How Is Adrenal Fatigue Different From Just Being Tired All The Time
Lets look a little more closely at fatigue. There are many different reasons you could be tired. When tired patients come to see me, adrenal fatigue is definitely up there as a possibility right from the start, but among other common reasons, the tiredness could also be due to a sluggish thyroid.
The thyroid and the adrenals are intimately connected, so heres an important functional medicine tip if you are being treated for a thyroid dysfunction with a thyroid hormone: make sure you also have your adrenals checked. Treating the thyroid without supporting the adrenals will further deplete the adrenals. So always be sure to ask to have your adrenal function looked at whenever thyroid issues are present.
You could also be tired all the time because youre low in iron. So, getting a full iron blood panel done can help. Maybe youre tired because youre burning the candle at both ends and just not getting enough sleep. Or youre not getting enough physical activity. You could also be stressed out and emotionally drained. Physical symptoms, especially from chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, can also make you tired all the time.
As weve been talking about, being tired is a prime side effect of adrenal imbalance. However, because there are so many different reasons for being tired, getting the proper diagnosis is important so you can get the proper treatment.
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Adrenal Insufficiency: What It Is And The Most Common Causes
It is important to note, Adrenal Fatigue is not adrenal insufficiency. But, its good to understand some of the causes of primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency so you can distinguish between this and AFS.
Primary adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal cortex is damaged, and that usually happens due to an autoimmune attack. Also, primary adrenal insufficiency can be caused by cancer of the adrenal glands, severe infection in the adrenal glands, tuberculosis, or bleeding into the adrenal glands.
Secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs when the pituitary gland doesnt produce enough ACTH to stimulate the adrenals into producing enough adrenal hormones. This usually happens when something affects the pituitary gland itself, such as a tumor, surgery, or inflammation, rather than the adrenal glands. Taking corticosteroids to help with another condition can also lead to secondary adrenal insufficiency.
This, as noted above, is distinct from what happens when chronic stress causes the body to produce too much or too little adrenal hormones due to overwork as in Adrenal Fatigue.
It Is Possible To Recover From Adrenal Fatigue
Yes, it is! Finding a functional medicine practitioner is the first step. As already stated, it can take one to two years to recover from adrenal fatigue. It may even take longer for some people. You must be gentle with yourself. You must be kind to yourself. Dont be too hard on yourself. Dont be excessively demanding on yourself. Give yourself a break. If you give your body and your mind the opportunity to rest and recover, you will heal.
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Difficulty Getting Up Each Morning Even After A Long Sleep
As we discuss in The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, one of the major causes of Adrenal Fatigue is getting insufficient sleep. Getting more rest is, therefore, one of the best ways to recover. However, when suffering from Adrenal Fatigue many patients wake up extremely tired and foggy, even after getting a long sleep. This can be caused by one of two factors.
Adrenal Fatigue sufferers in the early stages of their condition tend to be under significant stress, and therefore their adrenaline and cortisol levels are high. This interrupts the natural 24-hour cycle of cortisol levels, leading to a state of alertness in the evening that prevents restful sleep.
Those Adrenal Fatigue sufferers who are at a later stage of the condition will have consistently lower levels of cortisol. However, their blood sugar will tend to be much lower during the early morning . Your body realizes its hungry and forces you to wake up. Many Adrenal Fatigue sufferers are chronic late-night snackers for exactly this reason. You can get a better nights sleep by improving your sleep hygiene.
How Your Adrenals Work
Your adrenals are thumb-sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They help during times of fight or flight by producing hormones that give you energy to respond to the conditions of your daily life in healthy and flexible ways, both physically and emotionally.
The hormones produced by your adrenals include norepinephrine, cortisol, and DHEA.
Norepinephrine is commonly thought of as the fight-or-flight hormone. Its produced when something is threatening. Norepinephrine makes your heart pound, your blood rush to your heart and large muscle groups, your pupils widen, your brain sharpen, and your tolerance for pain increasebasically, it prepares you for battle. Modern-day battles include pushing your body to keep going when its fatigued, working a stressful job, and reacting with quick reflexes to avoid a traffic accident.
However, every adrenaline surge is a withdrawal from your adrenal bank account. If you are in the habit of withdrawing too often, youll eventually be overdrawn and will have too little adrenaline when you actually need it.
Dehydroepiandrosterone is an androgen that is produced by both the adrenal glands and the ovaries. DHEA helps to neutralize cortisols immune-suppressant effect, thereby improving resistance to disease. DHEA also protects and increases bone density, guards cardiovascular health by keeping bad cholesterol levels under control, provides vitality and energy, sharpens the mind, and helps maintain normal sleep patterns.
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What Is The Cause Of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is usually caused by long-term stressors. These can include financial stress, overwork, family disputes, or marital problems. Often it might a be a combination of factors, such as those experienced by a high-flying executive with young children.
Other factors can come into play too. A poor diet means that your body has fewer reserves and less capacity to deal with stress. Chronic or latent disease can be a factor, as can regular exposure to toxic chemicals or pollutants. And dont forget sleep one of the most important requirements for your body to function properly. If youre burning the candle at both ends, consider that a lack of sleep might be damaging your long-term health.
Review Of The Stages Of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is a chronic condition that is very common in todays world, even though it has not yet been recognized by mainstream medicine. There are four stages of adrenal fatigue, and there are also four phases within the third stage. Knowing which stage or phase you are currently in can help you understand why you feel the way you do. It can also show you how to begin the recovery process.
Stage one, called alarm reaction, is usually asymptomatic unless youre highly sensitive. In most people it manifests as just a little more fatigue than usual. You can still easily get through the day, though peak performance can be out of reach for most persons.
Stage two, called resistance response, is when fatigue gets a little more pronounced. You might start to notice symptoms at this point, and might even seek help. Still, you can function almost normally, though usually with the help of stimulants like coffee.
Stage three, called adrenal exhaustion, is where you really start to question whats happening. Symptoms become more chronic and severe. There are four subdivisions of stage three, each one designating the underlying issue: chronic single system dysfunction, multiple endocrine axis dysfunction, disequilibrium state, and near adrenal failure.
Stage four, called adrenal failure, is where youre pretty much bedridden. Your body is in energy conservation mode and shuts down all unnecessary functions. You experience frequent adrenal crashes.
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The Smallest Things Now Make My Anxious Or Make Me Want To Cry
Blame it on: High adrenalin and cortisol
When you have adrenal fatigue you are functioning with a chemical soup of high stress hormones constantly circulating in your system. This keeps your body on red alert so things that used to stress you a little bit can cause a stress response totally out of proportion to the trigger. Crying can then occur as a stress release.
Meanwhile, your body thinks it is in a state of emergency so it:
- Dumps calming minerals: These include magnesium and zinc after all your body doesnt want you to be calm and relaxed right now, it wants you to be ready for fight or flight. Unfortunately, without magnesium you will feel more anxious. And with less zinc, your immunity will drop.
- Retains more copper: This is due in part to the drop in zinc. And elevated copper levels cause excitability and agitation in your brain, worsening your adrenal exhaustion.
Still Tired After Sleeping A Full Night
We have all had a long night and had to get up early the next morning. You feel tired, sluggish, cant think as easily, and generally feel rundown. If you feel that way after getting a full nights rest, you might have a problem. We can all feel tired every once in a while, but if that is every day, you may have Adrenal Fatigue.
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Your Bodys Reaction To Chronic Stress
While running from a bear, your body changes its entire biochemistry. How? Your adrenal glands release the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol in response to actual or anticipated stress. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are part of your sympathetic nervous system and give you the feeling of an adrenaline rush. Just the simple release of these hormones begins a cascade of biochemical events.
When released, these hormones cause an increase in your heart rate and help your eyes focus on the target as your body anticipates running. This anticipation also impacts your blood sugar, liver, and blood pressure.
Moreover, your gastrointestinal system slows in response, and you are so focused on your target that you ignore your peripheral vision. In fact, by the time you stop running, you cannot remember how you got to where you are. Sound familiar?
I often hear stories like this from my patients. How many times have you made it home from work, but you dont remember the drive home? Or you walk into the laundry room and cannot remember why you went in there? This is a sign you may be suffering from extreme stress and adrenal fatigue.