Adrenal fatigue is fast becoming the stress syndrome of the 21st century. With our busy lives, not getting enough sleep and trying to get ahead, it’s exhausting! We’re exhausted, and so are our adrenals.
Adrenal fatigue occurs when our adrenals have been over stimulated to a point of exhaustion. It happens when the body has been under high stress for a long period of time. The root cause of adrenal fatigue can be mental, spiritual, emotional, chemical or dietary.
Our adrenal glands are small heart shaped glands that sit above the kidneys and are part of the endocrine system. These little glands, although small in shape and size, are involved in over 50 hormones and are essential for life. The outer part of our adrenals, the adrenal cortex, produces cortisol, which is vital for our metabolism, and our flight or fight response. Aldosterone helps regulate blood pressure; that’s why those who may be suffering can often have lower than normal blood pressure.
Signs and symptoms
There are a collection of signs and symptoms that make up adrenal fatigue:
Exhaustion, even after a full night sleep, for no apparent reason. Often leading us to reach for stimulants like caffeine to get us through the day.
Constant cravings for sugar and carbohydrates especially in the afternoon. These cravings occur as our bodies use sodium when we are stressed (one of the minerals that get chewed up easily).
A weak immune system, feeling like you’re always getting colds and flus and taking longer to recover from them. This happens because cortisol has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps to regulate your immune system. When we are inflamed, it can mean that our bodies are fighting an infection, and with cortisol being diminished, it’s not there to help as much.
Feeling either tired or wired at night - this can occur as a result of higher cortisol at night time.
Being irritable with an inability to deal with stress.
Weight gain, especially around the abdominal area.
If you have any of the above symptoms, and feel like you haven’t felt yourself for a while, it’d be best to get tested by a medical expert, as well as giving your adrenals some love and care with these guidelines.
Adrenal fatigue is literally our bodies saying ‘enough is enough’. Avoiding stressors in our life is hard, but dealing with them and taking a step back from commitments, and spending more time looking after ourselves is the best way to manage adrenal fatigue.
Some examples of this could include:
Limiting time on screens and social media in general
Enjoying a bath
Reading a book
Taking a nice walk in nature
Being present when with family and friends
Diet is extremely important for fighting adrenal fatigue. We need to nourish our bodies with the best foods to let our bodies heal.
Make sure you include an abundance of fresh vegetables, low fat proteins and lots of good fats into your diet. It’s also a tough one, but try to limit all caffeine and stimulants, and anything that may affect the liver such as alcohol.
During any stage of adrenal fatigue recovery, exercise is paramount, however on a more restorative level. Enjoy gentle practices such as yoga, Pilates or a walk outside to ensure you’re not exhausting the adrenals further by doing intense exercise.
It’s all about listening to your body and being in tune with what it needs.
Supplementation and herb inclusions
There are many nutrients and minerals that are depleted during adrenal fatigue.
Vitamin C, B6, Zinc and Magnesium all play a vital role in recovering from adrenal fatigue or under times of stress. They all help the adrenal glands manufacture hormones. A good multivitamin that contains those nutrients will also help limit the severity of the symptoms.
Adding herbs into your healing regime can be very beneficial. Herbs such as Siberian Ginseng, Chinese Ginseng, Rhodiola and Ashwagandha are all little helpers when it comes to adrenal health. These herbs are all adaptogenic, and help you cope with stress.