ADRENAL FATIGUE

Adrenal fatigue seems to be a prevalent and common issue facing many people.

It’s a hidden condition though, because it seems to me that western medicine seems to attribute the root causes of adrenal fatigue to other conditions which present with a similar raft of symptoms. The main cause of adrenal fatigue is STRESS.

It’s not a disease as such, and it is not life-threatening, although it causes dis-ease. It’s not even a proven medical condition yet,  although many health professionals are now conducting rigorous research into the issue as it becomes widely known.

Because fatigue is a common symptom of many serious illnesses, adrenal exhaustion is overlooked. I think the thing to remember here is that you will feel run down and tired with no visible reason for it. Your mood will invariably be low.

While I was researching for this blog post, I found that statistics estimate that millions of people are affected worldwide by adrenal fatigue.  Our bodies are not made for this fast paced world we live in – we haven’t evolved genetically to cope with emotional stress, chemicals, environmental pollutants, poor diets…. you get the idea. We are not likely to be chased up Main Street by a bunch of marauding tigers who want us for dinner like our ancestors. And yet, our response to stress is the same.

Your adrenal glands are endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys and produce a variety of hormones including adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol.

Now, the adrenal glands produce a lot of hormones within the body, and as we know, healthy hormone balance is vitally important for good health. When our hormones are out of whack so many health issues arise.  For instance, PCOS – polycystic ovary syndrome

If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, feel tired and can’t focus, wake up feeling like you haven’t had a sleep at all, can’t get to sleep anyway then it’s worth noting that exhausted adrenal glands can be responsible for a whole host of issues. When we are continually exposed to stress and anxiety over a long period of time our adrenals become over taxed and overwhelmed.

So what actually is Adrenal fatigue?  And could you have it?

Adrenal fatigue is a stress induced condition caused by reduced adrenal gland function. Among other hormones the adrenals produce cortisol, which regulates our reaction to stress.

There are 3 stages of adrenal fatigue

  1. The Alarm Phase. When the adrenal glands are triggered into action by a stress response, the body starts increasing it’s cortisol level. Ideally the cortisol levels should lower once the stressor is gone, but this process can continue and the adrenal glands keep producing hormones – you can’t sustain this, so eventually you start to feel drained and tired. It’s when this phase continues over a long period of time that the issues start. 
  1. The Resistance Phase. By now elevated hormone levels start affecting the production of other hormones like testosterone. Seriously, these glands are only tiny, the size of a walnut, but they have such control over hormone production and body health!
  1. The Exhaustion Phase. If you have made it here to Gate 3 you have hit the wall. No one wants to end up here. This is where you are continually burned out. You can’t even produce sufficient levels of stress hormones let alone the other ones because you are exhausted. This is when the anxiety, depression, weight loss or gain, apathy and total exhaustion overwhelms you.

Imagine if you have a bad diet, can’t be bothered exercising and you have adrenal exhaustion – you are not going to feel like getting up and going for a walk, rather you are going to want to lie on the couch or stay in bed. There’s just no spare energy and it is so hard to get going.

People with adrenal exhaustion often feel exhausted and many use stimulants such as caffeine to get through their day. They may experience brain fog, find it hard to concentrate and just feel up and down all the time – never on an even keel.

We often see adrenally challenged people with the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Need caffeine to get through the day
  • A low blue mood
  • Sweet or salty cravings
  • Feel inadequate and frustrated
  • Highly stressed and anxious
  • Tired, fatigued, exhausted
  • Low mood
  • Low sex drive

RISK FACTORS

  • Feel stressed and anxious all the time
  • Continued stress with no let up and no time off for holidays or rest days
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Life changing events
  • Job stress, not even taking time for a lunch break.
  • Skipping breakfast, don’t take breaks during the day
  • Drinking large amounts of caffeine

The good news is that adrenal fatigue can be treated and it’s so important to get on top of adrenal fatigue – to support and repair your adrenal glands. Sometimes it takes sheer willower but as they improve you feel better.

There are several ways to diagnose adrenal fatigue but the main test is the measurement of cortisol levels through a saliva test. Thyroid testing is also useful.

Because it is STRESS it is vital to look into measures to de-stress. your life. You may want to consider adding some stress management measures into your lifestyle, adding B Group vitamins, a good Omega oil, probiotics and some supportive adrenal herbs can be incredibly useful.

If you feel this may be you, please do see your health care practitioner for some support. Natural medicine lends itself particularly well to support in this area.  Puraty’s De-Stress Tea and Sleep Well Tea can also be very helpful at this time.

By Joanna Vinsen Loveys

BNatMed Hbt MNZAMH

 


Joanna Loveys
Joanna Loveys

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