You’re tired, but not your “normal” tired. You know your body, and something just isn’t right. So, why is one of the most common reasons people go to doctors, so difficult to diagnose? Perhaps it’s because the Endocrinology Society and all the other medical specialties do not recognize Adrenal Fatigue as a condition. The Endocrinologists are categorical: “no scientific proof exists to support adrenal fatigue as a true medical condition.”
However, functional medicine doctors and integrative practitioners do acknowledge and treat the condition. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, it’s time to take control of your health with the help of someone who understands what you’re going through.
Part 1: What is Adrenal Fatigue?
The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They’re involved in producing over 50 hormones that drive almost every bodily function, many of which are essential for life, among them, cortisol. When under stress, we produce and release short bursts of cortisol into the bloodstream (an adrenalin rush). The adrenal fatigue as we explain it is prolonged exposure to stress that could drain the adrenals leading to a low cortisol state. The adrenal depletion would cause symptoms stated in part 2.
Stressful experiences like death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, even prolonged exposure to the news chronicling mass murders, politics and terrorism.
Prolonged stress and/or pain
Negative thinking and emotional trauma
Lack of sleep
Reliance on stimulants like caffeine or energy drinks
Part 2: Symptoms
There are many symptoms that accompany the condition:
Weakened stress response
Decreased sex drive/libido
Moodiness and irritability
Muscle or bone loss
Sweet and salty food cravings
Why so many symptoms? Because your adrenal glands are also responsible for balancing hormones, such as:
Glucocorticoids – hormones that balance your body’s blood sugar, help with energy and food metabolism, help your body relieve stress and manage your immune response (e.g., cortisol).
Mineralocorticoids – hormones that maintain healthy blood pressure, manage your blood hydration level, and keep your blood healthy by keeping salt and water in balance (e.g., aldosterone).
Sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Adrenaline/epinephrine – hormones that affect your heart health, make sure that all parts of the body are getting blood and convert glycogen into glucose in your liver.
Part 3: Treatment to Re-establish Vitality
Treatment for adrenal fatigue involves reducing stress on your body and your mind, eliminating toxins, avoiding negative thinking and replenishing your body with healthy foods, supplements and ways of thinking.
In every case of adrenal recovery, diet is a huge factor.
There are a number of foods that offer adrenal support, helping to replenish your adrenal energy so your system can come back to full health. But first, you must start by removing any hard-to-digest foods and any toxins or chemicals in your environment.
Foods to avoid include:
Caffeine because it can interfere with your sleep cycle and make it hard for your adrenals to recover.
Sugar and sweeteners
Carbohydrates because the inflammation they can cause is particularly problematic when experiencing adrenal fatigue. Many people crave carb-heavy foods when they’re stressed, which offer a momentary satisfaction but end up taxing the adrenal glands more.
Processed and microwaved foods
Processed meats (Tip: When buying meats for adrenal support, stick to grass-fed beef and free-range chicken or turkey, and eat these protein-heavy meats in moderate amounts.)
Hydrogenated oils: because they are highly inflammatory and can lead to adrenal inflammation. (Tip: Try to only use good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, organic butter or ghee.)
Next, you want to add nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest and have healing qualities including:
Avocado and other healthy fats
Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.
Fatty fish (e.g., wild-caught salmon)
Free-range chicken and turkey
Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
Seeds, such as pumpkin, chia and flax
Kelp and seaweed
Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
Fermented foods rich in probiotics
Chaga and cordyceps medicinal mushrooms
These foods help overcome adrenal fatigue because they’re nutrient-dense, low in sugar and have healthy fat and fiber.
Take Adrenal Fatigue Supplements and Herbs
Another big key to overcoming adrenal fatigue is taking the right supplements using supporting herbs. It can be a challenge to get enough of every nutrient you need every day. Therefore, it can be useful to wisely use dietary supplements for vitamins and minerals particularly vital for adrenal support.
In addition, there are certain herbs and spices and that can help to fight adrenal fatigue and support an energetic, vibrant life. At Integrative Acupuncture we can help advise you on which supplements and herbs would be best to support your adrenal health.
Reduce Adrenal Fatigue Stress
The last and most important key to restoring your adrenal function is to rest your mind and manage stress. Pay attention to your body!
Rest when you feel tired as much as possible.
Sleep 8–10 hours a night.
Avoid staying up late and stay on a regular sleep cycle — ideally, in bed before 10 p.m.
Laugh and do something fun every day.
Minimize work and relational stress however possible.
Eat on a regular food cycle.
Exercise (even moderate exercise, yoga, and walking can help).
Avoid negative people and self-talk.
Take time for yourself (do something relaxing).
We work with many patients suffering from Adrenal Fatigue and have helped many individuals start their journey back to feeling better. Contact us to set up your initial consultation and reclaim your vitality!