Do you find yourself feeling exhausted most of the time, even after having a good rest? Are you constantly irritable? Do you happen to be going through perimenopause? If you answered yes to these questions, then there is a possibility that you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue, or adrenal dysfunction, is a common problem characterised by physical, mental, and emotional symptoms due to overworked adrenal glands, the stresses of modern life, and unhealthy patterns, and it can result in anxiety, depression, exhaustion, food cravings, and mood swings. More often than not, adrenal fatigue can be difficult to pinpoint, and is usually only diagnosed in severe cases.
What are the adrenal glands?
The adrenals are two plum-sized, triangular shaped glands, with one located near the top of each kidney. They are crucial to your health and general wellbeing as they release hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) that help your body deal with stressful circumstances. This is known as the flight-or-flight reaction; when something threatens us, the adrenal glands activate the stress hormones, producing a reaction and helping us deal with the situation.
Signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue
The most general sign or manifestation of adrenal fatigue is lack of energy, typically as a result of prolonged stress in combination with unhealthy eating and lack of sleep. It can, however, present or develop into one of three phases:
- Alarm Phase – Feeling wired, highly stressed, always on the run. Sleep is an issue and the body is unable to shut off. The aim here is to calm the nervous system down and prevent overexcitability.
- Resistance Phase – Exposure to prolonged stress, difficulty coping with stress, and feeling generally fatigued. When this happens, the aim is to improve stress responses as well as improving how the adrenal glands cope and adapt to stress.
- Exhaustion Phase – Constant exhaustion and it becomes a struggle to go about daily activities. Chronic stress and a feeling of being burned out. The aim when this occurs is to retrain the adrenal glands and nervous system to function correctly and efficiently.
Natural remedies to help with adrenal fatigue
Because adrenal fatigue happens when your body is stressed out to its maximum, a natural detox or natural products are a good way to try and fight this stress. Your body doesn’t need more drugs in this time, it actually needs a break from them. In addition, a change of lifestyle or routine could also be beneficial.
1. Adrenal fatigue diet
If you want to get your energy back, you’ll have to start eating often and well. Eating at the correct times and not letting your body feel excessive hunger is key to keeping your adrenal glands relaxed. Try to not skip any meals, it’s better if you eat smaller portions throughout the day rather than two big meals twice a day.
Eating the correct foods is also important. Avoid sugar and caffeine; they are definitely not good for you if you are suffering adrenal fatigue. When you drink coffee, your adrenal glands get stimulated, activating the fight-or-flight response and releasing cortisol. But instead of reacting to a true stressor, the glands are reacting to the consumption of coffee, generating tolerance and dependence.
Excessive sugar consumption can also have a negative effect on the adrenal glands. When you eat too much sugar, insulin kicks in to control the excess amount in the bloodstream, leaving the blood sugar levels low again. This is when the adrenal glands have to respond and bring the blood sugar back to normal levels.
Start including as much vitamin C into your diet as you can. You can find it naturally in citrus fruits, red capsicum, papaya, and broccoli. A healthy intake of vitamin B5 is also a good idea, and this can be found in sunflower seeds, mushrooms, yoghurt, and corn.
Furthermore, eat lots of vegetables, avoid junk food, drink high quality water, avoid white flours, processed foods and grains, and sea salt.
Natural herbs are an option that can help to relieve some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Many health practitioners rely on herbal medicine as it’s actually the basis of many prescription drugs. Nonetheless, you should always speak to your menopause specialist before consuming any natural herbs or supplements in case they interfere with your therapy.
- Astragalus root – This herb has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, mainly to boost the body’s immune system and prevent overall weakness. Astragalus stimulates your capability to handle stress and regulates blood levels, alleviating insulin resistance. It also has antioxidant properties.
- Cordyseps – With its origins in the high mountain regions of China, this fungus has amazing properties. It can slow down the ageing process, promote longer life, and improve liver function. In addition, it also helps to strengthen the immune system.
- Siberian ginseng (Eleuthero) – Siberian ginseng is a plant that can help protect our bodies and increase our resistance to stress. It balances blood sugar levels, reduces fatigue, improves memory abilities, and aids with kidney and heart disease.
- Golden root (rhodiola rosea) – Rhodiola is a herb that can help build resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stress, supporting the immune system and energy. It also assists with blood sugar regulation, depression, and anxiety. In fact, a 2009 study shows that taking 576 mg of rhodiola extract reduced stress and mental clarity in a group of adults.
- Licorice root – Licorice root can assist with energy levels and endurance, helping with chronic fatigue. Certain forms of this herb, however, could increase blood pressure levels, so be cautious.
Keeping stress in check is key to relieving adrenal fatigue. Finding ways to relax you is the best way to lower your stress levels and feel better. Yoga, meditation, tai chi, massages, and deep breathing techniques are all good ways to destress. Meditation can actually offer many health benefits, such as improving circulation, blood pressure, heart health, and self confidence.
An intense cardiovascular routine at the gym could also be beneficial, especially in the morning when cortisone levels are high. Running or cycling can help you to release toxins and generate endorphins, which make you feel happier and at ease.
Finally, getting your minimum 7 hours of sleep each night is a must. Insufficient sleep stresses out your body, urging your adrenal glands to produce high levels of cortisone to try and keep awake during the day. Try to go to bed at a reasonable time, and if that’s not possible, a short nap could also help.
While it is hard to diagnose adrenal fatigue, and some people may feel it’s part of the natural ageing process, adrenal glands do get stressed and that does have negative effects on our bodies. It is not natural to feel tired all the time just because you’re ageing, but luckily there are some natural ways to find relief from these symptoms, so that you can feel energetic and vital again.
If you think you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue symptoms, why not get in touch and join our support program today?