Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
The Adrenal glands are to small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Their functions are to provide hormones and to help regulate certain body functions such as:
- Stress hormones
- Cortisol: helps keep balance of many functions including blood sugar, metabolism, heart and blood vessel tone and central nervous system.
- Adrenaline: quickly prepares the body for stressful situations.
- Aldosterone: helps control blood pressure
- Helps regulate inflammation.
- Helps regulate the immune system.
- Helps regulate our sleep/wake cycles
Like every organ in the body things can go wrong giving rise to a variety of diseases, some of which include Addisons disease (think President Kennedy, is adrenal insufficiency due to low cortisol and aldosterone), Cushing’s syndrome (the opposite of Addison’s, there is an overproduction of Cortisol), and Adrenal Cancer.
A more common issue with the Adrenal gland appears to be Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. This occurs then the adrenals are constantly active due to the perception of constant stress. This over activation causes too much of the hormones to be secreted, unbalances the body’s normal functions and “burns out” the adrenals causing them to shut down.
The drastic swing from too much to too little hormones creates a feeling of high energy or stress followed by large let down and exhausted feeling.
The stages (or severity) of Adrenal fatigue include
- Stage 1: “Wire then Tired” there is an over secretion in the morning that runs out later in the day leading to mid-day fatigue and possible followed by over secretion again in the night causing insomnia.
- Stage 2: adrenal exhaustion “Tired then Tired” there is very little adrenaline excreted and a lot of cortisol in the body.
Symptoms: (a few of the most common ones)
- Tired upon waking, or extreme mid-day tiredness (not correlating to lifestyle)
- Decreased sex drive
- Thyroid issues
- Lowered immune function
- Always feeling stressed
- Our current style of life: always on the go, in contact, and over stressed
- Poor diets: increased sugar and grains increase inflammation and blood sugar.
- Decreased sleep
- Excessive coffee and caffeine.
Treatment: (mostly the opposite of the causes)
- Improve diet: decreasing sugars, grains and overly processed food.
- Improving sleep: constant bedtime, less caffeine, no electronic device at bedtime
- Decrease stress: learn how to better handle the stress you have and find ways to decrease the stress that you can, yoga, therapy, time away doing something you love.
- Improve Immunity: most of the things above will help with that.
- Drinking green tea and taking herbals like Ashwagandah and ginseng can help.
It does take time but it is possible to restore your Adrenal glands.
A true diagnosis needs to be done by a physician but here is a questionnaire that can help you find if you fit the pattern of Adrenal Fatigue.