Let’s break down in simple language what the adrenal glands do for us and why they are often neglected as far as overall health is concerned. The adrenals are located on top of the kidney’s, they are small, just about the size of a grape. There is an outer shell which produces hormones, and an inner part that regulates the cortisol response that is sometimes referred to as “flight or fight”, which occurs in the sympathetic nervous system. Its not such a bad thing…this “flight or fight”, its what keeps us from a potentially harmful situation, like running from a bear, or fleeing from any life-threatening condition. The problem arises when there are constant triggers such as situational stress, ongoing illness or injury, and possibly organ weakness or deficiencies that ask the adrenals a bit too much. When “flight or fight” is in action, our bodies only concern is to survive that moment….therefore, our immune system shuts down, along with our digestion. As the adrenals overcompensate time after time, they eventually get tired and worn, i.e., “adrenal fatigue”.
What are the common symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
The list of symptoms are quite broad but if you are constantly tired all of the time, have depression, sweets cravings, insomnia, brain fog, mood issues, allergies, or environmental sensitivities, its likely your adrenals are stressed.
Is there any way to test for adrenal fatigue?
According to Glen Depke, (Traditional Naturopath) of Depke Wellness, he has tested over 4300 clients and nearly ALL of them tested positive for adrenal fatigue!
There are many ways to test for adrenal fatigue right at home. Take for example, ZRT labs Adrenal Stress Profile, which measures adrenal hormones like DHEA and cortisol levels throughout the day. These test are available online, or through your holistic health care provider.
Are there supplements that are helpful for adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal herbal support including adaptogens or glandular supplements offer relief and recovery to weakened organs. This in turn allows the adrenals a break from overcompensation.
What triggers wear out the adrenal glands?
If there are inflammatory foods being eaten on a regular basis that are damaging to the gut, the adrenals will become stressed. Sometimes it is wise to eliminate foods that may be considered inflammatory, like gluten or dairy for a week or two in order to evaluate energy levels as well as digestion.
Another helpful tip would be to eliminate situational stressors. Perhaps we come home every day to a stressful situation, or our work is not only unbearable but the people we work with are too! Experiencing these situations on a daily basis contributes to adrenal fatigue. Another example of a stressor is if we are having allergies or our immune system is always fighting something. In this case an anti-inflammatory diet high in antioxidants is very wise, along with a supplemental regimen to further facilitate healing in overworked adrenals. Exercise is also recommended, although it is important to not overdo it. Many people with stressed adrenals are already exhausted and this will only make matters worse. A light exercise regimen is best until the energy levels come up.
What additional alternative healing modalities are helpful?
Yoga therapeutics as well as MELT Method are also very good healing modalities that activate the para-sympathetic nervous system. This part of the brain is what we need to spend more time in, as it puts us in a more mindful, restful state. Good chiropractic care is also essential, making certain that there are no subluxation concerns along the spine that mix up nerve communication throughout the body causing overall weakness.
Please take note that it took quite a while for chronic states to wear out these precious glands, and they usually do not respond overnight. Listen to your body, rest when you can, and take good care of yourself. It is always a good idea to work with a qualified health professional that understands your concerns both emotionally and physically so they can get you on the path to feeling alive once again!