Have you ever heard about adrenal burnout? This is a term that is used to describe a situation where the adrenal glands are used intensively, above the normal level, which leads to unbalanced hormones and low levels of cortisol in the body.
In case you are visiting your doctor’s office because you believe that you are dealing with adrenal fatigue, the doctor will probably redirect you to an endocrinologist who will likely conduct Cushing’s or Addison’s disease test.
This is a relatively uncommon endocrine disorder that suggests low or high levels of cortisol (the most important stress hormone) in the body. The best solution is medication or surgery. But, is this the only way to solve this issue
Does Adrenal Fatigue Exist?
There are many people who were informed by their doctors that adrenal fatigue is just a myth. The fact is that adrenal fatigue is not recognized in modern medicine because this is not a disease that can be treated with pharmaceutical drugs and this is exactly how modern medicine works.
Instead of the term adrenal fatigue, we should use this term – hypothalamic pituitary adrenal or HPA axis dysfunction. In both cases, this means that the feedback loop that appears between the adrenals and the brain is destroyed which leads to improper communication and resistance related to the timing and amount of stress hormone production.
It’s good to mention that adrenal fatigue is not triggered by the adrenals themselves, this is actually a problem between the adrenal glands and the brain.
The adrenals represent two relatively small glands located right atop of the kidneys and create cortisol and other important hormones.
The adrenals, as well as the HPA axis act as a control and management center for the body and they, are here to help people handle stress levels, thyroid function, hormone levels, libido, sleep, and metabolism. If everything is alright, people have stable and good energy levels all day long, they sleep well, have a normal libido and they are able to keep a healthy weight.
However, when we deal with stress, the body responds by triggering many interconnected hormonal activities to prepare itself for combat. For instance, CRH or corticotropin releasing hormone is produced in the hypothalamus. This hormone triggers the release of ACTH or adrenocorticotropic hormone.
On the other hand, ACTH triggers the production of cortisol, the main stress hormone in the human body. Cortisol balances the levels of blood pressure and blood sugar, giving people and ability to fight or flee and survive stressful situations and moments. In other words, we are talking about healthy and normal stress response.
However, when people are chronically stressed and under pressure, the chain of reactions is triggered all the time, the cortisol levels are high and people ultimately become depleted of the hormones they require to fight stress.
This is what we call a burnout which can lead to depression and anxiety because the level of serotonin is very low when cortisol levels are very high. In the end, we have a neuroendocrine dysfunction.
It’s good to point out that adrenal fatigue represents a combination of different symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, and/or fatigue. These problems affect our everyday life. In most cases, they won’t make you visit the doctor’s office, but they are used by our body to tell us that something is not right.
Men and women can choose to ignore these obvious signs, believing that they are just getting older or that they are just dealing with elevated stress levels. In some cases, they visit the doctor and the doctor simply prescribes them medications related to the symptoms – anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants etc.
This may improve the situation, but the core of the problem will remain unaffected which means that the person will experience the same problems after a while.
When the adrenals start to fail, people will notice some of these symptoms:
- Sudden weight gain
- Salt and/or sugar cravings
- Digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation and bloating
- Brain fog
- The so-called 3 pm crash
- Proneness to illness
- Poor ability to manage stress
- Trouble sleeping or waking up around 4 am
- Low libido
- Inability to concentrate and focus
The reasons behind Adrenal Fatigue
- Diet. It turns out that adrenal fatigue can be triggered by irregular meal times, consumption of a high amount of processed foods, refined sugars, caffeine and coffee, meals poor in nutrients, and not eating enough food.
- Emotional stress. According to some statistics, over 95% of the cases of adrenal fatigue are related to intense emotional stress. This stress comes from job loss, injury, divorce, death, but in some cases, it comes from positive stress too like having a baby or getting married. Any kind of stress can lead to an imbalance in the human body.
- Chronic inflammation and/or pain
- Lack of sleep
- Digestive infections like dysbiosis, h pylori, parasites, candida, and SIBO as well as microbiome imbalance
- Autoimmune diseases and disorders
Chronic stress can be started in many different ways – avoiding sleep at night due to partying or studying, drinking too many soft drinks or coffees, working two jobs, working over 80 hours a week, having irregular meals, sleeping less than 5 hours a day etc.
Men and women usually feel quite normal in the beginning because the body is using more cortisol as a result of the presence of increased levels of stress which ultimately makes people more alert. We all know that a small amount of stress is good and normal and we can’t avoid situations like this.
However, you must give a chance to your body to recover. In case you are not eating in the right way and you are not sleeping well for a long period of time, you will eventually experience a burnout because the body can’t re-energize and recover.
When the body is unable to keep up with the high level of stress, people start burning out.
The brain is indicating that there is a lot of stress, but the adrenals are unable to create the needed amount of cortisol to help you keep doing your things and you will start experiencing crashes. This is where adrenal burnout starts. The resources the body has used to combat stress are now gone.
In case you are a woman, you will probably notice irregular cycles or more intense PMS symptoms because the body is using molecules that are part of other hormones including progesterone (one of the most important female hormones) to create cortisol.
The body believes that survival is crucial and it is willing to put the ability to reproduce at risk. After all, an overly stressful environment is not good for making a baby. As a result of low progesterone level, you will become estrogen dominant.
In addition, it is possible to witness the emergence of hypothyroid symptoms like thinning hair and constipation because the adrenals have an impact on the thyroid and the female hormones. In most cases, you will feel very tired or you will experience sleeping problems. You can also start gaining weight and you won’t be able to lose it easily due to the fact that the metabolism is slowed down.
In case you keep living in this way, cutting sleep, using caffeine to stay awake and alert or avoiding certain meals to lose weight, you will eventually witness a dramatic burnout. This burnout won’t be something that you can ignore.
In a situation like this, the adrenals, the female hormones, and the thyroid are out of balance and although the doctor may look at you puzzled because the blood test results will be fine, you will feel that something is not right because you feel bad.
Reversing Adrenal Burnout: The Easy Way
- Bring back normal circadian rhythm
- Conduct saliva testing to determine the level of cortisol
- Eat good fats and foods that are rich in nutrients and foods that support building of hormones
- Eat an adequate amount of calories for healing
- Eat regularly to keep normal blood sugar levels
- Sleep about eight hours a night. Go to bed by 11 pm.
- Take more B vitamins
- Take more vitamin C and minerals
- Avoid coffee
- Improve digestion with the help of probiotic foods
- Learn how to manage stress at home and at work
- Use adaptogenic herbs
It’s a smart move to start with saliva testing, so you can know exactly how much cortisol you have. There are doctors who are providing blood testing for cortisol, but these tests are not very precise and provide just a few indicators that can help. The best saliva test includes four samples, so the patient can learn more about cortisol rhythm.
The level of cortisol must be highest during the day and lowest during the night. In case the levels of cortisol are low in the morning, you will feel tired.In case these levels are high at night you will have trouble falling asleep.
The body is synchronized with the natural rhythm of day and night and if you are able to follow this rhythm you will heal yourself easily. So, the saliva testing includes four samples taken during the day to determine cortisol rhythm. After that, you’ll get the info you need to learn how to fix yourself. Remember that low and high cortisol levels are treated in a different way.
After that, you should mix the treatment activities with a diet rich in nutrients. Use veggies of different kinds as a base for every meal you have. Organic, premium quality and fatty acid-rich protein food like lamb, grass fed beef, wild fish, and eggs should be part of your diet.
Of course, you should eat them in healthy amounts. Include many different sea vegetables and vegetables rich in nutrients too.
The adrenals’ work depends on minerals. Feel free to consume a slightly higher amount of sea salt, good fats like the ones from coconut oil, olive oil, and butter, organic meat, probiotic foods, bone broths etc. Next, use special healing supplements as part of your daily diet.
The following is a short list of supplements that can help you treat adrenal fatigue:
- B vitamins
- Adaptogenic herbs like maca root, GAIA, licorice root, and adrenatone
- Vitamin C
- Supplements for blood sugar support
- Specially designed supplements for adrenal fatigue like Adrecore
- Specific nutrients including phosphatidylserine which has proven to be good for balancing cortisol rhythm.
- Tulsi tea and nettles tea
Furthermore, you should focus on bringing back the natural, healthy circadian rhythm. In order to do this, you must put the body on a strict schedule. Try to wake up in the morning at the same time. Consume food every four hours.
Try to go to sleep at 10 pm or 11 pm. Remember to handle blood sugar levels because low or high levels of blood sugar can put pressure on the adrenals. If you want to do this, lower the consumption of gluten, refined foods, soft drinks, white sugar, wine, and coffee and never skip a meal.
Improve digestion by taking probiotic foods including coconut water kefir or raw kraut. In case the digestive tract is suffering from inflammation that comes as a result of eating too much sugar and bread or drinking too much wine, your body won’t be able to absorb and use nutrients from the food you eat.
Keep in mind that the body looks at inflammation as a harsh stressor. This means that inflamed gastrointestinal tract can make adrenal fatigue worse. Use probiotic supplements to improve digestion.
Refined sugar and white flour will boost blood sugar levels in every person and this is bad for the adrenals. Many adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola, maca, ashwagandha, schizandra, holy basil and licorice root can be helpful.
It’s worth mentioning that you should talk to a naturopath to find out which option is the best for you. The fact is that some of these adaptogenic herbs can make the situation worse if they are not taken at the right time and in dosages proper for your body.
We should also remember that the lifestyle we practice is crucial. It is impossible to feel better in case you don’t introduce some lifestyle changes in the way you eat, handle stress and sleep.
There are many people who are prepared to go on vacation or simply take some time off in order to improve their health.
You may feel that something like this will be costly because you won’t be working, but if you are worried about money think about what would happen if you develop some disease and have to treat yourself for a long time. Work on your stressful personal or professional relationships and have a good night’s sleep.
Use one day a week to forget about everything in your life and relax. There are many nutrients like seriphos (supplement) and magnesium that can lower the levels of cortisol at night and help you sleep better.
Treating adrenals will eliminate sleep problems in the long run, but you must be persistent. In addition, don’t over-exercise yourself and focus on activities that can rejuvenate your body and mind like meditation, yoga or even gardening!
Checking for and taking care of adrenal fatigue is a great example of effective preventive health care. In case you are able to eliminate adrenal fatigue, you will probably be able to eliminate some other illnesses that are bothering you for a long time.
Source: Healthy Holistic Living