So You’ve Found Out You Have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome….
It may have taken a while to get a diagnosis but you’ve just found out that you have adrenal fatigue syndrome. It’s a relief to finally know the reason for the crashing tiredness you’ve been experiencing.
Particularly in the afternoons you feel very fatigued and what’s with waking up at 3.15 a.m every morning? Well now you have the reason for your crazy symptoms, but your doctor has been unable to offer much help.
So now you are looking around for alternative therapies and eager to know about how to heal your adrenal glands naturally.
Perhaps you’ve discovered adrenal fatigue is a component of your chronic fatigue syndrome. Or maybe you’ve recently discovered the adrenal connection to existing thyroid issues?
Whatever the reason, it’s important you learn the necessary information you need to heal your adrenal glands and how to do it naturally. But how do you do it?
Of course there are several herbal and nutrient supplements you can take that help support your adrenals and heal adrenal fatigue naturally.
However, first it’s important to acknowledge there are some diet and lifestyle changes you must make.
Without recognizing that your lifestyle plays a huge role in how you got adrenal fatigue in the first place, you will have great difficulty recovering fully and healing your adrenal glands.
I found this out the hard way, when I continued pushing myself way too hard, not taking holidays, and constantly ignoring the need to take time out to simply relax, switch off from a relentless work schedule and take sufficient rest.
Able to recover for a short while, but without changing my ‘head-space’ and lifestyle habits, I relapsed several times. Each time I relapsed my overall adrenal health became worse, causing a cascade effect on my thyroid function too. My overall health went into a dizzying downward spiral.
What Everyone Should Know About Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Mindset Is A Huge Part Of Successfully Healing From Adrenal Fatigue
There is an imbalance in your lifestyle somewhere, which is the reason you got adrenal fatigue in the first place. Without taking time to acknowledge this, it’s impossible to get well.
Do you recognize any of these attitudes and behaviors?
- Burning the midnight oil.
- Working hard/playing hard.
- Eating a fast food diet.
- Using alcohol/drugs to de-stress.
- Not taking holidays/time off.
- Continually pushing yourself to achieve.
- Refusing to rest until you complete a task.
- Taking on too much from people around you emotionally as well as physically.
- Thinking that you are invincible.
- Engaging in competitive behavior.
- Needing to always prove yourself.
- Eating irregularly.
- Believing that you are the only person capable of carrying out a task or job correctly.
- Never taking time to rest and simply do nothing.
- Always working to beat the clock.
- Having a long ‘To Do’ list that seems to increase daily.
- Being in stressful personal and/or professional relationships.
- Feeling constantly irritated and impatient.
If you recognize your own behavior in the above list, you’ll find it beneficial to your health to work on reducing them. The adrenals recognize stress in different forms, not only from physical sources but from dietary, mental and emotional sources too.
The Secret Of How The Adrenal Glands Work
Your adrenal glands function to modulate stress to help your body cope with the physical effects. There are two adrenal glands that sit above the kidneys, each about the size of a walnut.
They have two compartments: the adrenal medulla (inner compartment) and the adrenal cortex (outer compartment).
Adrenal medulla. The adrenal medulla regulates the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine. These control the sympathetic nervous system which causes the flight or fight response you feel when stressed.
- Adrenal cortex. The adrenal cortex produces more than 50 steroid hormones and is the largest part of the adrenal gland. These hormones fall into three classes:
- Mineralocorticoids such as Aldosterone that causes the kidney to retain salt and eliminate potassium
- Androgens are often regarded as male hormones but they occur in women in lower levels and include testosterone, estrogen and progesterone
- Glucocorticoids such as cortisol.
Cortisol is the most important hormone for helping your body deal with stress. Almost all the cells in your body have cortisol receptors so it affects much of how the body functions.
It helps reduce inflammation, control blood sugar levels, assists memory retention and controls the metabolism. Cortisol also affects the balance of water and salt in your body, and helps to keep your blood pressure under control.
When you are in a high state of being stressed, the adrenal glands release high levels of cortisol. When the stress is prolonged they become overworked because they cannot keep up with the demand for cortisol.
Cortisol levels drop so your body does not react properly to high pressure situations which can cause high blood pressure and water retention.
It is a relatively new condition caused by the relentless stress of our lives. Some recognize adrenal fatigue syndrome as a common occurrence. Even though the World health Organization recognizes it, much of the medical profession tend to believe it does not exist.
Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Adrenal fatigue syndrome can affect men and women alike at any time of life. You are more vulnerable to adrenal fatigue syndrome when you have an infection such as the flu and bronchitis that you cannot shake.
High levels of stress such as financial worries or someone dying or lifestyle choices such as minimal exercise and poor diet, substance abuse and poor sleep patterns also make you vulnerable to adrenal fatigue syndrome.
The symptoms are not specific and can include a combination of the following:
- Being over tired every day
- Trouble getting out of bed in the mornings
- More energy in the early evening
- Cravings for salty or sweet foods
- Immune system weakness
- Cravings for coffee and caffeine
- A decreased ability to handle stressful situations
- Anxiety or depression
- Poor circulation
- A need to urinate more often
- Rapid weight gain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pain in the lower back
- Persistent dark circles under your eyes
- Allergies or respiratory problems
- Pain in the joints or lower back
- Dry skin
- Low blood pressure or blood sugar
- Disinterest in sex
- Muscle weakness
- Low energy levels
- Exhaustion after only exercising for an hour
Adrenal Fatigue Crash
Adrenal fatigue syndrome is degenerative if it goes untreated over time and your body responds by trying to keep energy in reserve. The longer you have adrenal fatigue syndrome, the harder it is to recover. The worse adrenal fatigue syndrome gets the less you will be able to functional at normal levels and you may need bed rest.
No part of your body is spared as you head for an adrenal fatigue syndrome crash. Your body progressively removes energy from the body’s systems.
It starts with the areas not vital to survival. The reproduction system, libido and thyroid gland are the first areas to lose energy as the body works to conserve it.
Then the gastrointestinal tract slows making it harder to cope with processed foods. This results in poor digestion and can increases episodes of constipation, gas and bloating.
This, in turn, affects the kidneys and liver as it allows toxins to build up in your body causing all sorts of health problems.
As the body slows down more, it breaks down muscle to generate energy. This causes your body to deteriorate further where there is weight and muscle loss.
At this stage you can experience fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. When your body comes closer to crashing you lose your appetite. There will be an electrolyte and sugar imbalance, and you become resistant to insulin.
If this decline continues, the adrenal glands react with alarm. They activate the flight or fight state by releasing adrenalin, which further promotes the downward spiral.
If degeneration continues, the body crashes from exhaustion. When you hit this level, you will have no choice but to rest up in bed.
People suffering with adrenal fatigue syndrome will be familiar with crashes. In the beginning the crashes may be harmless and only last a short time. There is a quick recovery after a nap, a sugar fix or a coffee.
But, you may crash again once the effects of these wear off, so you can become trapped in a vicious cycle. Avoid ignoring the warning signs. If you do, the crashes will increase and become more serious.
As adrenal fatigue syndrome gets worse, increased exercise can trigger a crash and recovery takes longer. The severity of crashes varies depending on the seriousness of adrenal fatigue syndrome and how long your body has been dealing with it.
Adrenal Crash Intensity
Your body will automatically recover after each crash but each crash weakens your body internally. When you do not nurture yourself back to health, small crashes occur more often and with increasing severity each time.
Adrenal fatigue syndrome has five levels of intensity. The first two levels cause minor crashes with a good chance of recovery. The other three levels cause major crashes and it is much harder to recover from them.
The following are the five intensity levels of adrenal fatigue syndrome crashes.
Level 1 Intensity
During level 1 there is a 10 to 19 percent loss of adrenal function. There is a metabolic imbalance and it affects your emotions causing irritability. You will feel overly tired, be hungrier and need to eat earlier than normal. You can continue functioning normally, go to work but feel really tired by the end of the day. Taking a nap will help you feel recovered.
Level 2 Intensity
When you experience level 2 intensity, your adrenal function decreases by 20 to 29 percent. You will experience the same imbalances as during level 1. But, you will feel tireder than normal and after a 30-minute nap you will recover your energy. You will feel more emotional and on edge, and be hungrier than usual. While you can still function normally, you will need to force yourself to keep going. Normal tasks are harder as your body is feeling the strain. Taking a nap may not restore your energy and you can wake up still feeling low on energy.
Level 3 Intensity
Level 3 intensity involves a 30 to 39 percent loss of normal adrenal gland functionality. You will still have the imbalances of level 1, but they will be more severe. And, your energy levels are low during the day. Resting will not recover your energy levels. You may still be able to function normally at some levels, but will not feel like leaving home at all. You may be quick to anger and have a short fuse. Sugar cravings can be common and you can find sleeping difficult. You may also experience dizziness, cold sweats and palpitations.
Level 4 Intensity
At level 4 intensity there is a 40 to 40 percent loss of normal adrenal gland function. All the symptoms of the previous levels get worse and you experience extreme tiredness all day. You will feel drained of all energy and not be able to continue functioning as normal. You will not be able to go to work or have the energy to do household chores. Depression sets in and you do not have the energy to get angry. And the food that helped sustain you during earlier intensity levels make you feel worse. You will need time off work to spend time in bed to recover.
Level 5 Intensity
During level 5 there is a 50 percent or more loss of energy. Everything gets worse and you may not be able to get out of bed except to go to the toilet. You may also need help to walk, get dressed and to have a shower.
How To Avoid Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Prevention is better than cure to avoid adrenal fatigue syndrome. It is always more difficult to recover once you are seriously ill. The three parts of avoidance and recovery include lifestyle choices, diet and exercise.
Dealing with your stress and looking at your health from a holistic perspective are the two most important things.
Stress stalks us every day, in all parts of our lives in a modern fast paced world.
Stressors can come from:
- Environmental stress includes pollutants in the air, the workplace, chemicals and pesticides.
- Emotional stress includes anxiety and depression, relationships, bereavement, financial worries, hardships and pressure.
- Physical stress includes injury, exercise, substance abuse, alcohol, diet, injuries, illness and not getting enough sleep.
When feeling stressed, stop and take the time to look at what is stressing you out. Identify stress triggers and work out a plan to eliminate, or at least minimize them.
Diet is the one of the main contributing factors to adrenal fatigue syndrome. The body depends on the food you eat for nourishment to maintain its balance. To treat adrenal fatigue successfully you must take a look at your diet.
Eat whole foods and eliminate processed foods from your diet. Here are the five main foods you should avoid:
- refined carbohydrates such as white bread, junk and processed foods, and foods containing trans fats such as fried foods
- sugar and its substitutes.
Just eliminating these as main sources in a diet, will improve your energy levels and overall health.
Supplements And Herbs
Supplements and herbs help to replace the nutrients missing from your system.
They are a huge help in healing adrenal fatigue naturally.
Supplements that can boost the adrenal gland function include:
Herbs that can help assist you with mild adrenal fatigue symptoms over the short term. Helpful herbs include:
- Licorice root
- Korean and Siberian ginseng
- Ashwagandha root
- Ginkgo leaf.
This useful supplement has a combination of proven adaptogenic herbs and vitamins in one easy to take capsule.
While it can be hard to push yourself to exercise when feeling tired, exercise helps and you feel better afterwards. It is a great stress reliever and has many benefits including reducing depression and increasing the body’s blood flow. Exercise also returns the cortisol levels, growth hormones, blood sugar and insulin to normal.
The key to exercise when you have adrenal fatigue syndrome is to balance it with what you can comfortably achieve because overdoing it can make adrenal fatigue syndrome worse or cause a crash. The right levels of exercise will leave you feeling rejuvenated rather than tired after each session.
Different types of exercise good for adrenal fatigue syndrome sufferers include:
- Anaerobic exercises such as sit ups, chin ups, weight lifting and push ups
- Flexibility such as yoga, tai chi and stretching exercises
- Aerobics such as swimming, walking and using a treadmill.
The level of exercise you will be able to do, depends on how advanced your adrenal fatigue syndrome is and will be different for everyone. When you have advanced adrenal fatigue syndrome you may only be able to take a slow walk for 5 minutes a couple of times a week. As your health improves, the exercise level and regularity can increase.
It is important to exercise only at an intensity level that does not result in a crash. If you keep pushing your body past its limits you will experience set backs to your complete recovery. For some people with adrenal fatigue syndrome, restorative yoga will be the only type of exercise they can manage.
What Are 10 Simple Things You Can Do To Support Your Adrenals?
There’s a lot of information to get to grips with when attempting to heal your adrenal glands naturally. Not to mention, making so many changes can seem overwhelming.
Breaking any action plan down into easy points can make it better to deal with. Take each of the 10 steps here one at a time and start introducing them into your daily life to fight adrenal fatigue syndrome.
Meditate – Meditation helps you switch off the fight or flight response. Your relaxed mind and body signal your adrenals that you are not in danger and they can stop pumping out cortisol.
Get sufficient rest – Your adrenals need time to recharge and can only do this when you are in a rested state. Take time out to simply do nothing. Lie down, switch off your computer or phone, read a book or listen to some quiet and uplifting music.
Cut out sugar – Your body is craving more energy and wants fast energy you get from a sugar fix. But this is simply placing more strain on your adrenals, whipping them up to work even harder. Cut out sugar to give your adrenals a break so they can rest and recuperate.
Ditch caffeine – Like sugar, caffeine whips your adrenals, driving them to work in a depleted state. Give coffee, tea and cola a break.
Add salt to your food – The adrenals need salt to function properly. You might find you are craving salty foods which is your body trying to get your attention. Use Himalayan or Celtic sea salt which both include an array of beneficial minerals. Refined table salt has none of the beneficial minerals and may include unwanted caking agents too.
Take a high quality Vitamin C supplement – When under strain your adrenals use more Vitamin C. Read this article stating the importance of Vitamin C for the health of the adrenal glands.
You need to supply them with this important nutrient in an easily absorbable form, like this high quality vitamin c supplement.
Eat at regular intervals – If food is not supplied to your body at regular intervals, your adrenals understand this as a danger signal, they think you are in starvation mode and pump out stress hormones. Eat 3 meals a day and one or two snacks to calm the adrenal stress response. Eating smaller quantities at each meal and snack puts less stress on your digestive system too.
Take a good quality Vitamin B5/ Pantothenic acid supplement – Vitamin B5 plays an important role in energy metabolism and in the production of sex hormones produced in the adrenal glands. Your adrenals need this vitamin in a relatively high dose which you may not be able to get from your diet.
Stay hydrated – Fluid dysregulation and electrolyte imbalance is common in adrenal fatigue. Maintaining correct fluid balance is important in adrenal fatigue. Your body systems including your adrenals need sufficient filtered water to function optimally.
Eat sufficient protein – Getting enough protein to keep your energy levels consistent without causing spikes in blood sugar levels is critical in healing your adrenal fatigue. Eating organic meat, eggs and poultry as well as wild caught fatty fish like salmon are great choices. Choose protein at breakfast for a great start to the day.
Putting It All Together
Realize that your lifestyle plays a huge part in how you ended up with adrenal fatigue. Review the list of behaviors above and decide which of them you can work on changing. Without making lifestyle changes you will be unable to cure adrenal fatigue syndrome naturally.
Check out the list of 10 simple things you can do to heal your adrenal glands naturally and pick a few of them at first, gradually adding more into your diet and lifestyle as you gain confidence and begin to feel better.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.