Do you experience any of the following?
· Morning grogginess
· Afternoon fatigue 2-4 PM, feeling best after 6:00 PM
· Caffeine dependence
· Difficulties falling or staying asleep
· Increased PMS, peri-menopausal or menopausal symptoms
· High or low blood pressure
· Suboptimal thyroid function
· Need to lie down or rest after sessions of psychological or emotional pressure/stress
· Decreased sex drive
· Crave salt and foods high in salt
· Feel better with high fat diet
· Feel hypoglycemic (lightheaded, anxious, irritable) especially under stress
· Difficulties losing weight, especially in the midsection
· Frequent acute illnesses (colds, flus)
· Mental fogginess
Yes to any? Then your adrenals may be in need of some support.
Many of us know how it feels to be stressed or overworked. However, not many of us realize what this stress does to our bodies on a physical level. Over-extended periods of stress can overburden our bodies, creating a situation that’s not so easy to bounce back from.
The adrenal glands are the organs that sit just above the kidneys that regulate stress and energy patterns. Cortisol is normally released by the adrenals in a 24-hour daily cycle with a burst in the morning to help us wake up and its lowest levels in the evening so we may sleep. As an individual feels mental or physical stress, the adrenals secrete cortisol and other hormones to prepare the body for a “fight or flight” response. But with prolonged stress, they become unbalanced and either releasing too much cortisol, or burn out so that cortisol is not released properly. This is referred to as “adrenal fatigue.” The symptoms listed above and below are common signs of adrenal fatigue.
Caffeine should not be required by the body to start the day. Many individuals find that they require coffee or other sources of caffeine to feel awake in the mornings or after lunch. This pattern suggests an irregular cortisol rhythm and adrenal fatigue. While attempting to raise cortisol levels with caffeine to feel awake, the body is sent a chronic state of stress leading to increased fatigue.
Cortisol also affects sugar, fat and protein metabolism. With chronic stress or adrenal fatigue, weight issues arise. High levels of cortisol are associated with central adiposity or belly fat. It is very difficult to lose weight during times of stress and low adrenal function.
Adrenal fatigue also compromises tissue healing and can increase tissue breakdown. This leads to slower recovery after an injury, increased muscle and joint degeneration, and thus pain. Sleep is very important for patients with adrenal fatigue and musculoskeletal pain for this is when tissues heal.
Inflammation and allergies may be more resistant to treatment with adrenal fatigue. Cortisol is an immune suppressant so in times of high stress, the body is unable to properly fight an infection.
The ability to enter REM sleep cycles and experience regenerative sleep is interrupted by high cortisol values at night and in the morning. Chronic lack of REM sleep can reduce a person’s mental vitality, vigor and induce depression.
#1 TREATMENT FOR THE ADRENALS: ROUTINE
· Sleep in a completely dark room
· Go to bed and wake at the same time every night and morning, even weekends.
What are your triggers? Stress can be disguised or felt as grief, fear, anger or hurt. Also consider environmental factors such as visual and aural overstimulation. Work with your stress and find a way to process it effectively.
If in an early response to stress it may feel great to go for a run or other vigorous workout. If in a more decompensated state you may need to choose something like yoga or walking--you should not feel exhausted after your exercise. If you have a lot of fatigue and you are getting sick often your body may be telling you to slow down and replenish with sleep and nourishing foods.
· Eat several balanced meals a day. Eat within 1 hour of waking and not within 1 hour of bed.
· Include a protein with each meal and don’t shy away from the good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, seeds, nut butters).
· Eat dark, leafy greens such as collards, kale, chard or spinach every day.
· Do not be afraid of salt. Use sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, or kelp powder to taste
· Drink half your weight in ounces of filtered WATER every day.
· Sugar and refined (white) carbohydrates
· Fruit juices with the following ingredients: fructose, glucose, corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin
· Processed foods
· Hydrogenated fats
· CAFFEINE, Alcohol
· Allergic or sensitive foods
· Vitamin C: 2-6 grams per day. Work your way up as too much may cause loose stools.
· B complex
· Magnesium citrate 400 mg per day or 1 packet of Magnelevures each day
· Licorice tea or tincture
Call Dr. Birr today to find out how you can individualize your treatment plan for optimal adrenal health.
Dr. Alicia McCubbins is a naturopathic physician who strives to educate, motivate and inspire. Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions so that we may collectively grow through knowledge.