Are you sick and tired of always being sick and tired? Do you feel tired and rundown most of the time and have problems getting a good rest – and when you are able to sleep it does not seem to help much with how tired you feel? If so, your problem may be adrenal fatigue – particularly if you have experienced major stress in your life. Fortunately fixing adrenal fatigue is relatively simple to do and if you take the right steps you may soon be able to renew your adrenals and gain back energy and wellness that you may not have expected to see again.
The adrenals are small walnut-sized glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Normally the adrenals produce numerous important hormones, such as adrenaline, that help the body regulate blood pressure, heart rate, metabolism, liver function and the immune system. The also produce two crucial stress hormones, DHEA and cortisol, which are essential in balancing blood sugar and the body’s response to stress.
When a person endures stress for a prolonged period, whether mental, physical or emotional, the result is often a constant need for those two hormones which outstrips the adrenals’ production of them. As a result of deficiencies in the hormones, cognitive function may become impaired, energy levels may drop and the body may become less able to handle stress. Deficiencies can also contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain, fatigue, allergies, infections, mood disorders and poor libido.
Signs of Adrenal Fatigue
People who suffer adrenal fatigue often have a distinct pattern. They are usually fatigued and dragging in the morning and often do not fully “wake up” until around mid-morning. Usually they won’t feel fully awake until after a noon meal. Often, they also feel a mid-afternoon lull and then generally begin to feel better after 6 PM. By 9 PM they are usually tired again. People with adrenal fatigue often work best at night and in the morning.
Other signs of adrenal fatigue include:
- Mood swings
- Light-headedness after standing up
- Inability to focus
- Memory problems
- Body aches, including pain in the lower back
- Craving for salt and/or sugar
- Slower recovery from illness
Correcting Adrenal Fatigue – Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Correcting adrenal fatigue should begin with reducing stress and making healthy lifestyle and dietary changes. Simple changes such as more laughter, taking small breaks to lie down, increased relaxation, regular meals, moderate exercise, early bedtimes and sleeping until at least 9 AM whenever possible can all be beneficial for adrenal fatigue.
Since people with adrenal fatigue often have cravings for sweets due to blood sugar fluctuations, it is important to have breakfast and to eat small, healthy snacks between meals. It may also be helpful to eat five or six smaller meals or snacks each day in order to keep your blood sugar balanced.
Diets should have a heavy emphasis on vegetables. Combine unrefined carbohydrates with protein and oils, nuts and seeds at most meals, including items such as olives, fiber, flax, walnuts, and macadamia nuts. Root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, carrots, onions, garlic and potatoes are good. Other good complex carbs are corn, brown rice and quinoa. You may want to avoid wheat, as you may be allergic.
Other dietary considerations are: Chew your food well. Avoid processed foods, junk foods, simple sugars, refined grains, sodas, alcohol, fruit juices, caffeine, chocolate, and hydrogenated fats.
It may be beneficial to add small amounts of a healthy salt, such as sea salt, Celtic salt or Himalayan salt. However, make sure your daily salt intake is not excessive – 2,400 mg per day of sodium from all sources is usually about right.
In addition to healthy changes in diet and lifestyle, there are several important herbs and supplements that may help restore fatigued adrenals. Some of the best are listed below.
Herbs for Adrenal Fatigue
Ashwagandha: Popular in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwaganda helps normalize adrenal function. Typical dose is 1-2 capsules twice daily on an empty stomach.
Eleuthero root (Siberian ginseng) : Eleuthero has been used traditionally to stimulate and nourish the adrenals and increase mental alertness. It is considered an “adaptogen”, meaning that it can help the body adapt to stress.
Rhodiola rosea: This herb enhances mental and physical performance. The recommended dose is 500 mg twice a day. Note: Those with bipolar disorder should not use this product, since it can increase brain levels of serotonin.
Other herbs which may help with adrenal fatigue include: licorice, maca, and Korean ginseng.
Note: Licorice can and, if taken over time, does have a propensity to elevate blood pressure. It should not be used in persons with a history of hypertension, renal failure, or who currently use digitalis preparations such as digoxin.
Vitamins, Minerals other Supplements for Adrenal Fatigue
Cordyceps: Cordyceps is a Chinese mushroom that supports the adrenal glands. It also normalizes and supports functions of the immune system, kidneys, lungs, liver, nervous system and cardiovascular system.
DHEA: DHEA is a basic hormone that the adrenals convert into other hormones. The average dose ranges between 10-25 mg, although if someone is very deficient in DHEA they may initially only be able to tolerate amounts as small as 5 mg. DHEA also is converted into sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.
Pregnenolone: Pregnenolone is a raw material that supports basic adrenal function and is a precursor to many of the hormones produced by the adrenals glands. The usual dose is 25 mg and it is best taken towards the evening (but may be taken earlier if it interferes with sleep).
Progesterone Cream: Progesterone is an important building block for many other major hormones such as cortisol, DHEA, testosterone and estrogen.
Note: Hormones should be administered under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.
Adrenal glandular extract (AGE): AGE contains growth factors that promote cell healing and has nutrients that support gland function and repair. Take one to two tablets daily without food, reducing the dosage if you become jittery or have trouble sleeping.
Proline: Proline is helpful in rebuilding connective tissues and weak adrenals are often associated with weak connective tissues. Typical dose is 500 mg daily.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): B5 is especially important for stress-hormone production. Take up to 500 mg three times a day. A good multivitamin (or B-complex) will supply enough of the other B vitamins needed.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is important for immune and other health support. For adrenal fatigue take 1,000-2,000 mg twice daily. If loose stools develop, reduce or further divide the doses.
Other helpful supplements include: vitamin E w/mixed tocopherols, vitamin B complex, niacin, pantothenic acid, magnesium citrate, trace minerals from plant derived sources, free-form amino acids, and If depression is present, SAMe and/or DL-Phenylalanine.
It may take time and effort to lessen the unreasonable demands made on your mind and body and to take and do the things needed to help your adrenals recover. In time though, the adrenals will be able to recover and when they so, so should your energy and health.
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