Are you dealing with adrenal fatigue? Proponents of this condition estimate almost every person will experience adrenal fatigue at some point in his or her life. Adrenal fatigue, also known as hypoadrenia, manifests during particularly stressful times in a person’s life. Chronic stress, poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle can impact how well your body does, or does not, recover from emotional, mental or physical stressors and this can lead to adrenal fatigue.
Diagnosing adrenal fatigue
Diagnosis of hypoadrenia is not easy because adrenal fatigue mimics other disorders. For many, adrenal fatigue symptoms include:
Insulin resistance (feeling “hangry”)
Irritability and moodiness
Decreased sex drive
Decreased wound healing
Getting sick often
How Is Adrenal Fatigue “Diagnosed”?
Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) – saliva test taking 4 different samples throughout the day – cortisol follows a normal curve, higher in the mornings and steadily decreasing throughout the day until it’s time for bed. Some people follow the normal curve but have low levels of cortisol. Many people are switched and have low cortisol levels in the morning and high levels at night (these people have an increase in energy before bed, “second wind” sort of thing, and have trouble sleeping at night)
Patient and symptom history can give an unofficial but helpful diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency.
AM Cortisol is a blood test – only gives a small picture of what’s going on but can be helpful in diagnosing
It’s easy to see how some of these symptoms point to other health issues related to underlying disorders. Addressing the underlying conditions as well as adrenal fatigue are similar; and those treatments can improve and benefit your overall health.
Even adrenal fatigue tests aren’t conclusive or even indicative of adrenal fatigue alone. High levels of cortisol most often mean the body is stressed in some way (less often because of Cushings disease/syndrome). It is the “fight or flight” hormone and so anytime our body is in sympathetic mode the adrenals are producing extra cortisol. We should spend a good chunk of time in parasympathetic mode (“rest and digest”) but because of our lifestyle we are mostly in sympathetic.
People can also have elevated levels of cortisol from being “stressed” but have normal heart rate and BP. When we are sick our body requires more cortisol to ramp up our immune system and fight the infection.
Who’s at risk for adrenal fatigue?
While it can strike anyone facing mental, physical or emotional stress, those at higher risk include:
Caregivers (family caregivers and medical professionals)
Individuals in long-term stressful work or home environments
How can you heal yourself from adrenal fatigue?
There are steps you can take once your physician from Grand Canyon Clinics has diagnosed you as having Adrenal Insufficiency
Starting an adrenal fatigue diet
Reducing stress (this is sometimes easier said than done. Ask your doctor at Grand Canyon Clinics for advice on ways to holistically reduce stress)
Adrenal fatigue is a condition naturopath and chiropractor Dr. James L. Wilson named in 1998. He assumed an “overstimulation of a patient’s adrenal glands because of chronic stress, over time, would lead to more cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood stream.” This, eventually can lead to “adrenal fatigue.”
Unlike other endocrine disorders that can cause physical damage to the adrenal glands, hypoadrenia is seen by many in the medical field as a “middle ground” illness that can be “fixed” with simple solutions.
Adrenal fatigue, its sufferers will tell you, is real, even if it doesn’t have an official diagnosis.
The treatment for adrenal fatigue focuses on lifestyle adjustments and changes in diet; many traditional doctors don’t see this as a legitimate medical treatment. We do know, though, that food is medicine; it has the power to heal or to harm.
What are your adrenals?
Your adrenal glands are two thumb-sized organs. They sit above the kidneys and are part of your endocrine system. They produce more than fifty hormones that drive almost every bodily function considered essential for life.
Hormones impact almost every function, tissue and organ in the body, directly or indirectly. Hormones react to one another and respond to conditions in the body. When they’re functioning, the adrenal glands release cortisol on a diurnal rhythm meaning you receive boosts of cortisol during the day to keep you awake and lowers the level in the evening to help you sleep.
Your adrenal glands play a role in the body’s response to stress and fight-or-flight responses.
What leads to adrenal fatigue?
Exposure to environmental toxins
Stressful short-term experiences
Prolonged stress including work stressors, financial issues, toxic relationship
Lack of sleep
Poor diet including inconsistent nutrition or trendy diets
Lack of exercise
How can you overcome adrenal fatigue?
To recover from hypoadrenia you need to focus on stress reduction, avoiding negative thinking, toxicpeople, environmental pollutants and embrace and replenish your body with supplements, healthy, unprocessed foods and positive ways of thinking.
You can also:
Take adrenal fatigue supplements and herbs along with eating a healthy adrenal-friendly diet. Herbs including: licorice root, fish oil, magnesium, B-complex vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, selenium, lavender oil, rosemary oil
Reduce the stress on your adrenal system. You can do this by: sleeping eight to ten hours a night, do things that bring you daily joy, minimize work and home stress as much as possible, exercise, eat on a regular cycle, reduce caffeine and sugar intake
What is an adrenal fatigue diet?
There are myriad foods that provide support to your adrenal glands and can replenish adrenal energy. To reap the benefits of a healthy adrenal diet, you have to focus on removing chemicals, toxins and hard-to-digest foods. You’re looking for ways to remove as many foods or environmental elements that unduly tax your adrenals.
Foods to avoid for a healthy adrenal system
Sugar and artificial sweeteners (use raw honey as a healthy substitute)
Carbohydrates. Not all carbs are bad, but the inflammation they cause lead to problems for those suffering adrenal fatigue
Processed foods and meats
Hydrogenated oils (substitute healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, organic butter or ghee)
Foods to boost your adrenal system
Fatty fish like wild-caught salmon
Walnuts and almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia and flax
Himalayan sea salt
Fermented foods that are rich in probiotics
These adrenal-healthy foods help overcome adrenal fatigue because they’re low in sugar, have healthy fat and fiber and are nutrient dense.
If you’re suffering symptoms of adrenal fatigue, talk with your physician or give Grand Canyon Clinics a call and schedule an appointment to discuss your symptoms and work toward a healthier lifestyle.
Grand Canyon Clinics has specific supplements for patients depending on the level of adrenal insufficiency – most often HPA axis is targeted. We also look at other hormones, making sure everything is balanced – when one hormone is off it tends to throw off other levels and put additional stress on the adrenals. Of course, diet/nutrition is extremely important. Nutrient IVs can be extremely beneficial for anyone with adrenal fatigue.
There are different stages of adrenal fatigue: alarm, resistance, burnout/exhaustion. People can feel tired/fatigued in any one of the stages. Depending on where someone is in these stages will vary treatment.
Both men and women are impacted the same. In general women tend to hold and carry stress differently than men and are more often affected.
Can’t make it to our Flagstaff clinic? If you live in Arizona or California you can schedule a telemedicine appointment with Dr. Chastant. Call our clinic to schedule a telemedicine appointment or to schedule an appointment in our Flagstaff office.