I decided to make an appointment with a Naturopath, and it turns out, that was the best thing I did. Not only did she test my iron levels and thyroid (which, by the way my doctor never did), she tested me for adrenal fatigue, which is a simple saliva test done over 24 hours. When the results came back that I had adrenal dysfunction, I actually cried...it wasn't all in my head! I could be helped, without a prescription.
We've all been there. In times of stress, our bodies go on high alert and suddenly the simply things that create balance in our lives – like getting enough sleep or making a simple decision – seem impossible. We “hit a wall” and crash into depression, or worse, because our bodies are spent and completely exhausted. This is called adrenal fatigue and is the result of our primal “fight or flight” stress response never letting down.
Our adrenal glands kick all systems into high gear when we're stressed. As their name implies, the adrenal glands secrete adrenaline among other potent hormones. Located just above the kidneys, it is the basic task of the adrenal glands to respond to stress by rushing your whole body into “fight or flight” mode.
This means our adrenal gland either signal our body to rage against whatever illness or irritant is causing the stress, or flee to a safe place where the stress can be avoided. For instance, to fight, our adrenal glands signal the heart to work harder, increasing the heart rate and elevating blood pressure. Energy use increases immediately as demands on the body's stores increase under the influence of the adrenal hormones. Then, when the crisis is abated, the adrenal glands restore themselves and replenish energy supplies for the next emergency.
If we are constantly over-worked, undernourished and chronically exposed to toxins with no sign of a break, then there's no let-up for the adrenal glands. Eventually, they will bottom out and plummet into adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands are not longer able to adapt to any amount of stress.
When this happens, the effects can be widespread and long-lasting, causing suppression of the immune system, hormonal imbalance, skin flare-ups, autoimmune diseases and mood disorders. Adrenal fatigue is, indeed, the underlying factor in many stress-related conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease and cancer, to colitis, chronic fatigue to Alzheimer's.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
- Fatigue, low energy
- Light headed when standing
- Low libido
- Hard time handling stress
- Need more time recovering from illness or grief
- Difficult PMS/menopause
- Low energy around 2 or 3 pm
- Fuzzy thinking/memory problems
- Weight gain/fluid retention
- Cravings for salty foods
People with adrenal exhaustion or chronic fatigue can appear quite normal but, inside, they live with a feeling of always having to push themselves too far. To keep themselves going, these exhausted people rely on stimulants such as caffeine or sugar.
Often, people with worn out adrenal glands seem lazy or unmotivated but quite the opposite is true – they tend to be high-achiever or workaholics. In their state of adrenal exhaustion, unfortunately, they have to push themselves harder to merely accomplish the basic tasks.
Does this sound like someone you know? If so, here are some ways to heal adrenal exhaustion and restore relaxation and vitality.
- Visit your Naturopath and get tested (it's a simple saliva test)
- Exercise/Meditation/Yoga – all helps to reduce stress
- Eat foods rich in Omega-3’s like salmon, ground flax seed or oil – or take a fish oil supplement
- Consume probiotics – rebalances the bacteria in our gut, which supports the immune system
- Eat low GI foods, helps balance blood sugar levels – whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies with the skin
- Eat LOTS of fruits and veggies – choose a rainbow of colours and load up on the dark green ones
- AVOID processed, refined foods and anything white (rice, bread, pasta)
- Herbs and supplements – there are many available, check with your local health food store
If you need help making changes, I'm here to help. Reply to this email or give me a call at 778-836-3831.
In good health,
Cheryl Wahl, RHN, CPCC