Treating Chronic Fatigue and Adrenal Fatigue Naturally
The easy, relaxed lifestyle experienced by our ancestors no longer exists, and we’re not even aware of how much stress we’re under. The problem? “Our lifestyles have changed, but our bodies haven’t.”
The adrenal glands sit over the kidneys, where they play a significant role in the body, secreting more than 50 hormones necessary for life, including epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), progesterone and testosterone. Since they produce so many essential hormones, the adrenal glands are responsible for many of the functions we need to stay alive and healthy, including:
Energy production – carbohydrate, protein and fat conversion to blood glucose for energy
Fluid and electrolyte balance
One hormone in particular, cortisol, is extremely important for keeping our body systems in balance, as well as protecting our cells. For example:
It controls the strength of the immune system: Too much cortisol weakens the immune system, setting the motions for increased susceptibility to infections and cancer, while too little leads to an overactive immune system and autoimmune disease.
It normalizes blood sugar.
It regulates blood pressure
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
Morning fatigue – You don’t really seem to “wake up” until 10am, even if you’ve been awake since 7am
Afternoon “low” (feelings of sleepiness or clouded thinking) from 2 to 4pm
Burst of energy at 6pm – You finally feel better from your afternoon lull.
Sleepiness at 9 to 10pm – However, you resist going to sleep.
“Second wind” at 11pm that lasts until about 1am, when you finally go to sleep.
Cravings for foods high in salt and fat
Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
Lack of energy
Decreased ability to handle stress
Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or laying down position
Decreased sex drive
Inability to handle foods high in potassium or carbohydrates unless they’re combined with fats and protein
Causes of Adrenal Fatigue
Excessive stress, an important cause of burnout, can be from many sources. Chemical toxicity and nutritional depletion are among the physical causes. Mental, emotional or spiritual stress may be a major factor. Financial, family or other stress may also contribute to burnout.
Any excessive stress can deplete the adrenals, especially when weakened by poor nutrition.
Nutritional Deficiencies are a common cause. When under stress, the need for nutrients is much greater. Carbohydrates, when excessive in the diet, stress the adrenals. Diets low in protein may also create deficiencies.
Toxic metals and chemicals often play a large role in adrenal burnout. Everyone is exposed to thousands of chemicals in the air, the water and the food.
Stimulants damage the adrenal glands. They whip the adrenals. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol are among the most common stimulants.
Stimulant use, however, can also be a result of adrenal burnout. While stimulants can cause or contribute to adrenal weakness, some who use stimulants do so because they are in adrenal burnout already.
Unhealthy responses to stress are another cause of adrenal burnout. These include habits of worrying, or becoming angry or afraid. Don’t worry, be happy is a great prescription for adrenal burnout.
Diagnosing (And misdiagnosing) adrenal fatigue
To make matters worse, doctors often don’t diagnose this problem.
In medical school, they are only taught to look for extreme adrenal malfunction (Addison’s disease, which occurs when the glands produce far too little cortisol, and Cushing’s syndrome, which stems from excessive cortisol production) and don’t know how to measure cumulative adrenal fatigue.
Treatment of Adrenal Fatigue
“Optimal adrenal health is one of the major keys to the enjoyment of life,” according to Dr. Wilson. If you have adrenal fatigue, you can fully live life again by making the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes to treat your disorder.
Treating adrenal fatigue is as easy as:
Adopting a natural whole-foods diet
Avoiding junk food
Drinking high quality water, not from the tap. Distilled or spring waters are best
Eating five to six servings of vegetables each day through juicing or adding them to meals
Avoiding white flour and other processed grains
Adding sea salt to your diet, replacing your table salt
Taking 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day
Taking a high strength B-complex supplement
Taking high quality fish oils
Adding licorice root extract and kelp to your diet
Doing a detox and using an infra-red sauna
Replacing toxic chemical products used around the house with non-toxic alternatives
Spending some time in the sun each day
Doing something fun each day
Getting lots of rest
Taking negative people out of your life
Taking back your life
If you take your treatment plan seriously, you can expect your adrenal fatigue to heal in:
6 to 9 months for minor adrenal fatigue
12 to 18 months for moderate fatigue
Up to 24 months for severe adrenal fatigue
Saliva testing is shown to be the best form of adrenal testing. It is a simple test and will give you a cortisol pattern over an 18 hour period.
Nutritional testing with SpectraCell labs is something I have been doing for 5-6 years. It has given me one of my best tools for treating chronic fatigue.