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Adrenal fatigue is on the rise, we are seeing so many people suffering but not knowing what the causation is or how to help. In my line of work, especially over the last 12 months I have had more and more people coming to me, only to discover adrenal fatigue is at the root of their problem. But what is adrenal fatigue and what are the symptoms? Also — can it be ‘fixed’? xo
First, lets look at what the adrenals are. The adrenal glands are 2 glands that sit on most commonly sitting on top of your kidneys, but there actually is some variation. There’s times in which they’re not at the same spot, or there’s more than two of them, or they’re elsewhere, but typically you’ve got oneon top of each kidney.
To be really accurate, because of your liver, the right one sits a little bit lower than the left, it’s kind of pushed down a little bit. And they’re about the size of a dice, like a
little rolling dice. Belonging to the endocrine system they produce 57 or so hormones, with the most recognizable being Cortisol (our stress or fight or survival hormone). These glands are vital to your well being and any dysfunction gets commonly termed as Adrenal fatigue. (**Studies are now showing that this may be an inaccurate term and the term HPA dysfunction may be more fitting because it is actually the Hypothalamus and Pituitary gland that determine whether or not we go into fight or flight mode. But for this article we will continue to call this syndrome ‘adrenal fatigue’ ).
Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level or inadequately. Most commonly associated with chronic stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia.
When we look at stress and its relationship to cortisol. Prolonged chronic stress causes the adrenals to continually pump out cortisol until eventually the adrenals get fatigued and can no longer meet the body’s cortisol demands. This then leads to symptoms showing up in your daily life like;
- constant fatigue
- change in mood
- lack of enthusiasm
- short temper with people
- digestive issues
- struggles or plateaus with weight
Now let’s take a step back and refresh your memory on what cortisol does, if you are a student of mine you will have heard me discuss this essential hormone many times. Understanding what cortisol does is essential to healing yourself if you suffer with adrenal fatigue. There’s a couple of main roles cortisol plays — it regulates blood sugar, controls inflammation (so if you over train, get sick, have some kind of
a trauma, your body needs to make its own internal anti-inflammatory to stop that
and protect you). It also controls blood pressure and blood electrolytes.
And the last big role is that it controls cell permeability relative to other hormones. So – your cells have this cycle of opening up and absorbing thyroid hormones, ovarian hormones, testicular hormones —- and the cortisol rhythm of day to night is what controls that cell permeability cycle.
So you can see, cortisol is not a bad guy. You need cortisol, but the real issue is that if it’s produced in the wrong amounts, and at the wrong time as well, it can be an issue. Cortisol is low because your body wants to lower it, and wants to adjust it to give
you space to heal. But if your adrenal glands are not producing cortisol properly at the right levels, adrenal fatigue will then set in and you are then at risk of getting sick and even developing some sort of auto immune disease. And the circle continues.
Alas, all is not lost. There are many ways to address adrenal fatigue — one of the best places to start is to remain calm. You are not alone. I have many recommendations for ‘fixing’ adrenal fatigue, with one of my best being LAUGH! Laughing helps produce many hormones like strong NK cells, endorphins, serotonin, growth hormone and interferon-gamma (IFN) that counteract the stress response in the body and thus give your adrenal glands a well needed break. These hormones have also been show to strengthen the immune system (this makes a lot of sense). Yay!
Another thing I recommend is reevaluating your caffeine intake – this may need to be totally eliminated for some or only removed for a short period of time for others.
If you feel adrenal fatigue may be an issue for you, feel free to reach out to me or your local health practitioner for support – this is not something that you need to endure for the rest of your life. xo