About the Adrenal Glands
Your two adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped endocrine glands located on the top of each kidney. Each adrenal gland is approximately 3 inches wide, and a half inch high.
Each gland is divided into an outer cortex and an inner medulla. The cortex and medulla of the adrenal gland secrete different hormones that regulate your level of fatigue, hunger, stress tolerance and more.
Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue?
When the adrenal glands are not functioning optimally, you can have a condition that is known as adrenal fatigue, or adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue often develops after periods of intense or lengthy physical or emotional stress, when overstimulation if the glands leave them unable to meet your body’s needs. But there are many symptoms you can have from them not performing the way they should, such as:
- excessive fatigue and exhaustion
- non-refreshing sleep (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake fatigued)
- overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors
- feeling rundown or overwhelmed
- craving salty and sweet foods
- you feel most energetic in the evening
- a feeling of not being restored after a full night’s sleep or having sleep disturbances
- low stamina, slow to recover from exercise
- slow to recover from injury, illness or stress
- difficulty concentrating, brain fog
- poor digestion
- low immune function
- food or environmental allergies
- premenstrual syndrome or difficulties that develop during menopause
- consistent low blood pressure
- extreme sensitivity to cold
- Dark Circles under the eyes
- You can see many of these symptoms resemble those of low thyroid condition!
The adrenals produce hormones that help to balance your blood sugar, which helps your body to manage your daily ebbs and flows of energy. When blood sugar drops, the adrenals release hormones that cause the blood sugar to rise, and increases energy. The adrenals also release hormones when we’re under stress, releasing energy. It’s the “fight or flight” response from the everyday stressors of life and being consistently under stress takes a toll on the adrenal glands, and eventually, they run out of steam, and stop producing sufficient hormones.
Conventional endocrinologists and tests cannot diagnose adrenal fatigue, because they are prepared only to diagnose extreme dysfunction in the adrenals, such as Addison’s disease, a potentially fatal condition where the adrenals essentially shut down.
Your holistic or complementary practitioner can do a saliva cortisol test to evaluate your adrenal function, however, to diagnose more subtle dysfunctions in your adrenal glands.
SO, IF YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM THIS WHAT CAN YOU DO?
As much as you may want them, stimulants are the equivalent of giving too much gas and “flooding the engine” in a car. It puts further stress on the adrenals to work harder and produce more energy, and ends up further depleting the adrenal glands. Things to avoid include: caffeine, ephedra, guarana, kola nut, and prescription stimulants.
Balance Your Blood Sugar With Your Diet
To minimize stress on the adrenal system, and ensure maximum energy, you should consider a low-glycemic (low-sugar) diet, consisting of sufficient protein and fat, low-glycemic carbohydrates, eaten in smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Sugar and simple carbohydrates put stress on the adrenal glands due by rapidly shifting blood sugar levels. By switching to vegetables, fruits and proteins, and high fiber carbohydrates, blood sugar remains more stable, providing less strain on the adrenal glands.
Use Adaptogenic Herbs for Energy
There are some good ones by: Solgar, Solaray, MegaFood and some others similar to the label shown below:
Herbal Teas and Mate — NOT Coffee
Recommended is the tea forms of several herbs, including chamomile, which is also known as lemon balm, as relaxing herbal tonics. An example of a relaxing tea is to get something like “Sleepytime Tea,” by Celestial Seasonings. An energizing tea to give energy such as Green or Matcha Tea (found at Whole Foods) or herbal teas labeled “energy”. On the scale of bad to good, coffee should be your last choice.
Basic Multivitamin/ B Complex — You will want to take a strong, balanced formula that provides decent amounts of key factors for adrenal and metabolic health. I recommend a multi B Formula providing 100 mg. Of all the B’s.
Adrenal Glandulars — Desiccated adrenal gland can be helpful to some people in supporting the gland, and replacing some missing adrenal hormones. Be sure to get a reputable brand from a reputable supplier, to ensure quality, potency and safety.
Pregnenolone, DHEA — Pregnenolone and DHEA are hormones that can help resolve adrenal fatigue. Use of over-the-counter hormones is recommended only under the guidance of your practitioner. I don’t recommend using more than 25 mg. per cap daily.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of supplements or solutions. Your best option is to work with a practitioner like myself, to diagnose your adrenal fatigue, and to develop a customized treatment program that will help resolve this condition.
By: Linda Wolschlager, Certified Nutrition Counselor
The Nutrition Advisor LLC