Adrenal fatigue

What is it? Have you got it? How can you fix it?

 

Do you think you need your adrenals checked?

If your energy lags during the day, you feel emotionally off-kilter much of the time, you sleep poorly or less than seven hours a night, you can’t shed excess weight even while dieting, and you rely on caffeine or carbohydrates as “pick-me-ups” — these are all red flags indicating adrenal imbalance.

In all but the most extreme cases, we expect to see dramatic improvement in four to six months. For mild to moderate adrenal fatigue the turnaround can be faster.

Remember, you may feel as though you’re just too tired to make changes now, but by moving forward in incremental stages, you’ll build the strength you need to stay with it. You will love how you feel when you do!

Physiology

Amygdala (part of limbic brain) – hypothalamus communicates with pituitary gland, turns on adrenal gland – body is filled with cortisol & epinephrine. On top of each kidney there is an (endocrine) adrenal gland, about the size of a large grape. The innermost section of each gland produces adrenaline and noradrenaline, the hormones named after them. The layers outside the center, called the adrenal cortex, produce several other hormones, including cortisol, as well as DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Function

They produce hormones that regulate blood pressure, how our body uses food, blood-levels of minerals, such as potassium and sodium, functions involved in stress reactions, and heartbeat. Stress causes the adrenals to produce cortisol. Cortisol helps us meet challenges by converting proteins into energy, releasing glycogen, and counteracting inflammation. For a short time, that’s okay. But at sustained high levels, cortisol gradually tears your body down.

What are stressors?

What you really need to know and understand is that EVERY challenge to the mind and body creates a demand on the adrenal glands. A demanding job, raising a family, relationship issues, lack of sleep, financial pressures, improper nutrition, dieting, and unresolved emotional distress, losing a loved one are some examples.
When our adrenal glands must chronically sustain high cortisol levels, they become fatigued. The resulting adrenal dysfunction not only affects cortisol production, but also impairs the adrenals’ ability to produce and balance hormones like DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Long term stress will lead to hormonal imbalances.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue (high cortisol levels)

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling tired despite sufficient hours of sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Acne/skin issues
  • Reliance on stimulants like caffeine
  • Cravings for carbohydrates or sugars
  • Cravings for salt
  • Poor immune function
  • Slow healing and cell regeneration
  • Impaired digestion, metabolism and mental function
  • Interference with healthy endocrine function
  • Muscle and bone loss
  • lntolerance to cold

Adrenal fatigue is a likely factor in several medical conditions such as the following:

• Hypotension
• Fibromyalgia
• Hypothyroidism
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Arthritis
• Premature menopause
The good news is, with proper support you can heal adrenal fatigue and reverse the damaging effects of chronic stress.

Stress of any kind — mental, emotional, or physical — stimulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the dynamic feedback system between the brain and the adrenal glands. Over stimulation of this axis have huge implications throughout the body.

The short-term result of a stimulated HPA axis is higher cortisol production from the adrenals. High cortisol (hypercortisolism) in the bloodstream can directly inhibit production of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) as well as conversion of T4 to T3. But cortisol can’t remain high forever.

Eventually, the adrenal glands reach exhaustion and not enough cortisol is produced (known as hypocortisolism), which comes with another set of problems.

Either way, with lower levels of T3 in the blood, your cells can’t produce a healthy biological response. This is when women begin to see hypothyroidism symptoms like:
• fatigue,
• cold intolerance,
• weight gain,
• memory loss,
• poor concentration,
• depression,
• infertility,
• hair loss, etc

(You need to know though that adrenal glands are just one piece to the thyroid equation, but for other patients, there may be something entirely different causing a sluggish thyroid. )

Other factors in the hypothyroidism equation

On top of the physical and emotional stress women feel at menopause, there are several very real biological stresses on the thyroid to consider.
1. Low iodine levels. Iodine is the central ingredient in thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Trying to produce T3 and T4 without iodine is like trying to make an omelet without the eggs! We need about one milligram of iodine a week to form the required amount of thyroxine. But iodine is not all that widely distributed in nature.
2. Exposure to environmental toxins — including halides, heavy metals, pesticides, and antibiotics in our air, food, and water AND pathogens — can also interfere with thyroid function. The very prevalent Epstein Bar Virus is a silent destructive force often going undetected in most people. We all know it’s best to limit our toxic exposure wherever possible but increasing iodine intake and implementing a regular detox program to support the body’s natural detoxification pathways can also make a difference.
3. Food allergies and sensitivities — including those to gluten — can place tremendous stress on thyroid function. Many of my clients with hypothyroidism see positive results when they eliminate gluten from their diets.
Food sensitivities may also promote autoimmune reactions in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid as though it were a foreign invader. More research is needed in this area, but it’s now clear that the food we eat “talks” to our genes. And when we have food intolerances occurring in the gut, the resulting chemical signals influence our DNA — including the DNA in our immune cells. Unfortunately, the messages carried by food stressors turn off the default “healthy” pathways and turn on those that lead to disease.
4. A long list of prescription medications can also impair thyroid function. Drugs like lithium, amiodarone, somatostatin, inhalers, and others have the potential to disrupt thyroid hormone balance at any level — from synthesis, secretion and transport to how thyroid hormones act in our organs to regulate metabolism — with the unintended outcome of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Yes prescription medications save lives, but we have to be mindful that their benefits often come at the expense of other systems in the body. Sadly, the targeted strength provided by many drugs can be overwhelming — in some cases destructive — to the thyroid.
5. Finally, insufficient nutrition may also affect thyroid function — but that’s easily addressed!

Selenium, for example, is needed for the conversion of T4 to T3, so if you’re selenium deficient, increasing this nutrient in your diet may make a difference in how you feel. And as mentioned above, iodine is essential for making thyroid hormones. Vitamin A, EPA and DHA, and zinc all act to improve T3 binding in your cells. By working with your body’s natural pathways, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and extra antioxidants can offer great results without the side effects. The bottom line is that when we give our bodies the gentle support they recognize, we often see positive results that last.

Nutrient-rich foods to replenish thyroid health

• Iodine (I): seaweed (e.g., nori), clams, shrimp, haddock, oysters, salmon, sardines, pineapple, eggs.

• Selenium (Se): smoked herring, smelt, wheat germ, Brazil nuts (just one nut provides ~139 mcg), apple cider vinegar, scallops, barley, lobster.

• Zinc (Zn): fresh oysters, ginger root, pecans, dry split peas, Brazil nuts, egg yolk, whole wheat, rye, oats, peanuts.

• Vitamin E: wheat germ oil, olive oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts.

• Vitamin A: dark green leafy veggies, liver, winter squash, cantaloupe, stone fruits, papaya, and cod liver oil.

• B vitamin complex: brewer’s yeast, wild rice, brown rice, whole wheat, beans, peanuts.

• Vitamin C: Red chili, guava, parsley, dark green leafy veggies, strawberries, papaya, citrus fruits.

• Support your adrenals. If this is the only thing you do, I promise it will benefit your health on many levels. Not only will supporting your adrenals lighten the burden on your thyroid, it will also help restore your energy levels and overall well-being.

• Ensuring a rich foundation of nutrients for the daily production and activity of thyroid hormones may be all you need to get yourself back on track, or to prevent hypothyroidism. Consider supplementing with selenium and iodine. You can do this through the foods you eat or with supplements, but if you do use selenium or iodine supplements, please work with a professional healthcare provider to monitor your levels appropriately. And when it comes to selenium supplements, I do not recommend taking more than 200 mcg/day.

Speak your truth

By the time we reach perimenopause, many of us find we’ve given so much to the world around us there is little reserve for ourselves. This is the time to speak up, to share your opinions, to explore the things that make your life meaningful. Do not feel guilty about asking for — and receiving — more support. Though easier said than done for many women, this may be the perfect time in life to learn to say “no.” You deserve a break — and so do the cells in your body!

Your thyroid, your voice

In Eastern medical paradigms, the thyroid is associated with “sacred voice.” As a component of the fifth chakra, thyroid issues are linked with difficulty speaking our truth, following our dreams, or fully expressing ourselves. Anatomically, the thyroid sits right over the voice box, and one of the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction is a gravelly or “muted” voice. When the thyroid is underactive, it doesn’t hurt to step back and evaluate how well you’re expressing your individual needs, wants, and opinions to those around you.

Remember that your voice doesn’t serve to merely communicate — it is connected to your whole being. Likewise, your thyroid doesn’t simply produce thyroid hormone. It is connected to every cell in your body and subject to both physical and psychological influence. My advice is to look at the whole picture when it comes to your thyroid, and you will find the dynamic balance your body is naturally seeking.

Stress and hormones

When the adrenals are chronically overworked and straining to maintain high cortisol levels, they lose the capacity to produce DHEA in enough amounts. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an immediate precursor hormone to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

What that means is whenever DHEA is in short supply; women have a hard time balancing their hormones.

This happens because Mother Nature will always favour survival — our adrenals’ primary function — over reproduction — one of their secondary functions being production of sex hormones. And that’s why hormonal balance becomes increasingly problematic as stressed-out women approach midlife, when ovarian production of sex hormones declines naturally.

Over time, low DHEA leads to fatigue, bone loss, loss of muscle mass, depression, aching joints, decreased sex drive, and impaired immune function.
Healing foods for adrenal support
Certain fruits and vegetables either help protect your adrenal glands or speed their recovery by strengthening the nervous system, reducing inflammation, easing stress, and providing critical nutrients for adrenal function.

Top foods to eat to bounce back from adrenal fatigue:

sprouts, asparagus, wild blueberries, bananas, garlic, broccoli, kale, raspberries, blackberries, romaine lettuce, and red-skinned apples.

What not to eat

Please note that many diet experts recommend eating a lot of animal protein. This is either because they do not realize how much fat can hide in even lean animal protein or because they think that fat content is a good thing. This protein advice can seem very convincing, so beware; it is bad for anyone, and especially unhealthy if you have adrenal fatigue. The high fat strains your pancreas and liver and eventually creates insulin resistance, making it difficult for your body to maintain a stable level of glucose . . . which in turn creates a massive strain on your adrenal glands as they struggle to produce hormones to compensate.
Diet experts also often counsel people to cut out carbohydrates from their diets. Again, this is not good and can result in strain, because your body needs carbs for energy. Following these diet trends will slow you down and keep you from healing your adrenal fatigue.

Healing herbs and supplements

Licorice root: helps balance the body’s levels of cortisol and cortisone.
Spirulina (preferably from Hawaii): contains high levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and chromium, which reinforce adrenal strength.
Ester-C: this form of vitamin C lowers inflammation and soothes adrenal glands that have become enlarged from overexertion.
Chromium: helps balance insulin levels, and augments the strength of adrenal glands, thyroid glands, and the pancreas.
Eleuthero (aka Siberian ginseng): enhances the body’s ability to react and adapt, which helps protect the adrenal glands from overreacting to stress.
Schisandra: helps suppress kidney spasms, which in turn reduces adrenal gland stress.
Ashwagandha: helps balance the production of testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and cortisol.
Magnesium: lowers anxiety and calms an overactive nervous system, reducing adrenal gland stress.
5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate): augments the strength of the central nervous system, which reduces strain on the adrenal glands.
Cordyceps: renews the strength of the gallbladder and liver so these glands can more effectively process excess cortisol in the bloodstream.
Panax ginseng: enhances the body’s ability to react and adapt, which helps protect the adrenal glands from overreacting to stress.
Rose hips: lowers inflammation, soothing adrenal glands that have become enlarged from overexertion.
Barley grass juice extract powder increases the hydrochloric acid in the stomach which strengthens the adrenal glands.

Tips to consider:

• Clean your colon. One of the best things you can do is to support your colon by using occasional colon cleansing and doing a detox diet.
• Hydrate with living water.
• Add a fiber supplement, such as psyllium husks, to 8 oz. of apple juice in the a.m. and p.m.
• Try a kinesiology balance to address the reasons why you landed in adrenal fatigue in the first place.
• Take a relaxing bath then get 7 hours of sleep and avoid all electronic equipment an hour before sleeping.
• Reduce caffeine intake and alcohol and ditch sweets
• Opt for healthy fats – coconut, olive, avodaco, nut oils
• Gentle stretching like Yoga
• Get out into nature, take a walk on the beach or in a forest. Make time for things you love. Avoid overly excessive exercise that further deplete adrenals.
• Make a list of your stressors, especially those that are ongoing or self-imposed and decide what changes you can make to bring these down.

Testing for adrenal fatigue

There are two ways I test for adrenal fatigue namely a kinesiology session through muscle testing or via NLS diagnostic scan using resonance frequency.

Should you get an adrenal test?

If your energy lags during the day, you feel emotionally off-kilter much of the time, you sleep poorly or less than seven hours a night, you can’t shed excess weight even while dieting, and you rely on caffeine or carbohydrates as “pick-me-ups” — these are all red flags indicating adrenal imbalance.

Guilt, pain from past hurts, self-destructive habits, unresolved relationship problems — your past and present emotional experience may be functioning as an ever-present stressor in your life. Dealing directly with these problems is far more beneficial than spending a lifetime compensating for the stress they create.

In all but the most extreme cases, we expect to see dramatic improvement in four to six months. For mild to moderate adrenal fatigue the turnaround can be faster.

Remember, you may feel as though you’re just too tired to make changes now, but by moving forward in incremental stages, you’ll build the strength you need to stay with it. You will love how you feel when you do!

Radical Transformation in 90 days – A programme that will reset your adrenals and address the harmful effects of adrenal fatigue

The Program promotes natural hormonal balance with nutritional supplements, our exclusive endocrine support formula, dietary and lifestyle guidance, and kinesiology consultations.

If you have questions, don't hesitate to WhatsApp me on 27 65 924 7732.
(some of the above information on adrenal fatigue courtesy of http://www.womentowomen.com)