The Low Down On Adrenal Fatigue
We have noticed an increase in the number of adrenal fatigue cases in my practice. Often this low energy condition is overlooked or misdiagnosed by practitioners as depression. I am acutely aware of adrenal fatigue after I was diagnosed with the condition in 2004. Feeling completely exhausted, I assumed I had low iron and was suffering practitioner burnout, but follow up tests confirmed adrenal fatigue.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue (Hypoadrenia) is a deficiency in the functioning of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands sit on top of each kidney and produce cortisol and adrenalin that prepare our body for flight or fight. The adrenals are designed to be very responsive to changes in our physical, emotional and psychological environment.
What causes adrenal fatigue?
Chronic stress is a major cause of adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands get ‘burnt out’ from producing cortisol and adrenalin in response to the stress and eventually become sluggish.Stress includes:
- Environmental and
- Psychological stress
- Extreme exhaustion
- Poor response to stress
- Poor immunity
- Reliance on caffeine to start the day and throughout the day.
- Sugar cravings
- Poor sleep
- Low blood pressure from a lying or sitting position.
What tests can diagnose adrenal fatigue?
Saliva Hormone Test
Saliva testing of cortisol throughout the day. It is non-invasive test designed so be used at home. Patients are sent a test kit with easy to follow instructions for saliva collection.
The Raglan Test is an analysis of blood pressure to determine the level of adrenal health and function. A person can lie down (Supine) for five minutes and then take their blood pressure lying down, then sit up and take the blood pressure again, and then stand up and take the blood pressure again. The Systolic blood pressure should naturally raise by at least 10 points. If the blood pressure drops on standing by at least 10 points then the patient may have adrenal fatigue.
How does adrenal fatigue impact our life?
Long term stress forces our bodies to switch to a different mechanism. To survive, the body produces increased levels of cortisol. This has been shown to contribute to:
- Type II Diabetes
- Impacts on production of progesterone and oestrogen
- Suppressing the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
How can I recover from adrenal fatigue?
Here are some suggestions to help restore your adrenal glands. You may require a good health practitioner to assist you with diagnosis, assessment and a plan to help you recover.
Be patient with recovery, it can sometimes take months to restore function, however the benefits are worth it.
Nutritional support for the adrenals
- 5-6 serves of vegetables (alkalising) per day
- 2-3 serves of fruit (best avoided first thing in the morning)
- Eat good quality protein, especially for breakfast and lunch
- Use quality cold-pressed oils e.g. olive, walnut, almond, flaxseed & coconut
- Avoid acidic foods such as hydrogenated fats, refined carbohydrates (Breads, cakes) and fruit juices
- Avoid energy ‘zappers’ such as alcohol, caffeine & chocolate
- Drink filtered water – 8 to 10 glasses per day
- Watercress, Parsley, coconut milk/cream, Royal Jelly.
- Banana’s, Avocado’s, Potatoes (Potassium Source)
Vitamins and minerals, amino acids and herbs
- B-complex – The major B-vitamins daily
- Vitamin B5 – 50 -100mg 3x daily.
- Vitamin B6 – 100mg daily.
- Vitamin C – 2000 – 5000mg daily. (Divided doses) #No. 1.
- L – Tyrosine – 500mg 2 as daily.
- Herbs: Withania, Astragalus, Siberian Ginseng, Licorice
- Essential Fatty Acids; Fish Oil, Flaxseed Oil. Omega 3: 3000mg.
- Coenzyme Q10 – 100mg – 300mg/daily
- Magnesium – 250mg-500mg/day
- Aim to have regular breaks – a 15 minute power nap could make a big difference to energy levels during the day
- Exercise regularly, but not excessively
- Regular bed time, ideally before 10pm
- Regular relaxation & breathing exercises and Meditation.
- Share enjoyable time and laugh with friends & family
Why is there an increase in adrenal fatigue today?
The Flight or Fight Syndrome which is an ancient body function has not changed too much over thousands of years and we have needed it for our survival. It has been very useful to keep us alive from dangerous cyber toothed tigers and warring tribes. However, in modern day society our subconscious mind may not always distinguish the difference between a real danger and a perceived danger. This is where a person can get caught in behaviours, patterns and beliefs about their reaction to life with the stress response working overtime and hence the adrenals must pump out more adrenalin and cortisol to survive.
Australians are feeling the stress
A 2013 Australian Survey on Stress and Wellbeing by the Australian Psychological Society found that one in four Australians reported that stress impacts on their physical health and two in three working Australians report that stress impacts on their mental health.
Peter Rule – Naturopath and Wellness Consultant has been a practitioner, teacher and writer of Natural Therapies since 1991. Peter loves to inspire, teach and pass on his wealth of information on how to achieve a natural balance to life. His focus is on Stress Management and Natural Medicine to improve a person’s wellbeing. He also consults to some of Australia’s Leading Health Retreats that specialise in Stress Management and Wellness.
Peter was nominated by peers for Naturopath of the year 2018 award for the Australia Naturopath Summit for his dedication, innovation and leadership in the field. He consults at The Golden Door Health Retreat Elysia in Australia NSW. www.peterrule.com.au