According to Western medicine, adrenal fatigue is not a real medical term, but adrenal insufficiency is. Before I dive into the subject of adrenal fatigue and give you my educated opinion and experiences, let me first explain adrenal insufficiency.
Adrenal insufficiency is a real medical term – it’s a medical condition – where our adrenal glands (small organs located above the kidneys) cannot produce enough hormones. This is caused by either damage to the adrenal glands or a problem with the pituitary gland (a pea sized gland in the brain that tells the adrenals to produce cortisol).
A person with adrenal insufficiency, will have symptoms such as dehydration, confusion, weight loss, low blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, and or weakness. You can diagnose adrenal insufficiency through blood tests and then getting on medication that replace the hormones the adrenals cannot make. So I always recommend visiting your physician to rule out a real medical condition that could be life threatening called adrenal crisis (Addisonian crisis).
Adrenal fatigue, on the other hand, is a term used to explain a group of symptoms that are usually caused by chronic stress, whether its mental, physical, or psychological. Something as simple as continuously not getting enough rest or sleep can eventually cause chronic physical stress.
As far as stress goes, I have to say, I am an expert! It started when I was really young – I would say when I was a toddler. I was raised by a mother who has bi-polar, and unfortunately was not diagnosed until I was in my 20’s – it wasn’t even recognized as a mental disease back then…..hmmmm sounds familiar, right? Kind of like adrenal fatigue!
In my early 20’s I found myself going through a divorce, single parenthood, and no financial support from the ex (meaning no child support, ever), and later having to deal with his tragic death. I put myself through college while working full time to support myself and my family; sustained a violent attack that required over 8 hours of head surgery and many months of physical therapy. Served as a US Naval Officer and had tours overseas where family members could not join me. Experienced evacuations and had to live out of a suitcase for 18 months. Faced the fear and terror of having a child hospitalized and sick, not knowing if he was ever going to be able to come home. Changed careers three times. Completed three degrees (including Nursing school), and countless certifications (the learning never ends). And that my friend is only the tip of the iceberg – my point is not for you to say “OMG Annette, you’ve been through hell”, but for you to understand that by the time I reached my late 30’s, my cortisol was through the roof and my adrenals were shot! I was so stressed and had dealt with stress for so long, that my body started to shut down. I could barely function.
I could not sleep (wired but tired), and when I did sleep, I couldn’t get up in the morning. I needed to drink coffee ALL day long just to function. My body hurt from head to toe. My menstrual cycles were wacked out. I dealt with adult acne that was caused by all the caffeine, sugar, and processed foods I was putting in my body to keep it stimulated and awake, and I was gaining weight – FAST. This was unsustainable! And sure enough, it was, I ended up losing my uterus. The bottom line, chronic stress led to a host of problems including hormonal imbalances, depression, inflammation, weight gain, fatigue, sleep issues, foggy brain, and the start of what could have turned out to be insulin resistance.
These same symptoms I just mentioned can be put under one label – Adrenal Fatigue caused by chronic stress.
So I don’t care what Western medicine says, I had symptoms that allopathic doctors were unable to fix because they required a complete life-style overhaul, not medication!
There is not one person reading this blog that is not dealing with chronic stress today. I promise you, if you are breathing, you are stressed, period! You don’t even have to have any major life events happen (like the ones I mentioned above), just being alive in our Western, modern world leads to stress. And those of you that say, ‘I’m not stressed’, it’s because you work very, very hard at it everyday!
Ok, so now that I’ve stressed you out talking about stress and adrenal fatigue – what can you do about it?
Below are my top 10 tips on healing Adrenal Fatigue:
- First, start by changing your diet. Crowd out processed foods with more fresh vegetables (you have to face it, eventually the sugar & junk have to be eliminated completely)
- Work on getting 8 hours of sleep most nights of the week
- Avoid alcohol at least 5 days out of the week
- Avoid drinking more than 12 ounces of coffee per day, and never drink coffee after 2pm
- Move your body, yes – exercise. Start with 5 minutes and work towards 60 minutes daily
- Eat some protein and healthy fats with every meal (healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, avocado)
- Eat your meals at the same time everyday (make lunch your largest meal)
- Supplements that can help with your weakened immune system and fatigue: vitamin B complex, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium (unless you have loose stools, then stop), probiotics, digestive enzymes (if needed), vitamin D, & omega 3s.
- Add a meditation practice to your daily routine. Start with 1 minute and work towards 20 minutes two times a day.
- Stay hydrated and make your own gatorade to keep your electrolytes balanced (recipe below); hydration is super important
Bonus tip: Surround yourself with a multi-disciplinary team (naturopath, MD, endocrinologist, acupuncturist, holistic nurse, coach, nutritionist, etc) that can help you navigate through this journey of healing.
– 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
– 20 ounces fresh spring water
-1/8 teaspoon of sea salt or himalayan salt
-2 tablespoons raw honey or stevia to taste
Optional – add fresh berries, slices of oranges, limes, lemons, or slices of cucumber to your drink.
If you feel like you could use some additional support, start with my Fall Detox that begins October 14th. Right now I’m running a super cool deal, buy the Fall Detox and add a friend or family member for FREE. Email me for details (firstname.lastname@example.org). I also have openings for a limited number of one on one clients.
Helping you evolve your health is my passion!