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Four Steps to Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue

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What are Adrenal Glands?

Your adrenal glands or "adrenals" are two small organs (about the size of your thumb) that sit right above your kidneys. They form part of your endocrine system. They are responsible for producing and balancing over 50 hormones that drive just about every body function. 

For example, your adrenals release cortisol at a certain rhythm during the day, giving you a boost that helps you wake up in the morning. In the evening, this hormone declines, which helps you get to sleep. However, as with many bodily functions, external stress can get in the way and disrupt these natural rhythms.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue has been a hotly debated topic in recent years. You may be wondering, what exactly is adrenal fatigue and does it really exist? Dr. James L. Wilson, a chiropractor and naturopath, proposed adrenal fatigue, also called "hypoadrenia", as a condition in 1998. His theory was that chronic stress can lead to overstimulation of the adrenal glands, which in turn leads to unbalanced adrenal function and an inconsistent level of cortisol in the bloodstream. In addition, adrenal fatigue can affect the body's DHEA levels, a serious matter considering DHEA is the "parent hormone" that is responsible for the creation of many different kinds of vital hormones in the body.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?

What kind of chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue? There are many factors that could be involved. For example, prolonged stressful situations may contribute to this disorder, such as experiencing the death of a loved one or a divorce. Surgery, chronic pain, lack of sleep or a poor diet can also contribute to one developing adrenal fatigue. In addition, emotional trauma, childhood traumas, negative thinking, a difficult work environment or even bad relationships can cause chronic stress resulting in adrenal fatigue. 

How do people feel when affected by adrenal fatigue? Adrenal fatigue can cause one or more, or even all of the following symptoms:

  • Brain fog

  • Hair loss

  • Always feeling tired

  • Autoimmune conditions

  • Lightheadedness/fainting

  • Decreased sex drive

  • Hormone imbalance

  • Insulin resistance

  • Mood swings

  • Skin conditions

  • Difficulty sleeping/insomnia

  • Weight gain

  • Cravings for sweet or salty foods

  • Depression

Because the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are many and varied, it can be a difficult condition to spot. In fact, there is no official diagnosis in the traditional medical world for adrenal fatigue. In traditional medicine, people are either considered to have normal adrenal function or complete endocrine failure, as in the case of Addison's disease or Cushing's syndrome. Does this mean adrenal fatigue doesn't actually exist? 

My answer, based on serious scientific evidence and my personal experience as a DC, would be that adrenal fatigue is a real problem that should be taken seriously. Of course, if you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it is still important to consult your medical doctor or an endocrinologist, since many of the symptoms can be related to other underlying health issues as well.

The great news is, treating adrenal fatigue is easy, inexpensive and beneficial for your health, no matter what your diagnosis is. In just four simple steps, you can reduce stress on your mind and body and restore healthy adrenal function. 

Restore Healthy Adrenal Function in 4 Simple Steps

Reduce Physical and Emotional Stress

There is much you can do to reduce the physical and emotional stress in your life. Here are a few suggestions that you may find practical: Rest when you feel tired. Try to do at least one fun thing each day, something that makes you laugh and smile. Regular, moderate exercise can do wonders to reduce stress. Try to incorporate 20 minutes of exercise into your routine, at least three times each week. Invest time in self care. In the long-run, you'll be able to do more for others if you take good care of yourself. Examine the relationships in your life and eliminate toxic ones. If your work environment is causing you considerable stress, consider asking for a different position or looking for a new job. Strive to have a positive outlook on life, avoiding negative self-talk and negative thinking patterns. 

You can find more tips in the article, "7 Natural Remedies to Beat Stress".

Get Enough Rest

Getting enough sleep is key to helping your adrenal glands recover. Try to get to bed by 11pm each day and make it a goal to get eight hours of sleep each night. Eliminate unnecessary sources or noise and light, which can affect the quality of your sleep. A good night's sleep can do wonders in helping your body, rest, reset and rebalance. For more ways to get a restful night's sleep, see the article, "Seven Natural Ways to Get a Better Night's Rest"

Eat a Healing Diet

First, there are a few foods you'll want to kick to the curb - foods that could be heavily taxing your adrenal glands and making it hard for them to recover. Here are a few of the worst offenders:

  • Processed, conventional meats with added hormones

  • Processed foods filled with preservatives and other fillers 

  • Sugars and sweeteners

  • Caffeine (especially late in the day)

  • Hydrogenated oils

  • Carbohydrates

The foods on the list are all inflammatory and many contain ingredients that are toxic to your body and difficult to filter out. Carbohydrates are not all bad of course, but in many cases they can cause inflammation and added tiredness. It never hurts to eliminate gluten and starchy carbs for a period of time to see how this change affects your energy levels. 

What kinds of foods can help your adrenal glands heal and regain their balance? Go for nutrient dense foods that are easy to digest, for example: 

  • Avocados

  • Bone broth

  • Cruciferous vegetables

  • Free-range chicken

  • Coconut 

  • Fermented foods

These kinds of foods will reduce inflammation and tiredness and give your body the nutrients it needs to perform at optimal levels. For more tips on how to choose foods as part of an anti-inflammatory diet, see the article, "Reduce Inflammation with Your Diet".

Get Regular Chiropractic Adjustments

Regular atlas orthogonal adjustments are also key when dealing with adrenal issues. Misalignments of your spine, also called vertebral subluxations, can put pressure on your nerves causing pain or simply affecting the body function served by that particular nerve branch. For example, your adrenal glands are served by the nerves that branch out from the T-11 to L-2 section of the spine. If a misalignment is putting pressure on these nerves, your adrenal gland function will be affected and adrenal fatigue can result. 

In addition, subluxations in other regions of the spine can cause your body to underperform. The result can be pain, headaches, insomnia and a long list of other issues that will add to the stress put on your adrenal glands. It's clear that regular adjustments are vital to helping your whole body, including your adrenal glands to perform at optimal levels. 

If you suspect you are struggling with adrenal fatigue, call our office to schedule a consultation, we can determine what our office can do to help your body heal and recommend other diagnostic tests where necessary.

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