Fatigue – Poor Sleep – Altered Appetite – Decreased Thyroid Function – Poor Immune Function – Insulin Resistance – Low Sex Drive
By Robert Gilliland, B.S., D.C. –
These are just some of the symptoms associated with dysfunctional adrenal glands. Poor adrenal function is associated with many illnesses from heart disease to digestive problems.
Common Causes of Adrenal Fatigue and Anxiety
The most common adrenal fatigue causes are intense or prolonged stress, or acute or chronic infection or illness. Chronic anxiety is an early symptom. The adrenal system regulates our “fight or flight” reaction to sudden, unexpected stress or stimuli. This is normal; it’s crucial to our survival. However, aging and chronic stress increase cortisol levels, which cause fatigue.
Elevated cortisol levels reduce our body’s ability to break down body fat. This leads to insulin resistance and being overweight. People with malfunctioning adrenals often use sugar, caffeine or other stimulants to ‘get going’ in the morning or ‘pep up’ during the day. You’re more likely to overeat, miss meals, make unhealthy food choices, drink alcohol, smoke, feel irritable and lie awake at night. All of these are factors in poor health. Elevated cortisol also increases blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar.
Lifestyle factors that may contribute to adrenal fatigue and anxiety include lack of sleep, poor food choices, using caffeine or sugar as stimulants when tired, staying up late even through you are tired or sleep deprived and feeling powerless.
Correcting The Problem
Unfortunately, fixing your adrenals requires more than just taking a drug, vitamin or supplement and it isn’t going to happen overnight. This is because your body works like a symphony; all it takes is one bad section to make the whole orchestra sound off key. For example, when your cortisol level is too high your body will favor that pathway at the expense of sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This is referred to as a pregneneolone steal.
If you have a blood sugar problem, anemia, gut dysbiosis or an autoimmune condition, you must handle all of these simultaneously. In other words, if you have more than one problem that affects your primary problem. and you don’t address it, you will likely get nowhere fast. It’s like being in a boat with multiple holes in the bottom and only stopping up the one hole.
There are different stages of adrenal dysfunction. Each one of which will requires a certain period of time to correct. The most severe is adrenal exhaustion. If you have zero energy without the sense of being ‘wired’, you have your work cut out for you. It may take 3 months just to get you in a higher level of maladaptation and up to 6 months to bring your numbers in the normal range. But it is possible.
The game plan is simple; eat better, get plenty of sleep, exercise and manage your stress better. The tricky part is determining which foods are best for you, how much sleep is adequate for you, which exercise is best for you and which relaxation therapies are right for you. Everyone is different. A cookie-cutter approach isn’t likely to give you the results you’re looking for.
SWF Natural Health Center