Adrenal Fatigue: The Functional Disorder Holding You Back

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Being tired – it’s come to be seen as just a normal part of life in our high stress world. Unfortunately, being tired can be a sign of more than sleep deprivation. No, it might indicate your body is so worn down from anxiety, stress, or exertion that you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue.

A Look At The Adrenal Glands

The adrenal glands are small organs located on top of the kidneys and are a key part of the endocrine system. As such, the adrenals produce a number of vital hormones, particularly cortisol, as well as epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones produced in response to highly stressful situations.

Since the organs in the endocrine system are closely connected, functional and integrative medicine experts suggest that those who already have a thyroid condition may be at a higher risk for adrenal fatigue – essentially a state of hormonal imbalance. Starting with an over-production of cortisol and then a dramatic fall-off in overall production, adrenal fatigue can mimic depression, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal issues, and other common health problems.

Supplements For Adrenal Fatigue

In order to treat adrenal fatigue, you’ll need to take a full-body approach. Unfortunately, many traditional physicians won’t address the problem, as it isn’t formally recognized. Instead, you may need to seek help from a holistic doctor or integrative medicine expert in order to find a suitable treatment.

One natural way to address adrenal fatigue is through the use of adaptogenic herbs like licorice, holy basil, and ginseng. These herbs can reduce cortisol production, easing stress on the adrenal glands, while also improving energy levels and bolstering the immune system, which adrenal fatigue tends to weaken.

Adding certain vitamins to your diet, specifically B12 and vitamin C, may not specifically address adrenal fatigue, but can ease some of the symptoms enough for the body to heal itself. Many Americans have a preexisting B12 deficiency resulting in fatigue – it’s so common that many athletes rely on B12 shots and even local health centers offer them. By supplementing with B12 or a complete B complex, you may find your body is better able to produce energy while your adrenal glands reboot.

Emphasizing Behavioral Change

Supplements and dietary changes can only help so much with adrenal fatigue – particularly because it’s caused largely by a stressful lifestyle. As such, you’ll need to make significant behavioral changes in order to begin feeling better.

For example, since adrenal fatigue is characterized by fatigue more generally, getting enough sleep is absolutely vital. Unfortunately, many people with adrenal fatigue find themselves wound up such that they struggle to fall asleep. Settling in early – by 10:30 PM – before your body can enter a new cycle of wakefulness, can help you get enough sleep, despite your body’s attempts to keep you awake.

Learning your physical limits, and your stress tolerance, can also help your adrenal glands heal. This means learning to step away from stressful situations, not overextending yourself during exercise, or even leaving social gatherings early. Until you know how much activity you can handle, proceed with caution and step back from all activities early. It’s better to do less and not expose your adrenals to extra stress than to do too much and strain them further, setting back your recovery.

Adrenal fatigue may not be widely recognized, but people live with its symptoms every day. If you believe you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue, taking steps like adjusting your diet and getting more rest can help. You don’t need to be tired all the time. Don’t let it be your new normal.