What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a common condition that can leave you feeling absolutely exhausted. Plus it's a lot more common that you might think! To learn more about this condition, I spoke with our very own Nourished Life Naturopath, Melanie Ruckley.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is the state in which our body has reached (or is reaching) exhaustion. This can be due to ongoing physical, mental and/or emotional pressures. Imagine adrenal fatigue like credit card debt. You can only borrow so much before your adrenal energy bank is burnt out!
The adrenal glands secrete our stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. Our autonomic nervous system has two main branches; the sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system governs our fight or flight response, whereas the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for slowing down the heart rate and increasing both intestinal and glandular activity. When we remain in survival mode (fight or flight) for too long, our body systems and processes that rely on the parasympathetic branch to function well, including the digestive, immune and endocrine systems can suffer.
What are the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue has many symptoms associated that include digestive complaints such as IBS, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and poor digestion. It can also increase our susceptibility to colds and flus and provoke feelings of anxiety, irritability or depression. Adrenal fatigue can leave you waking up feeling unrefreshed and lacking energy. You may have difficulty winding down and staying asleep, feel unable to concentrate and have a racing mind.
How common is this condition?
Adrenal fatigue is much more common than you may think! With the pressures of modern day living constantly increasing, more and more of us are becoming run down. Often people may not even realise they have adrenal fatigue when describing their symptoms! Treating these symptoms alongside adrenal fatigue is an effective way to see improvements in a person's overall wellbeing.
Which conditions are commonly associated with adrenal fatigue?
The aim of naturopathy is to treat the individual, so it is always important to consider if there is stress involved. If a person is adrenally exhausted we can struggle to get improvements in their presenting complaints.
How can we test for adrenal fatigue?
To diagnose a person with adrenal fatigue, functional and integrative pathology tests can measure how much of the stress hormone (cortisol) is active in a person's blood and saliva. This measures adrenal insufficiency. Naturopaths often use Iridology to gain insight into what may be causing any bodily imbalance, as adrenal stress can be seen in the iris. If you've never heard of iridology, it's actually the fascinating examination of your eye's iris! Often the associated symptoms mentioned however, are the most important indicators as to whether a person has adrenal fatigue.
What everyday steps can we take to help restore our adrenals and improve our energy?
There are many habits you can introduce to your everyday life that can assist in the restoration of your adrenals and improve your energy levels. It's important to firstly listen to your body and take the time to treat yourself, by starting to integrate healthy habits into your everyday routine. This may include anything from yoga and meditation to taking a walk or having a magnesium bath. Eating good quality proteins with every snack and meal, ensuring that you feed your body well and keep your diet clean! Make sure you are getting enough healthy fats and always stay hydrated! During the day, take the time to slow down and be present in what you are doing. When it comes time to sleep, implement a healthy sleep routine. Regularly participating in activities that you love and reducing your chemical exposure (particularly in products) is also important. Complementary therapies like massage and acupuncture can too be helpful in restoring and revitalising your body.
If you feel this is something that may be effecting you, please see your health care professional. Our Nourished Life Naturopath, Melanie Ruckley helped me personally in this area. You can contact her using the previous link.