Please scroll to the bottom of this article to see supplements we recommend for adrenal health.
Adrenals are two thumb-sized glands that sit atop your kidneys. They secrete hormones and steroids, some which help manage your response to stress. If you have trouble coping with stress, you may have come across the term "adrenal fatigue". When discussing Adrenal Fatigue, the real topic should be
stress. If stress is a constant factor in your life, then it can wreak havoc on
your body. Here’s how you respond to stress:
- Your brain registers a stressor. This can be
anything from a food allergy to a hostile work environment.
- The pituitary gland in your brain sends a
message to your adrenal glands to release cortisol (the stress hormone) and
adrenaline to help you fight or flee from the threat.
- Adrenals then release corticosteroids to dampen
all body functions not essential to immediate survival. This can be the
digestive system, immune system, sex drive, and many others.
If stressors are consistently present, this over-stimulation
of your pituitary gland and adrenal glands causes fatigue, aches and pains,
digestive issues, and difficulty sleeping. Because these symptoms are
non-specific (meaning they can be signs of an array of different diseases), finding
the root cause can be difficult for you and your doctor. The best place to
start is identifying stressors in your life and finding the most effective way
to manage them.
Addison’s Disease is the medical condition describing
adrenal insufficiency. This is caused by irreparable damage to the adrenal
glands or pituitary gland, resulting in underproduction or ceased production of
adrenal hormones. This is always a result of another underlying disease.
Adrenal Fatigue is not Addison’s Disease. With over-stimulation, your adrenal
glands may over or under produce hormones as your body naturally tries to find
balance. To correct this, you must reduce stress in your life to allow your
adrenal system to regulate itself.
Stressors that can cause over-production of cortisol and adrenaline
can be wide-ranging, including:
- Divorce or relationship issues
- Lack of sleep
- Poor nutrition
- Death of a loved one
- Environmental toxins
- Hostile work environment
- Financial hardship
- Undiagnosed food allergy
- Chronic illness
How to manage stress can vary from person to person. It’s
important to find the method that works for you and your needs. To start, focus
on these three factors:
- Diet. Proper nutrition is essential to restoring
your body’s natural hormone balance. Maintaining a nutritious diet of fruits,
vegetables, and legumes and limiting sugar, hydrogenated oils, caffeine, and
processed foods can make an enormous impact on your daily well-being.
- Lifestyle. There are multiple lifestyle changes
that you can make to reduce daily stress. Exercise 3-5 times each week,
establish a regular sleep cycle and get 8-10 hours of sleep each night, avoid
stressful people and interactions, and seek counseling from a professional to
work through any personal trauma or emotional strain.
- Supplement your healthy diet. Adaptogenic herbs
like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Holy Basil can help reduce stress and
relax your nervous system. CBD oil can also help correct any neurological
imbalance that may overstimulate your pituitary gland. Taking a multivitamin is
a good way to help get adequate nutrition when you’re unable to eat right.
Always consult your doctor or pharmacist to make sure that a supplement does
not interfere with your medication.
Supplements to avoid when trying to reduce Adrenal Fatigue
are hormone replacements like DHEA. Not having to produce the hormone on their
own, your adrenal glands will remain “asleep”. This can lead to adrenal crisis
and permanent damage. Permanent damage to the adrenal system results in true
Addison’s Disease, requiring hormone and steroid replacement therapy
administered by a medical doctor.
Signs you may need to address stress in your life to help regulate
your adrenal hormones include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Trouble sleeping
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Frequent digestive issues including diarrhea
- Low sex drive
- Craving salt
- Unexplained aches
- Weak immune system
Managing stress in your life through your diet, lifestyle,
and supplementation is an excellent place to start if you’re experiencing these
symptoms. It’s important to remember, however, that any adrenal imbalance is a
symptom of a greater issue. If following these recommendations does not improve
your health, we urge you to consult a licensed medical professional to
determine if you have a chronic illness like fibromyalgia or depression.
Here's some supplements we recommend to assist with stress management and adrenal health: