Your adrenals are 2 small glands that sit on top of your kidneys (like little hats) and secrete certain hormones and neurotransmitters that have many functions, but mainly manage your body’s response to stress. Although this is normally a healthy process, chronic and inordinate amounts of stress in your daily life can lead to dysfunction in your body’s regulating system.
Adrenal Fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms that indicate your adrenal glands may be functioning at a sub-optimal level. There are multiple stages of Adrenal Fatigue, but to put it simply, these glands may first secrete elevated levels of stress hormones throughout the day (ie, cortisol) then eventually “burn out” and release chronically low levels. Aside from feeling tired all day, here are signs that you may have Adrenal Fatigue:
- You feel “foggy” in the morning, even after adequate sleep
Your body’s natural cycle secretes more cortisol in the morning (which should give you energy upon waking), and gradually declines throughout the day. An excessive amount of stress eventually leads to consistently low levels that leave you fatigued in the AM (think later stages of Adrenal Fatigue).
- You feel “wired and tired”, especially in the evening
In the early stages, there are abnormal levels of cortisol being released causing spikes in the evening and consequently, symptoms of insomnia.
- You feel overwhelmed and have a hard time handling stress
Eventually it becomes more difficult for your body to produce the appropriate amount of hormones that would typically help you cope with common stressors.
- You have intense cravings for salt, sugar and/or caffeine
Salt cravings may occur because you lose the ability to balance levels of minerals as well. Sugar and caffeine are stimulants and eventually you may start to rely on these in order to get through the day, leading to more frequent and intense cravings.
- You have a weakened immune system
Cortisol acts as an anti-inflammatory and can affect your immune system. High levels suppress the system and may leave you vulnerable to infection (ie. earlier stages) whereas low levels can lead to chronic inflammation (ie. later stages).
Although these are common signs and symptoms, it’s best to visit a Naturopathic Doctor for a proper assessment and testing in order to make an accurate diagnosis. In my practice, when adrenal fatigue is diagnosed, each patient’s unique symptoms are taken into account and I create an individualized treatment plan for you. Your diet, stress management skills, and sleep hygiene practices will be addressed as well as any need for supportive herbs, supplements or acupuncture.
Until you’ve been seen by a professional with experience treating adrenal fatigue, here are a few things you can do to help with your energy.
- Create a sleep routine- go to bed and wake up at the same time daily
- Avoid processed foods, excessive caffeine and refined sugar
- Incorporate moderate exercise (30 mins a day)
- Stay hydrated!
If you have any questions or need additional information regarding adrenal fatigue, please feel free to call us at 604-733-2632.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.