Are you feeling tired, stressed, suffering from anxiety, and/or craving sugar? Then you may have adrenal fatigue.
While you may be shaking your head and going yes I am feeling some of these symptoms, keep in mind that adrenal fatigue is not a true medical condition. Even though doctors do not recognize adrenal fatigue as a real problem, your adrenal glands can still be suffering due to the poor lifestyle and dietary choices you make every day. Before I move on to what can help your adrenal gland, let’s learn what this little gland actually does.
The Adrenal Glands
Adrenal glands are about the size of a walnut and are in the shape of a triangle. These glands sit on top of the kidneys. They are part of the endocrine system and help us feel well and balanced. When these glands are unbalanced due to food and lifestyle choices then you begin to not only feel exhausted but also crave sugar, salt, constantly thirsty, develop skin problems, muscle and joint pain along with weight gain or loss.
While the term “adrenal fatigue” is a popular classification of adrenal dysfunction, the body’s stress response is actually quite complex and involves a range of systems, one of which is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA axis). This is the main system involved with the stress response and its chief function is the release of glucocorticoids, which are hormones that activate this response. Cortisol is one of the principal hormones involved.
Potential causes of HPA axis dysfunction:
- Chronic stress
- Emotional trauma
- Poor diet
- Negative thinking
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
- Hair loss
- Irritability and mood swings
- Sleep issues
- Craving sweet and salty foods
- Weight gain
- Tired during the day, wired at night
Beyond the typical things that can support poor health such as stress and lack of sleep, your diet plays a major role. Diets high in alcohol, processed foods, and an overdose of caffeine will make your adrenal gland work overtime, which can cause adrenal fatigue. But what can one do? Our modern life is full of the items that cause the adrenal gland to fatigue.
Lifestyle Tips for Healing and Regeneration
One simple approach is to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume, which I know is very hard in this fast-paced world we live in. If you cannot give up your coffee then limit yourself to one cup per day. For the rest of your day, consider using decaffeinated coffee or herbal alternatives. Another approach is to drink tea. Yes, some tea has caffeine but in general, this beverage has less caffeine per cup when compared to coffee.
Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is also important. Eating enough protein like wild-caught fish, free-range eggs, and grass-fed, organic meats will help to encourage sustained energy throughout the day without sugar crashes. High-quality fats such as coconut, avocado, and nuts are a smart choice as well. Avoid carb-rich meals and refined carbohydrates, including sugar, bread, pasta, cookies, and cakes. Instead, focus on non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens. Make sure to eat small, regular meals.
Additionally, stress-relieving practices and gentle exercise will calm HPA dysfunction and assist with balancing your system. Yoga, meditation, singing, massage, gratitude journaling, spending time in nature, hobbies, and gardening are all excellent options.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and resting during the day when fatigued are also important habits, as are laughter and finding joy in life.
How to Fight Adrenal Fatigue
You may or may not have heard of holy basil. It is not the basil you typically find in the grocery store.
Holy basil is known to reduce the levels of cortisol, which is the hormone that is produced when one is under stress. Reducing this level helps one feel more relaxed and less anxious so that the adrenal gland is not fatigued.
Ayurvedic practitioners recommend drinking holy basil as tea using the leaves. And since it’s caffeine-free, it’s OK and even recommended to drink daily. The act of drinking tea can be ritualistic and as calming as yoga.
Now licorice is one of these herbs that tend to react a bit differently on everyone. While I have discussed stress and adrenal fatigue when cortisol levels are high, there is a reverse situation. A cortisol level that is too low can be brought on by adrenal glands not working properly. This is where the herb licorice comes into play.
A cup of licorice tea can raise your cortisol levels to a healthy level and give you energy but as I said this herb works differently for each person. If you feel tired, you may try a cup of licorice tea to see if it helps with your energy levels.
This herb is known to lower stress levels or reduce the amount of cortisol in the body. This is why some nighttime teas contain valerian. To use this as a treatment for adrenal gland fatigue, consider fixing a cup of valerian tea in the evening before going to bed.
Not only will it help lower cortisol levels, but it will also aid you in getting a good night’s sleep, which will help you positively prepare for the next day.
Siberian ginseng is an herb that is taken to strengthen the body so that it can handle stress better. It is also used in the treatment of insomnia, which will reduce stress.
Before taking Siberian ginseng, check to make sure that it will not react to the medications you are taking.
Also, do not take this herb if you are drinking alcohol. When using for adrenal fatigue, consider taking this herbal supplement in the evening to reduce stress.
A rejuvenating adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha reduces cortisol in chronically stressed adults, stabilizes moods, alleviates depression and anxiety, improves vitality, and boosts endurance.
It is one of the best herbs you can use to protect the brain from emotional, physical, and chemical stress.
Many report improvement in mental acuity, memory, and processing speed while using ashwagandha. It may also be useful in treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Alleviating the depression, fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety that often accompanies HPA axis dysregulation, reishi mushrooms taken regularly can dramatically improve a sense of wellbeing and quality of life.
It also helps to regulate blood sugar and improves blood flow and oxygenation. It’s an exceptional botanical for autoimmune disorders, cancer, liver function, and cardiovascular health as well.
Cordyceps improves circulation, balance blood sugar, and increase energy and stamina. It is an outstanding herbal remedy for chronic fatigue. What’s more, it improves overall brain function, memory, and learning. It’s also an excellent remedy for colds, the flu, respiratory ailments, kidney issues, and has been traditionally used to prevent and treat cancer and tumor growth.
If you would like to try an easy-to-use tincture formulation that supports the healthy functioning of the HPA axis, reishi, ashwagandha, and lion’s mane are included in the Anxiety & Stress Tincture, along with stress-relieving lemon balm. A stand-alone Cordyceps Tincture is also available in the Apothecary. Interested in all 4 adaptogenic mushrooms? Try the Mushroom FOURtress, – I use all four of these daily.
When it comes to food and your adrenal gland make sure your diet is full of whole foods that are heavy on the plants. Also make sure that your diet is heavy in vital amino acids, which can be found in lentils, chickpeas, almonds, and chia seeds. You will also need to drink a lot of water and/or eat foods high in water content.
Now, when it comes to food you will want to season your dishes. Earlier in the discussion, the amount of salt taken in could cause adrenal gland fatigue but it has been found that the salt craving comes from the lack of certain minerals. To meet this need, consider mineral-rich pink sea salt. This particular salt contains high levels of magnesium, which can help with headaches, and joint pain.
Another food that is very important to keep the adrenal gland healthy is leafy greens. These simple vegetables contain not only vitamin C but also magnesium. They are easily found at grocery stores and just as easy to prepare.
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