Adrenal Fatigue. A Modern Epidemic?
When Sonya spoke with me recently about feeling fatigued and wondered about herbs to help her get back on top of things, I was sympathetic but not surprised. After all, if my friends and clients are a reliable indication, we are all feeling varying degrees of tired and stressed it seems. Digging a little deeper and feeling tired and stressed is not the end of it. Women in particular are also talking about being moody, easily irritated, having a low libido, and experiencing hair loss, headaches, insomnia and constipation. Not bouncing back from colds like they used to is a common complaint as well as eating to relieve fatigue or food cravings especially for sugar or caffeine. If this sounds like you, you too might be experiencing adrenal fatigue.
Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?
First, let me clarify that ‘adrenal fatigue’ is a term in common usage relating to these symptoms however, the more medically correct term would likely be ‘HPA axis dysfunction’ and there are good biochemical reasons for this. As the purpose of this blog is to offer some general treatment options rather than delve into the science, I’m sticking with adrenal fatigue. I’m sure you can appreciate why.
Our adrenal glands play a crucial role in the ‘fight or flight’ stress response. We generally know when we’re burning the candle at both ends and often we instinctively compensate during a stressful time by letting go of less urgent responsibilities in order to cope but it also takes a lot of metabolic energy to recover. When we don’t allow ourselves the time and space and nutrition to recover fully, we leave ourselves at risk of adrenal fatigue.
Recovering from requires a nurturing approach. It’s a time to heed the warning that for every ‘push’ there requires a ‘pull’, a time to nurture and rebuild our reserves so we are ready for the next challenge. I was relieved to hear that Sonya had already pulled back on her training regime, taking care to listen to her body’s cues about the level of exercise most suited to her at this time. I highly recommend restorative yoga for its re-balancing abilities and for lowering cortisol especially for those of us ‘heady’ people who are good at adding to our stress levels with our busy, driven minds.
Help For Adrenal Fatigue Recovery
- Supportive nutrients for the adrenals include Vitamin C, Magnesium, B Vitamins and Zinc. Seek advice about the optimum forms and dose of these nutrients for you.
- Unrefined sea salt or Himalayan pink rock salt is a good source of trace minerals in natural levels that nourish the adrenals (1 tsp per day is all that’s needed).
- Don’t forget to drink enough water – the general rule is 33ml per kg of body weight per day.
- Be careful not to be too restrictive with carbs at this time. Our bodies need ready energy so ensure a minimum of 50-75g CHO per day (1 cup of mashed sweet potato = 50g). Root vegetables in general have grounding properties so add them in where possible.
- Herbs such as Siberian and American Ginseng, Withania, Licorice, Rhodiola and Rehmannia are great adrenal supportive herbs.
- Get outside – walk, swim, sit in nature. As well as soothing a frazzled mind and body, the extra vitamin D will help.
On a final note, it’s hard to fully resolve adrenal fatigue issues without addressing other health issues such as inflammation, thyroid health, blood sugar regulation and gut health. If you’d like to look more deeply at this issue for yourself, book a naturopathic consult to ensure the support to get and stay on the road to recovery.