(NaturalNews) The condition is so common we know it without a name: think near-constant lethargy and mental fog, occasional irritability or depression, and reliance on caffeine and sugar to get through the day. Waking up in a haze, collapsing at night and having insufficient energy to exercise are often accepted as a normal part of working life. Yet, for the uncounted millions living this way, this state of barely getting by can degenerate to a sometimes disabling condition known as adrenal fatigue.
Causes and symptoms of adrenal fatigue
The downward spiral starts with stress, whether physical, emotional or both. In response to your intensive workout or working overtime, the adrenal glands secrete a cocktail of hormones to provide you with emergency fuel. These hormones include cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline and others. In the short term, the adrenaline-cortisol kick can be lifesaving, but the mechanism is so sensitive that sometimes just a single extreme burst of stress can dry the well. In most cases, the decline is more subtle, taking years to reach a severity that can't be ignored.
Since the adrenal glands are responsible for secreting half of the more than 40 hormones circulating in your body, an imbalance there can have wide-sweeping impact. DHEA levels fall, leading to lower testosterone and reduced sex drive. Digestion and muscles weaken. Because cortisol helps to regulate emotional intensity, those with adrenal fatigue typically suffer from anger and low mood. Since the natural ebb and flow of cortisol is upset, sufferers also have trouble falling asleep; peak energy levels are at night and energy is lowest during the afternoon.
Recovery with holistic treatment
Tragically, the official party line in conventional medicine is that adrenal fatigue is not a real condition
. If you seek treatment, your doctor may run some blood tests for thyroid and mineral levels, find that everything looks normal and, at most, prescribe an antidepressant. If you or someone close to you lives with fatigue
and fits this symptom profile, consider the following steps to regain health:
- Find a holistic practitioner or doctor who is sympathetic to your case. Instead of the typical blood serum test, which is not sensitive enough, insist on a saliva test or hair mineral analysis to determine hormone levels.
- Eliminate caffeine, sweetened foods and other stimulants from your diet. All worsen fatigue by drawing on already-depleted stores of stress hormones.
- Reduce other sources of over-stimulation in your life, whether from work, violent media, loud music or unpleasant people
- Sleep and rest as much as you need to every day
- Reduce exercise or stop your program altogether until you recover. Unless the fatigue is mild, almost any amount of exercise will worsen it.
- Use herbal medicine. Eleuthro, also known as Siberian ginseng, mimics the effect of cortisol. Eleuthro, Asian ginseng, rhodiola, ashwaganda and maca are all known as adaptogens and gradually and safely build energy. Look for combination formulas. Also consider licorice, which enables cortisol to linger longer before being broken down, but be cautious because it can raise blood pressure. For better sleep, consider valerian root or 5-HTP.
Finally, the importance of inner work during the recovery phase can't be overemphasized. Being stricken with fatigue is an invitation to recover not only through lifestyle, but also through turning inward and reflecting on how we truly want to experience our lives. You may well find that with positive thinking, spiritual pursuits and loving relationships, you can build a foundation for more resilient health and happiness.Sources of this article include:http://drlwilson.com/articles/adrenal_burnout.htmhttp://www.drnorthrup.com
Ross, Julia. The Mood Cure. Penguin Books, 2003. Print.
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