Adrenal fatigue is also known as HPA Axis Dysfunction and is caused by chronic stress. In ideal conditions, our bodies would exist in homeostasis or proper physiological balance. This balance includes our hormones and neurotransmitters. A healthy person's body is constantly trying to maintain homeostasis. However, chronic stress can regularly trigger our fight-or-flight responses, producing a flood of hormones and neurotransmitters that throw our body systems out of balance. Our HPA axis is a complex set of feedback mechanisms that deals with our physical and mental health and helps us respond to stress. When faced with stressful situations, our HPA axis becomes stimulated, resulting in a temporary loss of homeostasis.
Your adrenal glands play an important role in regulating the hormones in your body. They produce cortisol in response to stress. Healthy, functioning adrenal glands produce normal amounts of cortisol as well as other hormones such as adrenaline and norepinephrine. To avoid burning out your stress response system, your body has a built-in mechanism to ensure that you don't produce too much cortisol. Once the cause of stress is gone, your hippocampus reels your HPA axis back in control and returns your body to homeostasis. The more imbalanced your cortisol levels are, the more severe your adrenal fatigue will be.
Adrenal fatigue comes in three stages, with each stage associated with a growing severity of cortisol imbalance. The first stage is the "Wired and tired" stage, which includes symptoms of insomnia due to high cortisol levels during nighttime. Other symptoms include abdominal weight gain and insulin resistance. Stage one sufferers tend to still feel energized but in a "wired" sense. The second stage is "Stressed and tired" phase, wherein sufferers wake up in the early morning and find themselves unable to sleep. Their cortisol levels peak too early, which then fall back only to rise again in the midday or early evening. The third stage is the "Burnout" stage, which is characterized by relentless exhaustion regardless of how many hours the sufferer has slept. This stage is very dangerous because it is linked to an increased risk of autoimmune disease. (Related: Adrenal Fatigue - Symptoms and Natural Remedies.)
Here are a few remedies that can help treat adrenal fatigue:
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