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Do I Have Adrenal "Fatigue" ?

Adrenal fatigue is a bit of a misunderstood term. Conventional medicine doctors think it's B.S but when understood properly, one can see that it's a very real phenomenon and something that impacts many people. Let's begin by exploring exactly what adrenal 'fatigue' is, and what it isn't.

It's not a point at which your adrenal glands become tired or fatigued. Instead, it's a point at which your body is either:

  • Continuously producing high levels of stress hormone (cortisol) to get you through periods of chronic stress &/or

  • The point at which your brain has recognised that a period of stress has gone on for too long and so instructs your adrenal glands to stop producing so much cortisol (ultimately forcing rest upon an individual)

When cortisol is continuously high we can feel wired but tired and once production stops we can feel exhausted and burnt out. The body is not made to function in overdrive so the final stage of adrenal fatigue is what slows us riiiight down. In turn, our thyroid function, sex hormone production and sleep are also significantly impacted.

What Else Could Be Happening With My Cortisol?

  1. Firstly, it's possible that you're making the right amount of cortisol at the right time, but it’s not actually free or available.

  2. Secondly, it's also possible that your issue may not be with inadequate cortisol being signalled for and produced, but instead, you have an issue with rhythm. What do I mean by this?

For instance, when your levels should be high (such as in the morning to get you going), they're low. Que the feeling that you can't live without coffee to start your day. Then, in the evening when cortisol is meant to be lowest to prepare you for sleep, instead it's peaking, leaving you wired but physically exhausted.

Symptoms of Adrenal 'Fatigue' Include:

  • Weight gain around the tummy

  • Inability to lose weight 

  • Chronic fatigue 

  • Poor sleep with sweating or waking in the night 

  • Depression 

  • Irritability

  • Feeling burnt out

  • Feeling wired but tired 

  • Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning 

  • Anxiety and decreased tolerance to stress 

  • Sugar or salt cravings 

  • Increased effort to do everyday tasks 

  • Decreased libido 

  • Lightheadedness upon standing 

  • Low body temperature/sensitivity to cold 

  • Susceptibility to infections like colds and flu 

  • Low immunity

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue happen in response to all kinds of stress, not only mental or emotional forms like work pressure, and financial or relationship problems. It could be physical like with chronic inflammation, an injury or poor digestion resulting from a heavily processed diet, medication use, infection or food sensitivities.

Our environment also brings stress in the form of xenoestrogens, heavy metals, pollutants, pharmaceuticals, recreational drugs, or excessive smoking and alcohol consumption. But perhaps for you, it's spiritual in nature; stagnant unresolved trauma or the feeling that you’re lacking direction in life and feeling empty.

If you want to move past this stage you need to start by identifying your stressors.

Although adrenal fatigue is most commonly seen amongst individuals who keep very busy – Type A personalities and high-achieving workaholics - it might also be the mother or grandmother who is always putting everyone and everything else before herself. Unlike our ovaries, the adrenal glands are not designed to eventually give out or stop making hormones so self-care is crucial.

But what if you don't feel stressed?

What else could be causing this communication breakdown between your brain (hypothalamus) and your adrenal glands? It can be any of the following:

  • HYPOTHYROIDISM. This will slow your adrenal function right down.

  • TOO MUCH THYROID MEDICATION. This is likened to pushing the gas down on the adrenal glands which actually just shoots up your adrenaline (epinephrine) and wreaks more havoc.

  • INFLAMMATION. Certain types of inflammation can rob the body of its ability to produce cortisol, which is recognized as the body’s top anti-inflammatory agent. As a result, chronic inflammation can lead to adrenal issues.

  • CORTICOSTEROID MEDICATIONS. (e.g. inhalers, allergy medications, creams, etc.) The longer they're used, the more suppressive they are to the adrenals. It can take longer than six months to recover. 

  • POOR KIDNEY AND LIVER FUNCTION. The kidneys are responsible for converting our cortisol to cortisone (the inactive form) when needed, and the liver is responsible for reactivation. When we're ill or very stressed out, our body will make more cortisone (inactive form) than cortisol (active form). It's a built-in mechanism that forces us to slow down and rest. Unfortunately, very few of us ever listen to our bodies.

  • BODY FAT. This is because fat cells create their own inflammatory cytokines AND their own cortisol!

Cortisol is a catabolic hormone. This means that when it’s chronically released, it breaks down protein for energy. The end result is rapid and ongoing muscle wastage even if you’re including a healthy workout into your daily routine. 

When in high circulation, cortisol can widen your waistline because it releases sugars into your bloodstream. When plenty of them are left over, they’re stored as fat. Additionally, cortisol is released during exercise and the higher the intensity or duration of your workout, the larger the cortisol release.  

If you're suffering from symptoms of adrenal and you want to know what natural treatments are available. Reach out.

We can discuss the most effective nutritional and herbal medicines as well as helpful lifestyle interventions, and send you for the relevant testing. Book a free 10-minute call or make the investment in your health and sign up for the 'Cultivate Calm' package.


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