by Jamie Lashbrook, LMP
Adrenal fatigue seems to be all the buzz lately. It makes sense that integrative and now allopathic doctors are looking at our adrenal system as a source of the many complaints clients/patients have today. Our adrenals, simply put, manage how our body manages stress and uses energy and balanced energy is necessary for EVERY function in the body. This is why, in my experience personally and with clients, I think it necessary to address adrenal health before, or in conjunction with, your hormone, gut and metabolic restoration protocols.
I have had many health issues surrounding shut down and dysfunction of my hormone and gut health. I have pulled myself out of hypothalamic amenorrhea into easy menstrual cycles and now seem to be turning a major corner in my digestion. I believe this major recent shift is due to my diligent work on my mind/body/soul but, mostly because I finally learned how MY adrenals were functioning.
Before this shift it seemed that even with all of the protocols I had done with self- assessment and administration of supportive herbs for energy I was not getting over a major hump. Yes, I had my period but it was still a bit uncomfortable. Yes, I had a bowel movement every day but they were very underwhelming and incomplete. Even with these improvements I was exhausted every day, my brain fog and concentration bordered on dementia and my emotional state was very rocky.
What Adrenal Fatigue Looks Like
·Overall fatigue throughout the day. You can’t regain energy post workout and getting out of bed is a struggle.
·Brain fog. You are forgetting even small common words, major events and an overall “umm, I know the information is in there but my mind just went blank”.
·Sleep is disturbed. You light up with energy post 9pm and wake around 3am all abuzz.
·Your eating is erratic. You crave salt, (I would say sweets also but salt craving is a big clue) you want to eat everything and then you have no appetite.
·Your hormones are all over the place. Mostly adrenal fatigue will result in diminished reproductive hormone function.
·Your digestion is underwhelming
·Your immune system struggles. You get more colds and just feel like you are always fighting a little something.
·You have very low blood pressure. Do you get dizzy when you stand?
Note that the list sounds like so many other diagnoses and dysfunctions- especially like thyroid dysfunction. Remember, the adrenals manage your stress response and energy. Hormones, glands and organs need energy to function and communicate- thyroid is a gland and a hormone. Again, this is why addressing your adrenal health is vital if you have hormone, gut and metabolic issues.
How Adrenals Work
For the purpose of this article I won’t get to deep into the adrenal system as it is complex. You can easily google HPA axis and adrenal function. But simply put the adrenals are walnut size glands that sit atop your kidneys. They have an outer cortex and an inner medulla. The cortex produces a variety of hormones- most familiar is cortisol. We all know that cortisol under and overproduction can lead to major metabolic issues. The medulla controls your flight or fight system through epinephrine and norepinephrine. The adrenals literally communicate with every function in your body.
How to Heal the Adrenals (and your gut, hormones, metabolism)
·Sleep. You need it, you don’t get it and it is necessary for every function. You will not regain adrenal health completely without shutting down your computer by 10pm and in bed 30 mins later. Take naps.
·Proper diet. A diet rich in a variety of organic, high quality foods is necessary- this means fats, proteins and balanced carbohydrates. Sugar, caffeine and alcohol are adrenal killers. You also must get enough calories so that your body doesn’t go into stress mode thinking that it is starving.
·Limit your exercise. Walking and yoga are really all you need at this time. As you begin to heal you will really be able to tune in and gauge your daily energy capacity- it is a beautiful thing.
·There are some simple herbs that nourish the adrenals. Ashwaganda, licorice, ginseng and rhodiola are a few.
·Adding high quality electrolytes like this to your diet really helps. The adrenals NEED salt and balanced electrolytes to function. They also help the kidney manage the water balance in the body- you need adequate sodium levels for this.
These lifestyle practices are sometime enough to bring people back. I always try to use food and lifestyle first before suggesting supplementation. However, in most cases of adrenal fatigue the clients I see have been in this state for so long that other measures are necessary- this was me.
How I Turned the Corner into Adrenal Balance.
Like I mentioned I was stuck in a little trap of trying to self-assess and self-administer before I finally began to feel better and really heal my adrenals. First step is to get a salivary cortisol test with an ND. This information is invaluable in understanding where your dips in energy are throughout the day. It will also measure other hormones that can give you great insight. When I received my results and discovered my morning cortisol was low it was a game changer. (Either one of the NDs here at the Temple can help with this)
Next is to majorly nourish the adrenals. The steps above are necessary as a part of your adrenal health but typically not enough like I said. I began taking a product called Cytozyme- AD from Biotics Research. I am always nervous when supplementing for hormone and gland health as the system is so delicate. But, taking a glandular made sense to me as it is literally tissue feeding tissue.
I took it in the morning only as that was when my adrenals needed most nourishment. In a matter of 2 days I gained a sense of vitality that I have really never felt.
Almost every adrenal symptom I was feeling had/has been alleviated. I still have days when I feel my adrenals being pushed as the hole I was in was deep. I do have to sleep well, eat well and love myself daily- forever. But having the clouds lift a bit makes all of the self-care not only easier but something that is becoming a way of life. When you have energy for your life you are able to make the choice to nourish your every aspect of being.
The Moral of the Story?
·Your body is an amazing and delicate machine that needs energy to thrive.
·You can feel better.
·Knowledge is power.
·Sometimes you need a little help. Do NOT do it alone- get help from a health professional.
·I know- I have been there- I can help.
“The doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient”
(No I am not a doc but you get the idea)
Remember: If you shop online at the TT store, enter in “Jamie” for 10% off of your order. Check out more information on digestion, hormones and your emotional body at Well Belly Healing.