What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Look around.  Stress and stressed out people are everywhere!

 

Is this the most stressful era in which to live?  Maybe, or maybe not. But we seem to be getting hit with stress from all sides.

 

We have one type of stress that comes in the form of a stressful situation, like the death of a loved one, a demanding job or a physical injury. These are the known stressors, whether they are physical or mental/emotional.

 

But we are also affected by hidden stressors. Hidden stressors include eating the wrong food for your bio-individual type, being exposed to heavy metals or living with bugs and parasites.  In a world where toxins and chemicals are in everything–our air, water and food–we are constantly bombarded by stress.

 

All stress, no matter what kind, invokes a response from the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are a triangle shaped endocrine gland that sit on top of the kidneys.  These little glands, no bigger than a grape, are required to produce the hormones needed to regulate energy production, immune function, heart rate and other stress reactions.

 

What happens when we repeatedly produce cortisol, the stress hormone, in response to the many stressors in our life?

 

Let’s break it down a bit.  The release of cortisol in response to stress or danger is lifesaving when you are being chased by a bear.  However, the same chain reaction occurs while watching a violent movie.  Although there is no inherent danger, your blood is redirected to your arms and legs to get ready to fight, your heart rate increases, and your airways open. In this state, other functions such as digestion, reproduction and repair are put on hold.

 

It makes sense. I mean, what good is great digestion anyway if you were just eaten by a bear?

 

Although it makes sense, repeated exposure to increased stress hormones can wreak havoc on the body. In modern times we enter this fight or flight mode at every hour of the day in response to things such as traffic, a crazy boss, too many bills or our children screaming.  The constant production of cortisol starts to deplete our valuable resources needed to make other hormones.

 

These neglected hormones are necessary for every single human function.  So, you can imagine why we end up with symptoms like these:

 

  • Weight gain in waist, inflammatory hormonal fat
  • Increased appetite and cravings due to blood sugar fluctuations
  • Low libido
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Poor memory
  • Excess mood responses after eating carbohydrates such as pasta, breads, and sugar
  • Bone loss
  • Sleep disturbances, tired but wired feeling
  • Thyroid issues
  • Increased risk for GI infections
  • Increased inflammation, lower back pain
  • Hypoglycemia – shakiness, lightheaded
  • Sugar cravings
  • Salt cravings
  • Low blood pressure
  • Allergies, chemical sensitivities
  • Stressed out feeling, depression
  • Cold body temp
  • Excessive sweating or perspiration with little activity
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Chronic infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast)
  • Tendency to startle easily
  • Cystic breasts
  • Premature aging
  • Dry, unhealthy skin with excess pigmentation
  • Hard time recovering after exercise

 

That doesn’t sound fun does it?

 

You will also notice that these symptoms affect many different parts of the body. One of the reasons that the symptoms are so varied is that there are 3 phases of adrenal fatigue.  Although you might experience a kind of a “high” in phase 1 with increased anxiety and the tired and wired feeling, by the time you reach phase 3 you might just barely be able to get out of bed!

 

So, are you ready to stop experiencing all of these symptoms? I know I was. Read Top 10 Tips for a Tired Mama for the easily-implementable steps that I used to help restore balance to my adrenal glands.

 

Which of these symptoms can you relate to?

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