The adrenal glands (AKA the stress glands) may be small, but they have a big purpose. Located on top of each kidney, these endocrine glands are quite useful when a true flight-or-fight situation arises, such as running from a bear or making a split decision to avoid getting hit by a car. However, our bodies can start to experience hormonal havoc when that same surge of the flight-or-fight response occurs several times per day.
-What is adrenal burn out and why do we get it?
Burnout can happen quite quickly when our lives are filled with stressors that throw us into adrenal overdrive. When your boss drops a critical remark, kids misbehave, problems with families and relationships arise, we don’t get done what we absolutely need to get done, and information overload from social media and the online world just adds to the problem! When we consider the daily accumulation of these stressors, it isn’t hard to understand why many of us are experiencing adrenal fatigue.
-What are some signs and symptoms that my adrenal glands are fatigued?
When our adrenal glands are overworked, your energy is depleted and your ‘get-up-and-go” plummets. You could feel tired and wired – all at the same time. You may have palpitations, feel anxious or have trouble sleeping. You may crave salt. You may get dizzy when you stand up. You may have low blood pressure. You might even have sugar cravings, because your body can’t regulate your blood sugar properly. These are all clues that you could have adrenal problems.
-What are some treatments?
The first step would be to see a medical provider for evaluation of your hormones, cortisol levels, and to determine anything else that could be causing the symptoms listed above. Providers at Peak Medical Clinic are experts in functional medicine and hormones imbalances, and can address your health concerns or questions during an appointment. If it seems like adrenal glands are the culprit, supplements are one of the simplest ways to boost them. We use a variety of wonderful herbs at Peak Medical Clinic that can help you adapt to and conquer stress. Try adding the following to your daily supplement routine to help balance adrenals:
- Siberian ginseng, rhodiola or cordyceps – all wonderful herbs that also help your stress response. We recommend the BalanceDocs “AM stress” supplement sold online and at all Peak Medical Clinic locations.
- Vitamin C (500 to 1000mg, once a day), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 (all found in our “AM stress” supplement that has been successful for thousands of our patients here at Peak).
- Ashwagandha, magnolia, theanine (from green tea), and phosphatidylserine can help manage an overactive stress response (Ashwagandha is also in our “AM STRESS”) The “PM STRESS” supports the suppression of cortisol at night so that you can turn off your brain and fall into a deep sleep. The combination of AM and PM STRESS will help recalibrate your natural and optimal cortisol rhythm.
Other ways to fight adrenal burn out include:
- Removing Stressors: Take the time each day to identify emotional or situational stressors that you can eliminate.
- Finding Stress Relief: Laughter, time with supportive friends, deep breathing and rest breaks. Take 10-30 minutes once or twice daily to lie down and close your eyes, and/or practice deep breathing. Conscious breathing helps lower stress hormones!
- QUALITY Sleep: Get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. It is important to go to sleep by 10 p.m. because our adrenals do most of their work repairing the body between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Our “sleep” supplement is an all-natural herbal nutrient blend that will help you optimize your sleep – without waking up groggy or spending the next morning playing catch-up! Also, it is important to avoid caffeine if you can, which may interrupt sleep patterns. If you are photosensitive you should avoid computers, TV, and bright lights for 1 hour before bedtime.
- Exercise: 20-30 minutes per day. Include aerobic (cardiovascular), anaerobic (weights and resistance), and flexibility (stretching or yoga). Do not over-do it; do not over-stress your body with excessive exercise that will stimulate cortisol production and “wake you up.”
- Diet: For adrenal care specifically, we recommend eating a whole food, anti-inflammatory diet. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods including wild fish and other sources of omega-3 fats: red and purple berries (rich in polyphenols), dark green leafy vegetables, orange sweet potatoes, and nuts. Add anti-inflammatory herbs to your daily diet, including turmeric (a source of curcumin), ginger and rosemary.
You can feel encouraged that the body can heal itself with a specific plan aimed at controlling stress – especially emotional stress. Making serious diet, sleep, supplement, and lifestyle changes can quickly and significantly improve how you feel.
There’s no need to stress out and fatigue your adrenals more by trying to implement all the suggested remedies at once. Think about one you can try this week, and then add another each week so that you can focus on becoming healthier over time rather than stressed by your “to-do” list!
Healthy stress glands… here we come!
Wishing you health & happiness,
Kenzie Jackson RN, BSN