Do you think you have adrenal fatigue? Not sure what the symptoms of adrenal fatigue look like? Let’s first talk about what exactly adrenal fatigue is.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I have formal training in medicine. This is my personal experience with Adrenal Fatigue and putting it into remission. After consulting with numerous doctors (both conventional and integrative), I learned to question everything and be my own advocate. You know your body best. This article is for educational purposes and not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult with your health care professional.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
I am so tired of reading that no scientific evidence exists to prove adrenal fatigue is real. There are many ailments which people suffer through that were and are still not “scientifically” categorized as classified diseases. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that someone is not experiencing their symptoms. Some doctors will still tell you that Fibromyalgia is not real.
As someone who suffered through Adrenal Fatigue, I can tell you that it is very real. Adrenal fatigue is not to be confused with Adrenal Insufficiency or Addison’s Disease. Cortisol production and its’ timing is compromised, as with the other two diseases however. The potential reason why many doctors don’t recognize adrenal fatigue as a real disease is because many of the symptoms (sometimes a little vague) can also be attributed to other conditions like hypothyroidism and depression. For instance, the constant feeling of fatigue even when sleeping eight or more hours (a hallmark trait of adrenal fatigue) can be present with the other two conditions, and many others, as I mentioned above.
Our adrenal glands, the small organs situated above the kidneys, address stress by making cortisol. Proponents of adrenal fatigue are of the opinion that production is affected when too many stressors are placed on the body. Long term stresses like lack of sleep, emotional and physical stress, high stress jobs, consumption of too many stimulants, irregular schedules, etc can eventually play a crucial role in the body’s ability, rather inability, to regulate the hormone.
There are no specific tests to measure or diagnose adrenal fatigue. However, a four point saliva test can help you determine if your cortisol levels throughout the day are proper. Further below on this page is a DIY at home kit that you can purchase via Amazon if insurance or your doctor won’t approve/order the test.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
Waking in the Middle of the Night and not being able to go back to sleep. Thoughts of the day’s events, what will happen tomorrow, worry over the future flood your mind. During the day, you crash in the afternoon. Your cycles are reversed. And many times at night, you are sleepy but can’t doze off. The “Tired but Wired” saying holds true for you.
Lack of Concentration. Can’t focus on anything? Does your attention span taper off after a few minutes? You finally understand what the term brain fog means.
Weight Change. Most experience weight gain but some may even experience weight loss. Gained a few extra pounds and can’t shake them off no matter what you do?
Salt Cravings. Keep reaching for the potato chips, pickles, absolutely anything with salt? Your body is craving sodium.
Dizziness. You experience a feeling of vertigo when standing suddenly, waking from sleep or shifting to another position.
Recovery from Exercise takes forever. You feel like you ran a marathon for the three days after a relatively benign high intensity workout.
Feeling Anxious or Nervous. The smallest tasks are overwhelming. You stress about them repeatedly. If your boss or colleague throws more than one thing your way, your heart races and panic sets in. Avoiding certain personalty types becomes the norm. Mood swings, crankiness and lashing out at people happen much more often now.
How I Cured Adrenal Fatigue
Every morning drink the “Adrenal Cocktail”. The Adrenal Cocktail is a source of potassium, Vitamin C and sodium. It consists of a half glass of warm water mixed with: a half teaspoon of pink himalayan salt, a half glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and a spoon of cream of tartar. If you can’t do fresh squeezed orange juice every morning, only buy orange juice with no added sugar or other additives and definitely not from concentrate. Alternatively, add some lemon juice. A tablespoon will be plenty.
There is nothing expensive or complicated about this drink. Drink it in the morning or before bed time. Some drink it both times. Start the adrenal cocktail only after your saliva test is complete. You need to see what your cortisol levels are without first having help.
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Avoid high intensity exercise. Working out too much or with too much intensity can tax your adrenals even more. I know this one seems counter intuitive because we’ve always been told, get outside and do some exercise but be careful how you interpret this one. Walking, yoga, stretching are all fine but keep long distance running and high impact sport or aerobics and lifting to a minimum at most. I would avoid it all together for some time.
Avoid Skipping Meals. I am a fan of intermittent fasting and sometimes skipping dinner altogether but not when you are in the early stages of trying to heal adrenal fatigue or Hashimoto’s. Save these great “give your digestion a break” techniques for later on in your journey.
Open Your Curtains. Proper light exposure will help get your circadian rhythms back on track. Early to bed, early to rise. Look outside when there is light out. Better yet, get out in the daylight as early as you can if possible.
Limit Caffeine Intake. I know this one is going to be tough but you have to do it. Cut out caffeine and any stimulants from your daily routine. I initially did this for about 60 days and it was probably the hardest part of my elimination diet but also the most beneficial. I eventually worked back in one cup of coffee or espresso in the morning but only after some time. Caffeine can put a lot of stress on our adrenals.
To Learn More about the AutoImmune Protocol Elimination Diet, click the picture below.
Limit High Glycemic Foods (but that doesn’t mean No Carbs!) You have to achieve a balanced diet in order to heal. Low carb/no carb diets like Keto or Atkins is not what you want to be aiming for here. Reason being too much sugar will give you an artificial energy hike and then send you crashing. No sugar will send you into a tailspin and put too much pressure on your adrenals to compensate. You need to have some complex carbohydrates and some natural sugars. No fruit juices or soda, white flour, white potatoes or rice, bread, pasta and desserts. However, half a sweet potato or similar, a couple of handfuls of fruit in a day are needed. Incorporate good fats like coconut or olive oil and avocado into your daily routine too.
Get Sleeping! 8 hours of sleep minimum, 9 hours is fantastic. Ask yourself what are you doing before going to bed? If the answer is browsing social media for an hour or two, change the habit. No screen time at least two hours before going to bed. Turn the lights off, pay attention to the sound of your breathing and drift off…..
Adrenal Fatigue and Depression
Curious to know what I think? In my non medical opinion, many people suffer from adrenal burnout in today’s hectic world. However, more than a few get an incorrect diagnosis of depression. In no way am I saying that depression does not exist and that those suffering from it are not going through something very real. But I do think there is a startling number of people on anti depressants and it just doesn’t make sense to me. What makes more sense? That we are burnt out from always doing, doing, doing and taught that working 80 hours a week so that we can live in a big house and buy useless things is normal. Or that polluting our bodies with five cups of coffee and processed food every day just so that we can always be on the move is somehow okay. It’s not. There is a consequence.
Let’s Talk About Supplements for Adrenal Fatigue
I am not a fan of supplements aimed at “curing” adrenal fatigue. Many of the supplements contain adaptogenic herbs like ashwaghanda. While these herbs usually pose no harm for many, they can wreak havoc or spur an autoimmune attack if you have an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s. The best thing you can do to help aid your adrenals is get rest, avoid stimulants and get your natural circadian rhythms back on track by doing what I mentioned earlier. A good B complex supplement, magnesium and Vitamin C can be very beneficial. The B complex will help with energy and magnesium aides with sleep, anxiety and overall immune health.
If you’d like to know more about Hashimoto’s and Adrenal Fatigue, see below.
Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.