This used to be almost unheard of in our society, but with fast paced lifestyles and processed food becoming normal this problem is becoming more prevalent. When it gets bad enough they call it Addison’s disease, and say you need to be on medication the rest of your life. In the beginning you are told it’s all in your head, or you are just getting older. This is because the symptoms are similar to those of hypoglycemia and menopause, probably because they are closely related.
The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys. They make hormones. Among them are the ‘fight or flight’ hormones we have heard so much about. In a calm, quiet lifestyle they are more than adequate to produce the hormones needed to spur you through the occasional crisis. The problem begins when that crisis become day to day routine. This keeps the adrenal glands working harder than they were meant for, and like everything else they get tired and worn out.
Tired and worn out is a good phrase to describe how you feel when your adrenals are overloaded. You may feel weakness, lethargy, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, memory problems, food cravings, get frequent infections, have allergies, and blood sugar disorders such as hypoglycemia and diabetes. When you advance to Addison’s disease you may feel fatigue, loss of appetite, dizziness, fainting, low blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, depression, craving for salty foods, moodiness, loss of body hair, and the ability to cope with stress and sometimes feeling cold for no apparent reason. A visible indication of Addison’s disease is a darkening of the skin on the knees, elbows, scars, skin folds, and even the creases in the palms of your hands.
A simple self test for adrenal fatigue is to take your blood pressure while laying down and resting for at least five minutes (I know that is hard for some of us to do), then take it again immediately after you stand up. Normally the second reading should be approximately 10 points higher when you stand up. If it is lower that is an indication of adrenal fatigue.
I mentioned allergies in the long list of indicators above. The most common allergy linked to adrenal fatigue is a citrus allergy. This may be due to the adrenal glands using up a lot of the Pantothenic Acid in your system. Pantothenic Acid is a B vitamin, B5 to be exact. It can be found in Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly. The herb Licorice (not the candy) is known to contain Pantothenic Acid, along with other things that help feed the adrenals. It also contains a lot of sugar, so use it with caution.
Other supplements that help support the adrenals are Siberian ginseng root and zinc. Potassium is also useful in feeding your adrenal glands, as well as Vitamin C. A great multivitamin made from natural sources is a must when dealing with adrenal fatigue. As in all things in nature the different vitamins and minerals work together to prevent deficiencies in one area while you improve the levels of other nutrients.
The chances of having adrenal fatigue increase as a woman goes through menopause. This is because when a woman’s ovaries stop producing estrogen the adrenal glands take up that task. If the adrenal glands are strong the woman doesn’t encounter many of the ‘symptoms’ of menopause. If they are tired they can’t keep up with the increased demand. This is thought to be why some women ‘breeze’ through menopause with no problems, while another suffers tremendously.
Unfortunately one of the ways we stimulate our adrenal glands to overwork is with the use of caffeine. This sometimes creates a spiraling effect. As a person feels more lethargic and fatigued they reach more and more for caffeine sources such as coffee. The caffeine works, by making the adrenal glands work harder, and they wear out that much faster. Sugar will do the same thing.
As we support our bodies in general, not just specific functions, we need to remember to eat a diet made with whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables. This can be difficult at times, but it is a key to good nutrition, and good nutrition is a key to good health. Because even the best fruits and vegetables we can get don’t always have as many nutrients in them as they did in ages past we are called upon to supplement. We can supplement with individual vitamins and minerals, or even with individual herbs. These are good when you know what you are trying to correct. For everyday good health I feel a foundation of digestive enzymes and a good multivitamin. In addition to those I a good source of antioxidants in my daily regimen.
Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar copyright 1993 by Rosemary Gladstar.
The Ultimate Healing System by Donald Lepore, N.D. copyrighted 1985 by Don Lepore
Diet & Nutrition: A Holistic Approach by Rudolph Ballentine, M.D. copyrighted 1978 and 2007 by the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing fourth edition by Phyllis A. Bach, CNC copyrighted 2006 by Phyllis A. Bach
The Complete Encyclopedia of Nutritional Healing by Gary Null, Ph.D. copyrighted 1998, 2005 by Gary Null
Know Your Body: The Atlas of Anatomy, copyrighted 1999 Times Media Private Limited and 2004 Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Private Limited. Publish by Ulysses Press
Nature’s Medicines by Gale Maleskey and the Editors of Prevention Health Books, copyright 1999 by Rodale Inc.