Four essential steps to treat your Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
When evaluating a patient for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, as a pharmacist, I always ask about their stress level. In this day and age when we are faced with stress of work, running a household and or business, raising children and at the same time raising our own parents, life is usually quite stressful. In this blog, I would like to discuss Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, the causes and the solutions.
What is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome?
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is a condition when after prolonged or acute stress, your adrenal glands get exhausted and don’t function properly. This results in symptoms such as tiredness, difficulty sleeping through the night, weight gain, brain fog, low sex drive, aches and pains, anxiety, mood changes, and difficulty handling normal everyday stress.
What are Adrenal Glands?
These mighty glands are located on top of your kidneys and are extremely important for your health and wellbeing.
Adrenal glands produce hormones such as Cortisol*, adrenaline, sex hormones, epinephrine, norepinephrine, DHEA-Sulfate, etc. Adrenal glands play an essential role in your metabolism, immune system, maintaining your blood pressure and much more.
What causes Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome?
Imagine if your dog gets sick and you tend to him 3 nights and days. Normally, the dog gets well, you catch up on your sleep and everything goes back to normal.
Now imagine if the dog remains sick or he gets well and the cat falls ill. You don’t get a break. You have to stay up most of the night taking care of him and still doing your daily activities as normal. During the first phase of stress (in this case sick dog), your adrenal glands work really hard and produce all kinds of chemicals in your body to give you the energy and stamina to deal with the stress. If the stress continues (cat gets sick too), your adrenal glands have to continue working hard to give you the needed boost. After a while, they become overworked and get exhausted. If the stress continues, they cannot keep up with the demand and that is when you feel the consequences related to Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.
It is important to note that when we talk about stress, it could be physical or emotional stress as well as chronic or acute stress. Chronic low back pain, being in an abusive relationship or going through a difficult divorce, moving, changing jobs, sudden loss of a loved one and running a marathon are some of the obvious stressors that may lead to Adrenal Fatigue. But good stressors such as planning your daughter’s wedding, getting married, arrival of a new baby or grandchild can also lead to Adrenal Fatigue.
What are the consequences of Adrenal Fatigue?
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Difficulty falling sleep or staying asleep*
- Weight gain or trouble losing weight*
- Brain fog
- Body aches
- Decreased sex drive
- Anxiety and mood changes
- Trouble handling everyday stress
Essential ways to treat Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome?
- Remove the stress (easier said than done!)
- Do your de-stressing activities regularly. You can download apps that help you de-stress and listen to them at least 5 minutes three times a day or simply remember to do your deep breathing and practice mindfulness throughout the day.
- Modify your everyday habits. Reduce sugars, carbohydrates and caffeine in your diet. All of these can affect production of the stress hormone, Cortisol*.
- Take supplements to support your adrenal glands. Note that there are many over the counter products to help you with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (we will discuss these supplements in a future blog). It is very important to consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, such as Sharzad Green, Pharm.D., to determine what supplements are appropriate for you. There are saliva tests that can help determine your Cortisol pattern. Your regimen may depend on the results of your test.
*Cortisol is one of the hormones produced by adrenal glands. This hormone helps your body manage the use of sugars and fats as well as handling of stress. A person with healthy adrenal glands has the highest amount of cortisol in the morning. Cortisol level drops as we go through the day. At night when we are sleeping, Cortisol is at its lowest. In Adrenal Fatigue, the person may not have enough Cortisol during the day when needed most, and too much at night which may keep him/her awake at night. The dis-regulation of Cortisol may lead to weight gain, especially in the mid-section of the body amongst other things discussed above.