Two tiny little glands are getting to be much more well known by countless people these days. The adrenal glands, and specifically “adrenal fatigue” seem to be trending topics in the natural living world lately. For good reason, these glands are part of the endocrine system and are being researched as the root cause for a number of illnesses, including thyroid problems!
My journey with & recovery from adrenal fatigue was the topic on my weekly Facebook live video today. I host these videos every Wednesday and will be sharing a lot about my natural health journey, minimalism and our Airstream life (plus lots of other fun things!) I hope you can join me for one soon. Follow my Instagram and Facebook pages for the information as I usually rotate the times.
What are the adrenals anyway?
I could easily write a long post just about the adrenals and what they do for our bodies. Here are the highlights that I think are most important to know. You can always research more on your own 🙂
~ The adrenals are small glands that sit on top of the kidneys
~ Adrenals belong to the endocrine system (which includes the thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary gland., parathyroids, pineal body, pancreas and the reproductive organs (ovaries and testes).
~ The adrenals produce a number of hormones including cortisol & adrenaline (and most steroid hormones that naturally occur in our bodies)
~ A large part of our “fight of flight” response is based on adrenal health
Adrenal fatigue- when good adrenals go bad
Modern life is EXTREMELY taxing on the adrenals. I would suspect the majority of Americans, especially American women, have some degree of adrenal fatigue or failure. Adrenal fatigue is basically the result of an overworked, overtaxed adrenal gland and the adrenals start shutting down. Adrenal fatigue can cause thyroid issues (both autoimmune and not), Cushing’s syndrome, tumors, Addison’s disease (basically severe adrenal fatigue, can be life-threatening or lead to long-term problems). Research is showing more and more that happy adrenals = a happy thyroid and endocrine system overall!
Causes of Adrenal Fatigue
There are many causes of adrenal fatigue. Here are some of the most common
- The Standard American Diet is a large contributor
- Way too much processed food, sugar, caffeine, bad fats and pseudo-foods that our bodies are not made to handle
- Not eating enough
- Excess stress
- Overworking, financial concerns, etc- Americans are more stressed now than we have been in years
- Lack of sleep
- Approximately 1/3 of people don’t get the required amount of sleep every night & the adrenals make a lot of our hormones during sleep
- Living in an over-stimulated environment
- Constant exposure to screens, sounds, and stimulation keeps the system heightened and elevated & makes it much easier to get stuck in “fight or flight”
- We’re living with more toxins now than we ever have in history
- Autoimmune disease
- An already taxed endocrine system is much more prone to adrenal fatigue
- Many more!
My symptoms & diagnosis
Adrenal health came on my radar when my son was 2-years-old. I was struggling to sleep well, constantly fatigued and thought it was a “normal” part of being a mom. To a certain extent, yes, being tired often comes along with the territory of being a Mom. However, mom’s who have a healthy endocrine system are usually significantly less fatigued! Most likely I’ve been dealing with adrenal fatigue since I was a teen.
I experienced a number of common symptoms of adrenal fatigue including: thyroid problems, Raynaud’s phenomenon, major fatigue and energy crashes (personally I believe I was in the early stages of Addisons but it’s underdiagnosed), fatigue (especially the “afternoon slump”), inability to manage stress, overreacting to stressful situations, stuck in fight-or-flight (my poor husband and friends during this time of my life…), allergies (due to low cortisol levels), significant hormone imbalance, lower back pain, cravings for sweet and salty foods, brain fog, racing throughs, and frequent infections. There are probably more I’m missing. These are the most profound. Many of these are “normal” for Americans. This is not how God designed our bodies to work!
Frequently being tired, having trouble concentrating & constantly being stressed is NOT normal!
Clearly looking over symptoms I was dealing with adrenal fatigue. My chiropractic scans, lab work and testing through my NTP all confirmed it in 2015 when my healing journey really took off.
The steps I’ve taken towards healing
The first two steps I took were:
~ Giving up coffee shortly after learning about adrenal health in 2012 but picked it back up again about a year after. In 2014 I cut coffee & sugar completely from my diet.
I occasionally enjoy some green tea, probably about once a month.
~ Regular chiropractic care has been huge for me. The couple times I’ve stopped going so we could put more money towards debt I’ve crashed hard. My chiropractic scans also reflect issues in the adrenal area when I haven’t been in a while or when I’ve been stressed.
~I use the EO blends in a diffuser and with diluted topcial use. I’ll talk more about a lot of these other items in future videos and posts 🙂
This seems like A LOT but it’s not bad and most of these items only take a moment each day. I also don’t do all of them every day. I went a bit more in-depth on my video if you want to check out the replay. As I healed I was able to scale back. I only drink the adrenal cocktail a few days a week and don’t use the herbs & oils daily anymore. In times of stress, poor sleep or when my adrenals are feeling taxed it’s nice to have a good list of things I can do to get feeling better quicker.
The majority of my symptoms are either totally gone or significantly minimized. If I am not mindful of my screen time at night I will feel it for a few days (I’ve just now feeling “normal” after watching the Super Bowl. I rarely watch shows at night, especially on a big TV).
I am going to try to provide you with resources for support in every blog. Here are some sources I’ve used that I hope will help you as well:
- Practitioners (if you need help finding someone, please let me know!)
- Check out this article from Pheonix Heliox on evaluating practitioners
- Functional Medicine Doc
- Nutritional therapist
- Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Dr Aviva Romm
- Root Cause by Izabella Wentz
- Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe
- Weston A Price Foundation– awesome dietary guidelines to nourish your adrenals & whole body!
- Specifically this article
- Adrenal Fatigue- the Natural Approach Group on Facebook