If you feel light-headed, have a disruptive sleep, lethargy, fatigue over few weeks chances are that you are suffering from adrenal fatigue. Physical stress, chronic illness, trauma, major surgery can cause an imbalance in the cortisol hormone levels in our body. But adrenal fatigue is not an established medical diagnosis. However, several health websites, books, alternative medicine branches, etc. have shown it as a medical condition.
Our body has adrenal glands, which produce a number of essential hormones. Chronic stress, which is a major cause of adrenal fatigue, affects the production of cortisol and adrenaline by adrenal glands.
Adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease also happen due to insufficient production of vital hormones by the adrenal glands. Adrenal insufficiency show symptoms such as body ache, fatigue, unusual weight loss, hair loss, etc. In short, adrenal fatigue and adrenal insufficiency show some connection.
It would safe to go for home remedies for adrenal fatigue treatment. Decreasing your caffeine and sugar intake, having a balanced diet, including potent herbs like ginseng, licorice in your diet will help restore and heal your body from adrenal fatigue.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue is a stress-related condition which is seen more commonly in the working population in the age group of 20-50 years. Symptoms of exhaustion, weakened immunity, sleep disturbances, and food cravings accompany this condition (1).
The adrenal glands of our body become dysregulated after an extended period of emotional stress or chronic illness.
Poor adrenal function affects the circadian pattern of cortisol production. In normal circumstances, cortisol rises and falls over 24 hours, peaking at around 8 am and falling to its lowest between 12-4am.
It’s these peaks and dips that can cause sudden alertness, causing you to wake up. This hyperactivity can fragment sleep patterns and decreases slow-wave sleep.
Adrenal fatigue also causes a dysfunctional hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. These disturbances tend to worsen the axis dysfunction, setting up a vicious cycle.
What are adrenal glands?
Adrenal glands or adrenals are two vital organs that are situated above kidneys. They are part of the endocrine system. These glands produce a number of essential hormones, which are required for proper functioning of our body.
Also, they do the balancing act when the body experiences some adverse situations such as stress, pain, etc. These glands also produce some important balancing hormones such as Adrenaline, Glucocorticoids, Estrogen, Testosterone, and Mineralocorticoids.
What are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue vary from person to person; there are a few significant symptoms that act as an indicator of the condition.
Difficulty getting up and concentrating
Despite having a sound sleep if getting out of bed and starting your day becomes cumbersome, it is likely that your sleep cycle is disturbed (2).
The hormone cortisol is responsible for fighting stress and manages our sleep pattern, an increase in stress and an incapable set of adrenal glands will result in difficulty during concentrating on tasks and feeling sleepy throughout the day.
A low energy level during the morning and a surge in energy levels around evening can be a sign of adrenal fatigue. Cortisol should ideally be at peak early in the morning.
But in people with adrenal fatigue, the cortisol levels peaks in the late afternoon and early evenings. The morning cortisol level is low, which causes slugginess and a high cortisol level in the evening can result in insomnia.
If you are craving for salt or sugar and have developed a dependence on caffeine, it can be an indicator of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is usually marked by sudden lows in energy levels throughout the day.
Caffeine and sugar offer brief orientation and energy spike but also causes insomnia (3).Cortisol maintains the levels of minerals such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. An imbalance in cortisol levels gives our body signals which are interpreted as salt cravings.
Weakened immune system
Cortisol hormone helps the anti-inflammatory mechanism of our immune system (4). A drop in the cortisol levels will render our immune system weak which could provide leeway to opportunistic infections.
Sudden changes in your blood pressure could be an indicative sign of adrenal fatigue. A drop and spike in the blood pressure, a sudden feeling of dizziness while getting up or doing movement can be a sign.
Adrenal fatigue causes a sudden imbalance in weight (5). An increase in body weight which becomes extremely difficult to shed can be a cause of abnormal cortisol levels in our body.
Natural Adrenal Fatigue Treatment Options
Lack of sleep and fatigue are the most prominent symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Heightened cortisol levels can trigger this state of insomnia and can cause daytime sleepiness and sluggishness.
And any disruption in our sleep cycle disrupts the time of secretion of cortisol. It may take between several days to weeks to get regular again. Sleep deprivation for a prolonged duration of time may make you defenseless against adrenal fatigue.
Start by decreasing your caffeine and sugar intake. Set a fixed time to sleep and follow it judiciously.
Chronic stress causes depletion of the Vitamin B6 reserves in our body in the body. Vitamin B6 is quintessential in combating stress and stress-related damage to the body.
Also, not just B6, taking a multivitamin supplement of B vitamins can also help in countering adrenal fatigue (6). When the body is under stress, both physical and emotional, there is a high need for vitamin C.
The deficiency of vitamin C is a major cause of fatigue Include oranges, peppers, strawberries, sprouts, tomatoes, kiwis and melons in your diet to have a steady level of vitamin C in your body.
Reduce caffeine intake
Caffeine gives a short burst of energy, especially when cortisol levels in the body are low. This can cause dependence, and the casual use of caffeine can cause sleep deprivation, lack of concentration, headaches, and anxiety, etc.
Caffeine addiction can be harmful in people with adrenal fatigue. A study on caffeine and adrenal fatigue proved that consuming about 3.5 mg per kilogram of body weight causes more than 200% of cortisol level which is body’s response to stress. This suggests that caffeine increase your stress levels and not decrease them.
Caffeine and its substitutes should be eliminated from your diet if you want to heal from adrenal fatigue.
Maintaining blood glucose level
When the adrenal hormone levels go low, our body experiences low blood-sugar levels because cortisol plays a very vital role in supporting them. In adrenal fatigue, our blood sugar levels drop low because of low cortisol.
There is a mechanism in place in our bodies that sends out a signal as soon as the sugar levels go down. This alarm can cause you to wake earlier than usual – for example, between 1-3am (7).
Do not drink or eat something sugary, as it will complicate the situation. Eating a small, healthy snack before bedtime is the best method to combat this. Choose food that is low in sugar and high in protein to help stabilize blood sugar without spiking it.
Aldosterone, a steroid hormone maintains the sodium levels in the kidneys, salivary glands, sweat glands, and colon. It also regulates the blood pressure and the levels of sodium and potassium.
A deficiency in the level of aldosterone causes the minerals to be eliminated from our body which irrevocably leads to adrenal fatigue (8). Start taking salt supplements, such as sea salt after consultation with your physician.
Vegetables like celery, fermented vegetables and seaweeds help maintain the essential mineral levels in your body and to improve use and production of hormones.
Physical stress occurs when the body is not getting the correct amount of nutrients, or it is losing nutrition too fast. Studies suggest Paleo diet to be beneficial for dealing with adrenal fatigue.
Increase protein intake in your the breakfast along with healthy fats. Monounsaturated fats are more natural for the body to absorb, must be included in your diet for adrenal fatigue, like from avocado and pure olive oil.
Eliminate hydrogenated oil and food processed in the same. Hydrogenated oil increases inflammation while consuming non-hydrogenated vegetable oils lower inflammation. Include coconut oil or olive oil and clarified or organic butter in your diet.
- Suggested read: Detox Diet
Essential oils are used for relaxation and stress relief and have shown proven benefits. Basil, Peppermint, and Eucalyptus oils possess potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Frankincense and Balsam Fir essential oils also are known to provide support to the adrenals. Cedarwood, Vetiver, and Lavender are great options to create a relaxing environment.
Put a few drops of these essential oils in a diffuser or humidifier while sleeping to have a sound sleep.
The extracts of rose root have potent adaptogenic, antioxidant, stress-relieving, anti-fatigue, and antidepressant properties. During the fatigue period, our body could undergo oxidative damage.
Roseroot decreases the oxidative stress and eliminates the detoxifying agents. It is also helpful in maintaining the levels of neurotransmitters in our body. Take about 100 to 300 mg of roseroot extract daily to cope up with adrenal fatigue.
Ginseng regulates the blood sugar level and cortisol amounts and is a potent adaptogen, which helps the body cope with the stress (9). Ginseng supports the adrenal glands by providing more energy to the cells without side-effects. You can take the powdered root of ginseng, around 3 grams twice daily.
Licorice active ingredients are structurally similar to corticosteroids, and they imitate the process of steroid hormones. Licorice regulates the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. You need to take only about 4 grams of dried licorice root powder three times to combat adrenal fatigue.
Magnesium maintains the nerve and muscle function and supports the immune system. It also regulates the level of glucose in the blood and is vital to fight adrenal fatigue.
Research has proven, magnesium supplementation significantly reduces daytime fatigue and sleepiness while improving the sleep patterns (10). An average person should consume about 400 to a 1000 milligrams of magnesium.
Sometimes, due to the outward projection of the spinal cord, there can be a surge in cortisol levels in the body. If left untreated this can cause hindrance in healing adrenal fatigue.
Chiropractors are practitioners of that branch of alternative medicine, which can correct the spine alignment. This decreases the stress hormone levels in the body which facilitates healing of the adrenals.
Meditation has also proven to reduce stress significantly. The 4-7-8 breathing pattern has shown significant and promising results in curbing stress.
Final words on adrenal fatigue treatment
Although adrenal fatigue is not an established medical condition, we cannot deny the fact that chronic stress, irregular sleeping habits, trauma, etc. do affect our endocrine system. We have only dealt with natural remedies, which cannot do any harm if done properly.
Addressing your sleep problems should be the priority in recovering from adrenal fatigue. Lack of proper sleep, disruptive sleep, irregular circadian pattern and sleep cycle increases the cortisol levels in our body may take weeks to adjust back to normal.
Restoring your natural sleep pattern modulates the cortisol levels. Eat a light snack before bed to have a stable glucose level in your body. Light physical activity, a decrease in caffeine intake will help restore normal functioning of the adrenal glands.