Adrenal fatigue is a illness that is often talked about in alternative medicine. It is a somewhat controversial diagnosis and some traditional doctors might question it’s legitimacy. But, the theory of this illness states that “Adrenal Fatigue” is something a person experiences when the adrenal glands are not functioning properly.
Signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue may not be noticed easy to notice because the standard battery of blood tests form a traditional doctor’s office would not show any abnormalities. Doctor’s that subscribe to this theory take more into account how a person feels than the results of standard testing.
Adrenal problems can cause a person to suffer from increased stress and lack of energy. There may be an incessant feeling of fatigue and co-morbid depression. People experiencing this type of fatigue do not recover after extra hours of rest. The fatigue you experience will be the same at night as when you wake up in the morning. If you experience a cold or flu, people with adrenal fatigue tend to have a more difficult time recovering from it.
Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include the craving of salty and sweet food, sensitivity to cold temperature, low stamina and difficulty in concentrating. This group of symptoms can also be caused pre-menstrual syndrome, low blood pressure and poor digestion.
This fatigue may be relived temporarily by the use of coffee, cola or energy drinks. But in the long run it is best to avoid these short lived solutions and focus on improving adrenal gland function with the use of supplements like DHEA, B vitamins, and desiccated adrenal gland.
What are the adrenal glands?
Lower than normal levels of certain adrenal hormones are what is believed to be the cause adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands themselves are two endocrine glands which can be found right above the kidney. They are 3 inches wide and 0.5 in height. These glands have two basic parts which are the outer cortex and inner medulla, both of which secrete hormones like cortisol, dhea, adrenaline, aldosterone, and noradrenaline.
The adrenal cortex is further divided to three different regions and each one releases a certain type of hormone. The outermost part releases mineralocorticoid which preserves the sodium ions and water in our bodies. The middle adrenal cortex produces glucocorticoids for blood sugar elevation. The third part of the adrenal cortex is responsible for secretion of gonadocorticoids.
On the other hand, the adrenal medulla is at the center of the adrenal gland and surrounded by the cortex. It secretes two different hormones known as epinephrine and norepinephrine. When a person experiences a stressful situation, the sympathetic nerves react and it triggers the secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine. This sympathetic reaction to stress is known as the “Fight or Flight” response. It is responsible for kicking in when our bodies are in the middle of a dangerous or life threatening situation.
Treatments for Adrenal Fatigue
If you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, doing certain adjustments with your lifestyle can improve symptoms. The first thing that should be avoided are stimulants like coffee, soda, and energy drinks. These will push the adrenal glands to its limit and further cause it to become depleted of it’s energy providing hormones. Regulating the blood sugar through proper diet will also help to improve this problem. It is best to focus on food that are low in sugar and increase intake of foods that are rich in protein and essential fat.
Other herbal supplements that may help are adaptogens like Siberian ginseng, Triphala (glandular tonic), black cohosh root (glandular tonic) and Fo-ti root (Chinese herb). Herbal teas and mate can substitute the intake of coffee.
Is it accepted my mainstream medicine?
A doctor that subscribes to traditional western medicine, but also has interest in proven ideas that exist outside of the mainstream is one that you might seek out to treat adrenal fatigue. Mainstream medicine currently does not perform the sensitive testing that may be required to give a diagnosis. One of the tests that doctors are using to search for this problem is a day long cortisol + DHEAS saliva test. It checks the total amounts of adrenal hormones that are given off throughout the day, instead of a one time spot check that may miss subtle hormonal changes. Mainstream medicine only considers extreme adrenal in a case like Addison’s disease which causes the glands to shut down.