Have you been feeling fatigued? Foggy-headed? Do you wake up feeling tired and desperately run to your coffee machine in the hopes of boosting your energy and focus? Persistent fatigue is not normal; in fact, your body is likely screaming at you that things are out of balance.
You may reach for your coffee, vitamin B12, or high-sugar/high-carbohydrate snacks, but this will not address the root cause of your fatigue. Fatigue has many possible causes, and one of the main causes to consider is adrenal hormone imbalance.
What are my adrenal glands?
Your adrenal glands are a pair of hormone-producing glands that sit directly above the kidneys. They are very important for our overall health because they release many hormones, including testosterone, progesterone, estrogen, DHEA, epinephrine, norepinephrine, aldosterone, and cortisol.
Cortisol is arguably the most important hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is responsible for the following functions in the body:
– Blood sugar control
– Regulates metabolism
– Reduces inflammation
– Blood pressure regulation
– Sodium and water balance
Cortisol helps our body in many ways; so why does cortisol get such a bad wrap? Well, cortisol is not problematic when it’s in balance. However, when cortisol levels are out of balance, it can cause some unpleasant symptoms and causes further hormone imbalances (like a domino effect).
Cortisol is released in times of stress. This “stress” can be psychological (due to stressful life events, chronic stress, anxiety, depression, worries, fears) or physiological (due to blood sugar imbalances, chronic infections, nutrient deficiencies, chronic pain, menopause, insomnia, etc.). With chronic stress, the adrenal glands are unable to keep up with demand and cortisol production actually starts to decline. This state, where your adrenal glands essentially give up, is called “adrenal fatigue” or “adrenal insufficiency”.
What are symptoms of adrenal insufficiency?
With adrenal insufficiency, there are a variety of symptoms that may ensue:
– Problems falling asleep
– Trouble staying asleep
– Fatigue or exhaustion
– Low sex drive
– Low motivation
– Poor focus or attention
– Feeling “foggy-headed”
– Muscle aches and headaches
– Digestive complaints
– Hot flashes/night sweats
– Menstrual irregularities
– High or low blood pressure
– Weight gain
How do I know if I have adrenal insufficiency?
First, we take a detailed medical history to assess your symptoms. If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned above, we will then perform a saliva hormone test to check for adrenal dysfunction. Saliva hormone testing is the most accurate method for testing hormones, especially for adrenal fatigue. We will typically include measurements for other hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA-S, thyroid hormones).
Can I get my adrenals back on track?
Getting your adrenal function back on track always involves treating the root cause first. If your adrenal fatigue is caused by a chronic infection, or insomnia, or psychological stress, we have to target these issues first. Restoring adrenal health requires a comprehensive treatment plan – I will discuss the top 5 ways to address adrenal fatigue below:
1) Stress Management:
Since chronic stress is the #1 cause of adrenal fatigue, it’s important to focus on managing stress daily. This can involve one or more of the following: meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, visualization, exercise, walking, massage, warm baths, reading, hobbies, journaling, etc. You don’t have to do all of these, but you can pick a few to practice every week.
2) Nutrient Repletion:
It’s important to follow a healthy diet that helps balance the blood sugar hormones, cortisol and insulin. Your diet should focus on plenty of healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables. Your diet should eliminate high-sugar foods and refined grains. Supplementation is very helpful, since the adrenal glands require adequate levels of B-vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium.
3) Herbal Medicine Support:
Herbal medicines are very helpful for restoring adrenal function and improving the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. We typically use herbal “adaptogens”, which help nourish and tonify the adrenal glands. These herbal adaptogens can include licorice, holy basil, ashwagandha, etc. Herbal medicines can be taken as capsules, tinctures, or teas.
4) Adequate Rest & Sleep:
After pushing the gas pedal so hard, it’s so important to actually take time to rest, relax, recharge, and get adequate sleep. Adrenal fatigue is your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Our hectic lifestyles make it easy for our adrenal glands to become overworked – if we don’t slow down, we’ll never be able to get our adrenal glands back on track. Make it a priority to take breaks, say ‘no’ to things that overextend yourself, and get 8 hours of sleep every night.
5) IV Vitamin Therapy:
Intravenous (IV) nutrient therapy is the fastest way to boost your energy levels and get your adrenal function back on track. This treatment allows vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to reach the cells directly – patients typically report feeling much calmer, more focused, and having better energy.
Yours in health,
Dr. Michael Morsillo, H.B.Sc., N.D.
Newmarket Naturopathic Doctor
16655 Yonge Street, Newmarket, ON
905-898-1844 ext. 135