Adrenal fatigue: taking care of your body’s shock absorbers

Our adrenals glands are very small glands that play a very large role in our body. Sitting just above our kidneys, they act like shock absorbers, helping us deal with stress. However, if you are over worked and over stressed, the poor little adrenals become exhausted – called adrenal fatigue.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

– lack of focus

– foggy head

– tired all the time yet don’t sleep well at night

– constant feeling of being stressed, wound-up like a spring

– feeling generally unwell for extended periods of time with a ‘flatness’ of mood or heightened irritation

– dizziness for no apparent reason

– unexplained weakness in some muscles e.g. arms feel too heavy to lift even though you’ve not done much with them

Part of the adrenal function is to produce the hormone cortisol. When this is not produced at the right levels at the right times of day, you will lack energy during the day and not sleep properly at night. This pushes the cycle of exhaustion around and so it continues… Cortisol also impacts blood sugar levels and the immune response.

We all handle stress in different ways and there is no right or wrong in the way you handle it. However, the impact on your adrenals, and ultimately your overall health and well being are what you need to watch out for.

When the stress we have continues without let up, the adrenals start to become exhausted, BUT they build resistance to the excess stimulation and increase their size and function. This is to help the body handle the stress in the acute period by producing more cortisol, keeping blood pressure up and the heart contracting. However, this state is not sustainable for long periods and will eventually lead to adrenal collapse. How long before this happens is very individual – it could be weeks, months or years.

Tips for adrenal health:

– stress management: find what works for you – meditation, yoga, 30 mins medium-intensity exercise – swimming, walking. High intensity exercise is counter-productive. This puts your body under more stress, and, although it may feel good at the time, the long-term impact will be more harmful. You are aiming for gentle stress relief.

And the best word to start using a little more often…no! Don’t spread yourself too thin…put yourself first, and learn to not hold on to guilt about doing so. You are no use to anyone if you’re tank is empty.

– diet: good-quality protein with every meal, lots of fresh fruit and vegies – think colours of the rainbow (and plenty of green), eliminate caffeine, sugar, salt, alcohol, processed foods and fluffy carbs as much as possible. Any foods that are a stimulant will ask more of your adrenals

Consider supplements to see you through the acute and recovery period:

MagnesiumHelps muscles relax

Improves sleep

Improves gut function

Involved in energy production

B vitamins and CoQ10 Involved in the production of energy (both reduced with high levels of cortisol)
Vitamin CCrucial in combating stress – lowers cortisol and adrenaline Antioxidants – combat the oxidative stress that occurs when the body is under heightened levels of stress

Vitamins A, E, zinc and selenium

Omega-3 fatty acidSupports optimal functioning of the nervous system

Beneficial impact on inflammation caused by oxidative stress

HerbsRehmannia glutinosa

Hypericum perforatum (not with any antidepressants)

Withania somnifera

Scutellaria laterifolia

In summary – think balance…work, family, down-time, fun!

For tailored support in stress management and adrenal health, call the Natural Chemist for a consult with one of our health experts T: 1300 882 303


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