Stressed? Tired? Craving sugar? Can’t sleep? All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives. We know that stress can have a huge impact on our health and wellness. And, since your adrenal glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue (or “HPA Axis Dysregulation,”) is a popular theme lately.
Your adrenal glands look like walnuts that live on top of both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones.
But what happens when they become “overworked?”
You’ve heard of “adrenaline junkies,” right? Adrenaline and cortisol are the stress hormones that give you the commonly known adrenaline rush; when you're totally alert and living in the moment. This feeling is known as your body's "fight or flight" response. Some people (perhaps you?) just love that intense feeling.
The release of hormones in the fight or flight response is your body's normal reaction to stress. Stress can sometimes be positive, like when it helps you swerve and prevent a crash. After a short time, the fight or flight response dissipates, your body goes back to normal, and all is good.
But what would happen if you felt constant stress? Like all day, every day? Like “chronic” stress? It wouldn't feel like an awesome (once-in-a-while) "rush," anymore would it? And what do you think happens to your poor adrenal glands when they’re constantly working? They’d get fatigued, right? Check out an older post titled STRESS where I go in depth on keeping your cortisol levels in check.
Do I have adrenal fatigue, you might ask yourself?
When your adrenal glands start getting tired of secreting stress hormones day in and out, you can start getting other symptoms. Symptoms like fatigue, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, weight loss or gain, joint pain, sugar cravings, even frequent infections like colds and the flu are signs that your adrenals are overworked.
First off, I have to tell you that there aren't medically accepted blood tests for adrenal fatigue. In fact, it's not recognized by most medical professionals until the point when your adrenals are so fatigued they almost stop working. At that point, the official diagnoses of "Adrenal Insufficiency" or "Addison's Disease" may apply.
However, if you do have symptoms, you should see your doctor to rule out other conditions. He or she may even be open to discussing adrenal fatigue, or at the very least, wellness strategies that can help to reduce your stress (and symptoms).
What to do if I have these symptoms? Would be the next great question...
There are many things you can do to reduce your stress and improve your health and energy levels. Ideally, if you think stress is starting to burn you out, stress reduction is key (more on that HERE) My favorites ways to tackle stress are walking in nature, light exercise, more sleep, diffusing essential oils in the house, or taking a bath. There is plenty of evidence that meditation is also very beneficial.
Of course, I also recommend reducing sugar and processed food intake and eating more fruits and vegetables. Better nutrition can only help your body, as it all starts with your digestion. So if you need help with your nutrition, which is where I suggest you start, don’t forget to check out my FREE challenge to kick sugar for good, where you will be provided with free, clean recipes to balance your blood sugar to keep cravings at bay, just click below to sign up!
To summarize, your adrenal glands produce hormones in response to stress. After long-term daily stress, they may get tired. Adrenal fatigue is a controversial disease that doesn’t have a true diagnostic test, nor specific telltale symptoms.
The most important thing you can do is to get tested to rule out other potential conditions. You can also try stress reduction techniques like eating a wholesome diet, meditation, walks in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or even a lovely bath, like the one I prepared for you below :)
2 cups Epsom salts
10 drops lavender essential oil
As you're running your warm bath water, add ingredients to the tub. Mix until dissolved
Enjoy your stress-reducing bath!
Tip: You can add a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers.
Enjoy and 'til next time!