Low energy, inability to participate in activities that bring joy, difficulty waking, dependency on stimulants to make it through the day. Do any of these sound familiar?
One of the most common reasons patients come to see me is to get help with their low energy. Fatigue is common in our society and for good reason. We are constantly pushing ourselves to work harder, to perform better or to get more done in the day. And this need to produce often leads to a need to consume stimulants, which perpetuates the feelings of exhaustion. In addition, many people have poor sleep habits, maybe from work, social life or just the environment they live in.
All of these habits place stress on the adrenal glands!
The adrenal glands, which sit above the kidneys, are responsible for managing stress. However, if they are never given a break from the daily stress they can become fatigued.
What does adrenal fatigue look like?
- Difficulty waking in the morning
- Afternoon fatigue
- Craving sugar, salt or fat
- Increased illness due to immune system depression
- Hormone imbalance
- Acne and other skin problems
- Low libido
- Poor memory
- Increased PMS and menopausal symptoms
- Dizziness, feeling light headed or “head rush” when rising from a lying or seated position
- Inability to cope with stress
How is adrenal fatigue tested?
In addition to your symptoms, an Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) test will help reveal the function of your adrenals. An ASI looks at 6 parameters in evaluating your adrenal health.
- 4 Cortisol Measurements: Helps evaluate your stress response and your rhythm of cortisol release during the day.
- Insulin: Evaluates blood sugar regulation.
- DHEA: Helps determine how you’ve adapted to stress.
- Secretory IgA: Evaluates impact on immune system and gut permeability.
- 17-OH Progesterone: Helps determine adrenal reserve.
- Gluten antibodies: Helps determine intolerance to gluten.
How is adrenal fatigue treated?
- Lifestyle, routine and consistency play a large role in adrenal health and are paramount to recovery.
- Nutrition: Ensuring proper blood sugar regulation and consuming nutrients that feed the adrenals. Nutrient supplementation is often necessary at least in the initial phase of recovery.
- Herbs: Adaptogenic herbs help balance the adrenal output and recharge the adrenal glands.
- Bioidentical hormones may also be utilized if indicated.
How long does recovery take?
Adrenal fatigue doesn’t happen overnight. It is a condition that develops over time and therefore, requires time to recover. I often give patients the following estimates for how long they might expect to see recovery, although they should begin to experience an improvement in symptoms before them.
- Mild Fatigue: At least 6 months.
- Moderate Fatigue: At least 12 months.
- Severe Fatigue: 12-24 months.
If you think you may be struggling with Adrenal Fatigue, then I recommend reading my article 7 Adaptogenic Herbs for Adrenal Health
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