Tired in body but wired in mind?

Adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion is an increasingly common condition that affects many men and women and even children in various life stages.

Adrenal fatigue is a condition that develops over time resulting from chronic or prolonged stress. Physical stressors may include excessive exercise or marathon training, accident or trauma to the body or even an acidic internal environment which can be caused by poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Emotional or mental stressors may include death of a loved one, divorce, separation or family breakdown, financial distress or work- related stress such as a demanding job or conflict in the workplace.

The adrenal glands are located superior to the kidneys and are responsible for the body’s stress adaptation ability. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, androgens, aldosterone, noradrenaline and adrenaline. Chronic stress causes abnormal hormone production which leads to dysfunction of every system of the body, including:

  • Digestive System
  • Immune System
  • Nervous System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Endocrine System
  • Respiratory System
  • Reproductive System
  • Urinary System
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Integumentary System (Skin)

There are three stages of adrenal fatigue:

Stage 1 – Alarm Phase

During the alarm phase the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated as the body prepares to “fight or flight”. The body undergoes changes to prepare for this stage including increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration.

Other systems of the body including the digestive and reproductive systems are deemed unnecessary for survival during this stage so we see blood redirected away from these organs which leads to dysfunction.

Stage 2 – Resistance Phase

Stage 2 of Adrenal Fatigue sees continued imbalance of hormone production and prolonged dysfunction of the body’s systems. This places enormous pressure on the adrenal glands and exhaustion sets in. At this point it becomes difficult for the body to return to homeostasis.

Stage 3 – Exhaustion

Stage 3 of this condition brings debilitation to the body as the body is no longer capable of adapting to any level of stress – physical, mental or emotional. The body is unable to synthesise stress hormones which leads to a defenceless immune system and susceptibility to illness and recurrent infection. Accompanying this stage are sub-optimal levels of adrenaline and cortisol which results in inflammation and increased risk of many chronic conditions including depression, pre-diabetes, obesity, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

Due to this condition having a wide range of signs and symptoms, Adrenal Fatigue is often misdiagnosed and therefore mistreated. Some of the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:

  • Feeling wired but tired
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Energy slumps & fatigue
  • Anxiety, depression, irritability & mood swings
  • Recurrent coughs, colds & infections
  • Low libido
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Digestive disturbance
  • Weight gain & inability to lose weight

Treatment and Recovery

The good news is natural medicine offers effective treatment solutions for this condition. The earlier Adrenal Fatigue is identified and treated, the quicker the recovery process with the least amount of damage being done. There are many natural therapies available to Naturopaths in the treatment of this condition including specific key nutrients, nutritional supplementation, tailored lifestyle recommendations and customised herbal medicine formulas depending on the presenting symptoms and stage of the condition.

If you believe you or someone you know may be experiencing Adrenal Fatigue, contact our Naturopath, Belle, who is able to identify this condition and provide a tailored Treatment Plan. Belle can be contacted at belle@nbip.com.au or 02 8406 0679 to discuss your concerns or book an appointment.

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