Are you tired for no reason? Having a hard time getting out of bed? Or feel rundown and stressed all the time?
If so, you may have the first symptoms of adrenal exhaustion and must learn to 'adapt' before it becomes a steady habit that causes more than heartburn.
As Charles Darwin, the British scientist remarked, “It’s not the fittest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those who can adapt to their environment.” Or, as is often said, “It’s not the work that kills, it’s the worry.”
The thumb-sized adrenal glands are situated on the top of both kidneys and have been called the body’s primary shock absorbers. They produce a number of hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and DHEA. If you encounter a sabre-toothed tiger, adrenaline shoots up, the heartbeat quickens and you prepare to battle for survival. Today’s hectic pace also keeps our adrenal glands in high gear.
Stress is the most common cause of adrenal fatigue. This can occur when a loved one dies, or because of overwork, physical and mental strain, chronic pain, infection, anger, sleep deprivation, chronic illness, depression and anxiety. As one wise sage said, “Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven’t been to sleep yet!”
Patients with adrenal fatigue may complain of cold hands and feet, low back pain, sweet cravings, headaches, arthritis and allergies. Cortisol dysfunction can also lead to low blood sugar, infertility, immune problems and heart disease.
Temporary and minor stressful situations result in slightly higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol. But day-after-day stress is also associated with an increase in blood pressure and excessive levels of adrenal hormones. Finally, if there’s no relief from stress, adrenal hormones drop and adrenal exhaustion occurs. Adrenal fatigue is like withdrawing money from a bank account until there’s none left.
As adrenal hormone levels decline, apart from weakness and fatigue, digestive distress is one of the most common symptoms. Some people complain of nausea, constipation and diarrhea. There is also a tendency for weight gain, reduced sex drive and to feel better when stress is temporarily decreased, such as on a holiday.
So how do you fight adrenal fatigue? First, learn to 'adapt' to stress. A good start is to separate the possible from the impossible. You can’t tell an idiotic boss to go to hell until you win the lottery. Or, as Joseph Stalin once said, one has to live with the devil until one reaches the end of the bridge.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can be helpful. So can massage, as the hands-on approach does more than just give you a good feeling. Athletes get a good rubdown to get rid of the lactic and carbonic acid produced by tense muscles. It also helps to exercise, get rid of caffeine and increase the amount of raw fruits and vegetables in the diet along with whole grains and protein.
Make sure you receive adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins. For instance, stressful situations eat up vitamin C. Studies show that, under stress, animals immediately produce 10 times their normal amount of C. Humans under stress should also increase the amount of C to bolster their immune system. Studies also show that by increasing the intake of vitamin C, atherosclerosis in coronary arteries can be prevented and even reversed preventing a heart attack, this country’s number one killer.
There are also herbal remedies to combat adrenal fatigue. One herb, Siberian ginseng, has been used for years in Siberia and China and known for its adaptogenic and anti-stress properties.
Other herbs such as suma, rhodiola, schizandra berries and ashwagandha help to decrease depression, stimulate the nervous system, improve memory, enhance work performance, support the immune and digestive systems and have a positive effect on thyroid and adrenal function.
My advice is to check with your local health food store provider who can advise you about these herbal preparations which unlike many prescription drugs are safe and well tolerated.
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