Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Adrenal Fatigue

Are you hitting the snooze alarm continually, feel sluggish until mid-morning, wiped out when you get home in the evening or possibly get a burst of energy when it is time to go to sleep? You could be adrenally fatigued. A condition that is treatable with the proper lifestyle modifications, supplements, nutrients and herbal adaptogens.
I have patients on a daily basis that are experiencing high levels of emotional, mental, family and work stressors on a continual basis. Some have “burned the candle at both ends” for way too many years, and some have simply been under chronic stress for a multitude of reasons. They come to our office oftentimes after having sought help from various practitioners, simply to be told that their “lab tests are normal” and they just need to exercise more, lose weight and/or “start saying no” to commitments!
It has been my experience that most people have never heard of adrenal fatigue, much less know where their adrenal glands are located or exactly what their function is in our lives! Adrenal glands secrete cortisol in times of stress, exercise, low blood sugar (we will address low blood sugar and cortisol later)! Cortisol is your “fight or flight” hormone. Adrenal glands become compromised and sluggish when stress is not well managed and the adrenals are constantly pumping out cortisol. Eventually, they simply “poop out” and cortisol is unable to rise to meet our daily needs. Therefore, causing fatigue, sluggishness, anxiety, craving for sweets, allergies, reduced tolerance for stress the “tired but wired” feeling, sleep disturbances that many of us are experiencing.
At CSFM we can help you overcome adrenal fatigue by evaluating your cortisol levels with saliva testing that test 4x during the day (cortisol should be the highest it will be in a 24 hour period when we wake up). Cortisol slowly declines as the day progresses, it is low cortisol that allows us to go to sleep at night. I see all levels of adrenal fatigue weekly.
Adrenal fatigue is best treated with lifestyle modifications such as:
1. At least 8 hours of sleep a night (sleep beginning before midnight is a must). The bed is for sleep and sex only….if you aren’t sleeping or having sex, get out of the bed!
2. Meals at least every 4 hours with adequate protein and complex carbohydrates.
3. Exercise at least 4-5 days a week of 20-30 minutes. No strenuous exercise: preferably yoga, stretching, breath work.
Nutrients: Supplements
1. High doses of vitamin C 2-3 times daily
2. Vitamins B5 and B6
3. Vitamin E
Adrenal adaptogens:
1. Ashwaghanda
2. Holy Basil
3. Licorice (used cautiously for elevated cortisol)
4. Rhodiola
5. Ginseng (used cautiously for elevated cortisol)

Adrenal Cortex or Cortisol is reserved for the most severe of cases.

For a complete saliva testing evaluation make an appointment at Cool Springs Family Medicine to see Dr. Kalb or Dani.

PS: The good news is that adrenal glands are easily treated, but can take months to a year or more to recover completely….be patient and consistent in your journey to better health!

Integrative Family Medicine