Adrenal fatigue is a condition of chronic stress and low energy that affects millions of people around the world. It is caused by an imbalance in the production and regulation of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, by the adrenal glands. These glands are located on top of the kidneys and are responsible for helping the body cope with various types of stress, such as physical, emotional, mental, or environmental.
When the body is exposed to stress for prolonged periods of time, the adrenal glands can become overworked and unable to produce enough hormones to maintain optimal health and function. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, weight gain, inflammation, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, and more. Chronic stress has a negative impact on longevity and can activate many of the 9 hallmarks of aging.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to support the adrenal glands and restore their balance and vitality. One of the most important factors to counterbalance stress is with a healthy diet. What we eat has a significant impact on our stress levels, hormone production, and overall well-being. We will share a functional medicine approach to helping the body heal from adrenal fatigue. Please note that we do not make any medical recommendations and always advise discussing any new plans with your healthcare practitioner.
First, a brief reminder: What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is a branch of medicine that focuses on finding and treating the underlying causes of chronic diseases, rather than just managing the symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners use a comprehensive and personalized approach that considers the whole person, including they’re genetics, environment, lifestyle, and history. Functional medicine also uses advanced testing methods to assess the function of various systems and organs in the body, such as the digestive system, the immune system, the hormonal system, and the nervous system.
One of the key concepts of functional medicine is that each person is unique and has different needs and responses to treatments. Therefore, functional medicine practitioners tailor their interventions to each individual's specific situation and goals. Functional medicine also emphasizes prevention and education, empowering patients to take charge of their own health and wellness.
How Can Functional Medicine Help with Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is not a recognized medical diagnosis in conventional medicine, but it is a common condition that affects many people in our modern society. Functional medicine, on the other hand, acknowledges adrenal fatigue as a form of HPA axis dysfunction, which means that there is an imbalance between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal glands, which are responsible for regulating the stress response in the body. Functional medicine aims to identify and address the root causes of adrenal fatigue, such as chronic inflammation, infections, toxins, nutrient deficiencies, emotional trauma and lifestyle factors.
Functional medicine can help with adrenal fatigue by addressing the root causes of stress and imbalance in the body. Practitioners of functional medicine will use a variety of tools and strategies to support the adrenal glands and restore their optimal function.
Some of these include:
- Testing for adrenal fatigue using urine or saliva tests to measure cortisol levels throughout the day. Cortisol is the main stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands, and its levels should follow a natural rhythm of being high in the morning and low at night. However, when we are under chronic stress, this rhythm can be disrupted and lead to either too high or too low cortisol levels at different times of the day. This can affect our energy levels, mood, sleep quality, and metabolism. By testing for cortisol levels, functional medicine practitioners can determine the stage and severity of adrenal fatigue and design appropriate treatment plans.
- Testing for other factors that may contribute to adrenal fatigue, such as inflammation, infections, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems, or toxic exposures. These factors can also affect the function of the adrenal glands and cause or worsen symptoms of adrenal fatigue. By identifying and addressing these factors using functional lab tests and clinical assessments, functional medicine practitioners can help reduce the burden on the adrenal glands and improve their resilience.
One of the main goals of functional medicine is to restore optimal function to the body by using natural and holistic approaches, such as herbs, food and lifestyle changes. When it comes to adrenal fatigue, functional medicine recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each person may have different triggers, symptoms, and underlying factors that contribute to their condition. Therefore, it is important to work with a qualified functional medicine practitioner who can help you identify and address your specific root causes and tailor a treatment plan that suits your individual situation. However, there are some general principles that apply to most cases of adrenal fatigue. These include:
Some methods to assist in the healing of the adrenal gland.
- Managing Stress
- Integrating Herbs
- Eating a Nutrient Rich Diet
Reducing stress is one of the best ways to help heal adrenal glands. When you are constantly under stress, your adrenal glands may not be able to produce enough cortisol, the main stress hormone, which can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, cravings, and mood swings. To reduce stress and support your adrenal health, here are three tips you can try:
- Enjoy relaxing activities. Find hobbies and pastimes that make you happy and calm, such as reading, gardening, painting, or listening to music. These activities can help you lower your cortisol levels and increase your serotonin levels, which is a neurotransmitter that promotes well-being and happiness.
- Practice daily meditation and breathing techniques. Meditation and breathing exercises can help you calm your mind and body, and reduce the effects of stress on your adrenal glands. You can practice meditation by focusing on your breath, a mantra, or a positive affirmation. You can also use breathing techniques such as deep breathing, alternate nostril breathing, or box breathing to relax your nervous system and lower your blood pressure.
- Spend time in nature and sunlight. Exposure to natural light and green spaces can have a positive impact on your adrenal health. Sunlight can help you regulate your circadian rhythm, which is the natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness that affects your hormone production. Nature can help you reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and enhance your mood.
Some of the most common ones are adaptogens (herbs that help the body adapt to stress), vitamin C (an antioxidant that supports adrenal function), magnesium (a mineral that helps regulate cortisol levels), B vitamins (essential for energy production and hormone synthesis), and omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory fats that support brain and mood health).
Herbs are powerful natural remedies that can support the adrenal glands and help them recover from stress. Some of the most effective herbs for adrenal fatigue are:
- Schisandra Berry found in our staminator and marathon beverage is an adaptogen that helps the body manage energy levels and reactions to stress.
- Ashwagandha: This is an adaptogenic herb that helps the body adapt to stress and balance cortisol levels. It also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-boosting properties. Ashwagandha can help improve energy, mood, sleep and cognitive function in people with adrenal fatigue.
- Rhodiola: This is another adaptogenic herb that enhances the body's resilience to stress and improves mental and physical performance. Rhodiola can help reduce fatigue, depression, anxiety and burnout in people with adrenal fatigue.
- Licorice: This is an herb that stimulates the production of cortisol and prevents its breakdown in the liver. Licorice can help increase blood pressure, blood sugar and energy levels in people with low cortisol levels due to adrenal fatigue. However, licorice should be used with caution and under medical supervision, as it can cause side effects such as high blood pressure, low potassium levels and fluid retention in some people.
- Holy basil: This is an herb that modulates cortisol levels and reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Holy basil can help improve mood, memory, immunity and digestion in people with adrenal fatigue.
- Maca: This is an herb that boosts energy, stamina and libido by supporting hormonal balance. Maca can help increase DHEA levels and reduce cortisol levels in people with adrenal fatigue.
- Astragalus: This is an herb that strengthens the immune system and protects against infections and inflammation. Astragalus can help enhance vitality and prevent illness in people with adrenal fatigue.
- Ginseng: This is an herb that stimulates physical and mental activity and improves mood and cognition. Ginseng can help combat fatigue, stress and depression in people with adrenal fatigue
Nutrient Rich Diet
Food is medicine, and what we eat has a significant impact on our adrenal health. This means choosing foods that are rich in protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. It also means avoiding foods that can trigger inflammation, blood sugar spikes, or hormonal imbalances.
The best diet for adrenal support is one that supports longevity. The Mediterranean diet is one that continually ticks all the boxes for a healthy diet however most people get it wrong. It is important to follow the principles of the mediterranean diet to ensure you are indeed supporting your overall health.
It’s easy to slip into bad habits when it comes to food, high sugar, simple carbs, and processed foods, impact brain health. As we know from the brain-gut connection these types of foods can have damaging effects on our body. Stress affects heart health, gut health, and so much more. So it’s important to stick to a program that provides healthy nutrition to heal chronic disease.
Adrenal fatigue is a common condition that affects many people who live in a stressful and demanding world. It can cause a variety of symptoms that can impair the quality of life and well-being. However, there is hope for recovery and healing using a functional medicine approach. When possible we recommend working with a professional to map out a personalized plan, but understand that sometimes that isn’t feasible.
This list seems simple enough when reading, but the challenges of daily life, and constant movement in our modern lives have hijacked our ability to stick to healthy choices. Our recommendation is to pick one of the above changes that you feel you can easily integrate into your life. Stick to it for 66 days, create that new habit, and then add another one in. It’s called habit stacking - small steps add up to huge change!
If your starting point is diet - fabulous, it’s a great place to start. At organic pharmer we help alleviate stress by offering programs to assist you in your healthy eating journey. Our 5 day Phast and Functional Cleanses are the perfect place to begin your healing journey. Unsure of where to begin? Our guide to cleansing is a great resource before you begin your journey. As always we’re here to help as best we can. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org