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Adrenal fatigue. You’ve probably heard the term, and may feel like it’s something happening to you. Suffering from burnout, or a lengthy bout of exhaustion you can’t seem to pull out of, but no obvious symptoms? Here’s a little primer on these very important glands and how to treat them right.
The adrenals are small glands sitting above each of your kidneys. The adrenals release cortisol and adrenaline in response to stressful situations or environmental conditions, and control the release of many other important hormones in the body. Their primary function is to prime the system is to give you the energy you need when your circumstances demand it. The trouble is, many of us create this demand almost all our waking hours!
An estimated 75% of individuals suffer from adrenal fatigue ? the inability of the adrenals to keep up with demand ? at some time or another. This occurs when the glands can no longer keep up with the pace of outputting stress hormones, or when they no longer respond to repeated demands that they’ve heard too many times before. Signs and symptoms may include severe fatigue, lightheadedness upon standing, depression and irritability, lack of sex drive, exhaustion and general malaise. This is often associated with intense or prolonged stress, life crisis, trauma, and chronic illness. Other factors include improper diet, substance abuse, and too little or irregular sleep.
This function is extremely important in emergency situations – poorly functioning, overtaxed adrenal glands can lessen your ability to deal effectively with crisis situations. Another aspect of healthy adrenals is the ability to endure long periods of physical and mental exertion during work or exercise, and similarly, the day to day responsibilities of parenting! It is your adrenal glands job to react to stress in a balanced manner so that one’s response is appropriate to the situation.
The adrenal glands signal the storage, release and utilization of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, and influence the distribution of fat on the body. Their output is involved in blood sugar regulation, cardiovascular function, digestive function, and in controlling blood pressure. The adrenals are further involved by playing a part in sexual interest and response ? so poorly functioning adrenals can really put a damper on things by increasing fat storage on your belly while making you disinterested in the whole process altogether!
Here are a few simple steps to supporting adrenal gland health. Many of these will support your overall wellbeing as well, relieving your body of undue stress, and in turn allowing your adrenals to replenish their stores. First, get an adequate intake of pure, clean water. You needn’t drown yourself with it, but always having a bottle around to sip on can really make a difference. So many body processes require adequate amounts of water ? and this is likely more than you think. Further, natural aging and other factors can desensitize your thirst sense, so again, you’ll likely feel better drinking more often than when you only feel thirsty.
Next, and perhaps most difficult for some of us is slowing down the pace of each day, if only for a few moments. It’s quite useful to take a couple of 10 minute breaks where you just let your mind go. If thoughts come up about all your worries and your to do list, let them go. Breathe deeply and relax. Get to a point where you feel you’ve made a change in your mindset, even if only for a little while ? this state will naturally flow in your life for at least a little while once you resume your normal activities, and will have a dramatic effect on your adrenals and nervous system. Incorporating regular moderate exercise is extremely helpful as well, making the body much more capable of dealing with stress. For an added bonus, combine these two and real be present when you’re exercising, relaxing your mind while invigorating your body.
Dietary choices are crucial to proper adrenal gland function. You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again! Reduce your sugar intake ? sugar is a poison to the system, inducing stress whenever eaten. Cut out stimulants to the best of your ability. If you have a caffeine addiction, take it moment to moment, Do you really need that next cup? Will it make you feel better? Often after the first one or two in the morning, the answer is no. And cutting them out all together will give you more energy than you thought possible in a week to 10 days.
For a soothing, regenerating treatment, take an Epsom salt bath pull out fatigue and acidity from body. Again, let your mind go and release the worries of the day, and try to incorporate this into your regular routine. Consider adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath and allow the aroma to help you relax and refresh. A favorite essential oil bath blend: 4 drops Lavender essential oil, 1 drop Rose essential oil. These oils are well known for their uplifting and relaxing qualities. Other aromatherapy bath salt blends are available for this purpose ? just make sure they use all natural ingredients, as synthetic aromatics can actually cause more stress!
You may also use an essential oil blend that is said to replenish the adrenal glands without stimulation. Mix one ounce hazelnut oil plus 50 drops each of Black Spruce and Pine essential oils. For a gentle lift, reduce the Black Spruce and Pine to 30 drops each, and add 20 drops each of Cedarwood and Peppermint. Apply twice a day to the lower back for a week or two to help support glandular function ? and you’ll smell great too!
Flower essences offer a range of choices depending on your personal situation for supporting stress reduction. Three important essences are Aloe Vera, Lavender, and Impatiens. Aloe is known as a cooling plant, used for burns and support of the digestive system. As a flower essence, it can ease the troubles of ‘burn out’ from your overtaxing routine. Lavender flower essence, like the essential oil, can bring a sense of calm. Finally, Impatiens works wonders for those who always feel things aren’t happening fast enough, a cycle which continually produces more stress, and more stress on the adrenals to keep up. Click on any of the essence names to read more.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do what you can to improve your sleep routine. Getting to bed before 10pm is crucial ? the hours between 10 and 12 are thought to be extremely important in rejuvenation. Try finishing your last meal as early as possible in the evening to get better rest, so the body is not spending as much effort digesting your dinner as it is replenishing all your other vital resources. Herbal sleep formulas are effective for many people, and are non-habit forming as some prescription medicines can be. Also, studies have shown that the aroma of certain essential oils in the room can have a dramatic effect on sleep quality ? an easy way to experiment is to sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil on your comforter before retiring (be sparing, too much can actually be stimulating!)
While the steps addressing lifestyle changes may seem difficult, if you’ve been suffering from adrenal fatigue, they’
re certainly worth making an effort at. Properly functioning adrenals are a must for getting the most out of life, and supporting them is essential in any natural health, wellness and fitness program.