As soon as you wake up in the morning do you have a craving to consume something salty or sugary?
Do you have trouble falling asleep or literally drag yourself out of bed in the morning even after a good 8hrs of sleep?
Is your skin darkening?
When you stand up too quickly, do you feel a wee bit light headed or dizzy for a few seconds?
Do you feel extremely tired and badly require that dose of caffeine to get you through the day?
What you are battling with, actually has a name: Adrenal Fatigue!
What does that mean?
It means you are overflowing with the stress hormone ‘Cortisol’ released by two tiny triangle shaped glands called adrenals that are sitting right on top of your kidneys.
When you are exposed to stress, you body is designed to pump you up with Cortisol to deal with a stressful situation. What this does…it switches your body to function on Glucose…so you will get that immediate quick burst of energy required to handle the situation. It releases the spare glucose stored in your liver (just to get you through May Day!). It also makes Glucose from reserves of protein and fat.
Now your blood is filled with…well, a lot of SUGAR!
All this Sugar is bound to give you that Sugar rush you crave to get you through the stress…however the downside of the sugar surge is that, while it gives you the initial boost of energy, you later experience an extreme low…that is when you need your shot of caffine to get you through the low tide.
Bottom line: the more stress you have, the more your body runs on SUGAR! And…more ‘lows’ you are going to experience.
You body is well equipped to handle short term stress like the quick swerve you took to avoid an accident or rushed to handle an emergency of your loved one. Once the incident is over with an ‘all is well that ends well’ happy ending note, you are back to your normal state of neutral gear.
It is only when you go thorough long spells of stress…that things begin to spiral downhill. The emotional trauma of losing a loved one or having faced a life-threatening experience, the prolonged stress of having to face an abusive boss or spouse, having to walk on egg shells in the presence of a family member, constantly dealing with unreasonable deadlines, the fear of losing your job or any long-term financial stress…basically FEAR!
There is a tiny little part of your brain, called the amygdala quite similar to the adrenals on your kidneys. This tiny little part of your brain is the seat for all emotional responses. One of the rudimentary emotional responses: FEAR! The churn in your stomach, the dryness in your throat, the racing heart-beat, the sweaty palms, blood raining from your face, feeling light headed…all that is courtesy – your Amygdala.
All your 50 shades of fear states, from the sudden chill down your spine while watching a scarry movie or having to face a crowd on stage, to having a sever panic attack and everything in between from anxiety to worry, over activates your amygdala. This prevents you from returning to your calm state of relaxation and even prevents you from falling asleep.
An over activated Adrenal Gland and Amygdala together cause brain fog and even destroy memory patterns in the brain. This is why, those under extreme stress, quite often have issues recollecting, where they last kept their phone or the secret safe spot, they kept that extremely important document.
I have had several clients who come to me complaining that they feel very wired up all the time. They are unable to experience – CALM. They are unable to fall asleep.
I used to have a flat mate back during my university days who would wake up, open her eyes, stretch, yawn, and the first words out of her mouth, every single day, would be, “I am sooooo tired.” I always used to wonder, how could somebody get 8-9hrs of good sleep and yet wake up and complain of feeling tired. I wish I had known back then and perhaps could’ve helped her back then…she was battling sever Adrenal Fatigue.
Toxic exposure to chemicals, inflammatory food or hormonal imbalances in the body also cause Adrenal Fatigue. In fact, repeated bouts of respiratory infection like sinusitis, asthma or even just a common cold and flu weighs heavy on the Adrenals.
Most people with Adrenal Fatigue have a short fuse and very low tolerance to others who are slow, ignorant or perhaps even stupid. They blow up at the slightest of issues. Every time you see people screaming their lungs out from inside their cars, with windows wound up, at a passerby who has just cut them off on the road, you can be sure you are watching a person battling with some level of Adrenal Fatigue. The most irrational and quite often unwarranted vent of irritation.
Those with a healthy Adrenal Gland will be more fluid with life. More relaxed, happy and even laugh a lot more often.
I have had clients who come in with severe Adrenal Fatigue who have been previously advised a vacation, break from work, prescription pills for sleep, anti-anxiety medication some have even been treated for depression…but the Adrenals are quite often ignored and not addressed.
What happens if we ignore adrenal fatigue?
If you continue to ignore the initial signs and symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, not only will you continue to suffer, but you will begin to develop more serious and more severe problems that are going to be much more difficult to treat or reverse.
The first step to addressing Adrenal Fatigue is to identify the white elephant in the room…and you can do this at home.
Postural Blood Pressure Test:
Low Blood Pressure is an important indicator of Adrenal dysfunction. Get yourself a digital blood pressure testing machine at home and check your blood pressure while lying down. Stand up and immediately test you blood pressure. If you BP drops when you stand up from a lying down position, this almost always indicates Adrenal dysfunction. If you have an Adrenal Dysfunction then you might feel a bit light headed as soon as you stand up. It is recommended to have somebody beside you to hold you when you test this at home.
Sargent’s White Line Test:
Take a dull end of a ballpoint pen and lightly stroke the skin of your tummy making a 6” long mark. Within a few seconds a line will appear. Those with healthy Adrenals, the line will appear white and then redden. 40% of those with Adrenal Fatigue, the mark will appear white and remain white…and begin to grow a bit wider within a few seconds.
There are several lab tests that can confirm Adrenal Fatigue as well, provided you find yourself a healthcare practitioner who is willing to explore this avenue with you.
Once you have found yourself a practitioner to partner with, the next step would be to explore the cause of Adrenal Fatigue: Emotional, Physical, Chemical, Environmental, Auto Immune, Hormonal, Infection or Food Sensitivities.
The good news is that, with Adrenal Fatigue, most of the path to recovery can be achieved by changing elements of your lifestyle.
The most obvious place to begin would be to eliminate the cause of your Adrenal Fatigue. Most of the stressors can be easily addressed by yourself, or with a little help from a Functional Medicine Practitioner.
At my Detox Center, we have an elaborate Emotional and Mental Detox program for absolutely everybody with or without Adrenal Fatigue.
Begin with Sleep: follow a pattern before you fall asleep. Have your dinner at least 2 hrs before your bed time. Tune yourself away from TV, Mobiles or any other device which emits blue light or is tuned into the wifi at least 1 hr prior to your bed time. Switch off your wifi routers. Get into bed max by 10.30pm. If possible, try to get the extra dose of sleep between 7am – 9am. Cortisol production kicks and reaches its peak at 8am. If you have the luxury to sleep in during that period, you will be helping your adrenals heal a lot faster. Else try to get some rest between 2pm – 4pm when the cortisol dip occurs. Make sure by evening the white lights are turned off and warm whites are used. At night, you room should be as dark as possible, if you need a night lamp, it must be red.
When to Eat: Eat the first meal of the day before 10am. Long hours of fasting will stress your Adrenals further. The meal should be before noon followed by a nutritious snack at 2pm. The next major meal should be had between 5pm – 6pm. A couple of hours before bed you can have a highly nutritious snack once again to sustain you till your meal the next morning.
What NOT to eat: White sugar, white flour and caffeine….BIG NO! For those with Chocolate craving…try taking 400mg of Magnesium supplement every day and the craving will cease.
A wonderful supplement that has helped many of my clients get through serious Adrenal Fatigue – Ashwagandha.
Those with Adrenal Fatigue begin to feel better when they indulge in physical activity and when they laugh more often. Remember that tiny little Amygdala in your brain…it’s going to thank you every time you have a hearty laugh.