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adrenal fatigue symptoms

Ah, adrenal fatigue–this phrase has been floating around the internet and the wellness space for quite some time. Maybe you’ve heard of it and are wondering if it’s an actual “thing”. Maybe you’ve heard someone throw out this phrase but don’t quite know what it means.

Well, in this article, we’re covering what adrenal fatigue means, common signs of adrenal fatigue to look out for.

What happens in Adrenal Fatigue?

According to James Wilson who coined the term, adrenal fatigue is a group of general symptoms that indicate that your adrenal glands aren’t functioning as well as they should. Your adrenal glands’ function is to produce hormones such as cortisol, which plays a role in your energy. These glands also produce hormones that are important for your metabolism.

Because of their function, the adrenal glands are important for your overall energy throughout the day. Sometimes, they can function below their optimal point and that’s where adrenal fatigue comes in.

Adrenal fatigue refers to when your body maybe isn’t:

  • Producing cortisol at the proper times
  • Pumping out too much cortisol or perhaps not enough
  • Or there is some other cortisol dysfunction and/or dysfunction with cortisol signaling happening
  • Or there is some other cortisol dysfunction and/or dysfunction with cortisol signaling happening

Your cortisol spikes and dips throughout the day. For example, your cortisol spikes in the early morning around 6 to 9 am and it dips quite low around 10 pm. With adrenal fatigue, you may be producing too much in the night or not enough in the morning. The result? You feel “wired and tired”.

What are Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?

Because your adrenals pump out hormones such as cortisol and are important for energy and metabolism, with adrenal fatigue (the suboptimal function of your adrenal glands) you’re going to experience symptoms relating to the function of the glands.

These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and/or wired and tired
  • Weight gain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Body aches
  • Loss of hair
  • Feeling lightheaded

What causes adrenal fatigue?

As your cortisol plays a function in alertness it contributes both to energy but also stress. Adrenal fatigue then can arise from long term stress.

The idea is that if you’re experiencing long term, or chronic, stress your body will continue to produce high amounts of cortisol throughout the day even at times when cortisol is supposed to be low. As a result, your adrenal glands will be overwhelmed from the long term production of cortisol. Your body will also have a difficult time properly responding to the cortisol, as well as other stress and/or fight or flight hormones. This will lead to the symptoms described above.

While the term is not accepted by the medical society and can be used as more of a layman’s term, the symptoms are still very much real. Many individuals do experience fatigue and body aches and other difficult symptoms from long term stress.

Long term production of cortisol does wreak havoc on the body so if you find yourself nodding to what we discussed above, it may be time to chat with your naturopathic doctor about stress and adrenal fatigue and functional testing that is available for assessing your adrenal function .

What can you take to support your adrenals?

There are herbs and nutrients that help to build the adrenals, herbs that help with cortisol production, and herbs that can help lower or modulate stress. These include:

  • Ashwagandha
  • Rhodiola
  • Eleutherococcus
  • Phoshatidylserine
  • Pantothenic acid
  • L-theanine
  • Holy Basil
  • Maca
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra
  • Schisandra
  • Vitamin C
  • Trace minerals

Make sure to speak with us before adding any new herb or supplement to your regimen.