What is it, what causes it and how can you handle it?
Adrenal fatigue is a term applied to nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems. It is commonly called the “21st Century Stress Syndrome” (Source: draxe.com).
Your adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones that are essential to life. A hormone is a compound sent from a gland as a message to tell an organ what to do. For example, the hormone called “thyroxine” is made by the thyroid and helps increase body temperature.
The adrenal cortex—the outer part of the gland—produces cortisol (which helps regulate metabolism and helps your body respond to stress) and aldosterone (which helps control blood pressure). Adrenaline is also a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, especially in conditions of stress, increasing rates of blood circulation, breathing, and carbohydrate metabolism and preparing muscles for exertion. It is commonly called the “flight or fight” hormone.
Adrenal fatigue may lead to adrenal insufficiency; symptoms may include:
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- High levels of fatigue each day
- Inability to handle stress
- Cravings for salty foods
- Higher energy levels in the evenings
- Overuse of stimulants like caffeine
- A weak immune system
- Body aches
- Unexplained weight loss
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of body hair
- Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)
According to conventional medicine, adrenal fatigue doesn’t exist. However, it is essentially a stress reaction, and stress is very well understood as a cause of illness.
Per many naturopathic doctors and alternative medicine practitioners, adrenal fatigue diagnosis is a mild form of adrenal insufficiency mostly caused by chronic stress. The theory behind adrenal fatigue is that your adrenal glands are unable to keep pace with the demands of perpetual fight-or-flight arousal.
As a result, they can't produce quite enough of the hormones you need to feel good. Existing blood tests, according to this theory, aren't sensitive enough to detect such a small decline in adrenal function — but your body is. Adrenal fatigue may affect 80% of Americans and is still on the rise (Source: botanicchoice.com).
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