What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Located near the top of each kidney, your adrenal glands release hormones (such as adrenaline and cortisol) that help your body respond to stressful situations (by briefly pumping up your energy levels, for instance). Research suggests that when you're constantly suffering physical, mental, or emotional stress, your stress-hormone system may become "worn out" and actually produce fewer stress hormones. This state of exhaustion -- commonly known as adrenal fatigue -- is associated with chronic tiredness, food cravings, mood swings, and weight gain.
It is important to note that adrenal fatigue is not a generally accepted medical diagnosis and that the causes of this syndrome are poorly understood.
Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
Typically brought on by prolonged stress (often combined with poor nutrition, overexercising, and lack of sufficient sleep), adrenal fatigue is mainly marked by a consistent lack of energy. Other signs and symptoms include:
- caffeine dependence
- irregular menstrual cycles
- weight gain (especially around the abdomen)
- muscle and/or joint pain
- salt cravings
- low libido
How to Treat Adrenal Fatigue—Naturally
Here are some natural solutions for fighting adrenal fatigue and reclaiming your energy.
1) The Adrenal Fatigue Diet
Increasing your levels of vitamin C (found in citrus, red bell peppers, papaya, and broccoli) and vitamin B5 (available in sunflower seeds, mushrooms, yogurt, and corn) through your diet or supplements may help ease symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Too much caffeine may also take its toll on your adrenal glands. To curb your caffeine intake, try to gradually replace coffee and soda with lower-caffeine beverages like green tea.
Learn more about the top 5 coffee substitutes.
2) Herbs for Adrenal Fatigue
For herbal relief of adrenal fatigue, look to adaptogens. This class of herbs (which includes ginseng, ashwaghandha, and rhodiola) is thought to build your resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stress, as well as boost your energy and vitality. In a 2009 study, for instance, researchers found that taking 576 mg of a standardized rhodiola extract in supplement form daily reduced stress and increased mental performance (without producing adverse effects) in a group of adults suffering from stress-related fatigue.
Learn more about how to use herbs safely.
3) Support Your Adrenals With Stress Relief
Keeping your stress in check is key to alleviating adrenal fatigue. Research shows that yoga, meditation, and tai chi can all help lower your levels of cortisol and decrease your stress. For optimal stress relief, include one of these tension-taming practices—or another relaxation technique, such as deep breathing—into your daily routine.
Exercise is also effective for managing stress, but high-intensity cardiovascular workouts (such as running or vigorous cycling) may contribute to burnout in some cases.
Learn more about how to lessen the negative effects of stress.
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