They are small but mighty. The walnut-sized adrenal glands wield their hormonal power from atop their command post—your kidneys. How well these twin glands function can impact your physical and mental quality of life. You can recover from adrenal fatigue with a natural approach.

As integrative health and wellness coach and Lyme warrior, I interact with and coach many women who exhibit adrenal fatigue symptoms but can’t get the medical help they need.

It’s about balance and harmony.

I attended my first symphony in the sixth grade.

Not far into the orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the musically untrained pre-adolescent me realized the connection between balance and harmony.

I watched the woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings paint a picture using sounds with the same precision of brushstroke used by Monet in creating a cobalt blue sky.

adrenal fatigue

Balanced and effective. Vigorous and harmonious. Our body systems function optimally when all the parts work cohesively. Your adrenal glands are no different.

This powerful duo often gets overworked, so they go on a bit of a strike. It’s their way of telling you they are out of vigor and off-balance.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

The obvious symptoms are excessive fatigue, recurrent infections, dizziness, low blood pressure when standing, headaches, memory problems, food cravings, allergies, and blood sugar disorder.

Rather than investigating the cause of the plummet in energy, most people use caffeine or sugar for an energy boost. And the glands left neglected.

Impact of your adrenal glands on your body systems

It’s important to know just how the adrenals wield their hormonal power on your body systems. The twin pair of glands secrete hormones that impact how your body:

  • metabolizes carbohydrates; fats, and proteins
  • regulates blood sugar
  • the functioning of the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immune, and nervous systems
  • reactions to inflammation and allergens
  • maintains hormonal health

How the adrenals work

The triangular-shaped glands, weighing in at less than 5 grams (less than 1⁄5 of an ounce), contain two parts: the cortex and the medulla.

The cortex, the outer section, releases cortisol, aldosterone, and androgens. These hormones affect blood sugar levels, metabolism, and blood pressure.

The medulla, the inner area, secretes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These hormones serve as “fight or flight” response hormones.

Causes of adrenal fatigue

Yep, stress, it’s like that intrusive housefly that keeps buzzing in your face. It won’t go away until you do something about it.

Chronic stress contributes to adrenal malfunction. The gut-punch reality, we live in a culture where 70%-90% of physician visits are stress-related. During stressful situations, the brain (the parasympathetic nervous system) signals the adrenals to release the cortisol hormones.

The constant output of cortisol exhausts the adrenal glands, which leads to adrenal fatigue and other health problems.

adrenal fatigue

Other stressors on the adrenal glands

Chances are your healthcare practitioner may not address (but you need to know) the four other culprits of adrenal exhaustion.

A nimble bushy-tailed squirrel is poking around for discarded seed from the birdfeeder outside my office window. It eagerly forages for food, leaving no surface unturned. Squirrels are champion hoarders (the good kind of hoarding).

Be the nimble squirrel that hoards valuable information about your health crisis!

Giving it to you straight— these are the not-so-talked-about stressors that negatively impact your adrenals.

Trauma – surgeries, car accidents, death of a loved one, a chronic or acute illness

Nutrition – processed foods, dyes, fast food, refined sugar, and flour

Electromagnetics – cell phones, microwaves, electronic devices

Environmental – pesticides, synthetic hormones, some pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals

Diseases and conditions associated with adrenal fatigue

Naturopathic doctor, Marita Schauch, suggests that adrenal fatigue could be responsible for the following diseases and conditions:

(It’s possible to have one or more of the following diseases or conditions):

  • Colitis or other gastrointestinal disorders
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Fertility issues
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fybromyalgia
  • Insomnia
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma and bronchitis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity
  • Allergies and chemical sensitivities

The reality, you can’t live without or replace your adrenal glands, so it’s important to maintain their health.

Diagnosing Your Adrenal Glands

{I am NOT a doctor. Therefore, this is not medical advice or a diagnosis.} This post provides information so that you can be that grey squirrel when it comes to your health.

Like Lyme disease, adrenal fatigue often goes undiagnosed. Dr. Schaush recommends five diagnostic tools to assess adrenal function:

Saliva Adrenal Profile testing

This tool measures the amounts of various stress hormones (cortisol) in the saliva.

Ragland Effect

An adrenal function self-test, the Ragland effect, assesses blood pressure change which helps diagnose adrenal fatigue. By comparing two blood pressure readings, one while lying down and the other while standing.

Pupillary Response

This is one time you will welcome a beacon of bright light into your eye, especially if it means figuring out why you can barely make it through the day without sneaking in a siesta.

The pupillary reflex, a diagnostic method that can detect an electrolyte imbalance (sodium and potassium). Exhausted adrenals will fluctuate open and closed when the light shines into your eyes.

adrenal fatigue

Koenisberg Test

The test measures the amount of urinary chloride in the urine.  Exhausted adrenals cause lowered aldosterone (a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands) levels, resulting in extra sodium spilling into the urine. 

Medical History

Naturopathic and integrative practitioners focus on the “whole person approach.” They consider your mental, emotional, spiritual, genetic, environmental, and social factors that could cause illness.

When it comes to adrenal fatigue, the Naturopathic doctor would consider current and past stress levels, surgeries, illnesses, and traumas to customize a treatment plan.

What you can do for adrenal health

Fortunately, there are several practices you can cultivate to help restore your adrenals.

Cultivate healthy eating habits. Now is the time to fill your plate with the colors from nature. Fruits and vegetables offer a color palette as diverse as Benjamin Moore’s. A recent study (hey, be the grey squirrel here) conducted by D.L. Katz of Yale University School of Public Health and S. Meller of Yale University School of Medicine studied several dietary plans, some of which I mentioned above, and concluded that:

” a diet of foods mostly direct from nature, and predominately plants is supportive of health across the life span.”

Store that health-changing information away and snack on it later.

Learn to evoke and promote your relaxation response. Deep breathing exercise, hot bath with Epsom salts, and essential oils. Mindful scripture meditation, journaling, and prayer. Soulful yoga, movement, and sleep health.

adrenal fatigue

Take adaptogenic herbs because they support the adrenal glands and help your body “adapt” to stress. Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, cordyceps, holy basil, schizandra berries, astragalus, hawthorn berries, lemongrass, Rhodiola, and Tulsi.

Add supplements like flaxseed (freshly ground), fish oil, Omega 3 fatty acids, B6, B12, B5, Folic Acid (MTHFR), vitamin C, magnesium, L-Tyrosine, Zinc, 5-HTP, Theanine, Zinc, Maca, and probiotics.

Mr. Rogers-like patience

It took your adrenals a while to finally poop out. Please be patient with them as they heal. In my mind, Fred Rogers embodies the example of patience and empathy. Practice both on yourself as your body heals.

Allowing your adrenals to recover on their own time IS a lesson in patience. Perhaps now, you will learn to slow down, manage the chaos, and crank down the busyness noise.

Do you need help?

If you need help getting back on track with your eating life, let me help. As an integrative health-wellness coach, I collaborated with you to create a health-wellness plan that serves your needs. Health and Wellness Coaching.


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