Adrenal fatigue is still a fairly new term that is being used to describe a set of symptoms including body aches, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, loss of body hair, and skin discoloration. (source) To understand what adrenal fatigue is, it's important to note what the adrenal glands do.
The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and function as exocrine glands that produce a variety of essential-to-life hormones including adrenaline, aldosterone, and cortisol. In short, these hormones are responsible for regulating the body's metabolism, immune system suppression, regulation of blood pressure and electrolyte balance, and the rapid response to stress. (Think: flight or fight response.)
After long periods of extreme stress or dysfunction of the adrenal glands (such as with certain diseases or the presence of tumors, etc.) there may be an imbalance of one or more of those hormones either from over- or under-production. To confirm the imbalance or inadequate levels of the adrenal hormones, blood tests are needed. But those common symptoms are also a good indicator that something is wrong. To sum up: adrenal fatigue can be pretty debilitating. (source)
The best way to treat suspected adrenal fatigue is to first visit with a healthcare professional. Some doctors are still a little skeptical of the term “adrenal fatigue.” Naturopathic and alternative medicine practitioners are more likely to diagnose and help treat the condition. In any case, it's important to find out if there are any other health conditions that could be causing the symptoms. Then follow a treatment plan. Lifestyle and diet changes are usually necessary to recover from adrenal fatigue.
How To Recover From Adrenal Fatigue
The common protocol for treating adrenal fatigue is as follows:
- follow an adrenal diet which entails avoiding foods that cause inflammation and loading up on anti-inflammatory foods.
- eat high-protein foods along with plenty of vegetables and whole grains
- avoid refined sugars and processed foods
- go to bed early
- take a supplement with B5, B6, and B12 vitamins (under doctor supervision)
- consume foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin (turmeric), and vitamin C
- add adaptogenic herbs to your diet – cordyceps, ashwagandha, rehmannia, and licorice root
- hydrate properly throughout the day
- replace any missing nutrients (confirmed by doctor's blood test and under supervision) such as vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and selenium
- rest during the day, as needed
- participate in regular meditation and use other stress-relieving breathing techniques
- do yoga or another mild exercise (as not to create more fatigue)
This Adrenal Fatigue Green Smoothie is chock full of nutritious ingredients chosen for their anti-inflammatory and adrenal-supporting properties. Baby spinach is high in iron and contains moderate amounts of vitamins B6 and C. Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, and is a great source of B6, and magnesium. Coconut water provides extra B6, magnesium, and iron. Pineapple is extremely high in vitamin C, and one cup provides another 10% RDV of B-6 and 5% magnesium. Turmeric is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties thanks to curcumin, but it's also high in iron and B6. Finally flax oil is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This smoothie is hydrating and full of heart- and GI-tract-friendly dietary fiber.
Another helpful way to combat adrenal fatigue is to include adaptogenic herbs in your diet. They can better help your body respond to stress and recharge the adrenal glands. The best adaptogens for stress are rhodiola, mucuna pruriens, ashwaganda, cordyceps, schisandra, and licorice root. Maca and ginseng are great for fatigue. I love the team over at Four Sigmatic. If you want to give them a try, use this link with the code sgs and receive a special discount. But a word of caution, discuss using these herbs with your healthcare provider as some adaptogens may interact with any prescription medications or supplements.
Adrenal Fatigue Smoothie
This smoothie contains specially chosen ingredients to help the adrenal glands recover and support health and wellness.
- 2 cups baby spinach fresh
- 1 cup coconut water unsweetened
- 1 orange peeled
- 2 cups pineapple cubed, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup cauliflower florets frozen
- 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons flax oil
- Optional: adaptogenic herbs see notes
Place spinach, coconut water, and orange in blender. Puree until smooth.
Add pineapple, cauliflower, turmeric, flax oil, and any adaptogenic herbs, if using. Blend again.
- If using adaptogenic herbs, use according to package directions for specific type and always check with a medical professional before using as some may cause interactions with prescription medications.