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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Penna

Adrenal Fatigue

Updated: May 31, 2022

This month, we take a look at fatigue issues and why the terminology 'Adrenal Fatigue', has now been changed. As with all things in life, as we gain a greater insight into how the body functions and the impact of today’s stressors, we also need to be reviewing and updating terms that place blame on one organ system. We have a great download booklet available on how to Recharge Your Spark - see link below. Adrenal Fatigue was coined by Dr James Wilson several years ago, based on the original work of Hans Selye. Dr Wilson's description of the condition was based on the assumption that the Adrenal glands (regulate cortisol and DHEAs hormones) wear out over time due to the demands of life stressors. We now know this is not so, and in fact the response of the adrenals to stress may be a protective effect to conserve energy and prevent ongoing damage to other organ systems. We can see from the image below that all roads don't lead to the Adrenals, in fact they all lead to a Hypothalamus response that is regulated by our HPA axis. So, what does all mean in lay terms? The fatigue response that we see today usually starts with and is driven by the body's physiological response to unrelenting STRESS. Now this stress my be anything, it's not always a negative process and it may just be due to taking on one more thing at work or home that pushes us over the edge. We were not designed to function 24 hours a day under the intense demands that the twenty first century places on us. "I don't have time to change", "I am to busy to make time", "I cannot find time to look after myself" - these are phases that I have heard from many of my clients (as well as myself) who are functioning under a 'stress load' that the body cannot cope with. Our body works on a feedback system that once stimulated is hard to stop. It often feels like you are driving with your foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time. Sleep becomes unrefreshing or broken, your mood changes, your ability to cope may result in an injury, digestive issues arise, hormone imbalance creates problems with fertility and menstrual cycles in women and depression in men. We see an increase in acute illness such as cold or flu. Long term we see changes in the body's ability to maintain heart rate and BP, cholesterol levels and blood glucose problem arise, weight gain and finally exhaustion kicks in. Now we cannot overlook the fact that there a some people may have a medical problem with cortisol production that is called 'Addison's Disease' that has not been diagnosed before. These are clients that I would refer back to their GP for further testing if they don't respond to dietary, lifestyle and herbal treatment. These people with need to be prescribed cortisone therapy for life. So what can we do? First the approach is to not self-diagnose your condition using the internet or blogs. Do not buy adrenal supplements that have not been prescribed for you. Get advice, get tested and set out a detailed plan of treatment with your Practitioner. There are no shortcuts to treating this condition. I recommend that all my clients follow the Foundations of Wellness principles as their treatment plan and where necessary, we will add in nutritional and herbal support as indicated. The 7 Principles Diet - there is no one diet that suits all, but the basic principles suggest we should be eating a whole food diet based on seasonal and non-processed foods for 80% of our weekly intake. Organic meats, fresh fish, full fat and low GI grains, beans and legumes. Common sense tells us we need to avoid foods containing preservatives, sugar (including fruit juice, honey, soft drinks) as well as white flour and trans-fat. Exercise - gentle forms of movement are better suited to fatigued clients. Over exercising can be just as damaging as no exercise. Lifestyle - turn off the iPad, mobile and internet at night and try to have 1 day a week free of all technology. Stress Management – it’s essential to find your tipping point and learn to remove or pass on what you cannot handle. Sleep - is essential for human health and needs to be supported for long term health and recovery. Attitude - daily affirmations, looking at life from a different point of view or discussing options with a counsellor may be helpful to support a change in habits. Supplements - where necessary nutrients such as Zinc, Iron, Adaptogenic herbs and B Vitamins may be necessary to support the body into recovery.

Adrenal Fatigue


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