Busy lives and our fast paced society tax the adrenal glands. So much so, that a condition called adrenal fatigue is not uncommon. It can be brought on by intense and prolonged stress, after an acute or chronic infection or by hormonal imbalances such as a thyroid condition or menopause.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms that indicate that the adrenal gland is under-functioning and cannot produce enough hormone to meet the demands of stress. An individual with adrenal fatigue typically has some or all of the following symptoms:
- Wake un-refreshed as if you didn’t sleep at all
- Tired and fatigued for no apparent reason
- More awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.
- Rundown or overwhelmed.
- Difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
- Crave salty and sweet snacks.
Cortisol output by your adrenal glands is an accurate measure of adrenal function. Saliva testing can look at how much cortisol is being produced as well as the circadian rhythm of production. The testing involves spitting into a tube at four times during the day and sending the tubes to a lab which measures the quantity of cortisol in the saliva. Saliva testing for cortisol is recognized as reliable by the National Institute of Health and World Health Organizations and is the considered a better predictor of tissue levels than blood testing.
If someone is determined to have adrenal fatigue, then certain lifestyle and diet changes, herbs, nutrients and homeopathic remedies can be prescribed to extend the half-life of cortisol as well as supporting the adrenal gland to gently and sustainably increase adrenal function.
In some cases, the adrenal gland is over functioning releasing too much cortisol that can create anxiety, hyper-vigilance and/or interfere with sleep. In those situations, different herbs and homeopathic remedies can be used to decrease cortisol and soothe the adrenal gland from over functioning bringing the individual to a calmer state.
Commonly we see people whose adrenal gland produces more cortisol in the evening and less in the morning. In those cases, the individual drags themselves out of bed and has low energy at varying times of the day, yet, in the evening is wide awake and difficulty falling asleep. Treatment includes diet and lifestyle changes as well as varying herbs to shift the output of cortisol to a normal circadian rhythm.
Written by: Dr. Cheri King, ND