Recover from Adrenal Fatigue Naturally

Are you feeling tired, mentally foggy, and stressed?  Years ago, I started to have some real ups and downs in my energy and health.  With the help of a functional medicine chiropractic physician, I started on the road to recovery from a common (and often misdiagnosed) health challenge: adrenal fatigue.

What are the adrenals?

The adrenal glands are on top of the kidneys, and they are responsible for creating and releasing hormones (primarily stress hormones).  These hormones regulate energy production and storage, immune function, heart rate, muscle tone, and other processes that help you cope with stress.  When the function of the adrenal glands suffers, so does the rest of the body’s processes, and it’s difficult to heal anything if you don’t address adrenal dysfunction.

What causes adrenal fatigue?

Stress comes in many forms, and your body doesn’t distinguish the difference between a physical crisis like an illness, or an emotional time such as the death of a loved one. Your nervous system and adrenals respond to the stress in order to maintain homeostasis and balance in the body.  Poor diet, too little sleep, chronic illnesses, environmental toxins, and prolonged situations of feeling “stressed out” can result in adrenal fatigue.   Anyone can experience adrenal fatigue, which comes from over-stimulation and the adrenal glands’ inability to recover.  It can be caused by a single stress or by chronic stressors which have a cumulative effect.

Symptoms and why it is often misdiagnosed

Adrenal fatigue can be associated with a range of symptoms.  There is often an overlap of symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish what’s really going on.  Also, by only looking at isolated symptoms rather than the whole body, doctors may attempt to diagnose and treat without recognizing that the adrenals need support before other healing can take place.  Adrenal fatigue can be associated with:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling tired upon waking, and having the most energy around 5pm
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Frequent infections
  • Digestive problems
  • Allergies
  • Craving salty or sweet foods
  • Feeling rundown and overwhelmed
  • Feeling mentally foggy
  • Weight gain
  • Depression

Adrenal fatigue can also be misdiagnosed or difficult to identify because blood tests measuring cortisol and other stress hormone levels may appear “normal.”  In my case, cortisol was on the low end of normal, but I was definitely not feeling “normal”.  After seeing several doctors and not getting any answers, a chiropractor with training in applied kinesiology, clinical nutrition, and acupuncture was finally able to identify the problem through a holistic perspective.  I started on the road to recover with the help of supplements and lifestyle changes.

Recover From Adrenal Fatigue Naturally

Consulting with a physician about the right supplements for you is important, but lifestyle changes are equally as vital.  Several months before I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, I had done my own research on the symptoms I was experiencing, and started treating myself – to recover naturally from adrenal issues. Here’s where I started:

Get on the healing trail 

One weekend in the middle of my recovery, I was hiking and saw a sign on the trail. “HEALING IN PROGRESS. Stay on designated trails only.” The message was right on – it shed light on my experience and adrenal healing because any energy I did have needed to go towards healing.  To stay on designated trails means to pay attention to healing and do things that are helpful.

healing in progress sign

Unplug

Spending time around electronics right before bedtime is a no-no for adrenal recovery.  Optimal sleep hours are between 11pm and 7am, but the hours leading up to sleep are important as well.  With adrenal fatigue, you may have your most energy at 5pm, but don’t stimulate your body even more by sitting in front of the TV or computer screen.  Hormones that help you calm down and sleep get released when you’re not surrounded by lights and electronic devices.  Get as much sleep as possible.  In my experience, I needed 9+ hours most nights for about 9 months.  Do this pose instead (putting your feet up the wall is very restorative and a great way to unwind at the end of the day).

Slow down

If you’re the kind of person who tends to run at two speeds (asleep or 100 mph), hitting rock bottom with adrenal fatigue is definitely a wake-up call in BALANCE.  If you feel burned out, you probably are.  When I found myself unmotivated and unable to continue going the 100 mph pace, I had no choice but to see what was out of balance.  Rather than staying in a daze of burnout, it started me in a new direction.  I found myself heading down a trail to a new way of living.  I realized there are no medals at the finish line of overworking and not listening to my body – just adrenal fatigue.

Moderate your exercise

One of the most difficult things for me was moving my body less, and not getting the adrenaline rush of a long run or a hard climb.  Hard workouts only push the adrenals harder, rather than allow them to rest and recover.  You’ll get back on the trail, but for now, take it easy. Learn yoga. Practicing deep breathing. Body awareness and relaxation poses are extremely important because they help to calm the mind-racing tendency and overwhelm that come with adrenal fatigue. Do what feels good when it comes to exercise – not hard.

Food as medicine

As tempting as it is to reach for caffeine when you’re totally foggy and fatigued, it’s one of the worst solutions because of the added stress on the adrenal glands.  Sugar is also something to avoid because of the drastic impact it has on blood sugar.  It’s a good idea to be moderate with natural sweeteners and fruits if you’re already feeling light-headed, dizzy, and foggy (probably from hypoglycemia).  Foods like maca root and spirulina are a great supplement to smoothies and energy bars because they support the adrenals and other hormone-producing glands.  Eat a nature fed diet, full of real foods. Check your food allergies because a main stressor to the adrenals may be coming from chronic digestive stress.  An allergic response to a food means inflammation and it may be one of the root causes of adrenal fatigue in some cases.  Read more in this article I wrote about food allergies.

Soothe your occasional aches and pains

A common challenge with adrenal dysfunction is occasional muscle aches and pains.  I use essential oils to sooth discomforts (peppermint, marjoram, cypress), support the health of the adrenal glands (basil and rosemary), and aid in restful sleep (lavender and chamomile).  Basil and rosemary are particularly supportive for the adrenal glands, so I put a few drops over my low back (over the adrenal glands) a couple times each day. The key is finding what oils work best with your body. Contact me if you’d like more information about incorporating high quality therapeutic essential oils into your life.

Supplements

B-vitamins, licorice root, ashwaghanda, and American ginseng are just some of the nutrients and herbs that can help support the adrenals.  Find a doctor who can help you figure out what your body needs to recover. The most optimal treatment and supplements will be specific to you.  Use sea salt liberally.  Most of us have heard to limit our salt intake, but with adrenal fatigue you can throw that advice out the window (along with refined table salt).  Choose high quality, mineral rich sea salt like Himalayan or Celtic – and use it as much as you want!  Because of its flavor, you don’t use as much of it anyway – it will add important nutrients to support your hormones.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below because we can learn so much from each other.  Do you have any insight on recovering from adrenal fatigue?

 

 

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5 Responses to “Recover from Adrenal Fatigue Naturally

  • Kathleen Heatley
    3 years ago

    I have both Thyroid and Adrenal conditions. Over the last 2 month of using doTERRA oils I now experienced good results.
    For Thyroid I use a blend of Balance, Frankincense, Thyme and Geranium. I alternate that blend with Myrrh and Lemongrass.
    For my Adrenal glands I use a Mixture of Cypress, Lavender, Basil, Clove and Geranium.
    I put these combinations in roller bottles and apply at least 10 times each day. Yes I carry them with me at all times. I also use a roller bottle with Frankincense and Myrrh from time to time.
    I can’t say enough about less oil more often as if feeding those glands throughout the day and evening and even if I get up in the night for a bathroom trip. This consistency appears to be worth my effort.
    This tends to be the way I eat as well… grazing in small amounts.

    • Very helpful Kathleen! Thank you so much for taking the time to post and share this. I agree less is more and small consistent amounts of essential oil to support the body are best!

  • Thanks for this article Jenni!! I have been struggling with fatigue, high levels of stress and poor health habits lately and it felt like it just hit me all at once after I trained for my half marathon and tried to continue with the same level of activities after the race. I have been to the doctors and had blood work done but everything was normal. So talking about adrenal fatigue seems like the best next step!

    • I’m so glad this helps shine some light on it Megan! Let me know if you’d like any further insights or tips. I could recommend a local doc that may be able to help you!

  • Kristal
    2 years ago

    Hello, Just googling, Adrenal Fatigue, and this come up.. it was a good read. last fortnight the natropath told me i had adrenal fatigue… now looking at all the symptoms its soo clear.. i’ve probably had it for a while.. i’ve had stress for about 5 years (cheating husband/custody/dealing with his crazy gf). its still on going, but im learning to deal with that, trying to find some yoga classes to join, and have it home so starting that today. i use essential oils all the time, but have added clove, and basil to my order this week so can start using them next week.. food were pretty good, but i do love the sugar addictions hehe. but trying to cut them down. my partner works away at the moment, pretty much has all year, so thats a bit of a struggle some weeks with the 2 little ones.. but once the mother in law comes back, i will tell her, so if im having a bad day/time, i will give her a ring.. thank you

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