Stress and your adrenals

Not long ago I attended a herbal making workshop that was focused on adrenal support.  This was something I have been dabbling into over the past year or so but haven't felt a major difference in how I felt. My goal from this workshop was to mix up some of my current supplements with herbs to see if it would change the way I was feeling.  But I ended up getting something else out of the workshop... Now I must admit I have never felt myself to be overly stressed.  Many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue don't apply to me so I always assumed I was dealing with stress pretty well. I do work in a fast-paced, heavy workload environment and am also a student but I figured since I wasn't pulling my hair out, was getting sleep and eating normally I thought everything was ok.  And yes, I was tired and not feeling like I was functioning at my optimum level but I assumed that was because of gut issues I was dealing with.

Well, I was wrong!  Not only did my nutritionist flag it during one of my first visits but my teacher said something to me during our workshop that opened my eyes. She said - do you know most of my patients that are dealing with underactive adrenals are project managers.  It is an extremely stressful job.  And the fact you are also a student, means you are in need of support more than you may feel  It was that simple! It woke me up and made me realize that I have been living in a state of stress for so long that it became the norm for me.

What is adrenal fatigue?

Your adrenals function is to support the body when we are in a 'fight or flight' mode. Most of us are not needing to fight or flight like our ancestors did when running from a saber tooth tiger. Instead, our fight or flight response happens when we are dealing with stress, whether it is physical, emotional or psychological stress. When stress affects our body, the adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol to help our body cope with the stress.  Since stress can be a continual battle for many, cortisol is constantly needed which exhausts the adrenal glands.  They then become underactive and can no longer function as needed.  This can lead to other problems in the body such as depression, insomnia,PMS, digestive issues and heart disease.

Symptoms:

  • cravings for salt
  • mood swings
  • blood pressure fluctuations
  • allergies
  • difficult relaxing
  • excessive sweating
  • increase tension in the neck and shoulders
  • inability to deal with stressful situations
  • fatigue
  • body aches
  • loss of body hair
  • unexplained weight loss

What can you do:

  • find an outlet to deal with stress - meditation, yoga, exercise or journaling
  • increase Vitamin B consumption, especially Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) by eating:
    • Brewer's yeast, mushrooms, Sunflower seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, organ meat
  • avoid sugar and sweats
  • add adaptogen herbs like Ginseng and Siberian Ginseng and/or bitters like Liquorice and Borage to your daily routine

Lowering stress can make huge impacts on your health and your outlook on life.  We live in a society where stress is something we have to manage frequently. Whether it's the tight deadlines at work, too many obligations and not enough time, family needs, Vancouver traffic or even your cell phone that is going off with a request for an instant response.  Take a look at what you can step away from, decrease your promises to people and get some time for yourself.  None of it is more important than your health and happiness!!

xo jen

To learn more information on adrenal fatigue, check out this great site - The adrenal fatigue Solution