are already suffering from an autoimmune disorder or any other chronic illness and they can even worsen your existing condition.
That is why I want to dedicate this month to talk about a few techniques that can help you restore your body after a time of stress or if you suffer from chronic stress. Since anxiety is considered a stressor, from now on when I used the word stress, I will be referring to both stress and anxiety.
The hormones secreted by your adrenals influence all the primary physiological process in your body. However, the thyroid, adrenals, and pancreas and the hormones they produce are always interrelated. Thus, adrenal dysfunction interferes with the function of these glands too – even if blood tests do not show it – significantly impacting how we feel and cope when it comes to energy levels, cravings, stress, mood swings, water retention, weight gain and loss, patience, anger, and anxiety.
It is essential to assist your body as soon as possible against the effects of stress because stress and anxiety promote the production of excess adrenal gland hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which over time, can negatively affect your digestive system and impair your immune system. That is why people under stress are more sensitive to viral illnesses like the flu and the common cold, as well as other infections. Also, stress can lengthen the time it takes you to recover from a sickness or injury and over time can lead to serious health problems such as adrenal fatigue, food sensitivities, blood sugar imbalances, infections and eventually an autoimmune disorder.
Additionally, too much physical, emotional (psychological), and/or environmental stress can deplete your adrenals, causing a decrease in the output of adrenal hormones, particularly cortisol – resulting in adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue can range in severity from almost zero function to nearly normal. In fact, it is estimated that up to 80% of American’s suffer some level of adrenal fatigue. Yet is still one of the most underdiagnose disorders in the U.S.
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue include but are not limited to: chronic fatigue, trouble getting to sleep and waking up, salt and sugar cravings, food sensitivities, unexplained weight gain or loss, reliance on stimulants such as caffeine, light-headedness, loss of body hair and skin discoloration, autoimmune conditions, brain fog, hormone imbalance, weakened anxiety and stress response, insulin resistance, decreased libido, moodiness, anger and irritability, depression, muscle or bone loss, chronic infections, hair loss, water retention, weakness in the legs and skin conditions.
Adrenal fatigue can happen suddenly after a stressful event, or as in my case gradually. Looking back, I can see I had symptoms of adrenal dysfunction like poor sleep and hypoglycemia as early as my twenties. However, I did not pay attention. It wasn’t until 15 years ago when I reached a level of adrenal dysfunction that the activity of my adrenal glands was so diminished that I had difficulty staying awake for more than a few hours per day and could barely keep any food in me. I also had weakened immunity, sleep disturbances, and an inability to handle physical or emotional stress among many other symptoms. Luckily, I was already familiar with holistic health and was able to seek a qualified practitioner to help me recover. It took me almost a year to be practically functional again, but a little bit more time to recover fully. One of the key things I learned was that lifestyle is of paramount importance for recovery and prevention.
In addition to daily stress and anxiety, some of the primary lifestyles factors that lead to adrenal fatigue are:
In the weeks to come, I will be sharing with you lifestyle measures, supplements, herbs and exercises that can help support your adrenal glands for prevention or reversal of adrenal fatigue. For now, I will leave you with this tip:
One simple thing you can start doing today to help your adrenal glands is EXERCISE!
I know what you are probably thinking… Exercise!? I know that is the last thing you want to do when you are under stress, or if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue because you are always feeling tired. However, physical exercise will expel toxins from your body, normalize cortisol, insulin, hormones, blood glucose, thyroid levels, plus it pushes more oxygen to your body and brain, and it will decrease depression.
Exercise for adrenal fatigue should NOT be competitive, grueling or debilitating. Instead, do an activity that increases lung capacity, muscle tone and flexibility like fast walking, stair climbing, swimming, water aerobics, treadmill, weight lifting, Yoga, tai chi, or stretching.
You do not have to spend too much time, 20 to 30 minutes a day is all it takes.
Happy New Year!
Dr. Toni is a Best-selling author, Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) & Registered Herbalist in San Diego, California. She holds a PhD in psychology, and a Clinical Herbalist Certificate, an HHP certificate and is a Certified Trainer in the Success Principles. In private practice as a HHP she has been influenced by a variety of clinical modalities and orientations, and by the diverse life experiences of her clients. Toni’s approach to healing is holistic & transpersonal. In her work, she integrates the principles of Eastern and Western nutrition, herbololgy, energy medicine, Buddhist mindfulness and personal counseling to assist others in working through their physical or emotional blocks to attain optimal health.