To put it simply, the main relieving factor for adrenal fatigue is mental, emotional and physical rest. One needs to induce a restful sleep until at least 9AM in the morning. Alleviation of stressful stimuli will often have an immediate beneficial effect and eating regular meals decreases the severity of symptoms. Your physician can confirm the presence of adrenal fatigue with a thorough physical exam and some laboratory evaluations. Generally, patients with this condition frequently have cervical lymph nodes. There is a tendency towards dry and thin skin and perspiration may be scanty. In 80% of the cases, there are signs and symptoms of low thyroid function (see previous blog on Hypothyroidism).
Once diagnosed by your physician, lifestyle changes must be instituted. Have you noticed that many of the chronic disease of aging respond very well to lifestyle changes? This is a common theme in functional medicine and you would do well to pay particular attention to its merits. Adrenal fatigue responds extremely favorably to laughter. One should, in severe cases, try and lie down during work breaks with brief (15-30 min) rests at 10AM and again at 3PM. Regular relaxation is a must and various breathing exercises will help you focus and relax. Take a daily break for enjoyment such as skipping out of the office for lunch. Enjoy regular meals and chew your food well. Participate in exercise but avoid highly competitive events. Bedtime should be early- between 9 and 9:30PM and one should sleep in if possible. Now I realize that many of these are impossible to enforce every single day, but your present lifestyle is what caused the fatigue in the first place. If you wish to convalesce and eventually be at the top of your game, you need to modify your daily activities to get well. The treatment of adrenal fatigue takes time and a bit of effort. Your family and colleagues need to support your endeavors.
Nutritional support for adrenal fatigue combines unrefined, low glycemic carbohydrates with good quality protein and oils, nuts and seeds at most meals. Use cold pressed oils such as olive oil, walnut oil, fibers and flax. eat regular meals and eat by 10AM and again before noon. Avoid junk food, especially hydrogenated fats and caffeine. Yes, people, there is life after caffeine! Nutritional supplements for adrenal fatigue include 2-4 grams daily of Vitamin C and pantothenic acid, 1-1.5 grams daily. A B complex supplement high in niacin, B6 and biotin is also helpful. Remember, your B class of vitamins are extremely important in a 24/7 stressful world. You need them! Finally, Vitamin E is helpful for adrenal fatigue.
Calcium, magnesium and trace minerals will all have a calming effect on your body. If your physician determines that your sodium levels are low, electrolyte replacement fluids high in sodium and chloride may be necessary. Herbal remedies include licorice. However, if you have hypertension, be careful with the amount of this herb that you consume as excess of 1/4 pound daily can exacerbate your high blood pressure. Ashwagandha is a very effective adrenal herb as is Maca, Siberian ginseng and Korean ginseng (for men).
If your adrenal fatigue is severe, your physician may prescribe cortisone. if so, this may decrease your DHEA levels and replacement may become necessary. This should be done only under the supervision of a physician who understands the hormonal symphony in your body. Remember, replacing one hormone can lead to severe consequences in other systems.
Finally, adrenal fatigue will take time to heal. It is a common ailment seen daily but unfortunately still unrecognized by most health professionals. It is however relatively easy to recognize and occurs as both a stand alone disease and as a component of other illnesses. Thank you for reading!