How Can You Tell If You Have Adrenal Fatigue?
If you wake up feeling exhausted after eight hours of sleep, have to chug two Starbucks cappuccinos to get started in the morning, crave sweets when your energy levels get sluggish, feel depressed, are not interested in sex, keep catching colds, and then — at the end of an exhausting day — you have trouble falling asleep, you may have adrenal fatigue. If youíre perimenopausal, your symptoms may be exacerbated by the hormone swings that accompany this transition.
Serum or salivary tests can confirm the diagnosis, but make sure you see a health care provider who believes adrenal fatigue exists. Many traditional Western medical doctors will look at you funny if you ask to be tested, which means they wonít know how to interpret your lab results, even if they order them, since many people with adrenal fatigue have lab results that are within the normal range, albeit on the low end of normal. Every lab is a bit different, so itís hard to establish firm rules, but many integrative medicine doctors are skilled at helping you figure out the status of your adrenal glands.
Hormone Treatment for Adrenal Fatigue
If laboratory testing reveals that your adrenal glands arenít functioning properly, you can tackle the problem in several ways. First, you can replace the hormones directly. If DHEA is low, try replacing it with pharmaceutical grade DHEA supplement in low doses (5-10mg in the morning, although some people need up to 25 mg twice a day).† If your cortisol is low, you can supplement with a product like IsoCort (a freeze-dried adrenal cortex supplement made by Bezwecken) and/or Adrenogen (an herbal supplement to help heal the adrenal glands by Metagenics). In severe cases, some people need very low doses of hydrocortisone until the adrenal gland heals enough to begin producing adrenal hormones again. Pregnenolone, when low, can also be replaced. Dosing depends on the severity of the deficiency.
Holistic Alternatives for Adrenal Fatigue
While hormones are usually effective for treating the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, you wonít achieve long-term healing unless you get to the root of the underlying issue. The goal is to replace your hormones, but not for long. By working on what caused the adrenal fatigue in the first place, you should be able to wean off your hormones and allow your body to begin making the hormones it needs, but this can take some effort on your part.
Tips for Improving Adrenal Fatigue
- Reduce your stress. Adrenal fatigue usually signals a deeper underlying issue thatís begging for your attention. Does something need to change at work?† Are you unhappy in your marriage? Are your kids making you crazy? As long as your body is still in fight or flight mode, your adrenal glands are unlikely to recover.
- Never skip breakfast. Your body needs healthy fuel to get you going in the morning.
- Eat healthy snacks often to keep your blood sugar stable. Try supplementing with green juice you make at home with your juicer.
- Eliminate sugar and caffeine. I know, I know — how are you going to do that when thatís all that gets you through the day? Trust me on this one. It only makes things worse.
- Eat a whole foods, healthy diet high in protein and veggies.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Take a good multivitamin.
- Try Siberian ginseng or licorice root (but if you take the licorice, keep an eye on your blood pressure if it trends towards high).
- Sleep 8-10 hours per night. Your body needs it.
- Move your body — but not too much. If youíre extremely adrenally fatigued, you may need to cut down your exercise until you build your strength back up. But if youíre not exercising at all, start out slow and take walks, gradually increasing your movement until you feel better.
- Focus on healing, loving thoughts. What makes you feel good? What do you desire? What brings you pleasure? Bring your attention to these things and invite healing juju to help you heal your adrenal glands and your life.