Adrenal Exhaustion: A Real Medical Condition or a Medical Myth?

girl napping outside

If you’re someone who…

  • Feels exhausted, even after getting a full night of sleep
  • Constantly craves sweet or salty foods
  • Is constantly getting sick

… you may begin to wonder if a medical condition is at play.

After all, it’s not normal to feel cruddy all the time–especially if you eat a healthy diet, sleep at least 8 hours a night, and exercise.

So, what’s the reason behind these draining symptoms?

As a medical professional, my first thought would be some sort of adrenal gland issue.

That being said, there’s a lot of debate on whether adrenal exhaustion is a real thing or an imaginary problem people come up with to provide an explanation for poor health.

Keep reading to discover why I believe adrenal fatigue is a real problem, and how you can naturally put an end to the awful symptoms associated with this condition.

What Are Adrenal Glands?

The adrenal glands are two small triangle-shaped glands that are located on top of the kidneys.

These glands have two distinct parts.

The outer part of the gland is known as the adrenal cortex.

This part of the gland is responsible for producing hormones such as cortisol–which regulates metabolism and how your body responds to stress– and aldosterone, which assists in controlling blood pressure.

The inner part of the gland is known as the adrenal medulla.

This part of the gland produces hormones, such as adrenaline.

On top of managing their own jobs of producing hormones, these glands are part of your body’s endocrine system trifecta, which also includes the pituitary gland and thyroid.

When your adrenal glands aren’t functioning correctly, it’s possible that it will have an effect on your thyroid and pituitary glands as well.

For this reason, it can be really challenging to pinpoint adrenal fatigue issues as other health issues may arise due to the overproduction or underproduction of adrenal gland hormones.

Adrenal Fatigue Triggers

pile of cookies on a plate

There are many reasons why your adrenal glands might end up out of whack. And it doesn’t take any sort of serious medical condition or freak accident for it to happen.

That’s why I believe adrenal fatigue is a very real issue for some people.

To give you an idea of why adrenal fatigue occurs, here are a few common triggers, along with the medical reasoning for why they put stress on your adrenal glands.

Adrenal Fatigue Trigger #1: Emotional Stress

Everyone experiences stress, whether it be starting a new job, raising a family, worrying about finances, etc.

The good news is that most people find healthy ways to relieve that stress. For instance, someone might go for a massage or meet with a counselor.

However, when there is no release for constant stress, it takes a toll on your adrenal glands.

Over time, stress and anxiety may cause your adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol. The overproduction of cortisol then leads to anxiety, irregular heartbeat, the inability to sleep, nausea, fatigue, and more.

Adrenal Fatigue Trigger #2: Diet

Sadly, many American diets are chock-full of sugar.

The more sugary, processed foods we eat, the more we crave them. And eventually this overload of sugar puts too much stress on our pancreas and adrenal glands.

This stress causes the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol and insulin, results in high blood sugar levels, diabetes, headaches, fatigue, and more!

As the cycle of eating too much sugar continues, your adrenal glands will only get worse, causing adrenal exhaustion and poor health.

Adrenal Fatigue Trigger #3: Lack of Sleep

If you’re someone who goes to bed at 3 a.m. and then rises at 6 a.m. for work, you’re definitely not getting enough sleep and are putting your health at risk.

Sleep allows the body to rest, heal, and rebalance. And when your body doesn’t have an opportunity to do that, it’s going to suffer.

The major reason lack of sleep affects your adrenal glands has to do once again with cortisol.

In a natural cycle, your cortisol levels should be at their peak in the morning (around 8 a.m.), and your levels should continue to decrease throughout the day.

However, if you’re not shutting yourself down at night, your cortisol levels can become unbalanced and unable to regulate themselves.

The constant production of cortisol then puts stress on the adrenal glands, which causes other problems like fatigue, anxiety, irritability, headaches, etc., to occur.

How to Naturally Heal Your Exhausted Adrenal Glands

Girl in sunshine with a hat

If you think you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, I have good news for you.

There are natural steps you can take to relieve the burden of adrenal fatigue and heal your glands.

First and foremost, I recommend taking control of your emotional health.

Taking unnecessary stress out of your life is key to healing your glands.

Pick up a new hobby, take a walk in the park every day, or meet with a counselor. These are all good strategies to naturally relieve the damaging effects of stress in your life.

If you suffer with chronic anxiety that can’t be tamed with natural outlets, it’s important that you talk with your doctor. A low-dose anxiety medication might be the first step in leveling out your cortisol levels in order to heal your glands.

Second, I recommend that you change up your diet.

Stay away from sugary, processed foods. Instead, choose fresh, whole food options.

On top of adjusting your diet, make sure you’re also getting enough sleep.

If possible, schedule an earlier bedtime for yourself to ensure you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

And finally, I advise that you take control of your gut health.

Believe it or not, your digestive system plays an important role in managing anxiety, emotional stress, and immunity.

Aside from eating a healthy diet, you should try adding a probiotic into your daily routine.

Take these baby steps, and, slowly but surely, you’ll be able to improve your adrenal health.

Every few weeks I host dinner talks that cover a range of topics from digestive health to stress and hormones.

If you are not yet a Carolinas Natural Health Center member, I invite you to join us for a talk in the near future. During these events, you’ll be provided with a free meal, as well as valuable information on how to naturally heal your body from the inside out.

Check out our calendar of events here to see what dinner talks are on the schedule!

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