I recently attended a seminar on Adrenal Health. A lot of people may not be familiar with our adrenal glands, but these two tiny glands are largely responsible for how well we handle (or don’t handle!) stress.
Adrenal dysfunction is not a recognised medical ‘condition’, however it is definitely something that I see people suffering from a lot in my clinic.
Signs of adrenal fatigue include difficulty getting up in the morning, fatigue that’s not relieved by sleep, a craving for salt or salty foods, decreased sex drive, mild depression, decreased tolerance, even increased PMS symptoms. Diagnosed conditions that may benefit from an adrenal check up include chronic fatigue, alcoholism, chronic and recurrent respiratory infections, of course stress itself, and many more. Keep in mind that there are many other factors that can lead to these symptoms and conditions, but if you’re suffering from a lot of these – it may be time to speak to someone about your health to check in on your adrenals.
Whenever I speak about our physiology, I find it helpful to remind people that we are still just like the cave men, women and children of ye olde days! Our world may be a very different place, but our bodies really haven’t changed that much in their ‘design’. Back in the days of being chased by Woolly Mammoths and other ‘beasts’ for want of a better word, our adrenals helped us respond within seconds to such acute stressors. There we were, happily picking berries and humming a pretty tune when suddenly, from around the corner, WHAM – a Woolly Mammoth spots us! In this instance, our adrenals were designed to respond within seconds by diverting our blood flow to our muscles, increasing our breathing rate and the increasing the glucose levels in our blood, giving us more energy and power to run away from the ‘beast’ that wanted to eat us. This was life or death stuff and it was our adrenals that helped us survive, even if we had to drop our wild crafted berries in the process!
These days however, we don’t exactly get chased by Woolly Mammoths anymore but we do suffer from relentless and constant stress and pressure from work and home. This has our adrenals constantly pumping in the same manner as if we were being chased by some magnificent beast! This chronic stimulation of our adrenal glands leads to increased levels of a stress hormone known as cortisol, resulting in symptoms including muscle weakness and / or loss, difficult to shift fat, immune suppression, mood changes, cognitive dysfunction and more. Complications of adrenal fatigue include hypotension, sexual dysfunction, sleep and mood disturbances, immune dysfunction, even thyroid function can be negatively affected.
Contributors to adrenal fatigue include lack of sleep, poor diet, use of stimulants (multiple coffees a day anyone?), driving / pushing ourselves constantly, not enough downtime or emotional outlets, chronic emotional or physical pressure or illness.
The good news about all this is that help is available! Dietary measures to help with adrenal fatigue include eating small, regular meals of low GI carbs alongside good quality protein and healthy fats (eg avocado). People in this situation should not skip breakfast, despite often having no desire to eat at this time. Good quality salt (eg Himalayan salt, or a good quality Celtic / sea salt) can help and ensuring good levels of nutrients including vitamin C may all benefit.
There are many other nutrients, foods and herbal medicines that can help, but if you are feeling some of these symptoms – then its best to speak with a qualified practitioner about your overall health to get your adrenals back on track.
If you are feeling any of these symptoms, Saltuary has a beautiful array of therapies to help restore and relax you. Come in and speak to us if you’d like us to recommend specific supplements or therapies for you.