If you’re having trouble with adrenal fatigue or burnout, it’s critical you:
Adjust your life to decrease stress, including improving your sleep
Improve your diet (including removing adrenal draining foods such as caffeine, sugar, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and damaged fats). If you’re having trouble removing certain things from your diet, you may need amino acid support to address your cravings.
Caffeine, stimulant drugs: L-tyrosine
Sugar and carbs: L-glutamine if due to low blood sugar, L-tyrosine if due to low energy, or 5-HTP.
Alcohol, smoking, tranquilizers, anxiolytics: GABA if due to anxiety/nervousness
Comfort foods, pain killers (incl ibuprofen): DL-phenylalanine or D-phenylalanine to increase “feel good” endorphins
Fried/fatty foods: EPA/DHA essential fatty acids
Before using any aminos, be sure you have no contraindications. Check past blogs on amino acids or use the contraindication sheet in the studio.
Adrenal recovery can take between 6 months to 2 or more years. Supplements support this process by helping your adrenals return to normal function.
Helpful adrenal supplements:
Vitamin C, magnesium, panothenic acid, B vitamins: work in concert to potentiate the action of adrenals; essential for the production of enzymes and energy needed for the adrenal hormone cascade.
Adrenal glandulars; supports and rejuvinates adrenals
DHEA (do not take this without knowing your levels. Work with a health practitioner if you take DHEA)
targeted amino acids; see below
Licorice extract: supports adrenal function
Ashwaganda root: normalizes cortisol levels
Before taking any of these supplements, read up and understand what you are taking and why. A good explanation of most of these can be found on the James Wilson Adrenal fatigue website listing product faqs.
Aminos important in adrenal healing depend on the state of adrenal fatique you are in. If your brain chemistry is not ideal for daily (and nightly) functioning, your adrenals continue to be stressed.
If you feel very stressed and have a difficult time relaxing or you find yourself snapping at people, GABA is helpful.
If you are dull, feeling flat, with low energy, focus and concentration, tyrosine/phenylalanine is helpful.
If you feel depressed, low self esteem, withdrawn, 5-HTP/L-tryptophan is helpful.
Many people need a combination of aminos. If you take aminos, take them on an empty stomach (without other proteins in your stomach) and be sure you have B vitamins (especially B6) available. Bs are necessary to convert the amino to the neurotransmitter.
Once you’ve done your saliva levels and determined you have low adrenal output, you’ll need to make changes in your lifestyle, stress level, sleep, and diet. Read these recommendations by James Wilson, N.D., D.C., Ph.D., author of Adrenal Fatigue. Discussion of adrenal supplements will follow in another article.
1. Diet recommendations for healing adrenals: “Even in the best of times, you need food to survive and be healthy. Adrenal fatigue is definitely not the best of times, so the food choices you make become even more important to your health. When your adrenals respond to stress your cell metabolism speeds up, burning many times the number of nutrients normally needed. With adrenal fatigue, the cells have used up much of the body’s stored nutrients, creating a nutritional void. Good quality food is the best source for replenishing these nutrients. Read full article
2. How to de-stress to heal your adrenals During these stressful times it is vitally important that you look after your health and the health of those around you. Stress intensifies the demands on your body – nutrients are used up faster than they can be replaced by food, toxic by-products rapidly build up, and every organ and gland (including your brain) is asked to work harder. During stress your body is in a race. Read full article
James L. Wilson D.C., N.D., Ph.D. has helped thousands of people experiencing adrenal fatigue regain their health and vitality during his many years of private practice.For the past 10 years he has lectured extensively to physicians and is acknowledged as an expert on endocrine imbalances and their impact on health, including the effects of stress on adrenal function.He is the person who presented adrenal fatigue as a distinct, diagnosable syndrome. A scientist as well as a physician, Dr. Wilson holds 3 doctorate degrees and 2 master’s degrees, all from different health disciplines. He was one of the founding fathers of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) in Toronto, Ontario and is listed in The International Who’s Who in Medicine (Cambridge, England).His internationally-renown book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome (Smart Publications, 2001), is a comprehensive, easy-to-use guide to uncovering, dealing with and preventing adrenal fatigue and the negative effects of stress on health. Dr. Wilson currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.
Tired adrenals affect your thyroid and low thyroid stresses your adrenals. You need to consider both.
Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure, suggests we think of our adrenals as our “A” Team. Your adrenals produce 30-60 different hormones. When you experience stress, your adrenals increase production of adrenaline (short-acting) and cortisol (long acting). Initially these 2 hormones are too high, and with continued stress, they become too low (adrenal fatigue or burn-out).
You already know that upsets, injuries, anger or fear causes increased adrenal output. You may be surprised to learn the following items also cause excessive adrenaline/cortisol output:
High sugar, low protein diet
Severe or chronic infection
Chronic caffeine use
Unbalanced sex hormones
Yeast or fungal overgrowth
Whatever the cause, elevated stress hormones not only keeps us in an overramped emotional state, it leads to heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, decreased immune function, Alzheimer’s, and decreased memory.
Many studies confirm low cortisol to be an increasingly common problem. It’s estimated that more than 70% of Americans may be affected by low adrenaline reserves.
Look at the following list of common symptoms of adrenal exhaustion (from The Mood Cure). Think about which apply to you, how often you get them and how much they bother you:
Sensitive to exhaust fumes, smoke, chemical smells
Feel worse after exercise or inability to tolerate much exercise
Depression or rapid mood swings
Dark circles under eyes
Dizziness upon standing
Lack of mental alertness
Tendency to catch colds when weather changes
Headaches along with insomnia
Edema (water retention)
Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Feeling of not being rested upon awakening
Feeling tired all the time
Feeling of mental and emotional overstress
Low blood sugar symptoms
Need for caffeine to get going in the morning
Low tolerance for loud noises or strong odors
Tendency to startle easily
Food or respiratory allergies
Recurrent chronic infections such as yeast infections
Low tolerance for alcohol, caffeine and other drugs
Tend to get upset easily, quick to cry
Tend to get a second wind at night
Low blood pressure
Haven’t felt your best in a long time
Eyes sensitive to bright light
Feeling of being weak and shaky
Fatigue and muscular weakness
Frequent heart palpitations
Vague indigestion or abdominal pain
Lack of thirst
Clenching/grinding teeth especially at night
Chronic pain in lower neck and upper back
If you suspect low adrenals, order an adrenal saliva test. Get one that checks cortisol 4x in 24 hours (usually 8am, noon, bedtime and 12 midnight). You’ll also want to check DHEA-S at the same time (1x). Take these results to your health practitioner to get help with interpretation and treatment if necessary.
Your cortisol output should follow a specific rhythm; a morning high, holding steady throughout the day, decreasing at bedtime with the lowest point in the middle of the night, rising again to get you up in the morning. Look up saliva hormone testing online. ZRT Labs is a good one.
You may find your cortisol rhythm is upside down; high at night keeping you awake, yet low in the morning. You may see your entire cortisol pattern lower than normal but following the pattern. DHEA usually follows cortisol; if overall cortisol is low, DHEA is often low. You’ll find out if DHEA supplementation would be helpful for you.
In any case, you’ll get an understanding of how your adrenals are doing…another piece of the puzzle.
We’ll put that together with thyroid to get the bigger picture.