Adrenal fatigue is a health issue I commonly see in my practice. And yet, so few people seem to know what it is.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Before we talk about adrenal fatigue, let’s talk about the adrenal glands. You have two adrenal glands sitting above your kidneys. They are responsible for producing all kinds of hormones, including stress hormones and some sex hormones.
Adrenal fatigue happens in stages. In the beginning stage, when your body feels stressed, your adrenal glands release stress hormones. You will probably feel very alert at this point. This stage can usually be reversed by allowing your body to relax.
As adrenal fatigue progresses, it becomes harder for all our body functions to stay up. The adrenal glands run out of energy, so to speak. When resources are limited, the body takes away from the reproductive system, since it’s the only system not essential to immediate survival. Issues like painful periods, PCOS, or infertility can develop. It’s common for energy levels to drop, at this point.
In the final stages, the adrenal glands have become burnt out. Levels of all hormones produced by the adrenals tend to be low. At this point, you may feel absolutely exhausted. Your sex drive may be next to non-existent.
Why address adrenal fatigue right away
With adrenal fatigue comes a variety of other health issues. Stress is beneficial for a “fight or flight” response, but it isn’t meant to be long term. Stress hormones are damaging to the body and tend to shut down other important processes.
As digestion slows down while stressed, food sensitivities may develop. Stress hormones also cause blood sugar fluctuations. This causes cravings that can lead to weight gain, and even to diabetes. Additionally, as mentioned above, when the adrenals suffer, so does the reproductive system, increasing PMS.
Also, and very importantly, burdened adrenals can slow down the immune system. Do you get sick often? It’s not simply a matter of being exposed to other people’s colds. Your immune system should be strong enough to fight most of the infections that come your way. Your immune system is also responsible for destroying mutated cells. An inability to do so can lead to cancer.