Adrenal Fatigue: Symptoms, Causes, and Best Treatment Solutions
Modern medicine doesn’t believe that adrenal fatigue is a real condition but rather describes it as a group of nonspecific symptoms, including body aches, nervousness, sleep issues, and digestive problems.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Functional Medicine, adrenal fatigue syndrome results from the adrenal glands failing to function optimally. Such a syndrome is commonly associated with stress and chronic infections such as bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia. People with adrenal fatigue may not feel physical signs of illness, but they often feel tired, even if they sleep enough.
This article will provide more complete explanations about the roots of adrenal fatigue, including its most common signs, causes, and the most efficient treatments that restore energy levels and mitigate the symptoms of chronic pain and tiredness – acupuncture, herbal formulas, diet and functional medicine supplements, and other TCM-related therapies that deliver remarkable results.
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What is Adrenal Fatigue?
The term adrenal fatigue refers to a specific group of signs and symptoms that occur when the adrenal glands function beyond the optimal level. The adrenal glands are small organs found above your kidneys. Their role consists of responding to stress by releasing cortisol and adrenaline – two hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate in stressful situations.
What causes adrenal fatigue?
According to the recent theories, long-term stress can lead to the burnout of the adrenal glands, which results from prolonged production of cortisol – and this is how adrenal fatigue occurs.
Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
The most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Difficulty handling stressful situations
- A weaker immune system
- High energy levels in the evening
- Body aches
- Unexpected and unexplained weight loss
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of body hair
- Hyperpigmentation (skin discoloration).
People with this syndrome may also notice an increased craving for salty snacks, junk food, caffeine, sweets, and similar foods.
Adrenal fatigue syndrome is usually diagnosed by blood tests and other examinations that may indicate insufficient levels of adrenal hormones. However, blood tests cannot always show such a small decline in adrenal function, which is why Western medicine doesn’t recognize adrenal fatigue as a medical condition.
In this case, your body is the leading indicator that something might be wrong. Persistent symptoms that cannot be explained can be frustrating, especially if there is an underlying condition that keeps progressing. If you notice any unusual signs of pain and tiredness, talk to a licensed practitioner and start your treatment as soon as possible to prevent further inconveniences that could severely affect your general health.
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
In most cases, underlying conditions cause adrenal glands to reduce the production of vital hormones. Still, adrenal fatigue can also result from multiple causes, including biological and emotional factors. Therefore, adequate treatment should be based on a holistic approach that aims to improve overall health, not symptoms only.
The most efficient treatment for adrenal fatigue originates from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM has been used for treating different kinds of conditions for thousands of years. It has significantly evolved since then, but its goal remains the same – reestablish balance in the body and enhance one’s general well-being.
According to TCM, health conditions result from certain imbalances in the body, and people often treat them with drugs and medicines that reduce the symptoms of pain, discomfort, tiredness, and other signs associated with the underlying cause. However, these drugs cannot heal conditions. Despite the current relief, the disease persists in the body.
How does Chinese Medicine Treatment for Adrenal Fatigue Work?
Traditional Chinese medicine works by bringing your body’s vital systems back into balance, encouraging self-healing mechanisms. Since it is based on a holistic healthcare approach, focusing on the entire organism and underlying conditions that trigger particular symptoms, TCM is exceptionally convenient for treating chronic diseases.
All the approaches that originate from TCM, including acupuncture, herbal therapies, functional medicine, and more, are 100% safe and free of severe side effects. Still, before you decide to undergo any of the therapies, make sure you talk to a certified practitioner, who will recommend treatments and diet suitable for your condition and overall health.
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Acupuncture for Adrenal Fatigue
Acupuncture has been used for years to treat different health conditions that Western medicine considers incurable. It is an excellent way to regulate the qi (vital internal energy) and yin and yang (the harmony of two opposite elements), whose deficiency often leads to severe health issues.
Regular acupuncture treatments promote a flawless qi flow and optimal kidney function. Since adrenal glands are found on top of the kidneys, TCM focuses on the kidney meridian as a starting point.
Adrenal fatigue acupuncture involves using small, thin, and stainless-steel needles placed at specific locations (acupoints) throughout the body to improve adrenal functions, encourage healthy cortisol levels, and increase the production of serotonin and dopamine, lowering stress.
The most significant benefits of acupuncture for adrenal fatigue include:
- Substantial increase in energy
- Restful sleep patterns
- Fewer cravings for junk food and sweets
- Chronic stress reduction or elimination
- Reestablishing emotional balance
- Increased joy and motivation
- Improved libido
- Improved mental clarity and memory
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Better metabolism
- Increased spiritual and emotional growth.
Herbs for Adrenal Fatigue
When our body isn’t functioning properly, we shouldn’t “blame” one particular aspect but be aware of a more complex dysfunction that might exist in our overall organism. Unlike drugs, which regulate a single symptom, Chinese herbs focus on improving general well-being and eliminating the particular condition’s root.
When used skillfully, Chinese herbs can reduce all the signs of adrenal fatigue and heal the root of potentially chronic disease. A certified Chinese herbalist focuses on strengthening the foundation of one’s general health, using a safe, drug-free, and efficient approach patients find quite attractive.
A Chinese herbalist will use herbs in various combinations to create the right formula for your specific condition and overall health. Despite being designed for a particular use, herbs are also quite versatile. That said, one formula can have ingredients for treating depression, including all of its byproducts – pain, insomnia, sleeping issues, etc.
The most popular Chinese herbs for adrenal fatigue are:
Ashwagandha is a very potent adaptogen with a very strong taste, which is why you might prefer to take it in supplement form. It supports the body’s inflammatory response, regulates blood pressure, and fosters the activity of immune system cells (natural killer cells) that help you fight infections.
By boosting your immune system, ashwagandha optimizes your body’s response to pain and stress. It can also balance stress hormones and improve the energy levels of people suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Apart from being used as an adaptogen, maca is also considered a superfood. It is rich in protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids such as glycine and arginine. It supports libido, fertility, mood, and other signs associated with adrenal fatigue.
Maca is incredibly convenient for supporting hormone production when your body is not producing enough hormones while balancing hormone production when your body is over-producing hormones. Overall, its regular intake can mitigate the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Ginseng regulates the body’s stress response and reduces inflammation provoked by diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, asthma, and other chronic conditions. It also boosts cognitive function and helps reduce the signs of brain fog, which is a common byproduct of adrenal fatigue.
It comes in the forms of teas and supplements.
Rhodiola is incredibly efficient in regulating blood sugar, blood pressure, and metabolism. It balances cortisol secretion during stressful situations while supporting energy levels and concentration in people with adrenal fatigue.
Eleuthero has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for 2,000 years. It enhances the nervous system function and energy levels while improving the body’s response to tiredness and fatigue. It also helps your body burn fat instead of carbs, which is vital for enhancing energy levels.
Eleuthero has a vital role in women’s health. It significantly reduces the symptoms of insomnia, memory problems, and loss of strength due to low estrogen levels that occur during menopause.
Supplements for Adrenal Fatigue
It is vital to know that most herbs can be found in the form of supplements you can take daily to improve your energy levels and establish optimal well-being. The best supplements for adrenal fatigue include vitamins, minerals, superfoods, and antioxidants that help your body in many different ways.
However, consult your practitioner before you start taking any supplement for your condition. Although they are generally safe, some supplements may provoke mild side effects, and the one you choose on your own may not be the best option for you.
Here are some of the supplements that encourage adrenal support:
- Vitamin B: It boosts red blood cell production and enhances energy levels.
- Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency affects your body’s different aspects, including blood pressure, muscle and nerve function, and glucose levels. Regular magnesium intake encourages the muscles’ relaxation abilities, reducing stress and anxiety.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is crucial for optimal adrenal glands function. It makes sure that stress and fatigue don’t progress into a more severe issue.
- Cortisol: Cortisol supplements may help you cope with stress by boosting cortisol levels and maintaining their optimal amounts.
- Vitamin E: It protects cells from free radicals, boosts immune function, and makes sure the skin looks youthful.
Adrenal Fatigue Diet and Lifestyle Changes
The best way to reestablish balance in your organism is to stick with a healthier diet and change some lifestyle habits that contribute to the condition’s progression. If your regular diet consists mostly of refined carbs, sweets, junk food, and similar poorly nutritious foods, you might be at risk of developing adrenal fatigue.
Processed foods quickly break down into sugars after you ingest them, taking your energy levels on a rollercoaster – such shocks often result in fatigue and consistent tiredness. Therefore, people with adrenal fatigue should go for protein-rich foods, complex carbohydrates (whole grains and rice), and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, flaxseed, etc.).
To start your adrenal fatigue diet, cut the following foods and drinks:
- Caffeinated drinks
- Refined sugar, sweeteners, and artificial sweeteners
- Refined carbs and sugary foods (white bread, pastries, candy, cereals, etc.)
- Processed meats
- Low-quality red meat
- Hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils.
Instead of these inflammatory foods that cause fatigue, tiredness, and low energy levels, go for the following foods rich in nutrients, fibers, vitamins, and minerals:
- Coconut, avocados, olives – rich in healthy fats
- Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
- Fatty fishes (salmon)
- Chicken and turkey
- Grass-fed beef
- Bone broth
- Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
- Chia and flaxseed
- Himalayan salt
- Drink lots of water.
You will notice significant improvements as soon as you include these vital foods into your regular diet.
Functional Medicine for Adrenal Fatigue
Functional medicine refers to an individualized, patient-centered, and science-based approach that focuses on a patient’s overall health. Unlike many other healthcare approaches you have had an opportunity to meet and experience, functional medicine combines ancient wisdom and Eastern medicine with contemporary methods originating from Western medicine.
By focusing on patients’ general health and determining the root of adrenal fatigue, functional medicine is quite useful for mitigating its symptoms. Your functional medicine practitioner will start with your lab tests, lifestyle habits, foods you eat, health and vitality, and use all these factors to create a unique and personalized treatment plan for you.
By combining two different approaches, the traditional and the modern one, functional medicine provides unique and patient-centered therapies that deliver remarkable outcomes. Your practitioner may suggest specific western supplements, Chinese herbs, acupuncture, diet, lifestyle changes, and other methods that originate from either Eastern or Western medicine to help you overcome the issues provoked by the adrenal gland dysfunction.
What’s the Connection Between Adrenal Fatigue and Infertility?
Potential causes of infertility are many, but we can conclude that long-term stress represents one of the most prominent factors that affect a woman’s ability to reproduce. Many women dealing with infertility often feel the signs of extreme fatigue, even if they slept well. So, what’s the connection between these two issues?
It is believed that the adrenal glands may be associated with infertility. Their dysfunction often leads to a lowered production of estrogen and progesterone, which play a significant role in pregnancy. Besides, their insufficiency may provoke a miscarriage.
Hormone imbalance is another factor that reduces the chances of pregnancy. Since adrenal fatigue comes as a result of cortisol overproduction, it may be observed as a severe imbalance in the organism.
Fortunately, infertility caused by adrenal fatigue is often reversible. Consult your fertility practitioner, improve your poor lifestyle habits, and stick to a healthier and richer diet – the sooner you start with adequate treatments, the sooner you can start planning the family.