Adrenal burnout is the condition of overworked adrenal glands which causes hormonal imbalance and low cortisol levels. It is not a disease for which doctors can prescribe drugs, and is thus not acknowledged in the conventional medical model.
It should be known as a hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction, as it is a dysfunction between these glands and the brain.
These two small glands are located atop the kidneys, and they produce cortisol and sex hormones. The HPA axis and the adrenal glands are the control center for the body, as they regulate the thyroid function, the sleep patterns, the stress and hormone levels, the sex drive, and metabolism.
In the case of an optimal functioning, one sleeps well, has stable energy levels during the day, has a good sex drive, and maintains a healthy body weight.
Under stress, the body normally reacts with a chain of hormonal events, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which triggers the production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH, in turn, stimulates the cortisol release, which regulates blood sugar and blood pressure.
Yet, in the case of chronic stress, this chain of events is constantly stimulated, and the levels of cortisol remain increased. This leads to burnout, anxiety, and depression, as the chronically elevated cortisol levels deplete serotonin, and lead to neuroendocrine dysfunction.
The set of symptoms that indicate adrenal fatigue includes anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, and insomnia. Even if one treats these symptoms with drugs, as long as the root cause is not addressed, they will persist.
When the function of the adrenal glands starts to reduce, one experiences:
- Brain fog
- weight gain
- Salt and sugar cravings
- digestive issues like bloating, constipation, diarrhea
- increased susceptibility to illness
- low sex drive
- decreased ability to handle stress, feeling frazzled
- the “3 pm crash”
- inability to focus
- insomnia or waking around 4 am being unable to sleep
- PMS/hot flashes associated with menopause
Adrenal fatigue might be a result of:
- Chronic inflammation and pain
- Sleep deficiency
- emotional stress- Excessive emotional stress precipitates 95% of adrenal fatigue cases. This includes divorces, death, job loss, injuries, and even positive stress like getting a baby or getting married.
- Diet. The excessive consumption of refined sugars and processed foods, coffee/caffeine, irregular mealtimes, nutrient-poor meals, and not eating enough.
- autoimmune conditions
- microbiome imbalance & digestive infections like Candida, H. pylori, dysbiosis, SIBO, parasites.
Chronic stress initially causes all other, working too much or too late, skipping meals, sleeping less, drinking too much coffee, etc.
In this stage, people feel good, as the body releases more cortisol to keep is alert, but if the issue is not treated on time, all this eventually leads to burnout.
The brain signals the high stress levels, but the adrenal glands are not able to produce the needed cortisol amounts, the resources to reduce stress are depleted, and this aggravated PMS symptoms in women as the body borrows molecules of other hormones to create cortisol and leads to irregular menstrual cycles.
The body decides that its survival is more important than reproduction, so women might become infertile or experience cycle irregularities.
This state might also trigger hypothyroidism symptoms, like thinning hair and constipation, as the adrenals also affect the thyroid. The symptoms include weight gain, weight loss resistance, sleeping difficulties, and slow metabolism.
At this point, the female, thyroid, and adrenal hormones are imbalanced, and even though the blood tests do not indicate any issue, the patient gains weight, feels anxious, suffers from insomnia, and feels tired all the time.
Here is how to reverse adrenal burnout:
- Sleeping at least 8 hours at night, and going to bed no later than 10 pm
- Make saliva tests to determine cortisol levels
- restore circadian rhythm
- Consume hormone-building, nutrient-dense foods, and good fats
- Eat at regular intervals to regulate blood sugar
- Limit the intake of coffee
- Optimize the levels of vitamins and minerals in the body
- Eat enough calories for healing
- Consume probiotics to help digestion
- B Vitamins
- Manage stress
- minerals and vitamin C
- adaptogenic herbs
To determine the levels of cortisol in the body you should make saliva tests, which require 4 samples during the day to estimate the cortisol rhythm.
The levels of cortisol should be the highest in the morning, so you can wake up, and the lowest at bedtime, so you can fall asleep. You will feel tired if they are reduced in the morning.
You can lower cortisol levels at night with the help of some nutrients like magnesium and Seriphos, (a phosphatidylserine supplement). Healing the adrenals will also treat all sleep issues.
Furthermore, your diet should be full of nutrient-dense foods, like vegetables, high quality, organic and fatty acid-rich protein like eggs, wild fish, grass-fed beef, and lamb, sea veggies, sea salt, organic meat, probiotics, bone broth, and good fats like olive and coconut oil, and butter.
Additionally, it is very important to restore the natural circadian rhythms, by waking up at the same time, eating every 4 hours, and go to bed by 10 pm or 11 pm.
Remember to pick a day in the week and sleep well to calm down the mind and body. Avoid all kinds of processed foods, refined sugars, gluten, coffee and sodas, nightly wine, and do not skip meals. You should help digestion by consuming probiotics like sauerkraut and kefir.
Make sure you also take the needed supplements, such as B vitamins, minerals, vitamin C, nettles and tulsi tea, adaptogenic herbs such as licorice, maca root, and adrenatone, some blood sugar support, Adrecore to treat adrenal fatigue and the neuroendocrine axis, and nutrients like phosphatidylserine, which encourages sleep.
To treat insomnia and reduce anxiety and stress, start enjoying the beneficial effects of adaptogenic herbs such as holy basil, licorice root, maca, Rhodiola, schizandra, and ashwagandha. It is of high importance to face your stressors, and fix the relationships, solve the issues at work, and find a way to relax.
Moreover, you should find an activity that relaxes you and rejuvenates you, like meditation, yoga, or gardening.
Reversing adrenal fatigue will help you to prevent various illnesses as a result of chronic stress and hormonal imbalances. Additionally, you will sleep better, eat better, look better, and feel better.