Weekly Q&A: Energy and the Adrenal Glands

December 21, 2013

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Q: Dear Julie,

Saw the blog, very cool. Great job! Any specific tips for helping the adrenals ‘wake up’ after long-term steroid therapy?

Thank you!

Nancy, Montreal QC

A: Thank you for the question Nancy and for the nice complement.  This question might seem uncommon for most as we don’t often talk about adrenals and their importance to overall health.  However, it is a common issue for many people and doctor’s don’t often look at the adrenals as a source of many illnesses.

First, what are adrenal glands and what do they do?

The adrenal glands sit over the kidneys where they secrete more than 50 hormones necessary for life, including adrenaline, cortisol, DHEA, progesterone and testosterone. Since they produce so many essential hormones, the adrenal glands are responsible for many of the functions we need to stay alive and healthy, including energy production, fluid and electrolyte balance and fat storage.

Adrenals are considered “the glands of stress” since they are the manufacturer of adrenaline.  If you are susceptible to excessive and intense periods of stress, your adrenal glands are the first to fail. So Nancy, considering your long term health struggles and the high doses of steroid therapy and just general stress about your health that you experienced, its not surprising that your adrenals took a bit of a punch!

What are some symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

  • Morning fatigue and afternoon lows.
  • Cravings for foods high in salt and fat.
  • Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
  • Mild depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • Increased allergies
  • Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or laying down position
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Frequent sighing

Diagnosing adrenal fatigue is relatively easy and you can follow this link to take you through a diagnosis process.

Recommendations:

These recommendations are not a one size fits all approach.  However, the below recommendations are definitely the best starting points.

The best first approach to improving adrenal fatigue is stress management. Regular exercise and meditation are also great avenues since both are proven to reduce stress. However, counselling of some form, is also a suggestion if stress management is a hard path.

From a nutritional standpoint, a diet of wholesome natural foods, specifically fresh, alive, unprocessed foods with avoidance of sugar and moderate to no consumption of alcohol and caffeine.

A supplementation plan of vitamin C (500-1000mg daily), B-complex (twice daily), Zinc and additional herbal supplements such as holy basil or siberian ginseng.

There is also the risk that adrenal fatigue is linked to an overactive stomach (when the stomach does not produce enough enzymes for the proper digestion of food). If you can, start following the Proper Food Combining Chart (courtesy of The Detoxinista) below in combination with slow, and mindful chewing of food, ideally in a relaxed state:

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You may want to review this website for additional information on adrenals, adrenal fatigue and further holistic approaches to treatment.

Nancy, I’ll contact you separately to follow up on how you are doing as I have another suggestion to discuss with you offline.

xxJulie