There is hope for sufferers, says Jayney, but it requires a completely holistic approach
Are you constantly tired and feeling overwhelmed? Do you find that you just aren’t refreshed after sleep and that you often wake up exhausted? Do you lack the vitality that you used to have? Moreover – have you suffered from high stress levels over recent months or even years? If so, there is a genuine possibility that you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is a hugely debilitating condition that occurs when your adrenal glands, hypothalamus and pituitary gland (the HPA axis) are not functioning together optimally. Your adrenal glands – which sit above your kidneys – perform several vital functions in maintaining your health. Crucially, they optimise your body’s reaction to stress by releasing hormones, including; cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline (aka epinephrine). These help regulate your heart rate, immune system, energy storage and more. When you are in a rested state and your adrenal glands are producing a properly modulated response to stress, all is well. However, when your adrenal glands are overstimulated for a long period of time, they begin to weaken and when this happens lots can go wrong – and you end up with less oomph than a wrung out dish cloth.
Typical causes of adrenal fatigue include longterm stress from jobs, chronic disease, and even relationship problems. Eventually, the adrenals weaken so much that they are unable to respond adequately when we need them. At this point, many adrenal fatigue sufferers report symptoms like a feeling of constant tiredness, lack of enthusiasm and depression. Patients may experience a feeling of ‘flatness’ – or inability to respond enthusiastically to events that should be exciting. Many of my patients tell me that they crawl through the day hoping that nothing unusual happens that would require a response that requires energy. Sufferers often struggle to maintain the acute focus and high energy levels that stressful situations often require. Other symptoms include a craving for salty foods, episodes of hypoglycaemia (low blood-sugar), respiratory complaints, allergies, low sex drive and weight gain.
One of the problems that sufferers face is that adrenal fatigue is not recognised by conventional medical doctors – in fact, quite shockingly, “TATT” (tired all the time) is a medical ‘shorthand’ for patients presenting with this array of symptoms – and these patients are often dismissed as having nothing wrong. Very often, if a doctor prescribes any medication at all, antidepressants will be the drug of choice.
Adrenal fatigue is also under-diagnosed because it presents with a wide array of symptoms and doctors are not really trained to be able to put a group of symptoms together to recognise a genuine ‘syndrome’. Conventional medicine simply doesn’t work like this. Another problem which hinders helpful diagnosis is that our hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day. So, you might be tested at the wrong time and therefore be just inside the reference range and thus not a candidate for any kind of treatment. When looking at adrenal disease doctors are trained to look for critically low levels of cortisol – which would indicate the life-threatening condition Addison’s disease. So, if your adrenal hormone levels are on the floor – but just slightly above the (arbitrary) marker for Addison’s disease, further action is unlikely to be taken.
When it comes to adrenal fatigue, we need a truly holistic approach in order to support a patient’s recovery. I recognised this some decades ago and I created a protocol that has helped so many people regain optimal health. Treating adrenal fatigue is quite a challenge as it requires a complete re-framing of the patients’ life and outlook. They have to come to terms with the fact that they need to rest, learn to pace themselves and crucially, to develop the fine art of saying ‘no’ to any demands put upon them that are not in alignment with the aim of their full recovery.
If you suspect that you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, you can work on this alone – but it is much better to be supported by a health professional who has expertise in this very complex problem. You can find a free list of practitioners on The Complementary Medical Association website The-CMA.org.uk, or to work with me directly, contact me at my website jayneygoddard.org. Here are just some of the things that I have found helped my patients to fully heal adrenal fatigue:
Nutrition – Eat a nutritious whole food plant-based diet, as this has been proven to lower chronic inflammation – which puts an enormous stress on our bodies. While dealing with the burden of inflammation-producing foods (animal proteins, simple carbohydrates, gluten, caffeine etc.) it makes it difficult for a full recovery.
Rest – I tell all my patients to get to bed before 10pm – this timing supports adrenal gland recovery. Furthermore, I advise my patients to lie down in the afternoon with their legs raised above the heart as this helps to rest and nourish the adrenals profoundly.
Supplementation – If you follow a whole food plant-based diet as above, you generally won’t need any supplements aside from vitamin B12 and D3. There may be a case for introducing some of the more ‘adrenally-supportive’ supplements on the market – but I always lab-test my patients before I prescribe these.
Mind/body medicine – We should all practice some form of mindfulness or meditation. I personally favour “The Relaxation Response” – it is so easy to do and I have created a free instructional recording for you – download it from my website, jayneygoddard.org.
Exercise – Real care must be taken when exercising. I tend to recommend only very gentle, restorative exercise programmes to my adrenal fatigue patients, these include tai chi, Qigong, gentle yoga and walking. It is essential to keep lymph flowing in the body in order to support detoxification and these types of exercise will facilitate this – without being debilitating.
Use a normal blood pressure monitor and check your blood pressure while lying down. Then stand up and repeat the test. Healthy people experience an almost immediate rise in blood pressure upon standing. Adrenal fatigue sufferers see no change in their blood pressure, or even a slight fall. Note, a larger drop in blood pressure signifies a more severe case of adrenal fatigue.
Jayney Goddard is president of the Complementary Medical Association. Find out more at the-cma.org.uk or head to Jayney’s website jayneygoddard.org
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