Are you tired and maybe wired, and don’t know why?
It might be due to your adrenals! Years of high or chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is due to imbalances not only in your adrenals, but also in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, that are in the brain. Thus, some functional doctors argue that HPA-D (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction) is a more accurate label. The essential thing to understand is that stress causes imbalances in how the adrenal glands produce hormones and neurotransmitters. It also affects the way the body senses and responds to them.
Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue (HPA-D) include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Poor sleep patterns
- Feeling tired but wired
- Afternoon energy crashes
- Anxiety, low mood, or depression
- Inability to focus or brain fog
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Cravings for salty or sugary foods
- Getting sick frequently
- Poor digestion
If any of these symptoms describe you, it is crucial to work with a doctor who can pinpoint any imbalances and make an accurate diagnosis. Many functional doctors use an at-home saliva test to determine your cortisol levels at different times of the day. In addition, they will carefully examine your diet and lifestyle to determine what your physical, mental, and emotional stressors are.
Functional medicine emphasizes discovering and treating root causes. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what factors are at the root of adrenal fatigue (HPA-D).
- Physical, mental, and emotional stress
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Disrupted circadian rhythms
Now let’s explore what steps you can take to rebalance your HPA axis and recover your health.
Prioritize rest. Sleep and relaxation are vital to recovering from adrenal fatigue (HPA-D). Anything that shifts your body out of a state of stress and into rest and repair mode encourages healing. Simple strategies to try include:
- Getting at least 8 hours of sleep
- Taking naps
- Sitting or walking outdoors
- Breathing deeply
- Practicing yoga exercises like child’s pose
- Soaking in an Epsom salt bath
Slow Down. In our American culture, people wear busyness as a badge of honor. They are on the go 24/7. Unfortunately, this often leaves them stressed, overwhelmed, and stretched to the breaking point! If you suffer from adrenal fatigue (HPA-D), it is vital to cut back on all of the busyness.
- Learn to say NO
- Delegate whenever possible
- Drop all non-essential activities for a while
- Stick to gentle, restorative forms of exercise
Eat Anti-inflammatory, Blood Sugar Balancing Foods. Taming inflammation and balancing your blood sugar are two of the fastest ways to reduce the stress load on your body. Avoid or remove:
- Fatty, fried, and processed foods
- Clean, lean protein
- Leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Colorful vegetables
- Low glycemic load fruits like berries
- Foods naturally rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
Rhythm and Routine. Creating regular routines in your daily schedule will help reset your circadian rhythms, improve your sleep, and balance your blood sugar levels. Aim to:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Get out in the sunlight early in the day.
- Eat at regular times, and don’t skip meals!
- Cut off screen time 1-2 hours before bed.
- Build downtime into your days.
Support Your HPA Axis With Targeted Nutrients and Herbs.A functional medicine approach often includes specific vitamins, minerals, and herbs that support optimal adrenal function and a balanced HPA axis. They include:
- Vitamin C
- B vitamins
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Panax Ginseng
A functional medicine doctor will make customized recommendations based on your specific needs. Supplementation is not a stand-alone magic bullet and works best in conjunction with the strategies listed above.
If you are suffering from the symptoms of adrenal fatigue (HPA-D), now is the perfect time to set out on the road to recovery. Dr. Sisu will help you get at the root of your symptoms and create a personalized plan based on your specific needs. Call today to schedule a consultation!