Guest Blog Written By: Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor
Have you been complaining of fatigue lately, or maybe your entire life? Are you tired of saying “I am tired”? Maybe your partner is noticing a change in you, especially in the bedroom. You may be suffering from a condition called adrenal fatigue. Let me explain to you what this condition is and why so many people have it today. Within the human body, we have two adrenal glands. They are located above our kidneys and are roughly the size of a thumb. Although small, these glands play a mighty role in regulating many hormones, specifically the ones that regulate SALT, SUGAR and SEX. Do I have your attention now?
Let’s break it down further. The most common and widely known hormone produced by the adrenal gland is CORTISOL. Cortisol is known as the body’s stress hormone. The main function of cortisol is to regulate the body’s response to stress. In addition, cortisol helps maintain blood pressure, heart function, slows the immune system’s inflammatory response, balances the effects of insulin in breaking down glucose for energy, metabolizes protein, fat, carbohydrates and it also enhances the function of the thyroid gland. Wow! What doesn’t it do?
Besides cortisol, the adrenal gland also produces progesterone (a function that becomes very important after menopause), testosterone (sex hormone), aldosterone (helps with sodium regulation/blood pressure) adrenaline and noradrenalin (gives us the jolt of energy we need during stressful times/stimulation).
All of these hormones are essential for good health and energy. The problem arises when we overuse and abuse the adrenal gland, leading to a condition called adrenal fatigue and eventually, adrenal gland burnout.
What causes Adrenal Fatigue?
- Chronic STRESS (physical, emotional, mental)
- Poor diet (mineral deficiencies- specifically B vitamins, zinc, selenium, magnesium, EFA’s)
- Heavy Metals (poor liver function)
- Food sensitivities/environmental allergies
- Elevated Blood Sugar
- Alcohol, smoking, drugs, excessive caffeine intake
- Not enough time for relaxation and fun activities
- Poor sleep habits
If you can relate to a few of the above causes check the column below for some signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
- Excessive fatigue
- Low sex drive
- Salt/Sweet cravings
- Weight gain
- Muscle/Joint Pain
- Low blood pressure/dizziness
- Thyroid Imbalance
- Skin Issues
If you are thinking to yourself “Wow, that describes me!”, then continue reading for ways to help yourself.
How Can I Help Adrenal Fatigue?
The good news is that we can recover from adrenal fatigue. It may take months or several years to get the glands to function optimally. It all depends on the degree of “damage” and how soon you seek help. Here are some of the things you can do to nourish your adrenal glands today:
- Get to bed by 10pm
- Enjoy whole grains and colourful fruits/vegetables
- Practice relaxation/deep breathing each day
- Ensure regular meals (especially breakfast) include good quality protein
- Avoid processed food, alcohol, smoking, sugar and caffeine
Supplements to consider:
- Herbs such as Ashwaganda, Eleutherococcus, Rhodiola and Relora are known as “adaptogens” which help minimize the stress response on the body.
- B vitamins: also known as “anti-stress” vitamins are great for increasing energy. When the body is under stress, it utilizes B vitamins quite readily . B5, specifically, has been shown to concentrate in the adrenal gland.
- Up your Vitamin C levels! Vitamin C is concentrated in the adrenal glands and adequate levels promotes its function.
*Please note that dosages and choice of supplementation are dependent on each individual case. Do not self prescribe. Always consult with a health care practitioner*
If you are interested in additional testing for adrenal health, both Salivary Cortisol and Hair Cortisol testing are simple and available in the office.
Let’s get you started! Fill out the hormonal questionnaire on my website. It starts with one small step in the right direction. You can conquer your feelings of fatigue and live a vibrant life!
Dr. Jennifer Cisternino is a Naturopathic Doctor who has a family practice in Vaughan, Ontario. She treats a variety of conditions and people of all ages with a special focus on weight loss, women’s health, hormone balancing and stress management. Dr. Cisternino has certifications in Acupuncture, Yoga and Personal Training. Her authenticity, kindness and passion makes her a very sought out Doctor in her field. Her mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people to live a healthy and prosperous life. You can connect with her in many ways.