Some of the most common reasons clients seek us out are the confusing sensation of feeling totally exhausted yet unable to relax and often unable to fall and stay asleep. These symptoms are sometimes accompanied by severe dizziness and lightheadedness, difficulty waking up, and poor focus. On top of all this, the development of stubborn belly fat that no longer responds to tried-and-true weight loss techniques is often a part of a common constellation of symptoms.
While these symptoms could be caused by several issues, one thing we look at when trying to “right the ship” and steer our clients toward better health is the adrenal glands, and whether they’re functioning correctly or being overtaxed.
Why Adrenals Are So Important
The adrenals are small pea-shaped glands that sit on top of our kidneys. They are a command center for our endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, digestion, growth and development, brain function, and mood. So you can appreciate why, if they are damaged or depleted, this will affect many of the body’s systems.
There’s a range of possible problems with the adrenal glands, though they are quite rare. Cushing’s syndrome is the overproduction of cortisol and is characterized by a moon-shaped face, abdominal fat, easy bruising, purplish stria on the thighs, hips, and arms, and often a “dowager’s hump” or a fat deposit at the juncture of the neck and the upper spine.
Addison’s disease, or adrenal insufficiency, is the opposite situation, the underproduction of cortisol. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, lack of appetite, muscle, and joint pain, but also nausea and vomiting. This condition can result in dangerously low levels of blood pressure.
Another version of adrenal dysfunction that we address at BeWell Associates is adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is believed to be a state in which the adrenal glands, which produce epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), corticosteroids (cortisol) and mineralocorticoids (aldosterone), become depleted. Essentially, it is the eventual state brought on by being in a chronic state of excessive stress.
It is vital to apply the holistic approach to this condition, which addresses harmful lifestyle habits along with dietary changes and a supplement protocol as the path to restoring adrenal health.
Our hormonal “fight or flight” response was an adaptation to keep early humans alive during a time when the stressors were acute and short-term, such as being chased by a wild animal. Back then, short-term exposure to increased cortisol in the body would provide us with the energy to fuel their muscles to fight or flee from danger, and then cortisol levels would return to normal.
The demands of modern life are very different. The more typical pattern is to be “on” all day, productive 24/7, often fueled by caffeine and sugar. It’s easy to become addicted to that overstimulated, high-octane state — until we can no longer keep it up. We simply run out of fuel.
Besides that “tired but wired” feeling and sleep issues, some of the most common signs of adrenal fatigue are:
- low blood pressure
- lack of focus
- sugar or salt cravings