Do you ever feel tired, stressed, weak, dizzy, or anxious? Do you gain weight easily?
At one point or another, most people have experienced one of the above ailments. But when it comes to troubleshooting your chosen malady, be wary of who you talk to.
Holistic health experts will likely associate these symptoms with adrenal fatigue, while conventional doctors claim adrenal fatigue doesn’t exist.
Fortunately, Dr. Alan Chrsitianson sheds some light on what’s real and what’s not, when it comes to this misunderstood term.
The adrenal glands produce hormones like cortisol that regulate our stress response, weight gain/loss, and energy level. A common reason the adrenals stop functioning is because of adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison’s disease. Those who stand by the severity of adrenal fatigue claim it’s a milder version of adrenal insufficiency that’s caused by stress.
Myth #1: Adrenal Glands Get Fatigued
This is an issue of syntax. Yes, stress can lead to anxiety, insomnia, heart disease, and weight gain, but this doesn’t happen because your adrenals are tired after a long day—give them a little more credit than that.
Stress causes these adverse effects because it can disrupt the fragile system in which the adrenal glands operate.
The adrenal glands are a part of several glands known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which controls our metabolism and energy levels.
When the HPA axis is unable to properly adjust the release of adrenal hormones, it’s called adrenal stress (different than adrenal fatigue), and everyone agrees that this is a real issue.
Certain aspects of modern life make adrenal stress much more prevalent than it used to be, such as:
- Environmental toxins
- Electromagnetic fields
- Processed foods
- Shift work
- Lack of sleep
A key indicator that adrenal stress could be behind weight gain, fatigue, and the other symptoms previously mentioned is if you experience these things at specific times during the day.
Energy levels dropping in the afternoon, anxiety after breakfast, and waking up in the middle of the night stressed out can all be the result of your adrenals falling out of rhythm.
Myth #2: Adrenal Glands Need Pills to Heal
The reason we separate the issues of adrenal fatigue and adrenal stress is because, according to the definition of adrenal fatigue, taking cortisol or herbs that increase cortisol production will alleviate it. But with adrenal stress, your adrenal glands are out of sync when producing all hormones; therefore, your goal is to restore the proper rhythms they had before.
It turns out that light exposure can lend a helping hand to those suffering from adrenal stress. According to Dr. Christianson, you can:
- Walk outside for an hour
- Use sunlight or a light box that emits at least 10,000 lux for 30 minutes
- Get 40-watt (or less) red light bulbs for your bedroom, and be sure to cover any other sources of light (windows, alarm clocks, etc)
Myth #3: Once You Have Adrenal Stress, You’re Stuck With It
It’s much easier to recover from adrenal stress once you put in the work to re-establish healthy body rhythms.
According to Dr. Christianson, proper diet alone can correct one’s satiety rhythm by over 50% in less than one month.
So don’t worry if all the stress in your life abruptly left you at the altar with adrenal stress. Take some time to make quality-of-life-increasing decisions before you go any further.