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What are your adrenals...and can they get fatigued?

Adrenals are small glands that sit on top of your kidneys and produce hormones to support metabolism, immunity, blood pressure, and to prep the body for stress.

There is a divide between complimentary and conventional medicine on whether adrenal fatigue is considered an accepted diagnosis. It was first described by a chiropractor and naturopath and remains recognized by alternative health care practitioners. 

Adrenal fatigue is characterized as a set of symptoms arising from prolonged periods of work, stress, nervousness, or illness. Prolonged stress overworks the adrenals in producing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, leaving it worn out and unable to keep up with demands. 

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

Ongoing fatigue, even with sleep

Difficulty waking in the morning

Need an afternoon nap

Increased energy at night

Unable to handle stress

Salt cravings

Dependence on caffeine

Stages of adrenal fatigue:

Stage 1: Wired and tired

Typically adrenals fire in the morning but when they are out of balance they become more active at night and cause insomnia

Stage 2: Adrenal exhaustion

Cortisol levels fall causing sleep disturbances, weight gain, decreased libido

Stage 3: Burn out

Risk of thyroid, digestive, and autoimmune disease

Chinese Medicine point of view:

As with all health concerns, Chinese Medicine looks at what is going on for each individual. Once a pattern is identified both the symptoms and the underlying causes are treated. Typically, issues with ongoing and intense fatigue are related to an imbalance in the kidney system. Other related symptoms include low back ache, hair loss, fear or anxiety.

What other organs might be involved?

In addition to fatigue and insomnia these additional symptoms show what other organs are involved.

Spleen: sweet cravings, brain fog, digestion issues, varicose veins, weight gain

Heart: palpitations, excess emotions

Liver: irritability, anger, PMS, high/low blood pressure, migraines

Lung: allergies, asthma, frequently sick

Improve your energy and regulate stress

Diet: Increase magnesium, healthy fats, leafy greens, bright colored veggies, and foods that are considered to support the kidneys like walnuts, beans, seaweed, dark berries, bone broth, ginger, garlic, chines, and cinnamon. Cut back on processed foods, caffeine, and sugar.

Exercise: Moderate activity will help regulate cortisol levels and improve sleep, stress, and energy.

Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture, moxibustion, and herbal formulas can all be used to boost energy, improve sleep, and reduce stress through calming the nervous system. Moxibustion, or moxa, involves burning mugwart. When the oils are absorbed in to the body it helps to strengthen the organs, increase blood flow, and boost the immune system. While the use of Chinese Medicine will not offer a quick fix, over time it will support long term wellness and vitality.

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