Adrenal Fatigue - Taking Care of Your Energy Source

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Suffering from burnout, or a lengthy bout of exhaustion you can't seem to pull out of, but no obvious symptoms? You may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Here's a little primer on these very important glands and how to treat them right. Our fast-paced lifestyles push these little organs to the limit: Overtaxed by stress, stimulants, sugar and a variety of habits, our body's energy control centers are easily maxed-out, resulting in fatigue, depression and even weight gain. In any natural health, wellness and fitness program, support for the adrenal glands is crucial.

The adrenal glands are small pyramid shaped organs that sit atop each kidney in the lower back. The adrenals release their own 'stress hormones' in response to certain situations or environmental conditions, and control the release of many other important hormones in the body such as DHEA, estrogen and testosterone. Their primary function is to prime the system to deal with life-threatening, stressful, or pressure-filled circumstances. They largely determine the energy level available for the necessary response.

An estimated 75% of individuals suffer from adrenal fatigue the inability of the adrenals to keep up with demand at some time or another. This occurs when the glands can no longer keep up with the pace of outputting stress hormones, or when they no longer respond to repeated demands that they've heard too many times before. Signs and symptoms may include severe fatigue, lightheadedness upon standing, depression and irritability, lack of sex drive, exhaustion and general malaise. This is often associated with intense or prolonged stress, life crisis, trauma, and chronic illness. Other factors include improper diet, substance abuse, and too little or irregular sleep.

When healthy, your adrenals can instantly increase your heart rate and blood pressure, release energy stores for immediate use, sharpen your senses, slow digestion and various other secondary functions. This function is extremely important in emergency situations - poorly functioning, overtaxed adrenal glands can lessen your ability to deal effectively with crisis situations. Another aspect of healthy adrenals is the ability to endure long periods of physical exertion such as seen in marathon running, swimming, long distance cycling, and similarly, the day to day responsibilities of parenting! It is your adrenal glands job to react to stress in a balanced manner so that one's response is appropriate to the situation.

The adrenal glands signal the storage, release and utilization of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, and influence the distribution of fat on the body. Their output is involved in blood sugar regulation, cardiovascular function, digestive function, and in controlling blood pressure. The adrenals are further involved by playing a part in sexual interest and response so poorly functioning adrenals can really put a damper on things by increasing fat storage on your belly while making you disinterested in the whole process altogether!

The following are some natural suggestions for nourishing and rejuvenating adrenal health: We'll start with an easy one; an adequate intake of water. This is a must in all natural health, wellness and fitness programs as it helps keep the kidney flushed and cleanses the body so it has less toxins to deal with, hence less stress. I use the formula .6 x body weight = ounces of water per day for my clients. This is a number that should be moved towards over time. For example if weigh 150 pounds your daily water intake would be 90 ounces. .6 x 150 = 90 ounces. If you are currently drinking 40 ounces of water per day and your (ideal) daily ounce intake is 90 ounces, increase gently to your ideal ounces of water over the next month or two.

Next is slowing down the pace of things at least a few minutes a day. It's so easy to get wound up in all the day's work, errands and other pressures that we rarely take a moment to sit quietly without distraction and simply release these things from our mind. Take a walk if you can; moderate exercise can be a supportive factor in lowering stress levels. But while doing so, try to 'be present', rather than letting your mind drift to all those tasks ahead of you - this will allow the greatest regeneration.

Diet plays a huge role in any natural health, wellness and fitness program, and is crucial in proper adrenal gland function. You've heard it before, but I'll say it again! Reduce your sugar intake sugar is a poison to the system, inducing stress whenever eaten. Cut out stimulants to the best of your ability. If you have a caffeine addiction, take it moment to moment, Do you really need that next cup? Will it make you feel better? Often after the first one or two in the morning, the answer is no. And cutting them out all together will give you more energy than you thought possible in a week to 10 days.

For a soothing, regenerating treatment, take an Epsom salt bath pull out fatigue and acidity from body. Again, let your mind go and release the worries of the day, and try to incorporate this into your regular routine. Consider adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath and allow the aroma to help you relax and refresh. A favorite essential oil bath blend: 4 drops Lavender essential oil, 1 drop Rose essential oil. These oils are well known for their uplifting and relaxing qualities. Other aromatherapy bath salt blends are available for this purpose just make sure they use all natural ingredients, as synthetic aromatics can actually cause more stress!

The following essential oil blend used directly over the adrenals first thing in the morning and then again in the (early) evening can help to nourish, strengthen, and rejuvenate the adrenals. This is described in Advanced Aromatherapy, by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, one of America's leading medical aromatherapists. In a 30 ml (one ounce blue cobalt or amber glass bottle) add Black Spruce 2 ml, Pine essential oil 1 ml, Cedarwood essential oil 1 ml, and fill the remainder of the bottle with Hazelnut carrier oil (unless allergic to nuts-then choose another appropriate carrier oil). Use about 1 ml (20-30 drops) at a time and rub into the adrenal area at the bottom of your ribs on your back.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do what you can to improve your sleep routine. Getting to bed before 10pm is crucial - the hours between 10 and 12 are thought to be extremely important in rejuvenation. Try finishing your last meal as early as possible in the evening to get better rest, so the body is not spending as much effort digesting your dinner as it is replenishing all your other vital resources. Herbal sleep formulas are effective for many people, and are non-habit forming as some prescription medicines can be. Also, studies have shown that the aroma of certain essential oils in the room can have a dramatic effect on sleep quality - an easy way to experiment is to sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil on your comforter before retiring (be sparing, too much can actually be stimulating!)

While the steps addressing lifestyle changes may seem difficult, if you've been suffering from adrenal fatigue, they're certainly worth making an effort at. Properly functioning adrenals are a must for getting the most out of life, and supporting them is essential in any natural health, wellness and fitness program.

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