25 Strategies to Heal Adrenal Fatigue
The adrenal glands help the body to adapt to stress and reproduce through the unique compounds they produce and secrete. Over 50 essential hormones are produced within the adrenal glands. These hormones are critical to health and vitality. When we are overstressed, the adrenals pump out stress hormones until they fatigue and crash, which can be devastating to the body.
Although the adrenals are no bigger than the size of a walnut, they have an incredibly important role in the human life cycle. Some of the many different hormones created by the adrenals include steroid hormones such as adrenalin, norepinephrine, cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen and testosterone (1).
Sympathetic Vs Parasympathetic Tone:
When the body is under stress, it increases sympathetic tone, which is a part of our nervous system that wires us into a “fight or flight” mode. This is a normal and natural way our body protects itself. The problem is when this goes on for a long-period of time and creates a state of sympathetic dominance.
On the contrary, when we are able to relax, have fun, play, laugh, spend time deep breathing and in gratitude and prayer, we stimulate parasympathetic tone. This is the part of our nervous system that enhances healing and repair mechanisms.
We need good balance between both our sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. We want them both to be good at responding to the environmental demands. Most often, we want to be in a state of parasympathetic dominance so we can heal and repair effectively from the daily stressors (2).
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The Epidemic of Adrenal Fatigue:
Adrenal fatigue is a condition that most everyone experiences at some point in their lives due to the amount of chronic mental, emotional, chemical and physical stressors that come with the life we live. These stimuli increase our state of sympathetic tone and increase the adrenal hormone output. Naturally, we should be able to cycle in and out as we take time to support our body, rest and repair.
The major problems with adrenal fatigue and its progression into adrenal exhaustion occur when the adrenals are unable to turn-off. This can be due to underlying infections, allergies, leaky gut syndrome, nutrient deficiencies and an overload of toxicities (3).
Major Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
These are all symptoms that are associated with a number of different disorders that are often overlooked by mainstream doctors. Ultimately, when the body is not functioning at a high level it causes more energy output from the adrenals. Overtime, this can lead to adrenal exhaustion, when the adrenals are no longer able to meet the demands of the environment.
Adrenal exhaustion is a very serious condition that causes accelerated aging, chronic inflammation, overwhelming fatigue and an inability to heal and repair. The individual wants to sleep and feels the need to sleep but most commonly has trouble falling and staying asleep.
Nutrition and Adrenal Fatigue:
Our nutrition plays a large role in the development and the healing of adrenal fatigue. Most people in our society are consuming far too many carbohydrates and not enough pure nutrients and good fats. This causes blood sugar imbalances. The adrenals must work extremely hard to maintain blood sugar stability and the modern diet taxes them to the limits.
The best diet for adrenal fatigue begins by working on stabilizing blood sugar with the use of good fats. This includes using coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut flakes, coconut milk, avocados, olives and olive oil and grass-fed butter or ghee and pasture-raised animal products.
These fat sources should be the staple of the diet. The cholesterol within things like grass-fed butter or ghee and quality animal products is also needed for the production of the adrenal hormone precursors pregnenolone and DHEA. Additionally, the fats help to keep blood sugar stable and take stress off the adrenal glands.
Adding in lots of phytonutrients and trace minerals in the form of non-starchy vegetables such as dark green leafies, cucumbers, celery, radishes, cruciferous veggies, etc is very important. Be sure to get a lot of herbs into your diet including ginger, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano.
Having clean protein at each meal in the form of organic, pasture-raised poultry, beef and wild game is extremely key. Protein and amino acids are necessary for the production of stress hormones, good blood sugar balance and anti-inflammatory enzyme production.
Here is the food guide pyramid to follow for healthy adrenal function.
25 Strategies to Heal Adrenal Fatigue:
Here are the top strategies for healing adrenal fatigue naturally. You should always consult with your physician before stopping or changing medications or taking on new health strategies.
Additionally, you should be working with a functional health practitioner to help guide you through these strategies. This is not an exhaustive list and there are other natural therapeutic strategies that I and functional health practitioners will utilize to help individuals with adrenal fatigue.
1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet:
It is important to build your diet around good fats, anti-oxidant phytonutrients, clean protein, healthy fibers, fermented foods and natural sweeteners in moderation. If you suspect food sensitivities, than following an elimination diet is highly recommended.
2. Focus on Deep Breathing:
Improving your posture, seeing a high quality chiropractor and optimizing your breathing patterns is highly recommended. Take time every day to breath long and deep and allow the rest and peace that comes with this practice to come over you.
Follow these tips here to improve your breathing patterns.
3. Zinc, B Vitamins and Magnesium:
Be sure to optimize your zinc and magnesium levels. Both of these nutrients work to improve blood sugar signaling problems. Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest sources of both zinc and magnesium.
4. Dry Brush Your Skin:
The Ayurvedic practice of dry brushing boost circulation and therefore also boost lymph flow and detoxification. In addition, it helps to stimulate endorphins and other feel good neuropeptides. It helps to reduce the stress response and is very relaxing and rejuvenating for the body.
5. Hydrate Your Body Well:
Water is extremely critical for balancing stress hormone production. When you are dehydrated, you will naturally stimulate stress hormone production. Drinking 8oz of water can be one of the best ways to tone down the stress response and put you back into a state of rest and repair.
On a daily basis, I recommend starting your day with 16-32 oz of water first thing in the morning and consuming a minimum of 8oz of water every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Your goal should be a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water each day.
6. Ground Your Body:
In our society we are surrounded by toxic electromagnetic frequency’s (EMF’s). These EMF’s increase stress within our body and alter neurotransmitter function.
By going outside daily and walking barefoot on grass, dirt or sand you absorb natural EMF’s from the ground that balance your electrical rhythms. Follow the steps in this article here.
7. Avoid Caffeine & Sugar:
Caffeine works by stimulating the adrenals to pump out more stress hormone. If the body is already in a state of adrenal fatigue, than this will overtax the body and cause adrenal exhaustion and burnout.
Increasing sugar creates blood sugar imbalances, which cause the adrenals to have to work harder in an effort to maintain some level of balance of sugar in the bloodstream. Staying off of sugar is a priority to heal fatigued adrenals.
8. Use Essential Oils:
Essential oils are the life blood of the plant. Some essential oils that work great for adrenal fatigue include lavender, vanilla, rose, lemon balm, chamomile, rosemary and frankincense.
You can diffuse these in your home and/or apply them with a carrier oil of coconut oil and apply them to your skin. These are all rather mild so you can also put 2 drops in a glass of water and consume as well.
I recommend using rosemary, lemon balm, vanilla, rose and frankincense during the day and lavender and chamomile at night to help improve relation and sleep.
9. Improve Your Sleep:
Sleeping a high quality 8-9 hours each night is key to healing and improving your ability to adapt to stress. I also recommend taking a daytime nap sometime between 12 – 3pm in order to reduce stress hormones and allow for a short reset before going into your afternoon activities. Follow the steps in this article to improve your sleep.
10. Low Intensity Movement:
A sedentary lifestyle creates more stress on the body. Light movement is anti-inflammatory and healing for the adrenals. Throughout the day, get a lot of low-intensity movement such as walking, light cycling, playing, etc. Regular movement will help reduce inflammation in the body and boost your mood.
11. See a Wellness Chiropractor:
Stress on the upper cervical spine can cause an increase in sympathetic tone and stress hormone production. If this problem is not corrected, over time, it can lead to poor tissue healing and adrenal fatigue (4).
Seeing a wellness based chiropractor who can accurately assess for upper cervical subluxations and give specific corrective adjustments and exercises to stabilize this region can be extremely helpful in reducing stress on the body (5).
Other subluxation problems that need to addressed include forward head posture, loss of cervical curve which both put a lot of pressure on the nervous system and lead to an increase in sympthatic tone.
12. Listen to Light Inspirational Music:
Listening to light classical, meditation or worship music can be extremely healing for the body. These forms of music are not overstimulating, but they have unique harmonies that boost up endorphins and stimulate the formation of serotonin.
In addition, listening to classical music and other music that uplifts your spirits enhances tissue healing and repair. Be sure to avoid loud, rock, dance and hip-hop music if you have adrenal fatigue. These melodies are far too stimulating and can further drain the adrenals.
13. Positive Visualization:
Visualize yourself healthy and well – full of life, breathing deep and easy. What you picture and hold to strong enough in your mind, you will begin to manifest in your life. This is simple to do, empowering and FREE!! Doing this practice will help reduce stress and improve healing and rejuvenation processes.
14. Play More:
Humans and all mammals are biologically programmed to play. Just watch your children, cats and dogs, they prioritize rest and play above most other things. Engage in some restorative hobbies, play with your pets or kids and have fun!
15. Schedule Down-Time:
Schedule time where you can relax and read an enjoyable book or watch an uplifting movie or documentary. Be sure to avoid negative influences during this time.
Stay away from horror movies, loud music, media that challenges your value system and negative people. Create an environment that uplifts, encourages and empowers you.
16. Spend Less Time on a Cell Phone:
Your cell phone may be overstressing your system with negative EMF’s. Research has shown that using your cell phone increases the stress response and inflammatory processes (6). Use it less often and when you do, have it on the speaker phone and as far from your body as possible.
17. Heal Your Gut:
One of the top causes of adrenal fatigue is leaky gut syndrome and infections like H Pylori, SIBO and Candida. Follow a specific program to heal your gut while supporting your adrenals and you will see much faster results.
18. Eliminate Food Sensitivities:
Identify any major food sensitivities through either a lab test here or biofeedback test here and come off of these for 90 days. I typically start my adrenal fatigued patients on an elimination diet, where we remove the most common food irritants including gluten, grains, most dairy, eggs, sugars, corn, peanuts, soy and nightshade vegetables.
After a 4-6 week elimination diet, we begin to add these foods back and see if they cause stress and inflammation. There is a delicate walk to find the foods that are most tolerable while the body heals. Overtime, the body becomes stronger and has less sensitivity to foods in the future.
19. Consume Adequate Salts:
Minerals are essential to the production and utilization of stress hormones. Using the highest quality pink salts on your foods throughout the day is a great strategy to boost mineral content. My favorite salt brands include the pink salts you can get with Himalayan Sea Salt and Redmond’s Real Salt. Celtic sea salt is another great brand.
In addition to salts, consuming celery, cucumbers, fermented vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut and sea vegetables (seaweeds) on a regular basis can improve mineral levels and stress hormone production and utilization.
20. Laugh More:
They say that “laughter is our best medicine,” and this is true when it comes to the adrenals. Laughing helps to stimulate endorphins and other feel good neuropeptides that reduce the stress response and enhance the healing process.
Be careful not to over laugh! Uncontrolled laughing can be too stimulating, so keep it under control. General chuckles about your daily activities and light joking with friends can be very restorative.
21. Get High Quality Sun Exposure:
Sun exposure on our skin not only helps to boost up vitamin D levels, but it also improves the ability of our mitochondria to produce energy for healing and repair. This helps take stress off of the adrenals and helps them to heal and regenerate faster (7).
Vitamin D is one of the best homeostatic regulators within our bodies and needed for healthy adrenal function. But our bodies also absorb biophotons from the sun, which are light particles that create reactions in our cells promoting DNA repair and synthesis.
22. Take Epsom Salt Baths:
Epsom salt baths are relaxing and rejuvenating. The salts provide magnesium and sulfates to help support the health of your adrenals and liver detoxification. I recommend doing one for 30 minutes each night with lavender and chamomile essential oils in the water and diffusing in the air.
Dim the lights and play some light worship music or classical music and focus on deep breathing. This is an EXTREMELY restorative nightly ritual that will help you sleep deeper and feel more rejuvenated each morning when you wake.
23. Meditate and Pray Daily:
Meditation and prayer are extraordinarily restorative to the body, mind and the spirit. These techniques help to calm the mind and bring a state of peace and tranquility.
In 1 Peter, we’re told to cast all our anxiety on Him, and we need to do so now more than ever. Researchers looked at individuals with engaged religious and spiritual lifestyle habits and found they have significantly better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems (8).
Jesus says, “my yoke is easy and burden is light,” and He desires for us to give Him our struggles. We don’t have to take the weight of the world on our shoulders. Take time each day to thank the Lord and give Him your struggles and I guarantee you will see an improved state of mind and an increase in the amount of peace and freedom you experience each day.
24. Stretch Your Body:
Doing light stretching or a yoga class can be one of the most beneficial things for individuals dealing with adrenal fatigue. Light movements and stretches, coupled with breathing techniques help to calm the adrenals, stimulate feel good endorphins and improve parasympathetic tone in the body.
Do 15 minutes of yoga each morning, or take a class at your local fitness center or on a DVD at your home. Be sure not to engage in an intense yoga session with more demanding positions or a hot yoga class as that can be too draining on your adrenals.
25. Keep a Gratitude Journal:
We often spend so much time focused on what is wrong and what we are frustrated by. Taking time each day to journal about what you are most grateful for can be one of the most powerful daily activities.
You can also incorporate this into your breathing, meditation and prayer practices where you remind yourself of what you are most grateful for. This will relax your mind, increase endorphins, reduce stress hormone production and stimulate parasympathetic tone in the body.
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- Welch A, Boone R. Sympathetic and parasympathetic responses to specific diversified adjustments to chiropractic vertebral subluxations of the cervical and thoracic spine. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2008;7(3):86-93.
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