With the advent of the internet, mobile technology, and a 24/7 global information network, the current pace of life seems to be gaining more and more speed, with no sign whatsoever of slowing down.
As a result, you are likely seeing more new patients showing up in your office with vague complaints of feeling tired, exhausted, and run down from trying to keep up with everything. They often mention that they feel as though they can’t keep up with the hectic pace at work, or taking care of kids or the household. Even if they managed to get a good night’s sleep, they still feel draggy the following morning.
When you do a medical history and exam, there often is not anything specific that seems to cause these symptoms. Nevertheless, you are presented with a patient looking to you for help. Some researchers believe that the trouble may lie within the adrenal glands, which are responsible for regulating the body’s levels of the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, and aldosterone.1
Your patients may experience a number of health issues if these hormone levels become too low. What can be done to boost their adrenal gland levels?
What functions does the adrenal gland regulate?
Aldosterone helps balance sodium and potassium levels, which regulate blood pressure. Cortisol helps regulate metabolism and blood-sugar levels. Adrenaline and noradrenaline work in conjunction with aldosterone and cortisol to regulate the body’s stress reactions.1
Signals from the pituitary gland in the brain tell the adrenal gland how much of each of these hormone to release out into the body in response to various stimuli. For example, if your patient is in a stressful situation, such as running late for an important business meeting, their pituitary gland signals their adrenal glands to release extra adrenaline in response to that stressful situation.
What is adrenal fatigue?
In most cases, if the adrenal gland is functioning normally, the release of hormones is the precise amount needed in response to a specific stimulus. Once that stimulus is no longer present, the adrenal glands should stop producing those hormones. Unfortunately, in some cases, the adrenal glands may not produce enough hormones to respond, leading to what is known as adrenal fatigue.1
This condition will lead to the symptoms that your patients describe as feeling tired, run down, or fatigued.2 They may also be suffering from weight gain and poor sleep habits.
Treating adrenal fatigue
Combatting adrenal fatigue should be done using a multi-prong approach. First, you should recommend your patients look at supplements to help support their adrenal glands.3,4 Supplements that may help adernal fatigue include ashwagandha, holy basil, fish oil, magnesium, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc.
However, if your patients are pregnant or breast-feeding, adrenal supplements are contra-indicated.4
Second, work with your patients on a program to help them reduce stress. This could include daily yoga, stretching, or mindful meditation. If your patients can learn to focus their mind on calming their thoughts, heartbeat, and respiration, this may help better regulate the levels of hormones sent out by the adrenal glands, which may in turn better support their overall ability to cope with the hectic world around them.
You should also encourage them to avoid caffeine and sugar because they are stimulants that can stress the body and the adrenals.
There is no real chance that the fast pace of our current society will slow down anytime soon. However, you can help your patients cope with its speed with a combination of adrenal supplements and stress-reduction techniques.
- Adrenal glands. Accessed 3/26/2017.
- Kakiashvili T, Leszek J, Rutkowski K. The medical perspective on burnout. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 2013 Jun;26(3):401-12.
- Allen LV Jr. Adrenal fatigue. Int J Pharm Compd 2013 Jan-Feb;17(1):39-44.
- Adrenal extract: Uses, side effects, interactions, and dosing. Accessed 3/26/2017.