Adrenal fatigue is one of the most common hormonal health disorders I see in clinic, particularly since the Christchurch earthquakes. Before I explain my concept of holistic adrenal fatigue treatment, let’s briefly look at the root cause of this condition.
Introducing your adrenal glands, 2 little pyramids sitting on top of your kidneys… These glands are crucial in your body’s reaction to stress. If you are threatened by a large dog, your adrenals produce the energy-promoting hormones you need to either fight the dog or scramble up the nearest tree. This fight-or-flight mechanism is a normal function of your body.
While you won’t find yourself fighting dogs regularly, you are bound to encounter plenty of other stresses. Think raging teenagers, catty co-workers, disrupted sleep due to a sick child, rushing to work AGAIN, getting stuck in traffic … the list goes on. The problem is that your body can’t recognise the difference between a large dog and those mental stresses—it pumps out the same stress hormones EVERY SINGLE TIME.
When you climb up the tree to escape the dog, the hormonal cocktail is processed and leaves your system. But in the case of non-physical stress it surges through your body until it’s finally metabolised, and by that time you’re bound to have received the next cortisol hit from the next hurdle in your busy life.
Cortisol is made from the precursor to progesterone, pregnenolone. So if you produce lots of cortisol, progesterone production decreases and levels go down along with oestrogen. This is exactly the reason why you set yourself up for failure when trying to balance out oestrogen and progesterone, without addressing excess cortisol production first.
Effects of elevated cortisol levels:
- Blood glucose & insulin levels rise
- Serotonin (the ‘calming’ brain hormone) levels drop, leading to anxiety, nervousness or depression
- Food cravings increase which equals the beginning of weight gain
- Your health spirals out of control
This goes on for months, even years, and finally, your adrenal glands are exhausted. We call this adrenal fatigue.