Do you feel like you’re constantly tired? Are you struggling with unbalanced blood sugar levels, low libido and a cloudy and uncertain mind? Is it getting harder to tame your wild sugar and salt cravings? Well, all of these symptoms point towards adrenal exhaustion, which is often termed as Adrenal Fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is not a medically adopted term or health condition. However, it does point towards dysfunctional adrenal glands that leads to insufficient hormones and hormone imbalances in the body.
In Ayurveda a weak adrenal gland function and constant fatigue is healed by providing right balance to the body and mind through an individual specific diet, lifestyle and herbal regimen.
In this blog post, we will explore the causes and symptoms of adrenal fatigue. We will provide you with Ayurvedic natural ways including diet, lifestyle and herbal regimen to nourish and support your adrenals. Let’s begin!
The Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are two pyramid-shaped endocrine organs situated atop the kidneys. They are about the size of walnuts, yet they have a significant influence on our physiology by affecting virtually every tissue, cell, organ, and even our mood.
They produce a variety of hormones such as cortisol (the “stress” hormone), DHEA, noradrenaline and adrenaline. The adrenal hormones cause our heart to race, raise blood pressure, tighten muscles, and stimulate the brain. In essence, the adrenal glands help us cope and manage stress in all of its forms.
It’s no surprise that when extra stress is placed on the adrenals, it can have a significant impact not just on our ability to cope with stress, but also on our general health and well being.
The Effect of Stress on Adrenal Glands
The tiny adrenal glands are the ones that produce enough stress hormones to keep us going under demanding situations. When we’re stressed, their goal is to quickly jump-start and activate the mind and body so that we can deal with the stressful event.
Good Stress stimulates Adrenals
Stress is a natural response to an event or situation that causes anxiety. It’s a way for the body to prepare itself for action. Stress can be good because it helps people to stay alert and focused during difficult moments.
When we are in a ‘healthy’ stressful environment, our nervous system will return to its parasympathetic state—our calm condition—when the stressor has passed. This allows our adrenals to relax and replenish their hormones.
Chronic Stress triggers Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal exhaustion may be induced when we experience unmanaged stress for a long time – either emotional (work stress, divorce, a death of a loved one, constant financial stress) or physical (chronic illness, over-exercising, alcohol or substance abuse, sleep deprivation).
As a result of chronic stress, our adrenal glands become exhausted from an acute or constant demand upon them. Thus, they are unable to produce sufficient quantities of hormones such as cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline.
Adrenal fatigue can have a negative impact on many areas of our lives, including our physical health, emotional well-being, and cognitive function.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
When we experience constant stress, the adrenals are taxed to the point that they can no longer produce sufficient cortisol to enable optimal bodily function. This causes chronic tiredness, an impaired immune system, inflammation and changes in weight. This condition is referred as adrenal fatigue in common terminology.
Adrenal insufficiency is a well-known condition in which the adrenals are unable to keep up with the body’s stress response. This may be caused by destruction of the adrenal cortex (primary insufficiency) or the presence of stimuli that stimulate the adrenals to generate less cortisol (secondary insufficiency).
Although mainstream medicine does not recognize it, many complementary medicine practitioners believe that when the adrenals have been working overtime to keep up with heavy stress demands over time, they can become fatigued.
The Three Stages of Adrenal Fatigue
There are three stages of adrenal fatigue:
Your cortisol levels are always too high. Many people in this stage have a lot of energy and can burn the candle at both ends. For some however, there may be symptoms such as feeling tired, brain fog and having difficulty concentrating.
If you don’t make any changes to your diet or lifestyle, you’ll enter stage 2 eventually. Your cortisol levels will begin to fall as well, causing you to become tired and experience other symptoms such as muscle weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure.
At this point, your cortisol levels are typically too low and your adrenals are exhausted. You’ll probably feel tired and have no energy to accomplish the daily chores. Adrenal issues further lead to multiple hormone imbalance symptoms that affect your periods, skin, hair and fertility.
What Causes Adrenal Gland Issues?
Our daily choices of foods and lifestyle actions either abuse or support our adrenal glands. Poor diet choices such as processed foods, sugar, and caffeine can all take a toll on our adrenal glands.
Additionally, a hyperactive lifestyle in which you are constantly on the go can also lead to adrenal fatigue.
Other than this, there are emotional, chemical and physical stressors that can push the funcitoning of adrenal glands.
- Sudden life change, such as a move or loss of a job
- Severe emotional trauma
- Life situations as single parenting, college life and over working
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Perfectionist mentality towards life or work
- Existing disease such as diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, pcos, endometriosis, menopause symptoms
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
The symptoms for adrenal fatigue can vary from person to person. It actually depends on how poor adrenal function has affected your overall hormone balance and also the stage of Adrenal fatigue in your case.
Some people may experience symptoms such as weight loss, low blood pressure, dizziness or lightheadedness when standing up quickly, feeling very thirsty or hungry all the time (even after eating), difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
- Low energy through the day and trouble getting out of bed
- Difficult in sleeping or sleep disorders
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Low Blood Pressure
- Low thyroid function (hypothyroid)
- Inability to lose weight
- Low or no libido
- Blood pressure fluctuations
- Dizzy when standing up
- Cravings for salt and sugar
- Anxiety, mental exhaustion, and/or depression
- Reduced immunity and recurrent infections
- Inability to cope with stress, heart palpitations, sensitivity to light and sound
- Low libido and sexual interest
- Lower back pain around kidneys area
- Foggy mind and irritation
- Yawning and laziness
- Feeling cold in extremities
Adrenal Fatigue in Women
Women are more likely to suffer from adrenal fatigue. This is because they have to deal with a lot of responsibility and traumatic events as they constantly try to meet the expectations of others as creators, nurturers, and multi-taskers.
Feminine energy is not compatible with the stressful, fast-paced energy of our current lifestyle. As a result of which it gets depleted with time if stressors are not removed.
Also, the menstrual cycle can cause hormonal fluctuations that make women more vulnerable to adrenal fatigue. Additionally, women are more prone to eat less, hence be under nourished and internalize stress more than men.
Adrenal Fatigue | An Ayurvedic View
Ayurveda looks beyond the symptoms and takes a holistic approach to address the root cause of the problem. In Ayurveda, adrenal fatigue can be compared with depletion of “Ojas” in the body.
Ojas is the essence of our physical body and mind. It indicates the vitality, strength of our immune function and that of our digestion or metabolism.
Thus, when Ojas is reduced due to excess stress and poor nourishment; it affects the balance of the dosha and our digestion.
This further affects different functions in our body such as reproduction, hormone balance, metabolism, nervous function, bone health, metabolism and immunity.
According to the “Charak Samhita“, when the ojas is diminished a person becomes fearful, anxious, weak and uncomfortable. Low Ojas leads to mental fog, low libido, infertility, poor complexion and dryness.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Adrenal Insufficiency
Ayurveda has a simple and straightforward approach to restoring the body’s built-in checks and balances. This allows us to naturally replenish our nutritional reserves and support our body systems including the adrenal glands.
Ayurvedic treatment for adrenal fatigue works at removing the root cause of exhausted adrenals and also nourishing the body to establish hormone balance. This approach is seldom a fast cure, but it does give our bodies the greatest opportunity to completely heal.
The Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Diet
Ojas is a substance that is created over time by eating healthy foods. These foods can be fresh and unprocessed, and you should eat them in the right season. Ojas accumulates when you have healthy digestion, and it helps your body in many ways.
The best foods for adrenal fatigue help to relieve strain on your adrenal glands. The right meals naturally boost your body’s energy levels, ensuring that stored nutrients are not consumed too rapidly.
Here are the diet guidelines that will support Ojas, balance your dosha and heal your adrenals.
Diet and Foods to Support Adrenal Function
- Always take timely meals at fixed time everyday. Do not hold hunger and do not overeat.
- Include sufficient amount of proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates to keep yourself satiated and nourished. Hunger pangs cause additional stress, which depletes our adrenal function.
- Take warm and unctuous foods such as porridges, curries, gruels, and soups. This is a great way to build ojas and balance Vata dosha.
- Include spices and herbs to maintain healthy digestive fire and to get the micro nutrients.
- Remove chilli and sugar from the diet. Both of these cause excessive stimulation and push Vata dosha out of balance.
- Remove cold temperature foods and drinks.
- Limit or stop raw foods such as salads.
- Protect your digestive fire “Agni” by taking in easy to digest meals that are freshly prepared with ample of seasonal vegetables, herbs and spices.
- Avoid fasting and skipping meals.
- Stay away from caffeine, smoking and alcohol. All of these disturb the dosha and deplete the adrenal glands.
Ayurvedic Herbs for Adrenal Fatigue
Ayurvedic herbal regimen for adrenal support involves use of adaptogens. They modulate our body’s stress response system. Thus, our adrenals can work more efficiently and cortisol production can be adjusted as needed (up-regulated or down-regulated).
If you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue, it’s important to work with a qualified practitioner to ensure that you’re taking the right herbs for your specific situation.
Here are some Ayurvedic herbs that can help to significantly improve your adrenal health, relieve stress and rejuvenate.
1. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
Brahmi is a great choice for those who are struggling with adrenal fatigue and want to support their mental health as well.
It has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory. Brahmi also helps to reduce anxiety and promote calmness.
2. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, which can be helpful in reducing the inflammation associated with adrenal fatigue.
It has impressive adaptogenic and rejuvenating properties. Ahwagandha helps in dealing with stress, soothes the nervous system, and improves sleep quality.
3. Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus)
An adaptogen and natural support for hormone balance, Shatavari is an excellent herb to support your adrenals too. It helps to improve digestion, reduce nervous conditions, anxiety and boosts immune system function.
Shatavari also improves our resistance to stress and reduces inflammation in the body. It stimulates pituitary gland to restore the balance of Estrogen and Progesterone.
4. Tulsi (Holy Basil)
is another panacea commonly found in Indian households for its wide range of medicinal and environmental benefits. One of the many benefits of Tulsi is calming the nervous system and alleviating stress and anxiety in addition to improving sleep quality.
Shilajit has been traditionally used as an adrenal tonic in Ayurveda. It contains compounds that can help to stimulate the adrenal glands and increase hormone production.
Additionally, shilajit is a rich source of minerals like iron, magnesium, and potassium which are important for adrenal health.
Clinical studies have shown that shilajit may be helpful in adrenal fatigue, and it is often recommended as a natural treatment for this condition.
6. Licorice (Yashtimadhu)
Licorice is a popular herb that has been used medicinally for centuries. It has a range of healing properties, and is especially beneficial for adrenal fatigue.
Licorice helps to support adrenal health by regulating the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. This in turn helps to improve energy levels, reduce anxiety, and promote better sleep. Licorice is also anti-inflammatory and helps to detoxify the body.
Lifestyle Changes for Adrenal Support
Ayurvedic herbs, your diet and lifestyle all play a role in treating adrenal fatigue. However, the most essential and difficult of the three is lifestyle change.
For this, you need to make committed shifts in your lifestyle, diet and thought patterns. You truly need to take a nourishing and restorative approach to heal your adrenal glands.
In addition to lifestyle changes, however, it is also important to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner to ensure that adrenal fatigue is the root cause of your symptoms. Only a professional can properly diagnose and treat adrenal fatigue.
But by taking care of yourself and making some lifestyle changes, you can help to reduce the symptoms and feel better overall.
1. Restore Your Adrenals with Rest and Relaxation
Getting plenty of rest and relaxation is important for adrenal health. When we’re constantly on the go, our adrenals have to work overtime to keep up. This can lead to adrenal fatigue.
Make sure to schedule in some time each day for yourself. Whether it’s taking a bath, reading your favorite book, or taking a walk in nature, do something that will help you relax and recharge.
Slowing down, rest and relaxation can help to relieve some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue and give your adrenal glands a chance to heal.
2. Take Care of Your Own Self & Shower some love to Your Adrenals
Ayurvedic self-care practices are particularly effective in reducing stress and promoting balance in the body. Some simple things you can do at home to support your adrenals include:
- Regular massage with warming and nourishing oils. It will also improve circulation, lift up your mood and relax your mind and body.
- Deep breathing exercises and pranayama to infuse the vital oxygen inside and elevate your energy levels.
- Eat a nourishing diet: include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and protein. Avoid caffeine and processed foods.
- Take time for yourself: make sure to schedule in some down time each day to relax and de-stress.
- Get good quality sleep each night
By taking care of yourself, you can help to reduce the symptoms of adrenal fatigue and promote overall balance in your body.
3. Good Sleep
One of the most important things you can do to support your adrenal health is to get enough sleep. Sleep is when our bodies repair and heal from the stresses of the day. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies don’t have a chance to recover and this can lead to adrenal fatigue.
Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, try to establish a bedtime routine that will help. This can help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down for the night.
There are a few things you can do to help ensure you’re getting enough deep, restful sleep:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine including winding down for 30 minutes before sleep
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool
- Avoid working or using electronic devices in bed
4. The Best Exercise to Support Adrenal Gland Function
Exercise is a stressor on the body, and while that might not seem like a good thing when you’re already struggling with adrenal fatigue, it can actually be helpful. The key is to make sure you’re doing the right kind of exercise at the right intensity.
Too much exercise can further tax your adrenals, but moderate exercise can actually help to support them. Proper exercise, in fact, can aid in the reduction of stress by releasing accumulated tension, moving sluggish mental and emotional energy, and improving circulation.
It also aids in the digestion process, helps our bodies’ natural detoxification mechanisms function properly, and promotes regular elimination, all of which are key to good health.
Talk to your doctor or a certified personal trainer about what kind of exercise routine would be best for you. And remember, even when you’re feeling exhausted, a little bit of movement can go a long way. Just get up and walk around the block or do some gentle stretches at home. Every little bit helps!
5. Yoga to De-stress and Treat Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
Yoga poses, breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation can all help to promote relaxation and stress relief. When practiced regularly, yoga can help to diminish the effects of adrenal fatigue.
Here are some yoga asana that reduce stress and support the function of adrenal glands.
- Balasana (Child’s Pose) – Stay in this pose for 4-5 mins while breathing deeply.
- Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Cobbler’s Pose) – Stay here for 4-5 minutes while focussing on exhaling out tension in your body.
- Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose) – This is one of the best poses to improve circulation, support adrenals and is relatively easy to practice. Stay in this pose for 7-10 mins while breathing deeply.
- Savasana (Corpse Pose) – Focus on your breath and relax deeply in this pose. Practice it for 7-10 mins.
- Anuloma Viloma or Nadi Shodhna Pranayama – Practice this for 8-10 rounds
- Bhramari Pranayama – Practice this for 5-10 mins
Before You Go!
If you are struggling with adrenal fatigue, know that you are not alone. Adrenal fatigue is a condition that affects many people in today’s society. But there are things you can do to support your adrenals! By following the tips above, you can help nourish and balance your adrenals.
And if you think you have been stressed for a long time, and suffer from adrenal fatigue and exhaustion, it would be beneficial to have a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner. He will take a holistic approach and recommend supportive Ayurvedic regimen to address your specific health symptoms as a result of adrenal fatigue.
Ayurvedic treatment for adrenal fatigue can help you identify the cause of your fatigue and develop a personalised treatment plan. Adrenal fatigue doesn’t have to control your life! With the right support, you can overcome it!
Do you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue? What have you found to be helpful in supporting your adrenals? Share in the comments below!
- Shilajit attenuates behavioral symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome by modulating the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and mitochondrial bioenergetics in rats
- Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal axis and Brain during Stress, Yoga and Meditation: A Review
- Association of yoga practice and serum cortisol levels in chronic periodontitis patients with stress-related anxiety and depression
- Making A Difference in Adrenal Fatigue