It seems everyday we see a new patient with what we would categorize as severe exhaustion. This is not to be confused with chronic fatigue so much as out and out physical exhaustion, like you just had an incredibly hard day of work, but it’s actually first thing in the morning. Everything seems overwhelming and exhausting in your day to day activities, from start to finish. Have you considered the problem could be your adrenal glands?
It’s not depression, and it’s not “just getting older”. For most people we see, this is the end-game of adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. Their adrenal glands are imbalanced and malfunctioning at best, and causing serious endocrine disruption at worst.
The endocrine system includes the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands, as well as the pancreas, ovaries and testes. The whole thing is governed by the hypothalamus in what we often refer to as the HPA Axis – hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal. This triad determines nearly everything about your body’s hormone levels; from insulin and thyroid hormones for metabolism to sexual function, immunity, and even your emotions.
It’s a pretty big deal in terms of body systems. And when we are talking about how our bodies use their available energy, just about any problem or malady associated with metabolism and energy production in the body starts at the HPA Axis.
Adrenal Glands and Exhaustion
We think of adrenaline (or epinephrine) as the fight or flight hormone. In a sudden emergency adrenaline will increase your heart rate, raise awareness, and release glucose into the blood stream for use in fighting or running from danger. Some even report pain when a sudden flood of adrenaline hits the bloodstream. But we’re not talking about those emergency states. When we talk about adrenaline disruption it is usually far more subtle. Adrenaline is produced and ready to go in the body at all times. But many, many people experience unintended releases of the hormone in stressful situations.
When the stressful moment passes, the natural “downtime” and recovery process of adrenaline takes over. Again, running away from a bear, this makes sense. Once you are out of danger, your body can recover and possibly even shut down briefly to rest after the excitement.
But most of us aren’t running from bears (luckily!). Most of us encounter stressful minutes throughout the day, and depending on how our psychology and physiology deal with these interactions, we run the risk of trickling adrenaline into the system periodically throughout the day or even well into the night. Trickling adrenaline into your bloodstream at a regular rate can have serious consequences for your health.
If the adrenal glands are further malnourished by our western diet, the standard response to stress can see an overreaction by the adrenal glands. This one-two punch of chronic stress and malfunctioning adrenal glands can lead to several conditions, but the exhaustion we refer to in the title is really attributed to two different adrenal conditions; Adrenal Exhaustion or Addison’s Disease, and more seriously, Hypoadrenia.
Adrenal Exhaustion or Addison’s Disease
These conditions start innocently enough. Daily stressors begin the cycle, with your Adrenal glands doing what they can, but not really being designed for regular use. In fact the regular presence of adrenaline starts to impact the production of other hormones affecting appetite and sex drive. Common early symptoms of a problem are the “wired but tired” feeling most of us have experienced. We are able to function throughout the day, but tend to be wiped out by the evening.
This, in turn, creates a hormone cascade that can prevent proper metabolism of your evening food, continued lower sex drive, and finally, hormonal disruptions when it’s time for bed.
Chronic exhaustion is then, typically just the accumulation of these stress/adrenaline overproduction events throughout our lives. The body has a terrific ability to recover from many of these episodes, but over time the adrenal system is overworked and undernourished and starts to experience permanent damage and changes in it’s function.
It is essential to properly feed your endocrine system, including the adrenal glands. What we’ve covered here just scratches the surface of what scientists now understand is going on with the hormone cocktails in our bodies. The protomorphogen effect states that eating organ meats provide a template for the use of the nutrients found within. Therefore eating gland tissue can be seen to aid specific glands in the body. Since no one wants to eat raw cow or pig adrenal and thyroid glands (this will actually work, maybe with ketchup?) it’s fortunate that in 2017, we have the technology to concentrate those whole food sources into consumable supplements. By addressing the vitamin complexes and minerals required by different glands in the endocrine suite, our nutritional supplement protocols to help your body combat adrenal exhaustion will be of huge benefit to an enormous percentage of our population.
But sometimes it gets more serious before people come to see us. Sometimes the condition becomes so acute, there are more serious symptoms and ultimate consequences, as adrenal imbalance and malfunction leads to several other endocrine system failures in concert with the Adrenal glands. This is when the condition becomes Hypoadrenia.
How Hypoadrenia Differs From Adrenal Exhaustion
While typically tagged as having similar or the same root causes as Adrenal Exhaustion, Hypoadrenia takes on more serious and dire consequences for most patients, and the significance of how it’s affecting their lives is far more acute than mere exhaustion.
Symptoms often start the same, but if there is dysfunction already present in the Endocrine system, these adrenal imbalance episodes quickly cause other problems. It starts with blood sugar imbalances (Hypoglycemia can often occur in parallel with Hypoadrenia) that lead to a another “failure cascade” where hormone disruptions are everywhere. One of the most common examples is when your body fails to create proper amounts of melatonin at bedtime. The boom and bust cycle of adrenaline release makes the patient exhausted, but counter-intuitively, they are often unable to sleep or unable to achieve consistent REM sleep cycles so important to normal human function.
Once you are in a daily exhaustion, night-time anxiety state, you are going to be trapped in a vicious cycle from which the only exit is the “spin out, shut down”. In the meantime, your other systems and the hormone imbalances there will start to make these symptoms harder and harder to deal with. Weight gain, loss of mental clarity, irritability, and even gender specific problems like enlarged breasts (men) and inconsistent menstrual cycles (women) can be tacked on to the already miserable myriad of difficult symptoms of Hypoadrenia.
Along with eating raw thyroid and adrenal gland, Hypoadrenia sufferers should consider raw licorice and ginseng extract which will help with nighttime relaxation. Since these ingredients can be difficult or unpleasant to consume, we recommend whole food concentrate supplements, prepared very carefully to preserve the whole food vitamin complex found within.
Our concentrated whole food supplements can help your body combat the symptoms of Hypoadrenia, as well as nourish your entire Endocrine system, including thyroid and the full HPA axis. Nourish your body in the right way, and watch the amazing ability of your body to heal itself!