Are Your Adrenals Exhausted?
The adrenals are your second brain, your battery pack, the main workhouse of the human body. It is almost impossible to function without them. It is often the underlying cause of many disease conditions. The adrenals are the size of a walnut, sitting on top of the kidneys. They drive the endocrine system and play a huge role in running your nervous system. They are critical for digestion, hormone balance, liver function, and all sexual organs and function. When adrenals are formed, the same cells that form the adrenals, then go over and form the sexual organs in the embryo. When sexual organs are removed via surgery (hysterectomy for example), the adrenals are very affected. People are taking hormone replacements for libido, which further weakens the glandular system, when often times adrenal fatigue is the cause of this problem in the first place.
The adrenal glands manage your stress response, produce more hormones than any other gland in your body, balance and manage salt and potassium levels, assist with both blood pressure and blood sugar regulation and provide energy when needed. The main enemies of the adrenal glands are sugar, caffeine and stress. The typical American lifestyle leads to adrenal exhaustion and the long list of related problems.
Mothers today are having weak adrenals, and children are being born with a weakness in this area, resulting in all the symptoms and sickness related to adrenal fatigue at a very young age.
Adrenal weakness can result in cravings for sugar, or caffeine, or both. When refined sugar is consumed, the adrenals are forced to deal with it by producing adrenal steroids. As the glands continue to produce steroids, eventually they weaken and can no longer properly balance blood sugars, salt/potassium ratios or produce hormones. Then the person becomes dependent on sugar or caffeine for survival. If continued, the adrenals are completely drained of all vitality, a very dangerous situation. This can lead to so many adrenal fatigue symptoms such as:
Fatigue: The person is often ok in morning, but having a PM crash (3-5pm). Overwhelming fatigue and need for nap should not be normal.
Difficulty with focus, concentration, memory, and willpower (desire to accomplish things, to take care of yourself, etc.). Seen in both children and adults, sometimes named ADD/ADHD
Hyperactivity: Hyperactivity is actually a lack of energy because we are exhausted and we force and push life to continue as usual.
Depression: As you get more tired, you start to focus on the negative.
Difficulty handling stress/anxiety, sometimes as extreme as panic attacks
Feeling easily worried, fearful, overwhelmed and struggling to deal with basic life situations
Major uncontrollable cravings for sugar or caffeine
Low blood pressure and low blood sugars and difficulty managing blood sugars
Abnormal cravings for salt
Weight gain around the middle
Loss of libido
Allergies, asthma, eczema, psoriasis due to the adrenal's inability to properly produce steroid hormones, often resulting in use of pharmaceutical grade synthetic hormones that cause long-term damage to the body.
Hyper-pigmentation, vitiligo, excess freckles forming, darkening around elbows and knees and dark scars around cuts.
We often feel we need to take hormones, because the adrenals are so weak. Taking hormones may be beneficial for a short time, but the goal should always be to build the adrenals and strengthen the glands naturally. Most hormones are synthetic and are misleading when called “bio-identical”, making people think they are natural when they are clearly not.
Nutrition for Healthy Adrenals
A nutrient dense diet is key for adrenal health. This should include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. The nuts and seeds are the hormones of plants, so they are very beneficial! The focus should be more on healthy fats, healthy proteins and mineral dense superfoods.
EAT! Here are all the glorious foods you should be eating:
Pine pollen is a great food to add to salads that is loaded with healthy hormonal nutrients
The dark leafy greens and nutrient dense seaweeds are excellent
Sea salt every day on food or in water. Adrenals run on water and salt. Don’t be afraid of salt, eat the best salt. Sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, etc. Celtic sea salt or other quality sea salts are the best. If you are more active, or burnt out, you may need more salt. Many people crave salt and for good reason. Throw away processed table salt! Do not eat salt in packaged foods. An easy way to get good salt and increase hydration is to put 1 teaspoon of salt in a gallon of water. You can put less if taste is an issue
Animal products. Best to focus on lean meats, such as fowl (chicken, hen, turkey) and bone broth soups. Eggs and fish would be good protein sources also. You can do some 100% grass fed beef, bison, etc. but no pork. Make sure all meat is 100% no antibiotics, no hormones, ideally from a local farmer
Coconuts are rich in minerals and healthy fats
ALL vegetables are OK and encouraged!
All fruit, but no dried fruit. Whole fruits only.
You can do a small amount of ancient seed grains like buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth and millet. Wild rice and brown rice are ok. Try not to eat sugar/starch for breakfast. Your breakfast needs to be fats and proteins or just a green smoothie with avocado, hemp seeds, etc. Save buckwheat, sweet potatoes, corn and other starches for dinner so you are not tired during the day and create blood sugar issues. You can do a little fruit for breakfast for your blood sugars.
Nuts and seeds. Soak them first overnight in a glass of water, Raw nuts only, not roasted in oils.
Good fats. Eat avocado, coconut, olives and olive oil, fish, cod liver oil, raw butter, nuts and seeds, nut butters in small amounts (almond is best because of the vitamin E content and protein), bone broth soups, hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds or pumpkin oil (amazing on salads!) DO NOT overdo fats! Many people have congestion issues and should limit even healthy fats. Pay attention to your body.
Fermented foods, these are wonderful! Raw kefir and yogurt (if tolerated), fermented veggies like sauerkraut and kim- chi (watch for MSG and sugar) and kombucha
Excellent breakfast would be a smoothie! I would encourage coconut milk, almond milk or just water as a base. I would add raw eggs (from the farm only!), some berries OR a banana for taste, but not both, some fat like avocado or olive oil, and some maca powder. This is great for building strength and muscle in the body, and balancing adrenals and hormones.
Foods to avoid:
All caffeine, including coffee, chocolate, some green tea, black tea, etc. (minimize chocolate, and eat raw cacao only)
All grains and processed flours. This means no breads, pasta, crackers, chips, pizza, cereals, baked goods, etc. Ancient seed grains in moderation like quinoa or buckwheat are ok if tolerated.
No corn, except sweet corn on the cob. No processed corn chips, tortillas, etc.
No processed sugar of any kind. No complex sugar of any kind, including agave, cane sugar, maple syrup, etc.. Fruit and honey are ok.
No processed foods, box, package, or can. Eat whole foods.
All processed grocery store dairy products or even raw milk if intolerant.
Sun: The sun is the most powerful therapy for healing of the adrenal glands. The sun is critical for both men and women. Men may be encouraged to know that sunshine increases testosterone production, increases libido and strengthens muscles. The keys are the following:
Eat well. If you eat foods God created, healthy fats and antioxidant rich foods, you will tan beautifully and reap the benefits of the sun. If you eat man-made junk food, you will burn and skin will be damaged. God didn’t make a mistake in making the sun, it depends on our choices. Take Astaxanthin to protect your body and help the skin to tan nicely.
No sunglasses, eyeglasses, or even contact lenses if possible. They all block the light from getting into the eyes, which is the key to healing the adrenals.
Never burn. Work up slowly, but the goal should be 30 minutes – 1 hour of sunshine daily. Never use sunscreen. It burns toxic chemicals into your skin.
Rest: Lie down. This shuts off the adrenals. Rest, rest, rest. If you can, sleep for 3-4 days straight. Lights out, electronics off. Wake up to drink water and go to the restroom and then back to bed. If you can’t sleep, pray, read the Bible or read other quality, inspirational books. Your body will tell you when you’ve had enough rest. You should be alive and vibrant after just a couple days when your adrenal batteries have recharged. Do not sleep with a pillow. We should be flat or slightly inverted (legs slightly elevated). When standing, our adrenals are “on” and when we lie flat or inverted they turn “off” and go into resting, healing mode. We need the adrenals turned off when you are sleeping.
Ideal bedtime is before 10pm. 10pm-1am is the most critical healing time for sleep. Winter is the time to rest! Calm down by 8pm, rest for an hour or two and be in bed and asleep by 10pm. Sleep 8-10 hours if possible. Getting to sleep early is critical. When spring comes, you will have the energy accumulated to be active for the spring and summer season.
Grounding: Get grounded. Earthing pads help to normalize cortisol levels. See information on "earthing". It is amazing for both the adrenals and the thyroid glands. It reduces stress, anxiety, improves sleep, reduces pain and inflammation, and heals the glandular and nervous systems.
Exercise: Be careful here. When severe, people with adrenal fatigue should not exercise at all! Walking outside in the sunshine would be the best exercise. No more than that should be attempted until strength begins to return. Pilates or yoga would be an excellent form of mild, yet powerful and strengthening form of exercise.
If anyone is suffering from extreme adrenal burnout, you must take special precautions. When the adrenals are failing, known as adrenal exhaustion, adrenal failure or in the medical community as Addison’s, this can be an extremely dangerous situation. Please consider the following:
Rest, rest, rest. Sleep as much as possible. As above, sleep flat or slightly inverted. Take time off work, or take the weekends and just sleep. When you stand, the adrenals are turned “on.” You want them “OFF” as much as possible. You may get dizzy when sitting down and standing up.
Be careful when fasting. You need food, fuel to keep you going. Your adrenals will not bail you out when food is scarce. I recommend eating three square meals per day. If you need to graze to keep blood sugar levels up, do so. But low blood sugar and blood pressure are both dangerous situations and both related to adrenal exhaustion.
Take note of food sensitivities or food allergies. The weaker your adrenals, the more you may notice this happening. Try to avoid foods that cause reactions, but remember you still need to eat.
Supplements for the Adrenals:
The nutrients used most by the adrenals are magnesium, vitamin C and pantothenic acid (b-vitamins).
Vitamin C – cayenne, camu camu, goji, amla,acerola cherry, rose hips, bell peppers, hot peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli are all good sources. Take a whole food supplement only. If the supplement says ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate or something else that is not a food, avoid it. We recommend Pure Radiance C by Synergy.
Magnesium– We recommend magnesium chloride only, foot baths are best. 6 days per week, 1 day off for 1 month. Take small plastic foot tub, add warm water to cover toes, add 2-3 ounces magnesium oil and soak 15-20 minutes before bed. Bath salts are also great for nightly baths. After one month, maintenance is 2-3 times per week or as desired. * Note: For people with very low blood pressure (often associated with weak adrenals) be very cautious with too much magnesium too fast as it can drop blood pressure. Start very slow and work up cautiously.