Why Your Adrenal Fatigue Isn’t Getting BETTER

February 24, 2014

By the time women get to me, I’m not usually the first person to tell them they are struggling in the adrenal department – and they’ve usually got a big ol’ bag of supplements to prove it. I want to let you in on a little secret, your adrenal fatigue should be getting better. Now there are some people of course, that are not able to or are not willing to change their lifestyle to lessen stress and let their adrenals heal. They of course, aren’t going to get much better any time soon and they will need supplemental support to stay afloat. That’s OK, but for those of you who are learning to meditate, getting more sleep, taking the vitamins, doing the yoga and all the “healthy stuff”, you all should be getting better. If you’re not, here’s a list of reasons why:

Mineral Loss. Shifts in your electrolytes (namely sodium and potassium) can be due to overstimulation of aldosteorone. Frequent urination, excessive sweating and pseudo-hot flashes are all signs you may need some electrolytes.  A blend with sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride is best.  Try Electrolyte Synergy or NUUN Hydration Tabs.

Menopause. As your ovarian production of estrogen and progesterone wanes, the FSH, follicle stimulating hormone, signal from the pituitary that normally triggers the ovaries to make more of these hormones ends up putting some serious heat on the adrenals take over and meet the demand. Menopause requires more adrenal support, consider the herb Rhodiola 200mg a couple times per day as a start or try my favorite adrenal support here.

Anemias  and Pre-Anemias. Deficiencies of B12, B6, folic acid and/or iron can all create a shift in fuel availability (specifically in glycolysis: the oxidation or burning of sugar/glucose) which is a huge stressor on the body as it decreases oxygen availability to every cell. Talk about stress! This can occur even before a full blown anemia is caught by your primary doc, but a good functional medicine doc will catch these pre-anemias and help you intervene early on. We take this one very seriously, oxygen is that important 🙂 as you may have suspected!

EFA Deficiency. Low omega 3s will negatively affect the communication between the brain and adrenals worsening adrenal fatigue and adrenal stress. Many people are taking fish oil, but not making a dent in their need for it because they are still in a state of inflammation. It’s wise to take it, but if you aren’t feeling positive effects from it, you may not be getting to the root cause of the inflammation and just burning through it.  Always get to the cause! (Do I sound like a broken record on that one? Good.)

Anaerobic Dominance. If you’ve been focusing on burst or sprint training, metabolic circuits and not much aerobic work for months now, you may be shifted into this state. While this type of training is effective for fat burning,  remember all fitness and nutrition advice has to jive with your current physiology and adrenal health. You may need to do a bit more aerobic work, more walking, or just dial down the metabolic work to get you back into balance between fat burning and sugar burning (glycolytic and lipolytic). (Remember from above glycolosis is the oxidation or burning of sugar that requires oxygen.)

Heavy Metal Toxicity This is not always symptomatic and is quite common, but a huge word of caution here (especially if you have autoimmunity or Hashimoto’s): to survive a heavy metal chelation or detox, and not trip more autoimmunity or make your current health worse, you need very healthy gut and brain barriers, adequate liver detox, and stable autoimmunity. And if you have any neurological conditions (i.e. MS) or neurological antibodies (see for more info) then I strongly advise against chelation except in very special cases. And please don’t attempt chelation on your own or without proper testing to asses brain, gut and immune system to make sure all systems are healthy and get guided advice from a functional medicine doctor. Please, pretty please.

Inflammation. Chronic infections (such as herpes viruses, EBV, or gut infections: parasites, candida, bacteria, etc.), injuries, over training, oxidative stress (very common in Hashimoto’s and in those that train hard) and the biggie: food intolerances.  Eating foods you’re sensitive to is the #1 thing I see in practice as a source of inflammation – good news is it’s relatively easy to fix.  Try a program like the Whole 30 or just cut gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol, sugar, and corn from your diet for 4-6 weeks and see if you feel better. Or find a doc like me or someone close to you to help.

Emotional Stress. Of course you know what I’m talking about here. All that stuff that weighs on your heart and gets your mind racing. Find outlets to release this and learn to cope – because it will happen, that’s life. I’ve found walking to be my best meditation but I’m actually trying to learn to meditate, just sitting there on that damn pillow, too.  Try different strategies from EFT to therapy, but do find something that works for you.

How Did You Get Here? We all have quite an amazing capacity to deal with stress. We handle everything from standing up to being able to skip a meal to getting through a tough workout. The problem is that this system is taxed when we do all of those things and also try to get a PhD, run a business, raise a family, endure a breakup or loss of a loved one, and any manner of extras we layer on like too much booze, too little sleep, too much coffee and the pressure we put on ourselves to KEEP doing too much. Our stress response is quick to deal with a stressor – anything that takes you away from your set point, your zero, your balanced state, your homeostasis. The trouble is not only when the stresses just keep coming but when we lose the ability to get back to our set point. This happens when the brain and adrenals stop communicating efficiently and the normal rhythm of cortisol gets totally whacked. One of the biggest complaints with adrenal problems, next to fatigue and cycle wonkiness, is difficulty loosing fat. We’ll get in to why that is in the next post.

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