ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY / ADRENAL FATIGUE
The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys and produce several hormones essential to the body. When any of these hormones are out of balance or under stress, we release short surges of cortisol and other hormones into the bloodstream. Prolonged exposure to stress could drain the adrenals leading to a low cortisol state, the indicators of which can show up with a variety of symptoms that collectively point to a syndrome known as adrenal insufficiency, or adrenal fatigue.
This diagnosis is typically given when a nonspecific set of symptoms occurs. Further testing then often reveals fluctuating or unbalanced hormone levels, particularly cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and aldosterone.
Cortisol is the hormone that controls the “fight or flight” response; the level of cortisol fluctuates throughout the day, with levels typically higher in the morning and lower at night. When you suffer from adrenal fatigue, the level of cortisol in your body is abnormal, which can negatively affect many different bodily functions. The condition can make it difficult to sleep at night and awaken in the morning; a chronic lack of sleep can reduce mental acuity, bring on brain fog, and induce depression. It can also heighten the body’s stress response, which brings on overproduction of hormones that disrupt libido, muscle function, menstrual cycles, and digestion. Food allergies are one common trigger for a stress response causing the adrenals to surge.
Observation and evaluation of the following symptoms are the leading indicators for adrenal insufficiency:
• Body aches
• Sleep disturbances
• Digestive problems
• Hair loss, bald spots
• Food allergies
Other, less common physical conditions that present when adrenal fatigue is possible:
• Low libido
• Irregular periods
• Muscle weakness and joint pain
Facial Signs of Adrenal Fatigue
Hormonal fluctuations often first appear on the face with the following indicators:
• Dark circles under eyes
• Dry, itchy skin
• Acne, especially on the chin, jaw line or forehead
• Skin discoloration, age spots
Testing and Treatment
Several natural medicine alternatives are available to treat adrenal insufficiencies and alleviate their mixed bag of related symptoms. Our holistic and Functional Medicine approaches seeks to address the root causes as well as manage the condition naturally through dietary adjustments and herbal supplements, as well as with lifestyle changes, acupuncture and other protocols.
Our clinic’s testing and treatment depend on the presentation and severity of a client’s symptoms as well as medical history. A specific treatment plan is designed to tackle each patient’s individual needs. For adrenal insufficiency, these methods include the following:
• Electro Dermal Screening