Chronic stress and Adrenal fatigue or burnout

Your adrenal glands are situated above your kidneys and they are responsible for producing cortisol, a hormone essential to deal with stress and immunity. We are not far evolved from the days when stress meant a burst of energy to fight or run from a wild animal. When that event was over, recovery time would be ample and the cortisol used up would have plenty of time to be replenished by the adrenal glands, especially during sleep.

The adrenals have many functions such as making the only anti-inflammatory hormone for pain – (cortisol), immunity support, balancing fluid and salt levels, controlling minerals, heart rate, and sleep and wake cycles. They even act as back-up organs for the ovaries during menopause, partly replacing the sex hormones.Nowadays, for many people stress is a constant nagging problem, which rarely goes away. There are many types of stress and they all add up to overuse of the adrenal glands. These glands will do their best to keep up production, but in the end after months and years of chronic stress they become fatigued. This has a number of negative effects on the body and daily capabilities of the sufferer, some of which are far reaching in terms of long-term health.

1. What are the major stresses in life 2. Less dramatic, constant stressors
Death or illness of a loved one Grief, anger, worry and jealousy
Divorce and separation Constant illness or pain
Moving home Strife in relationships
Children leaving home Work dissatisfaction
Changing jobs Financial difficulties
Marriage Crowded living quarters
Starting a family Poor diet and toxins
Lack of sleep or irregular sleeping pattern

This list could go on and on. You will know some of the stress factors in your life. Some can be eliminated, and others have to be worked on. The constant stress is the type, which eventually leads to adrenal fatigue and later when the adrenals can no longer cope at all adrenal burnout.

What effect does adrenal fatigue have on the mind and body?

In the short term you wake up tired and probably need coffee to get going, maybe several cups. Again after lunch you feel tired and about 6 pm you get a spurt of energy. Sleepy at nine or ten but if you get through that another energy burst at midnight. Sleep may be easy at first but then it is difficult to sleep through the night and feel rested in the morning. Sore muscles, which do not recover from exercise is a classic symptom. When your legs will not keep still, especially when tired it can be a sign of adrenal fatigue.

Long-term effects

Although this does not always happen, excess fat in both the middle around the waist and the face (including puffy eyes) can develop gradually from adrenal fatigue. In the midsection, the fat forms primarily in and around the abdominal organs and sags down. This is internal fat, rather than fat under the skin. Loss of collagen can also cause stretch type marks in the fat zone. This fat is laid down for survival due to the constant stress.

Dark circles around the eyes and a tired appearance and confusion with short term memory loss. The usual 90 minute sleep cycles from superficial to deep sleep and disturbed and often stressed people wake at 2,3 or 4 am and cannot stop thinking. Functioning normally the next day is almost impossible and the bad cycle can go on for months and even years.
Decreased white blood cells, neutrophils leave you open to infection, so you easily get sick with any bug going around. Add this to the lack of cortisol to fight inflammation and the bug hits you harder and lasts longer than your less stressed friends and loved ones.

Autoimmune diseases, where the body defences attack your own cells, often hit people after long-term illness, an injury, the loss of someone dear or a divorce. Most treatment for them consists of cortisone medication, which switches off your own immune system. Could these also be signs of adrenal burnout?

What can you do to treat this problem?

There is no quick fix, but some hard lifestyle decisions directed at avoiding stressful people or resolving conflict come first. Eliminate pain and treat illness. Biomechanical pain is very successfully treated with chiropractic and this allows better sleeping in order to produce cortisol. Since the cortisol is also used for healing, you need to get regular good quality sleep each night as a priority.

Getting pain free is also essential for being able to exercise properly. There is no better way to lower stress than by doing regular exercise. If you are not used to doing exercise, please make sure you are fit to do so and know the correct exercise for your state of health and fitness. Here at Chiropractic Dubai, our chiropractors and physical therapists carefully teach and guide you along the correct pathway, so that you do not fall into the trap of too much too fast. For example, with any back pain sufferers, it is vitally important to be correctly aligned by the chiropractor before concentrating on core strength exercises. For some people they need flexibility from spinal adjustments before they can tackle certain types of exercise.

For those who worry and go over problems continually in their mind, meditation and yoga are a great help. Learning to cut off and relax is an essential life skill and helps with restful sleep as well as stress control. Do not hold on to negative thoughts and emotions. They only harm you. Give them a time limit to ponder and when you realize there is no solution, or that it was in the past, let them float away and leave you with peace. Make yourself a relaxing routine such as a bath with candles and soft music or a massage. Be open minded, all these have helped me at various times in my life but sometimes I find that the person who needs it most is the one who is determined it will not work for them.

Adrenal support

Before you consider supplementing with no medical advice, please realize that even supplements can have an interaction with any medications or any chemicals such as alcohol you may be taking. If you need regular medication, including pain control medication, please check with your doctor which of the following are advisable in your case.

There are some foods and supplements, which can help to boost and support the adrenal function. Vitamin C enhances immunity and may reduce the symptoms of asthma and allergies. It also helps to block the lipid plaques forming in your arteries. The adrenal gland has the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body and so a good easily digestible form of vitamin C is key to reversal of adrenal fatigue syndrome. Eat good fresh fruit and vegetable sources as well as a good daily tablet. Cartons and bottled juices contain very little vitamin C and it is easily destroyed in air and with length of time from picking.

Other essential vitamins are vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid and check your vitamin D3 levels and supplement if needed. Both zinc 5mg per day and Magnesium 100mg per day help to boost immunity and support the adrenals.

Ashwaghanda, an Indian herb at 374mg daily and Shisandra 100mg will also help support the adrenal rebuilding process.

Curumin is also a potent agent to boost immunity and this is found in curry.

Siberian Ginseng at 200mg twice a day may be beneficial for adrenal stress as well as for athletes. However, do not take this together with decongestants or blood thinning medication.
Suspend Ginseng if you have any infection with a high fever.

Aged garlic and Fish oils.

Take only one coffee a day as it depletes vitamin B and leads to anxiety and tremors. The caffeine, which is also in tea chocolate and soda drinks, stimulates the body and gives and energy burst, but overuse this mechanism and it takes you even closer to adrenal burn out.

It should go without saying that a good wholesome diet, rich in vegetables and fruits, which are as fresh and whole as possible is the best way to get nourishment. Cooking at home with healthy oils and fats is always preferable to eating out. Fast foods especially should be avoided as they are laden with additives and trans fats, which only add to the metabolic stress on your system.

So you need to fight your chronic stress on every level. Mentally, with relaxation and perhaps counseling; metabolically, by getting your diet and supplementation as well as detoxing from environmental poisons and additives and of course physically. Physical rebuilding includes good quality sleep, optimum exercise regime and optimal joint and muscle function. If you are in pain, or experiencing any mechanical symptoms, you can benefit greatly from a chiropractic treatment plan with in house rehabilitation.