Adrenal fatigue is a condition where your adrenal glands get overworked and burned out. It can take a major toll on your health and wellbeing, so you’ll want to avoid the major adrenal fatigue causes if you can. In this article, learn what causes adrenal fatigue and how to fix it.
What is adrenal fatigue?
What are the adrenal glands? The adrenal glands are two triangle-shaped glands. There is one on top of each of your kidneys. The adrenal glands have an outside and an inside. We’re going to be primarily talking about the hormones on the outside—especially cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone.
A short amount of stress is good for you — for example, intermittent fasting, intermittent exercise, or a cold shower. With adrenal fatigue, it’s chronic stress that breaks it down. Your body is able to compensate and get stronger. This is a concept called hormesis, and you can learn more about it here.
But the problems start when we are under stress all of the time and it doesn’t stop. Chronic exposure to certain stressors breaks things down and wears out our adrenal glands. Your adrenals are forced to pump out cortisol (a stress hormone) to deal with the constant, chronic stress. When you have too much cortisol, you develop cortisol resistance, and your cortisol doesn’t really work anymore. But eventually your adrenal glands get completely worn down and are unable to function properly.
This is a big problem and leads to a wide range of symptoms in the body. This leads to something called adrenal fatigue. With this situation, you have symptoms of high cortisol in certain parts of the body, and low cortisol in other parts of the body. Over time, adrenal fatigue causes a lot of problems throughout the whole body. It can impact everything from your immune system to your weight to your skin and hair.
The major signs of adrenal fatigue to watch for include:
- Fatigue and feeling tired all the time
- Inability to sleep
- Feeling run down
- Not able to recover and rejuvenate
The 7 Causes of Adrenal Fatigue:
1. Chronic lack of sleep
Sleep helps to rejuvenate your adrenal glands. Whether it is due to working late shifts, having a young baby, doing your medical school residency, or some other reason, if you are going for many years without sleeping enough then you could end up with adrenal fatigue syndrome. In fact, chronic lack of sleep is probably the number one cause of adrenal fatigue.
What to do about it: If you need help sleeping, then there are some things you can do to support yourself. Check out my Stress Webinar, where you can learn many different tools to help you sleep well (including how to use acupressure for sleep).
2. Long-term consumption of too much caffeine
High amounts of caffeine from coffee or tea can also drain your adrenals. Excessive caffeine intake depletes you of nutrients like vitamin B1, calcium, and potassium – all three of which are essential to support healthy adrenal glands.
Too much caffeine is definitely near the top of the list when it comes to adrenal problems, so it is important to pay attention to.
What to do about it: Cut your coffee consumption down to one cup per day if you can. Consider these coffee substitutes as alternatives.
3. No exercise
If you aren’t exercising, then your body doesn’t have an effective way to release stress. Exercise is a great way to keep stress out of the body; without it, stress will build up in your body and your adrenal glands will start to suffer.
What to do about it: Walking is a great solution to stress. A daily walking routine can do wonders for preventing the long-term effects of stress and benefits both your mind and body.
4. Chronic stress or shock
If you are in a situation where you are under constant pressure and stress (whether that is due to work, family life, marriage issues, etc.), your adrenal glands will start to burn out. Additionally, if you have a sudden shock in your life or a trauma (such as loss of a loved one or an accident), that will wear out the adrenals as well.
What to do about it: Relieving stress and reducing stressors is so important. Take stock of the things going on in your life, and make any changes you can to put less pressure on yourself. Implement healthy daily habits that support your wellbeing and help you to feel calm as possible.
5. Low nutrients
There are several key nutrients your adrenal glands need to function properly. These include:
Many common things can deplete these nutrients in your body. These can all be a part of the problem:
No veggies in the diet
Low stomach acid
Phytic acid consumption from grains
What to do about it: If you want to ensure you have enough of the key adrenal nutrients in your body, then make sure to eat plenty of vegetables; stay away from carbs, grains, alcohol, and sugar; and get outside into the sunshine regularly.
6. Chronic pain and inflammation
Pain and inflammation can wear your adrenals down quickly. Whether you have an injury or you have a chronic inflammatory condition, it can be a problem.
Young woman with shoulder pain holds her hand to her shoulder, red showing pain and inflammation.
What to do about it: One of the best things you can do is a combination of intermittent fasting and vitamin D supplementation. These are both essential for reducing inflammation in the body.
To deal with pain, turn to the many tips and tricks I share in my blogs and videos. I can help you to get rid of the pain – whether it is in your back or your foot or your neck.
7. Chronic infection
An underlying infection in your body can really destroy the adrenals. You may have even had a virus a long time ago and thought you got over it. But that virus could have gotten reactivated during a time of stress and is now wearing out your adrenals. Common infections that can have this kind of long-term effect include Epstein-barr, cytomegalovirus, and even TB.
What to do about it: Clearing your body of viruses, microbes, and pathogens can give your system a break and your adrenals time to recover. A good remedy that you can take regularly is oregano oil. This is a powerful natural antibiotic that can clean the body up. Another option to consider is ozone therapy.
Additional things to consider about adrenal fatigue causes.
You may notice more adrenal problems during menopause. When you go through menopause, your adrenal glands have to take over for your ovaries. For this reason, your adrenals can get overworked during this time of life.
Past prednisone use may be part of the equation. If you have taken prednisone in the past (which is a synthetic version of cortisol), it can weaken your adrenals.
A few more points about adrenal fatigue: • You may have more stress and more issues after menopause because your adrenal glands have to back up the ovaries. • I recommend watching my acupressure video (the stress webinar).
This Post has been condensed from Dr. Berg’s video, The 7 Causes of Adrenal Fatigue https://www.drberg.com/blog/the-7-causes-of-adrenal-fatigue#Title2
Dr. Berg is a chiropractor, who specializes in Healthy Ketosis & Intermittent Fasting, is the author of the best-selling book The Healthy Keto Plan, and is the Director of Dr. Berg Nutritionals. He no longer practices, but focuses on health education through social media. He has taught students nutrition as an adjunct professor at Howard University.
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