If you continue down this path, chugging caffeine to keep yourself going, skimping on sleep to get your work (or your partying) done, or skipping meals to prevent gaining even more weight, you’re headed for serious burnout. The kind you can no longer ignore. At this point, your adrenals, thyroid and female hormones are imbalanced, and even though your doctor may look at you, perplexed, because your blood work came back ok, you know there’s something wrong because you’re not feeling right, you’ve gained weight, maybe have anxiety, and your hormones have gone haywire.
How to Reverse Adrenal Burn Out
- saliva testing to determine cortisol levels
- restore circadian rhythm
- SLEEP, at least 8 hours nightly. In bed by 10pm.
- eat in regular intervals to maintain stable blood sugar
- eat enough calories for healing
- eat hormone-building, nutrient dense foods and good fats
- stop chugging coffee
- support digestion with probiotic foods
- minerals and vitamin C
- adaptogenic herbs
- B vitamins
- address stress in job, relationships
The first step is saliva testing to determine what your cortisol levels look like. Some doctors may offer blood testing for cortisol, but they’re not nearly as accurate and only offer one snapshot of what your cortisol levels are doing during the day. The saliva test requires 4 samples so you get an idea of your cortisol rhythm. They should be highest in the AM to wake you up and get you through the day, lowest at night so you drift off to sleep. If cortisol is too low, say, in the morning, you’ll be tired. If it’s too high at night, you can’t sleep. Your body is in sync with the natural rhythm of light and dark, and the closer you can re-establish that rhythm, the more you’ll heal. The saliva testing requires 4 samples during the day to measure your cortisol rhythm, then you’ll have the information you need to repair. High cortisol is treated much differently than low cortisol, so it’s important to test and see what your rhythm looks like.
The second step is to combine a healing protocol with a nutrient dense diet. Make vegetables of all types the base of every meal. High quality, organic and fatty acid rich protein such as wild fish, grass fed beef, lamb, and eggs at every meal in amounts appropriate for you. Tons of mineral-rich veggies and sea veggies, because the adrenals require minerals to function. Lots of sea salt (which is probably welcome, because you might be craving salt!); good fats like coconut oil, butter, olive oil; superfoods like bone broth, organ meats, raw kraut/probiotic foods, and organ meats.
The third step is to add specific healing supplements to your daily regiment.
Some of the supplements needed to heal adrenal fatigue are
- vitamin C
- adaptogenic herbs. I recommend GAIA, maca root, adrenatone, and/or licorice root
- B vitamins
- blood sugar support, if needed. I like this one.
- I love Adrecore to heal adrenal fatigue and the neuroendocrine axis, especially if mood imbalances are present
- certain nutrients, like phosphatidylserine, can encourage sleep at night if cortisol is high when it should be low.
- nettles and tulsi tea
The fourth step is to restore your natural circadian rhythms, put your body on a schedule. Wake up at the same time. Eat every 4 hours. Go to bed by 10pm or 11pm. Be sure to manage your blood sugar, because blood sugar highs or lows stress the adrenals. This means cut the refined foods, gluten, white sugar, sodas, coffee and nightly wine (sorry), and stop skipping meals. Support digestion with probiotic foods like raw kraut or this coconut water kefir, my favorite source because you also get the benefits of coconut water along with a hefty dose of probiotics. If your digestive tract is inflamed from too much bread and sugar and wine, you won’t absorb nutrients from all the great food you’re now eating. And, remember: your body perceives inflammation as a stressor, so an inflamed GI tract can worsen adrenal fatigue! You may want to take a probiotic supplement to support digestion.
Refined white flour and sugar jacks your blood sugar levels, which stresses the adrenals
Adaptogenic herbs like maca, rhodiola, schizandra, ashwaganda, licorice root and holy basil can really help. I have to stress that you should work with a practitioner to help you determine exactly what you need– don’t go it alone! Some of these herbs, especially if taken at the wrong times, can make you feel worse or further aggravate insomnia, for example.
The lifestyle factors are the most important. You won’t get better if you don’t change your habits– sleep, stress, and diet. I’ve had clients take time off work to heal because they understand their health is so important– and that they will prevent medical bills in the future (as well as the inability to work because they’re on disability with chronic fatigue syndrome). Fix your stressful relationships, and have I mentioned? SLEEP. Take a day per week and unplug to help calm down an overstimulated and exhausted mind and body. Click here for my sleep tips. Certain nutrients like magnesium and Seriphos (a phosphatidylserine supplement) can help bring down high cortisol at night and help you sleep if you’re having trouble. Healing your adrenals will reverse sleep issues long term, but it may take some time. Also, stop over-exercising and find an activity that rejuvenates you, whether it’s gardening, yoga or meditation.