For every doctor who believes in adrenal fatigue, there’s another who says there’s no such thing – but for the women who experience symptoms around menopause that are explicable in no other way.
Over 70% of menopausal women experience some of the negative symptoms of menopause: hot flashes, palpitations, night sweats, difficulty sleeping and mood swings. These symptoms can be addressed through hormone replacement therapy, or with natural remedies, but for some women, regardless of the treatments they opt for, their symptoms just don’t change. Many of these women, and their doctors, believe this is a failure of stress hormones caused by adrenal fatigue.
What is adrenal fatigue?
It’s a hormone imbalance resulting from the adrenal hormones being insufficient, which is called adrenal fatigue or adrenal stress. The adrenal glands, which produce adrenal hormones, then require support to perform effectively.
How can women help their adrenal function?
The really good news about adrenal fatigue is that it’s eminently possible to reset the body to produce the right amount of adrenal hormones. Unfortunately, many women find it difficult to accept the prescription that will restore their adrenal health because the lifestyle changes required are often the opposite of the way they’ve been treating their symptoms.
- No alcohol – for women who’ve been using a glass of wine (or three) to try and relax at the end of the day, the idea that they should give up booze is a tough ask. However, alcohol puts pressure on the adrenals and raises blood sugar which inflames the whole system … leading to more pressure on the adrenal glands.
- Don’t worry, be happy – easier said than done, especially if you’re always tired and worried about your tiredness. The solution, according to holistic therapists, is mediation which will:
- Lower cortisol
- Rebalance blood sugar
- Improve digestive processes
- Help the body self-heal.
We’ve already written about meditation in detail here, if you want to learn more.
- Remove sugars and processed foods – ouch! But many therapists believe that processed carbohydrates and sugars inflame the whole body and should be cut out of the diet while you’re trying to regulate adrenal function. Once that’s done, they can be added back in, in moderation. But dietary changes are key to success here, and there’s a comprehensive list of nutritional tips here.
- Sleep more, sleep better – most people with adrenal fatigue should be in bed by 10pm, say the experts, which is hard for women who’ve begun to dread bedtime for its hot sweats, night stress and insomnia. Staying up later means your body gives you a boost of cortisol to keep going, which can make it harder than ever to sleep, deepening the sleep deprivation cycle.
- Plan cycles – no not bicycles, but 90 minute cycles in which you stop every hour and a half to take a break, meditate, take a brief walk, or practice slow breathing. This is seen as a way of naturally responding to our inbuilt energy cycles which allows you to switch off and ‘reset’ your body, giving your stress levels a chance to drop and your adrenal glands an opportunity to take a break.
- Share it – whether it’s with a counsellor or a good friend, ‘downloading’ your day’s experiences can help you gain perspective, make a conscious decision to de-escalate your adrenal response, and focus on the good things that have happened in the day, including the positive actions you’ve taken to address adrenal fatigue.