October 26, 2013

Push the Pause Button on Adrenal Burnout.


*Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment.

“Why am I always so tired? What about adrenal burnout? How do I get my energy back and heal my adrenals?”

First, you need to know what your adrenal glands do, why they malfunction, and what can you do about it.

Adrenals are really important, because they help us respond to stress. If you have chronic stress, your adrenals get beat up, and it is difficult to manage your life, and your energy plummets.

You feel tired and wired. You get palpitations. You feel anxious. You have trouble sleeping. You might crave salt. You may get dizzy when you stand up. You might have low blood pressure. You might even have sugar cravings, because your blood sugar can’t be regulated. All these are clues that you could have adrenal problems.

So, why do we get adrenal burnout?

We get it from the chronic, unremitting, ongoing stresses of everyday life: stresses of our families, stresses of relationships, stresses of work, the stresses of constant interaction with Facebook and Twitter and the online world, and all these inputs that never let us pause.

Now, how many of you know where your pause button is? I bet you don’t. I bet you haven’t found it yet, and you don’t know where to go to turn it on or how to turn it on.

Understanding the body’s response to stress

It’s really important to understand how the whole stress response works, why it goes wrong, and why, over time, your adrenal glands, which are these little glands that sit on the top of the kidneys, are not able to compensate for the chronic stress that we have in our lives.

So, how do you know if you have adrenal burnout or if you’re on the way to adrenal burnout? It’s very simple. You ask yourself a set of questions:

  1. Do you have any of these symptoms?
  2. Are you feeling tired and wired?
  3. Are you irritable?
  4. Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
  5. Are you having trouble with low blood pressure or low blood sugar?
  6. Are you craving sweets?
  7. Are you craving salt?
  8. Are you just feeling kind of overwhelmed?

If you have any of these symptoms, you might just have adrenal burnout.

When you have adrenal burnout, your cortisol starts to go down, you can’t respond normally to the stresses of life, and you end up just feeling tired and crummy most of the time. We push ourselves with coffee. We push ourselves with stimulants. We push ourselves to feel better using things that don’t really work.

So, what does work? How do you heal your adrenals and regain your energy?

Find your pause button

It’s quite simple—find your pause button. That’s the first thing to do, and I’ve found lots of different pause buttons that I like the push. You need to find yours.

I do it through yoga—that’s one of my favorite pause buttons.

I also use a hot bath at night. I call it the UltraBath, where I take two cups of Epsom salt, half a cup of baking soda, 10 drops of lavender oil, and soak for 20 minutes. You end up with a really decreased stress response. In fact, they put lavender oil in babies’ baths, because it lowers cortisol and helps to balance their whole hormonal system.

Also, there are other things you can do. Massage is great, as is meditation and deep breathing. There are all sorts of tools and resources available for you everywhere—online, on my website, where you can actually be guided through the experience of how to do this.

Very simple things have profound effects. Exercise is also really important—gentle, regular exercise like a morning walk, a light jog, a little bike ride. Do something out in the fresh air to get natural light that affects your pineal gland and helps reset your brain and the stress response.

I also recommend regular rhythm. Rhythm is key, because your hormones are balanced in rhythms. So, waking at the same time every day, going to bed at the same time every day, eating at the same time every day—these are the rhythms in life that help to reset your natural balance. Following your natural rhythms of work and rest during the day is also essential. Take natural breaks when you are tired. Our bodies function best on ultradian rhythm cycles of 90 minutes of activity punctuated by a few minutes of rest or zoning out! Naps are also a great way to reset. If you are all over the place, your adrenals are going to burn out.

Boost Your Stress Resilience with Supplements

Then, of course, there are some really simple things you can do with supplements.

  • Try Siberian ginseng or Rhodiola or Cordyceps. These are wonderful herbs that you can use to help balance your adrenal and stress response. I use Adreset, one to two caps, twice a day with my patients.
  • Vitamin C 500 to 1000mg a day, zinc 30mg a day, B complex vitamins, two a day, especially vitamin B5: all these things help to balance your adrenals.
  • Ashwagandha, magnolia, theanine (from green tea), and phosphatidyIserine can help calm an overactive stress response and improve sleep. The combination I use successfully with my patients is Cortisol Manager, one or two at night.

So, if you have any of these symptoms, if you’re worried about your adrenal stress response, if you’re thinking that you might have adrenal burnout, I encourage you to take some time, find things you like to do to hit your pause buttons, get into rhythm, try a few vitamins and herbs, and reset your life.

So, now I would like to hear from you…

  • Have you ever experienced adrenal burnout?
  • What’s worked? What hasn’t?
  • How did you overcome it? Or maybe you haven’t.

Please share your experience with us in the comments section.




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Ed: Bryonie Wise


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Stephanie Sep 28, 2015 9:25pm

I have mostly recovered from adrenal fatigue after living most of my life in intense, unrelenting stress. I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, PTSD, and CPTSD — and was finally diagnosed with adrenal exhaustion. Basically my naturopath said I should be comatose all day based on my cortisol profile, and I pretty much felt that way for years, but just powered through it. My night levels were also high, but I had learned to just sleep through it, but was a late-night owl.

What helped? Ultimately, bio-identical cortisol (hydrocortisone) HRT supplementation at low doses to rest my adrenal. After finding the right dose, my adrenal profile improved dramatically. I was almost out of the woods when the next stress hit, so still trying. Before finding this HRT, I found significant help from taking raw adrenal glandular (in a multi-organ glandular supplement, HypoAde from Enzymatic Therapy, which has since been discontinued. I later tried Raw Adrenal Complex, but that dose was a bit high for me with my CFS-related MCS sensitivities. There may be other Enzymatic Therapy products with multi-organ raw glandular.) I also liked licorice (DGL), rhodiola, and astralagus supplements along with a quality diverse multi (SuperNutrition) and MANY other supplements for years and after recovery, as needed. As for lifestyle, I slowed down and downsized my life to cut down on busyness and stress, and removed all stressful people from my life for about 2 years. This included some family. I refused to put myself in stressful situations, though stress happens. HeartMath biofeedback training can help deal with stress when it happens, though I just use the theory myself, consciously relaxing myself right when a stress I don’t really have to deal with hits.

Another above mentioned magnesium, and I took a 250 mg dose nightly for about a decade. This, plus omega 3 EFAs and progesterone (if needed, bio-identical cream), relax me and help me sleep. I also took Cortisol Manager for a while for reducing night cortisol to sleep, but became allergic to it. Before that, I took melatonin. Before that, I took long hot baths before bed. I also have a rule about no stress before bed, on weekends or holidays. And no homework help after 10 pm. Boundaries, stress “keep away”.

It is also important to get all your hormones tested. I also had virtually no testosterone and have done bio-identical testosterone HRT (via pellet insertion) for over 14 years, and I am a woman. Both genders need a certain level of testosterone, which tends to get crowded out by stress, and as we hit middle age. I have observed that high estrogen can also be a problem, so looking into the need for progesterone can help. Thyroid levels can also be affected, but often are secondary to these other problems. Balance the other hormones and thyroid problems often fix themselves. But it is useful to get tested to know for sure.

Don’t be afraid to try very low dose cortisol replacement if you need it, after testing, and under the care of someone who really knows about that. That’s my experience and opinion, but I am no kind of healthcare provider. Good luck!

Jen Sep 28, 2015 11:21am

I have been dealing with adrenal burnout for almost 2 years. My physician actually made me worse by putting me on Prozac. Since working with a naturopathic doctor I am SLOWLY getting better. I take vitamins B, C and D, Catechola Calm (to keep my epinephrine down), probiotics, magnesium, a natural progeste cream (I had almost no progesterone), and just switched from licorice root to Adrenal Complex. My cortisol is still low and my naturopath can’t seem to figure out why. I don’t eat dairy, gluten, caffeine, alcohol or sugar. I try to rest as much as possible, but have a hard time pressing my pause button. I’m trying to exercise, but I was used to intense exercise and now I’m told only gentle exercise which is boring to me…it took years I’m sure for my adrenals to get this bad so I think it’s just going to take time for them to heal!

Tim Foster Sep 27, 2015 10:05pm

I like what you mentioned about rhythm and the pause button. Now that I have figured out a healthy rhythm I have found my remote. It’s important to know how to regulate your rhythm so you don’t go into overload. Once you find the right setting then energy levels will increase and you will feel much more alive. During our lifespan we will only need to make minor tweaks and this will be possibly once we identify our rhythm and understand how we operate.

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