Adrenal fatigue is one of the most common health disorders that we see as Naturopathic Doctors. In today’s world of multi-tasking, multi-media, and multi-roles, poor adrenal health results in fatigue, exhaustion and anxiety. Not surprisingly, it’s estimated that around 80% of North Americans will suffer from adrenal fatigue at some point in their life.
The adrenals are little glands that sit atop your kidneys, aka the “stress glands”, and help you deal with stress ranging from physical exercise to mental-emotional stress, such as relationships or work. Your adrenal glands produce several different hormones that are necessary for the production and regulation of healthy thyroid function and sex hormones (estrogen/progesterone/dhea/testosterone). They also produce the hormones that influence your ability to:
- Have energy
- Fall asleep and stay asleep
- Metabolize fat
- Regulate blood sugar
- Support your immune system
Cortisol is one of the major hormones secreted by the adrenals to help your body manage stressful situations. Cortisol ideally follows a circadian rhythm, being high in the early morning and reaching a low point at night. Often times, people with adrenal fatigue are exhausted in the mornings upon waking, crash in the afternoon and/or can’t fall asleep at night because they are “wired and tired.” If this sounds like you, you might consider doing an adrenal saliva hormone test. In some cases, individuals presenting with a “reversed” circadian rhythm, (for example, this commonly afflicts night-shift workers, such as nurses) can often shave a few years off one’s life expectancy – if this is not corrected.
Other common symptoms of adrenal fatigue can and do include: lethargy, sleep disturbance, being easily startled, feeling dizzy (low blood pressure, low blood sugar), low sex drive, muscle and joint pain, caffeine-dependence, weight gain (especially belly fat), poor immune system and new allergies, poor memory, unexplained fertility problems, food cravings, anxiety and more.
Adrenal saliva hormone testing is considered to be the single best lab test for detecting adrenal fatigue. Saliva tests measure the level of cortisol at 4 different times throughout the day, along with several other important hormones. Testing allows for an informed treatment plan to restore health to the adrenal glands, using lifestyle changes, specific high-dose vitamins, minerals and herbal formulations. However, treatments for adrenal health are not a one-size-fits-all. Identifying the cause of stress in your life (food sensitivities, hormone imbalance, recent divorce, a dying parent, a demanding career, etc.), and managing this stress is the first step towards healing. Taking care of your adrenal health, means taking care of yourself first. (To all the female readers, I’d like you to imagine that, as I repeat – taking care of yourself first!). Restoring adrenal health is essential for healthy thyroid function, allowing for a smooth transition into mid-life, then into menopause and warding off chronic disease for a life of health and vitality.
If you’d like to pursue saliva testing for adrenal fatigue, please call our office to book an appointment.