Here is our weekly guest post from the fantastic Paul Hess of www.primalrejuvenation.com
If you have been tired long enough to search the web looking for answers about why and what to do about it, you will no doubt run into the diagnosis of “adrenal fatigue.” I’m here to tell you that people holding onto that label do not understand the real root causes of fatigue.
Take it from me, I’ve been through the worst kind of fatigue that lasts for years, chronic fatigue, which has up to 5 root causes, and had to deal with all 5.
Let’s blow through 4 myths about “adrenal fatigue” so we can get past the limitation of fragmented thinking and put the adrenal glands in context of the whole system of your body and environment to see what really causes fatigue.
First, a definition: The adrenal glands are located around the mid back on top of your kidneys. Adrenals are one kind of endocrine gland that secretes hormones that are messengers to coordinate bodily functions. Adrenals emit hormones like DHEA, adrenaline and cortisol to facilitate both normal functioning and bursts of energy to deal with stress.
Fatigue is caused by weak adrenal glands.
Fatigue is a symptom of one or more of 5 possible root causes: nutrient deficiency, toxicity, inflection, deep emotional stress, and physical misalignment of the cranium, teeth, and spine.
Adrenal hormones are only messengers that help coordinate normal bodily functions and stress responses. Adrenals are directed by other hormones and the brain in response to these five root causes of stress, and then send messages to other organs and muscles to act to respond to the stress. Adrenals might be fine, while the brain and other organs might be the weak link and unable to respond.
Don’t shoot the messenger.
Adrenal glands create energy.
Adrenal glands mobilize stored energy that was created through digestion, proper breathing, sunlight, and sleep.
Adrenal glands help coordinate the respond to stress whether it is normal stress like walking or emergency response levels like running or fighting.
Adrenal glands are the gas pedal, not the gas tank.
“Boosting your adrenals” is logically kind of like drinking coffee. Coffee works by stimulating your adrenals to release stored energy for short term gain with a long term cost.
“Fatigue” means adrenal glands are weak so you have adrenal insufficiency.
Most people who are chronically tired have overactive adrenals with high levels of stress hormones that adrenal glands produce: cortisol or adrenaline.
If stress persists, then the body’s stored energy can be depleted as stress hormones cannibalize your tissues and you rest less.
When there is actual weak adrenals it shows up on a saliva test as low DHEA or cortisol. A person with adrenal exhaustion can barely stand and feels like a rag doll. When I had chronic fatigue with low cortisol and DHEA I sometimes walked down the hall leaning against the wall dragging my shoulder.
Cortisol medications can help manage low points, but much more needs to be done. Even supporting the adrenal glands naturally as a treatment plan is usually unsuccessful as explained on the website of Dr Paul Cheney, who specializes in treating chronic fatigue.
Treating “adrenal fatigue” is treating a symptom.
Adrenal glands are the key hormone regulating energy.
Adrenals are last in the hormonal chain of command. Adrenals are signaled by two glands nestled in the brain: the pituitary gland, which is signaled by the hypothalamus, which, in turn, is signaled by another hormone, leptin, and by the brain with this thoughts that are conscious or unconscious. This chain of command is called the HPA axis: hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. The HPA axis creates stress hormones to fight or run away from danger. This is known as the fight or flight response.
While this stress response is important for survival, it can take on a life of its own through over-reacting or not turning-off and becoming a habit 24/7 even after the source of the stress is gone. Emotional stress can be driven by the human imagination or unconscious trapped emotions that create an unseen permanent or easily triggered fear, sadness or other negative emotion.
An overactive HPA axis is part of an imbalanced brain and nervous system. This is commonly referred to as autonomic nervous system dysregulation or sympathetic overdrive. It is accompanied by symptoms like high cortisol and hyperventilation. The sympathetic nervous system mobilizes muscles and the mind, which are then overactive and thereby suppress the opposite parasympathetic nervous system that supports sleep, digestion, detoxification, immunity, repair and growth. This will make you tired.
It’s much harder for people to heal anything when in flight or fight mode. It can create insomnia, tension, indigestion, fear, stress, and subtler things. When people don’t get better, it’s often because of this deep imbalance in the nervous system that regulates everything.
To summarize, fatigue is not an adrenal problem, hormones are symptoms. It’s a brain problem.
It’s also an environment and lifestyle problem that has the stresses that are the five root causes: nutritional deficiency, toxicity, infection, trapped emotions, and physical misalignments of bone and teeth. Balancing the brain’s stress responses can be addressed as the five root causes are treated.
To learn more about balancing the brain and discovering the root causes of your symptoms see: See my website www.PrimalRejuvenation for longer articles
and the Facebook page Primal Rejuvenation
or my personal page, Paul Hess, for additional shorter posts.
Chris Bale's Blog
Founder & Head Coach.