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Do YOU Have Adrenal Fatigue?

Do YOU Have Adrenal Fatigue?
That is a question I recently asked myself. I was dealing with a multitude of symptoms and nothing I did was helping…AT ALL. That is, until my mom made me a few different essential oil blends. One for a screwy thyroid and the other, I call sadness, for depression.

Let me back up a bit. I was a kid with severe allergies and really bad asthma. I would have to go to the doctor when I had an asthma attack and he would administer a shot of epinepherine. It helped open up my airways and allowed to breathe again. My parents brought me to that same office, every Saturday, for allergy injections.

In November of 1992, we moved to Florida from Vermont and my whole body went into shock. I was not breathing well. When I finally found a doctor who could help, she said my skin was grey due to the lack of oxygen. She immediately put me on steroids. I gained 40 pounds in two months. It was awful, but I could breathe. I dealt with these episodes throughout my life and would inevitably be given steroids for short term periods of time. It was what was done in the 80’s and 90’s.

In 2002, I became a part time employee in a local government office. I had a nine-month-old baby and was not ready to work full time. In 2004, I went to a full time position and stayed with the municipality for a total of 10 years. The job was extremely stressful and I was very unhappy. I dreaded work every single day. In the midst of that employment, I had another baby boy.

In 2010, I had an idea to start an organic bakery. Yes, I am nuts. That being said, I talked about this idea with my husband. He is awesome and was 100% on board. Mind you, I was always baking at home for friends and family. I love to bake and cook. I have been baking since I was a little girl. SO, it is not as much of a stretch as it might seem.

I started my business baking from home. I am very fortunate to have some incredible friends and family who fully supported and promoted my at-home business. It was so incredible, within six months time, I grew so quickly I needed an actual store front. We searched for about six more months until we found the spot we could afford and that would meet our basic needs.

It was a CRAZY time. I dare say the craziest, busiest time of my entire life. I worked 40-hours-a-week at the government job, had two young sons, and was starting to build up my bakery business. My mom was a HUGE help. She ran the bakery during the day. I would leave work, get my boys, meet my hubby at the shop, and the two of us would bake until the case was filled for the following day. This sometimes had us there until the wee small hours of the night. My kids had sleeping bags and a TV. It was very difficult for us all.

During this insanity, I began to deal with severe hormonal swings. I was really nasty to my husband, my boys, my mom…It wasn’t pretty. It was really horrible. I was diagnosed withPremenstral Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD for short. They prescribed birth control pills, an antidepressant, and anxiety medication. After a few months, it seemed to be helping. I figured I was good to go.

The plan was, I would leave my full time job once the bakery was able to accommodate my family’s financial needs. It happened in about a year and a half. So, I gave my notice and went full time at the bakery. The business was growing rapidly. I had to hire help. I started out as an organic cupcake bakery. Due to the request of several family and friends, I added gluten free and vegan options, too. Shortly thereafter, we added cakes, pies, cookies, bars, brownies, cake pops, cinnamon buns, breads, you name it, we made it!

Now, I am sure you’re scratching your head. Why would I tell you about that? What does that have to do with adrenal fatigue? Well, EVERYTHING!

Here is the kicker. Being on steroids wreaks havoc on your adrenal glands. Stress is another adrenal gland nightmare. Overworking…yup, you guessed it. Big issue.

What are Adrenal Glands?

On top of each kidney there is an adrenal gland, about the size of a large grape or walnut. They produce hormones that regulate blood pressure, how our body uses food, blood-levels of minerals, such as potassium and sodium, functions involved in stress reactions, and heart beat.

Anterior view of the female adrenal and kidney with abdominal organs
Adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped endocrine glands located at the top of each kidney

Your body has two adrenal glands, located just above each of your kidneys. As part of your endocrine system, your adrenal glands secrete more than 50 hormones, many of which are essential for life and include:

  • Glucocorticoids
    These hormones, which include cortisol, help your body convert food into energy, normalize blood sugar, respond to stress and maintain your immune system’s inflammatory response.
  • Mineralocorticoids
    These hormones, which include aldosterone, help keep your blood pressure and blood volume normal by maintaining a proper balance of sodium, potassium and water in your body.
  • Adrenaline
    This hormone increases your heart rate and controls blood flow to your muscles and brain, along with helping with the conversion of glycogen to glucose in your liver.
Together, these hormones and others produced by your adrenal glands control such body functions as:

  • Maintaining metabolic processes, such as managing blood sugar levels and regulating inflammation
  • Regulating your body’s balance of salt and water
  • Controlling your “fight or flight” response to stress
  • Maintaining pregnancy
  • Initiating and controlling sexual maturation during childhood and puberty
  • Producing sex steroids such as estrogen and testosterone

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal Fatigue is a term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, joint pain, insomnia, hypoglycemia, depression, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems presenting in an otherwise healthy person with normal laboratory test results. Over 50 percent of adults suffer from Adrenal Fatigue at one point or another in their adult life. Most recover without knowing they had Adrenal Fatigue, but a minority fail to recover, and a small number continue to worsen. In its worst form, a person can be bedridden and incapacitated. The term often shows up in popular health books and on alternative medicine websites. An Internet search of the words “Adrenal Fatigue” yield over 2.4 million results, with search threads ranging from the Mayo Clinic to the Hormone Foundation and alternative health forums. What is clear is that to the vast majority of conventional physicians, other than the forward-thinking ones, this condition does not exist and is not real. Yet to the vast majority of sufferers, this condition is very real and indeed, can be quite debilitating.

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

According to alternative health practitioners, adrenal fatigue can be caused by any of the following conditions, illnesses or situations that undermine the function of the adrenal glands:

  • Any recurrent disease, infection or illness, usually related a respiratory problem, such as influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia and some allergies.
  • Being exposed to toxic chemical and pollutants for a long time.
  • Events or situations that place enormous burden on the body, such as major surgery, long-term malnutrition, or being addicted to drugs.
  • Prolonged and inevitable stressful physiological circumstances that make a person feel helpless in their work environment, negative personal relationships, or financial hardship.

Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

A symptom is something the patient feels and describes, such as pain, while a sign is something others can detect, such as a rash. Below are some symptoms related to adrenal fatigue, they are documented in alternative medicine literature and health books:

  • Classic signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
    • Fatigue and weakness, especially in the morning and afternoon
    • A suppressed immune system
    • Increased allergies
    • Muscle and bone loss and muscular weakness
    • Depression
    • Cravings for foods high in salt, sugar or fat
    • Hormonal imbalance
    • Skin problems
    • Autoimmune disorders
    • Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
    • Low sex drive
    • Lightheadedness when getting up from sitting or lying down
    • Decreased ability to handle stress
    • Trouble waking up in the morning, despite a full night’s sleep
    • Poor memory
  • Additionally, people with adrenal fatigue often get a burst of energy around 6 p.m., followed by sleepiness at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., which is often resisted. A “second wind” at 11 p.m. is then common, which often may keep you from falling asleep until 1 a.m.
  • Further, those with adrenal fatigue often also have abnormal blood sugar levels and mental disturbances, such as increased fears and anxiety, and rely on coffee, soda and other forms of caffeine to keep them going.
  • As the names implies, the most common symptom of adrenal fatigue is unrelenting fatigue, a feeling of being run down or not able to keep up with your daily demands. And because fatigue is such a common symptom, the syndrome is very often missed or misdiagnosed by physicians.

Can Adrenal Fatigue Be Fixed?

Recovery speed from adrenal fatigue varies greatly from person to person. Under expert guidance, the process normally takes a few weeks in mild cases to a few months in moderate cases. In severe cases, much longer time might be needed.

Many people question whether a total and complete recovery from adrenal fatigue is possible. The answer is yes in the vast majority of cases, but only if done right. 
Adrenal fatigue often takes a decade or more to develop. It is important to allow the body time to recover. A few months of recovery is considered a short time within this time horizon. Time is a great healer when the body is given the proper nutrients along with proper lifestyle and dietary protocols. Those who demand a quick recovery invariably become disappointed because the body is not a light switch that can be turned on and off at will. systematic and logical approach works the best underprofessional guidance.

  • Preparation Period

    This period normally lasts from 1 day to 6 weeks, depends on the stage of adrenal fatigue. The stronger the adrenal function, the shorter the duration. During this time, the body normally may not feel any significant difference even though nutrients have been administered. One continues to feel fatigue. This is the period where the body builds its lost reserve and internally gets stronger. It is not uncommon to feel even worse from time to time. Paradoxical reactions may arise during this time and adjustments of nutrients may be needed. The body may be in a process of resetting itself internally. Supporting the body may involve increasing or decreasing the dose of nutrients, depending on the body type and sensitivity level. Strategies that do not allow the body to go through this important preparation stage often fail over time, as the body simply does not have the reserve it normally needs to cushion itself against stressful time that is unavoidable during any recovery process. Small dips within the recovery cycle will then occur. It is like forcing an athlete to run a sprint without adequate warm up.
  • Honeymoon Period

    This usually follows immediately after the preparation period and can last a few days to 12 weeks if the preparation period is carried out properly. Again, the duration is highly dependent on the stage of adrenal fatigue. Generally speaking, the earlier the adrenal fatigue stage, the longer this period can last. The weaker the adrenals, the more tendency for this period to be short-lived unless under professional guidance. During this time the body is able to handle stress better. Fatigue reduces, palpitation frequently dissipates, andanxiety attack diminishes. Blood pressure starts to stabilize, brain fog starts to dissipate, and functional sleep returns. There might be mini-crashes and setbacks from time to time that last a few days. They are more tolerable compared to before, but recovery is faster. There is an overall sense of well being as if a burden has been lifted from one’s shoulder. An overall sense of optimism returns. Those having frequent infections will find that recovery is faster, and frequency of infection is reduced. By the end of this period, many troublesome symptoms should have greatly reduced. There should be sustained energy to carry out normal daily activities, and social activities returns. If there is concurrent thyroid illness, many will note the returning thyroid function and that less medications are required. Any female hormonal imbalance such as PMS is reduced and menstrual cycles become more regular.
  • Plateau Period

    The body is stabilized. There is no set time frame for the duration of this period. Generally, it lasts a few weeks to a few months. In early stages of adrenal fatigue, this period can go on for years and totally asymptomatic. In later stages of adrenal fatigue, the picture is much more dismal. Sufferers have to slowly adapt to an overall lower level of energy function. Overtime, they have forgotten what it feels like to be in optimum health and indeed often have given up, especially if adrenal function during this plateau phase is below the adrenal symptoms threshold level, where they are constantly suffering. In other words, here “you learn to live with what you have, even though you are not comfortable”. If the adrenal function is already at its maximum, one can be stuck at this period for a very long time without upward progress. Many on self-guided programs would not be able rise to the next cycle due to the lack of foresight and planning. This is perhaps the most trying time, asimpatience sets in. Most interpret the lack of continuation and sustained improvement as failure and become disappointed. Thus, additional stress can be put on the adrenals unknowingly. Others might start to take more nutrients, thinking that it will help speed up the process and forcing the adrenals to work harder at a time when it is not capable of doing just that. Forcing the body to accelerate instead of allowing it time to rebuild itself is a grave mistake and often leads to unexpected and severe crashes at the end. An experienced clinician will use this time smartly to allow the body to rest, yet slowly transition the body using proper nutrients to get ready to go to the next preparation of the full recovery program. Sad to say but what inevitably follows this phase is another crash for most people unless they are professionally managed by experienced clinician. 

As a person goes through multiple successful mini-cycles without major setbacks, the overall sense of well-being gets better with each cycle. Though the most dramatic improvement often comes in the first few cycles, one accumulates more energy with time, and fatigue becomes less pronounced. Any setbacks between the cycles are often less severe as the previous crashes. One archives a higher high and a higher low in terms of well-being with time. This is recovery at its best. The body is allowed to rest after each upward movement. It has time to build up reserve before ascending again. This reserve building time is critical. Proper nutrients administered here strengthen the adrenals and cushions the mini-crashes and setbacks so frequently experienced by all. Having enough reserve allows the body to continue its rebuilding process on a sustained basis while withstanding insults from daily life.

Most people have a mistaken belief that the hallmark of a successful recovery program has an early onset of increased energy and fatigue removal. They expect this to be sustained on a linear basis uninterrupted in an upward trend line. This ideal situation only occurs in a minority of cases where the fatigue is very mild and under expert guidance. For most cases, due to internal derangement of the adrenals, the road to recovery is laden with pot holes and crashes.

Most self-guided programs achieve success in ascending the first cycle. Those who take stimulatory nutrients often experience an initial sense of well-being, followed by a prolonged plateau that is unable to ascend further. We call this “hitting the wall”. Regardless of what nutrients are given, the body fails to gain more energy. Fatigue continues.

What Were Those Magical Essential Oils My Mom Blended?

My mom is also a blogger and a Spark Naturals affiliate. She firmly believes in the benefit of essential oils. I have come to believe in them as well. As I mentioned above, my mom crafted two essential oil blends for me. The first blend was for a thyroid issue. She used: lemongrass, clove, peppermint, frankincense and fractionated coconut oil.  The second one was for depression. In this, she combined: bergamot, frankincense, lavender, ylang ylang, clary sage, Zen (an essential oil blend from Spark Naturals), and fractionated coconut oil. After I used the thyroid oil, which I applied via a roller applicator directly on my neck – where the thyroid is located, I felt liquids squirt out. It was gross, but kind of cool. I called my mom, wondering if this was normal. She suggested that my thyroid was releasing toxins and I should drink plenty of water to help flush them out. Needless to say, after a few days, I felt better. I am still not great. I am still tired. However, I feel better…less sad. I’ve contacted a holistic doctor to see what a professional can do to aid in my journey to feeling “normal” again. I am hopeful and I’m looking forward to feeling like “me” soon.

If you want to try the oil blends, feel free to contact my mom, 
Blue Jean Mama, or order the oils to try making the blends yourself at Spark Naturals and use coupon code MAMA for 10% offyour entire order.

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