If you are feeling tired, stressed, run down then perhaps taking some time to support your adrenal glands may be well worth the effort.
When we become locked in the flight or flight pathway, our poor adrenals pump out stress hormones such as cortisol day after day. This was crucial in the past to help us catch food or not become food. Today we are stressed for a variety of reasons but often then are not life or death and this chronic output of stress hormones takes a toll on our bodies & our minds. Eventually with all this output of cortisol and other stress hormones we become depleted and our control systems get locked in this fight or flight scenario. When the Hypothalamus – Pituitary – Adrenal (HPA) axis becomes dysregulated, anxiety depression or hormonal imbalances are never far behind.
Adaptogens are herbs or nutrients that help us adapt to stress, especially when the stress is long term. Adaptogens, can help to normalise high levels of cortisol and other mediators of the HPA axis.
Adaptogenic herbs include Rhodiola, Ginsengs, Withania, Brahmi & Astragalus. Medicinal mushrooms have an adaptogenic action too. Nutrients such as magnesium, B5 & B6 are also supportive to the adrenals.
Some of the actions of adaptogens include -
Modulates the stress response & helps reduce anxiety & nervous tension.
Assists with symptoms of tiredness and fatigue.
Adrenal tonics supports cognitive function, mental focus, or memory.
Supports healthy immune system function.
Supports physical and mental performance.
Supports digestion, particularly during times of stress.
Helps maintain general wellbeing.
Getting adequate sleep is difficult once we become locked in the flight or flight pathway, but often it is the most important aspect of recovery. Getting approximately 8 hours seems to be about right for most people. When people are exhausted but unable to sleep, using herbs such as passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm or valerian can help. Making sure that you have some time away from your screens can help.
Exercise is a tricky one, restorative exercise such as yoga or walking can be extremely beneficial. High intensity training or running can be counter productive and push you further down the flight or flight pathway. As always it is important to listen to your body, sometimes different exercises at different times of the cycle for women is useful.
A diet that is based on wholefoods is recommended. This will help to balance blood glucose levels. Unsteady blood glucose levels places additional stress on the adrenal glands. Eating a diet that is extremely low in carbohydrate such as a Keto style can also add pressure to the adrenals, especially for women.
As with all diets it is about balance. Some people eat meat, some don’t. What is more important is whether there is lots of nutrients in the diet, so eating more veggies, whole foods, good fats, legumes, protein etc is crucial to helping the body cope in our busy world.
Supporting your adrenals can be the difference between good mental health, good physical health, energy and importantly happiness.....