How Chinese Medicine Addresses Adrenal Exhaustion
Tonic herbs work to boost your body up from within, over time. Unlike caffeine or energy drinks, tonic herbs will not give you a quick, artificial boost of energy and an adrenaline rush; stimulating the release of adrenaline in this way is often part of the cause of adrenal exhaustion. Instead, herbal tonic formulas will help rebuild what you have been depleting from your body for years; they will restore wellness and true core vitality by restoring the organ systems according to Chinese medicine. The goal is to feel energetic and vital upon awakening, and to maintaining that calm energy throughout the day without being reliant on sugar, caffeine, and artificial energy boosters that leave you feeling worse hours later and may damage your health long term.
Chinese Medicine and Adrenal Exhaustion
In Chinese medicine, adrenal exhaustion is most often associated with the Kidney energetic organ system and a depletion of Essence; Kidney Deficiency can be caused by poor lifestyle habits or genetic factors. Herbal Kidney tonics work to restore the vitality of the adrenals and thyroid. They are often combined with adaptogenic herbs that reduce stress reactions and increase the body's ability to adapt correctly to stressors in the early stages of adrenal fatigue. This is never a 'quick fix' and often takes 8 months or more of herbal therapy, but works well at addressing an issue that is often left untreated.
Unfortunatly, Adrenal fatigue is rarely recognized early on. There are several patterns in Chinese medicine that relate to different manifestations of chronic adrenal fatigue and it is good to familiarize yourself with Kidney Yin and Kidney Yang patterns and how to balance Yin-Yang energies in the body. Kidney Deficiency is almost always at the root of the disorder, but several possible patterns are common. You will likely need to combine several appropriate formulas to address complex conditions. While you won't have every symptom listed, you would want to observe several in a category to begin forming a pattern of imbalance. The Kidney indications will likely be combined with each possible syndrome.
Common Patterns of Adrenal Fatigue in Chinese Medicine According to Symptoms:
- Fear, anxiety, panic disorder
- Craving for salt
- Low libido
- Low energy from 3-5
- Need for caffeine
- Hair loss
- Low back ache
- Sleep disturbances
- Reduced memory
- Craving for drugs, alcohol, stimulants
- Emotional Instability
- Craving for sweets
- Weight gain
- Brain Fog
- Poor Digestion
- Reduced appetite
- Excessive hunger
- Low energy in the morning
- Hard to wake up in morning
- Muscle weakness
- Varicose Veins
- Menopausal issues
- Low blood pressure, high blood pressure
- Irritability, frustration, anger
- Trouble going to sleep by 10 PM
- Alternating constipation and diarrhea
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Recurring respiratory infections
- Slow to recover from illnesses
- Frequent cold and flu's
Lifestyle Practices for Adrenal Exhaustion
Examining the lifestyle habits that have lead to this condition and changing these patterns is necessary for a full recovery and to maintain good health over time. Modern culture pushes us to drive harder and work longer with little emphasis on maintaining wellness and balance. Consider which of your lifestyle habits are leading to perpetual stress. Good lifestyle practices that allow one to avoid or recover from adrenal fatigue include daily meditation, a whole foods diet, and regular exercise; focus on honoring your physical and emotional limitations for truly sustainable health.
What and when should you eat?
For many people, there is a correlation between adrenal fatigue and low blood sugar, so it is important to eat good wholesome natural and organic foods at regular intervals to avoid a drop in blood sugar, which can exasperate your condition. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to eat a protein rich meal first thing in the morning. While you're sleeping, your body is using up its reserved energy and you need to replenish it as soon as you can. The energy you give your body from breakfast is used up quickly, so it's a good idea to have an early lunch or at least have a nourishing snack a few hours after breakfast. Avoiding simple carbohydrates is a must throughout the day.
Chinese food therapy-It's important that all of your meals contain protein, fat, and vegetable-based carbohydrates. You need all three components to fuel your body throughout the day. Eating organic foods is your best choice. If you cannot afford to buy all organic, it is highly recommended that you eat organic meats and dairy products. There are many preservatives, hormones and antibiotics added to institutional meat. 6-8 servings of vegetables a day is also recommended; eat as wide of a variety of them as you can. Eating seasonal vegetables is always a great idea, so check out your local farmers market.
For those that suffer from adrenal fatigue due to blood sugar issues, you should be careful about what and how much fruit you eat and simple carbohydrates. Due to high sugar levels, people with adrenal fatigue with fluctuating blood sugar levels should avoid bananas, grapefruit, dates, figs, raisins and oranges. Better choices are apples, mango, papaya, plums cherries and pears. If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, you may find yourself in constant need of that next cup of coffee. Unfortunately, this can further deplete the adrenals. Coffee, chocolate, alcohol and soft drinks should all be avoided. Water and herbal tea is your best choice. Other healthy choices are green tea, herbal teas, and natural vegetable juices (in moderation). Look to Temple of Health formula to manage erratic blood sugar levels.
Western view of adrenal fatigue:
The adrenals are glands that sit atop each of our kidneys and produce a number of hormones that allow your body to react to stimulus and change with relative ease and grace. Constant stress can overtax the adrenals causing the nervous system to kick in to an unhealthy reactive loop responding to every day stressors with a 'fight or flight' response. This response stimulates the adrenals to release Norepinephrine or adrenaline, which is an over-reaction by the body for everyday stressors. Cortisol is another hormone produced by the adrenals and is released to balance adrenaline. DHEA is an androgen that is produced in the ovaries and the adrenals. Cortisol and DHEA also work in unison to regulate the body's reaction to stress.
These three hormones affect a mind-boggling number of functions and systems in the body, so it is no wonder that Adrenal Exhaustion often goes undiagnosed. It typically would require a trip to an MD who specializes in hormonal balancing to provide a saliva test of cortisol levels to know if you truly are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. There are even a number of online services that provide saliva testing. One would think that an endocrinologist would be the correct specialist, but they are often oblivious to this condition as it is not considered a "legitimate disease" in many circles, and would be more inclined to look for Addison's Disease rather than poor functioning or overworked adrenals.
The adrenal glands are complex and produce glucocorticoids (cortisol included), mineralocorticoids, epinephrine, norepinephrine and sex hormones. Adrenal Fatigue can affect every part of the body and impact all aspects of life. Adrenal Exhaustion is marked by relentless, debilitating fatigue and is often combined with depression, irritability, and loss of interest in life. Low thyroid function can also play a part in this condition and must be addressed before a full recovery can occur.
People often turn to herbal tonic therapy to address adrenal exhaustion after years of modern medical therapy dead-ends. Most who have suffered with adrenal fatigue have come to the conclusion that there truly is no quick fix for this condition. While Chinese tonic herbs are one of the more effective ways to address adrenal fatigue, it will still take 8 months or more of herbal therapy to correct the condition. Often, it is 2 months or more before many utilizing herbal tonics even notice a measurable change in their vitality; patients and determination are a must in combating adrenal fatigue.