Hormone Health: How to Heal Adrenals Naturally
The adrenal glands are walnut-sized organs that sit on top of the kidneys and produce hormones that control our response to stress. Their job is to enable the body to deal with stress, whether that stress comes in the form or injury, disease, work, or relationship problems. When you experience periods of prolonged stress, your adrenals can become “fatigued” and fail to regulate your hormones properly, particularly cortisol. Knowing how to heal adrenals naturally will help you recover from adrenal fatigue and regain your resiliency, energy, and endurance.
Symptoms of Overtaxed Adrenal Glands
- Continuing fatigue not relieved by sleep
- Cravings for salt or salty food
- Difficulty waking up in the morning or falling asleep at night
- Dizziness upon standing
- Exercise intolerance
- Frequent insomnia or experiencing a “second wind” around 11 pm
- High stress levels or always feeling like there is too much to do
- Increased effort to do everyday tasks
- Needing coffee or other stimulants to get going in the morning
- Reduced memory or ability to concentrate; brain fog
How to Heal Adrenals Naturally
Adjust your diet. Diet is a huge factor in adrenal recovery. You should avoid foods that can add stress to your adrenals, including: caffeine, sugar and sweeteners, carbohydrates, processed or fast foods, soda, and alcohol. Instead, eat nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest, such as: avocado and other healthy fats, leafy greens and colorful vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish, legumes, nuts, and eggs.
Timing your meals is also important as it helps regulate blood sugar and support adrenal function. Don’t skip breakfast and eat regular, balanced meals along with healthy snacks to maintain your cortisol and blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Improve your sleep habits. Our sleep-wake cycle (a.k.a. circadian rhythm) is controlled by the hormone cortisol. When the adrenals are functioning properly, cortisol is highest in the morning and lowest at night. This is what allows us to feel alert when we wake up and sleepy before bed. If your cortisol levels are off, you may be more awake at night, or may notice an energy crash in the afternoon followed by being wide awake in the middle of the night. If you stay awake past 11 p.m., your adrenal glands will give you an extra boost of cortisol, keeping you awake longer than you intended. Practice good sleep hygiene to give your adrenals a rest.
Reduce stress. Since chronic stress is the number-one cause of adrenal fatigue, it is important to try and decrease your stress level. Some ways to relieve stress include: gentle exercise (such as walking), meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, unplugging from electronic devices, spending time outdoors, doing something you enjoy (painting, puzzles, etc.).
Take natural supplements. Adrenal adaptogens are plant compounds that help normalize the hypothalamus-adrenal-pituitary (HPA) axis during times of stress, improving communication between the brain and the adrenal glands. These include panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, holy basil leaf extract, rhodiola, boerhaavia diffusa, and pantethine and B vitamins. Pantethine has been shown to tone down excess release of cortisol in times of stress, and people in adrenal stress tend to have a greater loss of B vitamins. Be sure to discuss supplements with your doctor first to ensure the right dosage and application.
Heal Your Adrenals with Functional Medicine
If you’re experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, call us today at (832) 246-8437 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM. At our wellness center we diagnose and treat adrenal fatigue with targeted and customized treatment plans using natural remedies, lifestyle changes, appropriate diet supported with plant based nutraceuticals. As a Board Certified physician in Family Medicine as well as Board Certified with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra can help you restore your adrenal function.