Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Ever feel like you need more energy? In today’s busy society there are more demands on us to perform better, longer and harder, whether it be long hours at work or taking care of your family. There are always more tasks on the “to do” list, and at the end of the day you are left feeling exhausted and already thinking about tomorrow. When we are extremely busy it’s common that we forget to keep hydrated and properly fuel our bodies with healthy food. Over time this takes a toll on our bodies and our ability to recover.
You might notice you tire more easily, it’s harder to fall asleep, it’s harder to lose weight, your memory isn’t as sharp or you lack focus. These are all signs that your body is having a hard time adapting to stress. Maybe it’s time to take a look at your stress hormone, cortisol, and your adrenal glands?
Your adrenal glands are small organs that sit on top of your kidneys and produce vital hormones including cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine among others. Cortisol is important to our survival. It is produced and released when we are under stress to help us adapt. However, when cortisol is produced all the time, like in chronic stressful situations (physical, emotion or psychological), it can have negative affects on our health, which include high blood sugar, abdominal weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, low mood, sugar and salty cravings and the inability to bounce back from stress or illness. In some cases when your adrenal glands have been producing a lot of cortisol over a long period, they get tired from constantly working and then don’t produce enough cortisol. Not enough cortisol can leave you feeling even more tired and burned out.
They key with cortisol is balance and proper rhythm. Cortisol follows a daily pattern, where it is high in the morning to get us going and it decreases at night so we can easily fall asleep. We see symptoms arise when it’s too high, too low or not following a normal pattern.
Naturopathic medicine uses proper nutrition, exercise, botanical medicine and acupuncture to help restore your adrenal glands and help keep your cortisol levels balanced.
The first step to feeling better is to determine the underlying cause of why you are feeling tired. Seeing a naturopathic doctor for a thorough health evaluation is imperative in determining the cause of your symptoms and obtaining a proper diagnosis. If indicated, a simple salivary hormone test can be performed to track your cortisol throughout the day to see if your levels are too high or too low. Once your hormone levels are tested it is then possible to create an individualized treatment plan to correct any imbalances to get you feeling energized and ready to enjoy life.