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Peggy was a highly motivated, successful career woman with boundless energy who had worked long hours for several years. Healthy and vibrant, she seemed indestructible. Then one of her sons became seriously ill, and while she helped nurse him back to health, her own health began to suffer. Long after her son recovered, she still felt weak and listless throughout the day and eventually she began to have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. She went to her doctor, but he couldn’t find any physical problem with her. Finally, a nurse friend suggested that she might have adrenal fatigue.

What is adrenal fatigue? Although it can be caused by a number of different things, it usually involves stress and the body’s response to stress. The stress response comes into play when the brain detects an emergency. Go into what is known as “fight or flight” mode. In a fraction of a second, a brain region called the hypothalamus sends a signal to the adrenal glands. (These are glands that are on top of the kidneys.) When they receive the signal, they excrete adrenaline that rushes to the heart and other parts of the body. The heart responds by beating faster, which in turn sends extra blood to the muscles and organs. At the same time, the respiratory rate increases and the lungs send additional oxygen to the brain. The brain then releases endorphins that help the body function more efficiently, and finally, adrenaline helps increase the body’s energy by releasing glucose from its glycogen stores.

The surge of adrenaline is only the first part of the stress response; once it’s running, the adrenal glands also secrete cortisol. It surges through the body performing many important functions: it replaces the energy that the adrenaline rush has depleted, it is used by the immune system to put it on alert and acts as a check on the overall response, and when it is complete it signals the brain to stop it.

It is easy to see from the above that the adrenal glands play a vital role in our body. They help us respond to stressful situations and protect our body. The problem is that our lives are now so stressful that stressful events often occur one after another, and several occur in one day. And every time they happen, the adrenal glands have to respond, and if they’re forced to respond too often, they start to get exhausted and worn out. When this happens, they are soon operating far below their optimum level; this is what we refer to as adrenal fatigue. However, it is important to note that while stressful events are a major factor in adrenal fatigue, many other things also contribute to it. Some of them are: poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, excessive use of stimulants such as coffee and diseases.

The main symptoms of adrenal fatigue are: chronic fatigue, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, trouble sleeping, low energy, depression, weight gain, lack of stamina, trouble managing stress, and salt cravings. It is important to detect the condition at this stage; if ignored, the adrenal glands will eventually stop working, a condition known as Addison’s disease. Addison’s disease causes things like immune system suppression, muscle and bone loss, hormonal imbalance, and can be fatal.

One of the biggest difficulties with adrenal fatigue is that it is not universally recognized by the medical profession, and many doctors are not familiar with it. And while it’s important to talk to your doctor about it, medication isn’t usually needed to get over it. The most important thing that is needed is a lifestyle change. Stress is the main thing that causes it, so the first thing you need to do is get rid of any stress in your life. In addition, however, several other things are needed. The main ones are:

1. Take more breaks and focus on relaxing.

2. Regular meals and better nutrition are important. Focus on getting enough vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish (for omega-3s). Also, avoid trans fats, coffee, simple carbohydrates, and junk food.

3. Exercise, but don’t overdo it. Aerobic exercise is particularly important, but you should combine it with some weight lifting.

4. Make sure you go to bed early and get enough sleep.

5. Various supplements are also helpful. some of the best are:

Vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B-6, B complex, niacin and minerals, magnesium, zinc, selenium and chromium. Finally, licorice and ginseng are also helpful.

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