Adrenal fatigue is a common symptom associated with PCOS. Do you ever ask yourself ‘why am I waking dog-tired and then struggling through the day?’
This is one of the tell-tale signs of adrenal fatigue, a state of exhaustion caused by low adrenal function. Other symptoms can include poor blood sugar control, susceptibility to infections, allergies, low blood pressure and feeling constantly drained of energy.
So if you are feeling stressed and always feel tired, it is likely your adrenal glands are suffering.
Stress can often trigger PCOS symptoms, such as the associated hormonal imbalances, reduced immunity levels, increased blood fats and glucose levels, and insulin resistance. Recent studies have also shown that women with PCOS are prone to physically reacting to stress, making it all the more important for you to find a way to manage it.
PCOS: A Polyglandular Syndrome
There is substantial evidence that PCOS should no longer be considered purely a gynaecological disorder, but rather a complex endocrine disorder.
PCOS does not just affect your ovaries, but it can also impact on your adrenal glands, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid gland and pancreas (all of which are endocrine glands). Hence the term ‘polyglandular’.
What are the adrenal glands?
The adrenals are small endocrine glands that sit on top of each kidney. These glands are essential to survival as they take charge in stressful situations, firing up the vital ‘fight or flight’ response to help you deal with the demands of modern day life. Unfortunately too much stress over a long time weakens the adrenals.
Adrenal fatigue or ‘Hypocortisolism’?
The modern day terminology for ‘adrenal fatigue’ is ‘hypocortisolism’. 20 to 25% of people with stress-induced health problems are likely to have hypocortisolism.
If you are experiencing adrenal fatigue/ ‘hypocortisolism’ it’s not unusual to over eat in an attempt to boost your lagging energy levels. And of course this in turn, can cause weight gain. In addition cortisol, the main stress hormone tells your body where to store fat. Far greater amounts are stored as visceral fat around the middle. This is often called belly fat or ‘apple shaped’ weight gain.
Low cortisol often leads to poor blood sugar control and cravings, not favouring an environment for weight loss.
For the purpose of this post, the terminology will remain as ‘adrenal fatigue’.
Recovering from adrenal stress
Reducing stress and following a suitable PCOS diet plan consisting of natural whole food is the secret to recovering your adrenal health and the key to sustainable weight loss when stress has caused you to pile on the pounds.
Naturopathic support for adrenal fatigue
There are various modalities your Naturopath can use to help you recover from/cope with adrenal stress. As much as we want, we can’t always immediately remove the stress from our lives, so it is about supporting your adrenal glands to cope and not compromise the health and function of your other endocrine glands and hormones.
Nutritional Supplements for Adrenal Stress
- B vitamins are particularly important to support your nervous system and adrenal glands in times of stress. They will also help with energy levels. Vitamins B2, B5 and B6 are especially important.
- Vitamin C is a key nutrient used by your body in the stress response. It is essential for adrenal health, skin health, immune health, as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
- Magnesium is important for your nervous system and adrenal glands as well. Adequate magnesium is essential for blood sugar balance, fluid balance, energy levels and sleep quality.
- Potassium is another mineral essential for your nervous system, adrenal gland, heart and kidney health.
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an important brain neurotransmitter helps assist symptoms of stress, in particular anxiety as well as insomnia.
- 5 HTP (hydroxy tryptophan) is a precurser to serotonin (important for healthy moods) and serotonin (important for sleep).
Herbs for Adrenal Stress
- Adrenal supporting herbs include: Licorice, Rehmannia, Rhodiola, Withania, Siberian Ginseng and Astragalus
- Herbs to support your nervous system include: Chamomile, Hops, Kava, Passionflower, Skullcap, Lavender, Lemon balm, Oats, and Valerian
- St Johns Wort can improve symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.
NB. You should not take any of the above herbs if you are taking the oral contraceptive pill, fertility drugs, HRT or any other hormonal treatment or other medication unless they are recommended by a registered, experienced practitioner.
The Natural PCOS Diet
More detailed information on adrenal fatigue and solutions is found in The Natural PCOS Diet, a dedicated book to help you overcome PCOS naturally once and for all.
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