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  • Writer's pictureamyk73

Why Adrenal Fatigue Doesn't Exist... Per Your Doctor

Adrenal fatigue doesn't exist per your doctor and insurance company. You cannot be diagnosed with it. Nor will it appear on your bill as a coded item approved for payment by your insurance company. To them it is a non-existent illness. Per Mayo Clinic's website it is defined as, "It is a lay term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems."

Anyone who has experienced adrenal fatigue would tell you there is no doubt it is real. When I finally had words for what I was feeling, it changed how I saw my doctor and healthcare from that point forward.

Does it exist then?

I believe so. There are plenty of health conditions to which the Western medical system lacks prognosis or diagnosis. Western medicine is based on the ability to align symptoms to specific medications to which it is believed the symptoms will be mitigated. Treatment cannot be provided until symptoms are observed.

Where the deviation between Western medicine and other medicine systems exists is in practicality. Western medicine is limited where other medical systems have expanded options. This system prevents healing at the root level of the symptoms which can exasperate symptoms to worse conditions.

There are varying arguments of course. Western medicine is backed by politicians and pharmaceutical companies lending significant influence with claims being backed by science. Other medicine systems are also backed by science but also the element of of defining health in intangible terms such as emotions and spirit. This is where Western medicine and other medicine systems separate. It is also at this point, I believe illnesses like adrenal fatigue are not able to be diagnosed by Western Medicine.

I believe admitting its existence, admits where our healthcare system is ill equipped to provide meaningful healing. -Amy Kramer, CHHP, Dragonspit Apothecary, LLC

Certainly you can find medical doctors willing to prescribe the varying symptoms they consider under the collection of adrenal fatigue. There are medications for anxiety, inflammation, pain and aches. There are not however, treatment for the underlying cause for why these things exist in the first place. For this type of healing and support it is necessary to leverage the knowledge and experience of holistic health medicine systems, including Chinese medicine.

Or you could accept the statement by your medical doctor that these are separate symptoms or all in your head.

Unfortunately, this is also where most who suffer from adrenal fatigue lack access to healing. Taking a antidepressant in this situation will not do much to help the body recover and heal from the effects of depleted adrenals. Nor will extra sleep.

What then is adrenal fatigue?

The good news is you don't just wake up one day with adrenal fatigue. It is a condition that occurs over time with increasingly louder indications the body is experiencing what we call symptoms.

Adrenal fatigue is the result of stress that has not been recovered and mitigated by the body. It is not stress of one day or even a couple months. Rather it is the result of long term stress that hasn't ebbed and the body able to return to a non-alert state.

At times of stress, the body responds by shifting into a state of adrenaline. This is inherent design where people could rely on adrenaline to get them out of unsafe situations. It also occurs when we feel stress responses to deadlines, overwhelming responsibilities, frustration and conflict for example. Adrenaline has both positive and negative impacts on the body. It is perfect for the immediate stress response we need to have in times of surprise.

There is no way to know how much adrenaline each of us has or can produce. Generally speaking, adrenaline is sufficient for short term stress lasting from a few minutes to a couple months. At this point, adrenaline production cannot keep up with the demand if the stress continues without significant time to recover and rest.

Once adrenaline is used up and stress is still present, the body will shift to cortisol that is produced by the adrenals. This creates the commonly described flight-or-fight response. With longer term stress, flight-or-fight was also used to keep us safe in life threatening situations. Consider cortisol like a longer running battery version of adrenaline. The body however can only produce so much cortisol and after a time it too will deplete.

Up to this point, various symptoms may have been experienced including anxious feelings, sleeplessness, irritability and low energy. When we are in chronic stress the body's ability to optimally run our immune system, digestion and reproductive system is slowed. All effort is placed on supporting the body from the stress stimulation. As a result, we can become more prone to illness such as congestion, respiratory illness and even inflammation.

Adrenal fatigue is hence a depletion of the adrenals to continue the production of cortisol to support ongoing demand. Our body can no longer support normal function and stress stimulation management. Yes, it is real. Yes, it hurts physically, mentally and emotionally.

No, it's not all in your head.

Healing from adrenal fatigue

The encouraging news is that you can heal from adrenal fatigue. It however is not a 5 minute fix and takes more than a mani-pedi self-care session. Healing from adrenal fatigue is journey that is highly personal.

The strategies to apply when healing from adrenal fatigue requires us to first rebuild our foundational health elements and reserves within the body. We start with the very basics as they become the place where health can be best supported in this space without adding additional stress to the body and mind.

Ultimately, we want to get stress under control and feel back in control of our life with renewed energy and vigor. The path to getting there is different for each of us. That is easier said than done so what usually works best is to look for those areas where we can make changes without adding more stress. Let's face it, if you make a big sweeping change to your life without addressing the problems, it only adds more stress.

Stress is what got us here in the first place so it is illogical to just pile on stress, even though well-intended, for the sake of making improvements. Some people have found tremendous help with bio-hacking and other strategies to help build in healthy habits over a stress ridden lifestyle. It works for some and others it just complicates things.

What I find is most helpful is looking at the stress we volunteer for and introduce on our own. These are the easiest to manage back to a healthy boundary and give us the space we need to rest and rebuild.

Herbals such Ashwagandha and flower essence remedy are usually helpful as you work through resetting the stress boundary in your life. Even some mushrooms have been long used for supporting anxiety related responses due to overtaxed adrenals. Lion's Mane is one commonly accessible and easy to take to help. Emotionally stress is very tiring and taxing on the mind and body so providing that support to process and navigate is important.

Nutritionally, we also focus on rebuilding our cells to generate healthy turnover, rebuilding strength and immune function. When you've been running on an empty tank that leads to the state of adrenal fatigue it is common to find digestive problems, menstrual problems and even recurring illnesses like headaches and UTIs. These symptoms point us to where the body was using reserves so we can support them. I always include muscle response testing when dealing with nutritional needs identification because listening to the body is the best way to make sure it is getting what it needs.

Too often we have been led to believe that not only is feeling adrenal fatigue all in our heads but the related symptoms we feel like recurring illnesses are just addressed through prescriptions.

Multiple rounds of antibiotics is not going to address why those things keep happening!

This is where holistic health has an edge because we are looking under the symptoms and what you are experiencing to get at what is causing it and providing support from that perspective. It is very much like a detective linking the clues to get to the culprit.

So, while adrenal fatigue is not medically recognized it does exist and it is able to be supported to promote healing. Addressing the root cause of what got you there is the best way to take the path out of that state and onto one of improved health and thriving vitality.

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