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What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Tired workerTypically, adrenal fatigue is a term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms.  For example, the Mayo Clinic indicates symptoms such as body aches and extreme fatigue.  The Mayo Clinic also indicates symptoms such as nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems.   At Optimum Health we start with the root of the problem.  Therefore, we view adrenal fatigue slightly differently.  Adrenal fatigue is a term used to refer to a person dealing with prolonged periods of stress.  In turn, the stress leads to anxiety and panic causing overworked/fatigued adrenal glands.  This is what leads to the collection of symptoms mentioned above.  The groundwork for the concept of adrenal fatigue is actually taught in medical school as the flight or fight response.


Adrenal Fatigue Can Start as the Fight or Flight Response

Scared young woman running through a forest at nightAdrenal fatigue starting as the fight or flight response makes a lot of sense when you really stop and think about it.  First, let’s think about a scary movie scene where a person is running in the woods trying to get away from the bad guy.  The camera usually flashes one scene after another all around the woods as the person is trying to pay attention to all parts of the woods as they do not know from which part the bad guy is going to jump.  Fight or flight is much like this.  Your body sends most of your nutrients and blood flow to your arms and legs to allow you to run away from or fight the bad guy.  Your body begins to create extra hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, DHEA and insulin

In this situation, your mind switches to surveillance mode so you can pay attention to everything to get the first indication of the bad guy appearing. This means that you don’t focus on any one thing and this can make you appear to have ADD or ADHD.

While running from the bad guy, do you think you will want to stop to sleep, urinate or eat?  No, because the fight or flight response causes you to postpone these normal body functions as long as possible though you may grab something to snack on as you run.    During the fight or flight response, your adrenal glands are pumping adrenaline as fast as they can and this is what leads to adrenal fatigue.  Once you are finally able to stop and settle down, you may feel extreme fatigue as a result of your body trying to function at maximum capacity to “escape the bad guy.”

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Prolonged Fight or Flight Response

With prolonged states of the fight or flight response, the adrenal glands can become overworked.  The adrenal glands may even get stuck functioning at maximum capacity and become fatigued.  In the natural health world, we call this adrenal fatigue.

Fight or FlightIn this case, our use of the term Adrenal fatigue is not an attempt to diagnosis as only physicians diagnose.  Adrenal fatigue is simply a name we use to refer to this situation.  We have to have some way to state what we are talking about!  Since the traditional medical world tends to ignore the reality of this situation, they simply treat the symptoms and ignore the root cause.

In the natural health world, we believe adrenal fatigue is a serious situation.  It is affecting many people today. Due to the stressful lives that we lead, we feel like we are running through life.  What is needed is to begin understanding adrenal fatigue.  Only then can we address the cause and stop just treating the symptoms.  In every case that we have dealt with at Optimum Health, we sooth and nourish the adrenal glands. Then, all symptoms subside.


Adrenal Fatigue: Related Topics

How does Adrenal Fatigue keep me from sleeping?

How does adrenal fatigue cause me to get up to urinate all throughout the night?

Adrenal Fatigue and ADD/ADHD


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