Updated: Sep 29
Acupuncture for Adrenal Fatigue in Denver
What is Adrenal Fatigue (Hypoadrenia)?
The most basic definition of Adrenal Fatigue is a deficiency or hypo-functioning of the adrenal gland. The job of the adrenals is to secrete tiny amounts of hormones that play interactively into your physical, emotional and psychological environment. Because of the delicate balance that is achieved by a properly functioning adrenal gland, it is extremely particular (as hormones tend to be), too much stress in any area of your life can drain the adrenal, resulting in havoc wreaked on your body, mind and spirit.
Outwardly, people with low adrenal function may appear totally ‘normal’, or perhaps they seem tired a lot, or possibly perceived of as lazy or unmotivated…or, simply apathetic. The reality is that they are already suffering from total burn out and their biochemistry is compromised, causing them to push harder than most people just to get through the tasks demanded by daily life. There are many solutions for treating hypoadrenia. I’d like to talk to you today about Acupuncture for adrenal fatigue (from a Denver acupuncture clinic).
What are the signs of low adrenal function?
The chief sign is fatigue. The kind of fatigue that is not relieved by rest, and in some cases is so debilitating that you cannot get out of bed for more than a few hours. But for many people, it is the kind of fatigue that affects you on not just the physical level, but also affects your mind and your emotions; the kind that makes you totally apathetic about life because you just don’t have the energy.
Physical signs: low energy, insomnia, fluid metabolism problems (edema, thirst), asthma/allergies/recurring colds, difficulty digesting and eliminating food, low libido, low blood pressure, hypoglycemia, fibromyalgia, cravings for sweet and/or salty foods, wake up very groggy
Mental signs: foggy headedness, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, difficulty sorting priorities, confusion, constantly losing things
Emotional signs: fearful, anxious, depressed, apathetic, easily frustrated, low tolerance
What are the causes of hypoadrenia?
Think stress. Stress comes in many forms, and it may be big or it may be small…stress affects all of us differently. The following is a list of stressful scenarios that could lead to adrenal fatigue.
Death of a loved one, car accident, serious illness/chronic disease (even disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis), a taxing bout of the flu, too much physical exertion, divorce/fighting with a partner, poor diet, exposure to toxins, job stress, chronic negative attitude, financial stress, fear, lack of sleep, prescription/over the counter drug use.
The above list is merely a sample. Everyone experiences stress differently, and every body has a different level of adaptagenic ability to deal with stress. However, the more intense, prolonged, or cummulative the stressors, the more damage is done to the adrenals and the longer the recovery time will be.
How do I treat this?
The great news about having a low functioning adrenal gland is that it is totally treatable with natural therapies. There are 3 practices of supplementation that, when used comprehensively and with diligence, can restore your vitality and treat your chronic disorders with effectiveness–and drug free!
The 3 practices for restoring your Adrenal Gland:
1) Lifestyle and Thought Patterns
The first step is analyzing your lifestyle critically and without judgement, and then removing the causative factors of your disorder from your life. Because FATIGUE is the most prevalent concern for most people with low adrenal function, you must think about your life and what causes you to feel really drained. Think in terms of energy robbing environments (poor lighting/chemical sensitivites at work), relationships, negative self talk, attitudes, emotions, beliefs, physical constraints/pains, inability to excercise…the list goes on and on.
The important is to think about what drains you. Then think about all of the areas in life that make you feel uplifted, enrgized, and alive. Make a list of these things–write it down.
When you have completed your list, think about how you can change your situation so that there is more energy in your life. Can you change the situation? Can you adapt, or change yourself? Can you leave? These are some of the possibilities that face us all. Consider the areas that you can change, adapt, or leave…and then do it!
Here are other areas of lifestyle that need to be addressed:
Stress Management: Stress is a huge drain on the adrenals, and it also affects your mood, further sapping your energy, and even affects digestion, leading to yet more nutritional deficiencies which, you guessed it! Cause more fatigue. So learn to manage your stress through excercise, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, hobbies or whatever else gives you happiness and makes you feel good.
Schedule time in your day that has no ‘to-do’: this gives you a needed emotional and psychological break that you may spend doing whatever you feel like.
Take your vacations! You have earned them and you deserve them.
Sleep: sleep is very important to your recovery. You should be in bed before 10:30 pm, being very careful not to get that second wind around 1:00 AM, which will exhaust you the following day. If you can, you should sleep in until 9 am. The hours of 7-9:00 AM are especially restorative for those with adrenal problems.
Insomnia: Often people with Adrenal fatigue will wake between 1-3:00 AM. In Chinese medicine, this is the time when the Liver is at it’s peak energy, so waking at this hour indicates a Liver imbalance that should be treated. From a Western perspective, this time also relates to low glycogen resevers within the Liver, resulting from low blood sugar levels throughout the previous day. To balance this problem, have a small snack before bed that includes carbohydrate and a protein, such as a few whole grain crackers and a handful of almonds.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture for adrenal fatigue treated on a weekly basis will enhance your overall recovery in many ways. Acupuncture naturally builds, or tonifies, the body, allowing for energy production and thereby reducing fatigue. Acupuncture tonifies the Kidneys and adrenals, balances your sleep patterns, regulates your metabolism and blood sugar, reduces stress and detoxifies the body via the Liver, Kidney and Large Intestine. In addition, it can help regulate your hormones and decrease cravings for carbohydrates.
2) Diet Therapy
To boost the functionality of your adrenals, it’s not only important what you eat, but also when you eat. Here is a general summary for a healthy adrenal boosting diet:
When to eat: Many people with low adrenal also suffer from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), low blood pressure, and low cortisol (which causes you to gain weight around the abdomen). Because of these complicating factors, it’s essential that you get small healthy infusions of quality food every couple of hours so that you don’t further drive your adrenal gland beyond it’s capacity.
7-10:00 AM: You must eat at least a few bites of food before 10 AM, but preferably a healthy breakfast about 8am. In Chinese medicine, the Stomach is strongest between the hours of 7-9:00 AM, so eating during this hour will bolster your digestion and create energy for you throughout the day.
11.30-12:00 PM: Lunch
2:00 PM: Mid afternoon snack
5-6:00 PM: Dinner
Small snack right before bed if insomnia is a problem
What to eat: As a general rule, combining good quality fats, protien and starchy carbs at every meal and snack is a good practice. Check out the details below to find out which food groups you need to pay attention to.
Fats that aid Adrenal Recovery
Essential fatty acids in the correct ratios sugnificantly help adrenal recovery. To get your daily dose of the correct fatty acids, make a mixture of flax seed oil and sunflower/safflower oil 1:1. Eat one tablespoon of the mixed oils uncooked on your food daily.
Only use fresh, raw, cold pressed and unrefined oils
Use organically grown oils stored in the fridge or freezer
Eat only fresh seeds and nuts (not peanut)
Use low temp cooking styles with the following oils (these are more resistant to free radical damage through heating): coconut, palm, cocoa butter, butter, refined peanut and avocado, high oleic sunflower/safflower oil, sesame and olive
No hydrogenated oils or deep fried foods
You must eat plenty of high quality proteins throughout your recovery. They provide you with valuable nutrition, help to build your blood supply (especially important if you suffer from anemia), and balance your blood sources.
Eat grass fed beef, venison, buffalo, free range chicken, fish, eggs and quality dairy
People with adrenal fatigue also have low blood sugar as well, so it’s important to limit not only the amount of fruit, but also the time of day when you eat it. High sugar content foods, such as fruit, will spike the blood sugar and then crash your energy later. For that reason, fruit should not be eaten first thing in the morning as it could crash your blood sugar and make you feel tired for days.
Be aware of fruits containing high amounts of potassium, they tend to make adrenla fatigue worse (ie: bananas and raisins)
Only organic fruit should be consumed as adrenal fatigued people often have chemical sensitivities as well to the pesticides on produce
Fruits to Eat: papaya, mango, plums, pears, kiwi, apples, grapes (limited), cherries
Fruits to Avoid: banana, raisin, dates, figs, oranges, grapefruit
Vegetables are an important part of you recovery. They have a wide variety of benefits from their phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Include 6-8 servings/day of organic vegetables
Eat the most brightly colored that you can find
Use a wide variety of preparations in your cooking in order to get the most range of available nutrients such as: eating them raw, sauteed, steamed, stir-fried, broiled, grilled, etc
Eat lots of sprouts, of any kind! They are exceptionally packed with nutrients
Starchy Carbohydrates: Good quality starchy carbs are generally whole grains that have retained a lot of their nutrition from being minimally processed. Eat plenty of whole grain starchy carbs such as quinoa, millet, brown rice, buckwheat and barley.
Be careful about eating them by themselves in the morning as they can deplete your energy later. Combine them with protien, and if you still notice you are tired in the afternoon, eat them only for lunch or dinner
Refined Carbohydrates: these carbs have had all nutritional value stripped away from them and easily spike the blood sugar, leading to poor energy later on. These include white rice, breads, pasta and baked goods. Eat these only for special occasions.
White sugar, fruit juices, and even natural sweeteners such as honey and agave should be avoided. They are simply to extreme for you adrenals to handle when you consider the blood sugar imbalances. For the most part, just don’t make them part of your daily life.
The Importance of Salt
Many hypoadrenal people crave salt, and with good reason. It helps to bolster low blood pressure, which is very common in low adrenal function, and it helps to restore the sodium-potassium pump. Higher salt intake will actually contribute to the healing of your cells. You should salt your food to taste. In addition, you should drink one glass of salted water (that’s right, salted!) first thing in the morning. Simply put 1/4-1/2 tsp salt in your morning glass, and enjoy. You won’t believe how much it will protect your energy reserves later in the day.
Some people experience constipation with adrenal fatigue, and so it becomes very important to make sure you are getting enough fiber to help your body eliminate toxic build up in the gut. Throw out your Metamucil and try natural psyllium husk powder instead.
If you enjoy coffee and tea regularly, this one will be tough for you. All coffee and black tea needs to be eliminated. Only small amounts of green tea are permitted. It is just too much stimulation on the adrenals, furthering the debility of them and extending your recovery time.
Supplementing your body with the essential components that are lacking due to adrenal fatigue is essential to your recovery.
Chinese herbal formulas: these formulations are compounded with with herbs that work synergystically (meaning that when used together, each herb enhances the others actions in order to increase overall effectiveness). While the prescription’s overal intent is to supplement the adrenal (in Chinese medicine we would say that they tonify the Kidney) they can be formulated to address your individual constitutional factors. They are extremely effective and generally produce more energy that can be felt within hours of taking them.
Adrenal Cell Extracts: Using extracts from bovine or porcine adrenal glands will speed your adrenal recovery. The extracts used are portions of the cellular contents and other nutrients that aid adrenal recovery. The dosage depends on the brand/form used.
Vitamin C: This is one of the most essential vitamins involved in the adrenal cascade, and an average requirement for low adrenal function is about 2000-4000 mg/day.
B Vitmains: These are important for energy production. Get the following doses of each vitamin B:
Pantothenic Acid: 1500mg
Magnesium: The best form to take this in is Magnesium Citrate, which can be found in many powder or capsule forms. You’ll need about 400 mg/day. Magnesium is important for cellular and adrenal energy production, and also for managing stress. Magnesium helps the nervous system to ‘decompress’, and the muscles to relax. This supplement can be very helpful if you have insomnia, especially when it’s stress-related.
Calcium: Again, taking Calcium Citrate is best. Calcium is the excitatory mechanism of the nervous system, activating our muscles and preparing us for action. Take about 750-1000 mg/day.
So now that you know what to do and how to do it, how long will it take? It all depends on how depleted your adrenals are, and how seriously you take dietary, lifestyle and supplementation. With the proper changes, some people feel better in a few weeks, and some take a couple of years. In many cases, you won’t feel better for months–but that doesn’t mean you aren’t doing anything good for the adrenals and the body! Sometimes it just takes longer to feel the effects. You will just need to honor your decision to help your body recover, and have the tenacity to stick with the program for at least 3 months.
The natural road to recovery can be a slower at times, but more rewarding as you are in total control of your health and your vitality. Don’t be daunted, making change can be hard. Be aware of what you can implement within a reasonable timeframe, and don’t push yourself too hard and become frustrated when you slip. Over time, your new routines and practices will become your lifestyle.
Are you looking to pursue Acupuncture for adrenal fatigue in Denver? Or do you someone who could use this information? Please either forward this article to them, or call my Denver Acupuncture office and schedule a Free Consultation today!
Special resource recognition to Dr. James L. Wilson, author of ‘Adrenal Fatigue; the 21st Century Stress Syndrom’
Joanne Douglass, L.Ac MSOM
Highlands office inside Highlands Wellness Center
2543 Eliot St, Denver CO 80211