Do you frequently wake up between 2:00-3:00 in the morning? Do you need an afternoon nap to recharge your batteries? Have difficulty remembering things? If you answered yes to these questions, you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is a name given to a series of symptoms often recognized by alternative medicine practitioners. Like fibromyalgia not so long ago, adrenal fatigue is not considered a medical condition and is often dismissed by mainstream medicine. The hallmark signs of adrenal fatigue include:
- Difficulty waking up and getting up in the morning, even when you had enough sleep
- Chronic fatigue or general malaise
- Weight gain/inability to lose weight
- Noise sensitivity
- Difficulty concentrating/foggy thinking
- Difficulty remembering things
- Recurrent headaches
- Decreased sex drive
- Recurrent infections/difficulty recovering from infections
- Craving for salty food
- Craving for sweets
- Being your most alert and energetic after 6 pm
Adrenal fatigue can occur when the body experiences stress for prolonged periods of time. The adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, produce the hormones norepinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, and DHEA, all of which play a part in the body’s response to stress. When working properly, the adrenal glands produce cortisol to regulate such things as blood pressure and the immune system.
Chronic stress leads to chronically elevated cortisol levels and a disruption of the production of the other hormones. Eventually the adrenal glands become exhausted, unable to function at optimal levels even under non-stressful conditions. During a period of adrenal fatigue, conventional medical laboratory testing of adrenal hormones show normal results. Addison’s disease is a medical condition that results from decrease hormone levels as measured on conventional medical blood test and assigns it the added symptoms of:
- Body aches
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of body hair
- and hyperpigmentation of the skin
A 2013 study by Ladan Eshkevari, Eva Permaul and Susan E Mulroney of Georgetown University Medical Center suggests that acupuncture can help balance the levels of hormones secreted by the adrenal glands during chronic stress.
Acupuncture may also improve overall adrenal function. Patients have reported increased energy levels, even with the same amount of sleep, and overall lowered stress levels. Acupuncture, especially in conjunction with diet and supplements, may be an effective method of helping regulate adrenal function and alleviating symptoms.