Menopause is a natural progression of ovarian hormone decline, a process that should occur without symptoms and without event.
But a gland that typically receives little attention, the adrenal, is at the root of many negative symptoms associated with menopause. With an appearance similar to walnuts, the adrenals sit on top of the kidneys. These important glands produce a myriad of hormones, including stress related hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline) and estrogen and progesterone,
Adrenal Fatigue: What Is It?
Adrenal glands have a vast influence on the body and symptoms can mimic a number of disorders (heart disease, diabetes) making a definitive diagnosis difficult.
When the ovaries gradually fail to produce hormones, it’s the job of the adrenals to start producing allied hormones to ease the transition into menopause. But if the glands are “overworked” through a chronic stress response, normal hormone production can’t occur.
What happens when the glands become “overworked?”
You’ve heard of “adrenaline junkies,” right?
Adrenaline and cortisol are stress hormones that is commonly called an adrenaline rush; when you’re totally alert and living in the moment. This feeling is known as a”fight or flight” response.
The release of hormones in the fight or flight response is a normal reaction to stress. After a short time, the flight or flight response dissipates and hormones level out.
If stress is constant, the adrenals can become weakened and “fatigued” and cannot function optimally or support the body with the production of ovarian hormones. That’s when symptoms (from the above list) can appear.
Currently, there are no definitive diagnostic tests for adrenal fatigue. Most medical professionals don’t diagnose adrenal problems until the point when the glands stop working. At this stage, the official diagnoses of “Adrenal Insufficiency” or “Addison’s Disease” may apply.
Experts agree that the most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue are brain fog, weight gain, reduced immune function, and heart palpitations. Symptoms can also include:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful intercourse
- Low libido
- Mood swings
- Hair loss or thinning
- Weakened or brittle nails
- Memory lapse or “brain fog”
- Frequent urination or incontinence
Do I have adrenal fatigue?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms from the list above, consult your doctor to rule out other conditions. He or she may be open to discussing adrenal fatigue, or at the very least, wellness strategies that can help reduce stress and symptoms.
What to do ?
1. If you think stress is a factor, reduction is key. Try meditation, walking in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or a bath.
2. Go on an adrenal fatigue diet – reduce sugar and processed food intake, caffeine, processed meats, reduce the intake of carbohydrates (gluten and starchy carbs are taxing the adrenal glands) and include more nutrient dense foods (fruits and vegetables) as well as superfoods in your diet.
3. Supplement with adrenal fatigue herbs to support your adrenals. ashwagandha, rhodiola or holy basil are well known adaptogen herbs that help reduce cortisol levels. Fish oil and magnesium are also necessary nutrients for fighting adrenal insufficiency.
4. Rosemary and lavender essential oils can help decrease cortisol and reduce oxidative stress on cells.
Want to destress the natural way?
Recipe (Stress-reducing bath salt): Lavender Bath Salts
2 cups Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate)
10 drops lavender essential oil
As you’re running your warm bath water, add ingredients to the tub. Mix until dissolved
Enjoy your stress-reducing bath!
Tip: You can add a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers.