Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Why Adrenal Health is So Important
- Dependence on Sunglasses
- Hollow Cheeks
- Lines in the Fingertips
- Pale Lips
- Balding Lower Legs
- Unexplained Back or Knee Pain
- QUICKLY Get Relief From Adrenal Fatigue
- Get to bed no later than 10:30 pm
- Throw out the processed salt and replace with sea salt
- Eliminate coffee and refined sugar from your diet
- Reduce dependence on grains
You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice that adrenal fatigue and adrenal problems, in general, are at epidemic proportions in our modern culture.
Just notice how nearly every gas station sells energy drinks and shots and there is a coffee shop on practically every corner. The average American now consumes a whopping 180 lbs per year of refined sugars. These signs surely provide sufficient evidence.
By the way, the 180 lbs of sugar per year figure is a shocking 27% increase just since 2003 when sugar consumption was 142 lbs per person per year!
Caffeine and sugar consumed in excess amounts will sucker punch your adrenal glands faster than just about anything else, no doubt about it.
I’ve read a lot of articles about the adrenal glands and adrenal fatigue over the years. Most of them focus on the symptoms which include excessive fatigue, hair loss, sleep problems, difficulty getting going in the morning, etc. You know the drill.
What I haven’t seen as much written about is why it is so critical to keep these two walnut-sized glands at the top of your kidneys happy and healthy and how to spot the freight train of adrenal fatigue coming full speed down the tracks and about to smack your life upside the head.
Fact is, once you are losing your hair, can’t sleep at night or get off the couch during the day, adrenal fatigue has already sucked the “life” out of your life. At that point, mustering the strength and courage to reverse course can be quite daunting indeed.
Why Adrenal Health is So Important
A few years ago, I attended the Wise Traditions Conference hosted annually by the Weston A. Price Foundation. One of the most interesting lectures I attended during that information-packed weekend was given by Dr. Bruce Rind MD, a holistic endocrinologist whose talk focused on spotting and reversing thyroid and adrenal problems.
I learned from Dr. Rind that the health of the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands is inextricably linked. If one goes south, the other one probably will too and in very short order.
Adrenal problems can frequently masquerade as thyroid problems. As a result, if the adrenal glands are experiencing high levels of stress day in and day out from lack of sleep, too much sugar and caffeine in the diet and a rush rush lifestyle loaded with carbohydrate-heavy processed foods, thyroid gland problems will eventually manifest along with the adrenal problems. Panic attacks may occur as well.
Why is this such a big problem?
Because thyroid problems often end up going hand in hand with insulin resistance problems. The development of insulin resistance is a BIG problem as this has a direct effect on longevity.
Once insulin resistance and blood sugar problems enter the picture, the domino effect to Metabolic Syndrome takes place, a fancy name for a group of risk factors which includes heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
Now that we know why we need to keep the adrenal glands in ship shape and why ignoring this problem will only lead to more serious and imbalanced endocrine problems in the future, let’s explore the early signs of adrenal problems.
As you can see, a person’s overall hormonal balance is extremely intricate and one endocrine disorder frequently portends another then another. Hence, keeping one’s adrenal glands from becoming overly fatigued is extremely important as the seemingly insignificant signs of early adrenal dysfunction and insufficiency can rapidly start a person into a downward spiral to Metabolic Syndrome.
When does one cup of coffee in the morning or that afternoon pick me up candy bar suddenly indicate a major problem on the horizon?
Here are a few lesser-known signs of adrenal fatigue as described by Dr. Rind in his Wise Traditions lecture and as written in my notes:
Dependence on Sunglasses
Are you one of those people who can’t stand to be out in the bright, midday sun without your shades? Oversensitivity of the eyes to bright sunlight is a sign of adrenal problems from a chronic sodium-potassium imbalance which prevents the pupils from properly constricting in response to bright light.
The good news is that being out in the midday sun with no sunglasses is a way to strengthen the adrenals. When I do errands, I try to leave my sunglasses in the car and walk to and from the stores so that my eyes get a good dose of unobstructed sunlight.
I’ve noticed that my eyes have become significantly less sensitive to sunlight over the years as my diet has improved with the general banishment of refined sugars and carbohydrates in my home. While I still wear sunnies for safety reasons to reduce the glare while driving, I frequently find myself forgetting to put them on at all on very sunny days.
This young person shown in the picture to the left has some serious adrenal fatigue! My bet is that there is a lot of sugar and caffeine going on in that diet. Being young is no protection from the ravages of hormonal disruption. If you find your cheeks hollowing out, take a look at your diet pronto.
Skip the collagen injections and lose the sugar, caffeine, and refined carbohydrates instead!
Lines in the Fingertips
Turn your hand over and examine the skin of the fingertips. Do you see nice, plump fingertips or is the skin covered with vertical lines? If they are nice and plump, that is a good sign for your adrenals. Lots of vertical lines in your fingertips indicate adrenal stress.
My own fingertips used to be quite lined years ago, but getting off refined sugar plumped them out nicely within a few months.
I have a friend who once told me that after about age 30, a woman’s lips disappear into the back of her head! This was a colorful way of saying that lipstick was mandatory after a certain age.
I don’t agree! Lips that have no color whatsoever is not always an age thing. It can also be a sign of weak adrenals. When refined grains and sugar are eliminated and any grains that are eaten are properly prepared with minimal to no caffeine in the diet, most women are delighted to see a youthful pink return to their lips once again!
One of the most striking things I noticed when I went on the GAPS Diet a few years back was how the color flooded into my face and lips. Clearly, my adrenals were on the mend!
Even now, I can tell within an hour or two if my adrenals have been stressed by the meal I just ate…my lips go pale almost immediately. Watch this yourself. You will be amazed at how quickly the amount of color in your lips will indicate how your adrenals are feeling at that moment.
Balding Lower Legs
Do you have bald patches on your lower arms and legs or sparser hair in those areas than you used to (particularly men)? This could be a sign of adrenal fatigue.
Boys entering puberty with sparser beards and leg/arm hair than their peers are frequently those with low adrenal function and an overall lower drive to achieve.
Unexplained Back or Knee Pain
Muscle weakness is a frequent sign of adrenal insufficiency. Unexplained back or knee pain with no accompanying structural defect may indicate weakness of the muscles supporting the pelvis and/or knees.
In the case of lower back pain, chronic adrenal stress leads to weakness in the muscles which support the pelvis causing the pelvis to subluxate in a posterior direction. In other words, the lower back pain has nothing to do with the lower back and everything to do with muscular instability in the pelvis.
QUICKLY Get Relief From Adrenal Fatigue
If you suspect that you have adrenal fatigue, it would be a good idea to get a holistic physician to do a thorough examination and consultation. Hormone problems are incredibly intractable conditions to reverse and professional advice is warranted in most cases.
In the meantime, you can quickly provide your adrenals relief if you do the following:
Get to bed no later than 10:30 pm
This piece of advice was given to me by an Ayurvedic MD over 15 years ago. It is still one of the best pieces of advice any doctor has ever given me. She explained how the hormone system cleanses between 11 pm and 1 am (generally speaking) and if you are not asleep during this time, the flushing process will not take place, essentially backing up the hormone system with toxins.
Throw out the processed salt and replace with sea salt
The adrenals need GOOD salt. Use sea salt to taste in your dishes at home and your adrenals will thank you!
It doesn’t matter the color either! Just make sure it’s not white.
Eliminate coffee and refined sugar from your diet
This is a simple piece of advice but easily ignored in our crazy modern lives. Continue with the daily caffeine/sugar fixes, and you WILL have serious hormonal issues down the road if you don’t already. Coffee has already been linked to blood sugar issues (sorry bulletproof coffee fans). Combine this with a sugar-filled diet and the Metabolic Syndrome freight train has left the station.
Is it really that hard to replace that cup of Joe with dandelion coffee or green tea and the white sugar/high fructose corn syrup with natural alternatives like raw honey? Do it today!
Reduce dependence on grains
The Western diet is overly heavy in grains and starches which tax the adrenals when consumed to excess. Focus the diet on clean meats, organic and biodynamic vegetables and fruits, seeds, nuts, eggs, and grass-fed dairy. You will very soon feel the energy that comes with a significantly reduced digestive burden and begin to regain more youthful vitality that comes with healthy adrenals!
Dr. Bruce Rind MD, Lecture at Wise Traditions Conference
CBS News: Coffee and Blood Sugar
Vitamin D Deficiency Signs Most People Miss
Rethinking Fatigue: What Your Adrenals are REALLY Telling You
Adrenal Exhaustion: A National Epidemic
THANK YOU!!! The 1st place I’ve found that confirmed my suspicions connecting vertical finger lines with adrenal exhaustion! I thought it was tied to my Hashimoto’s dx but after doing the AIP elimination and making lifestyle changes related to emo/phys stresses I have close to 0 antibodies and all my thyroid labs are great, YET the fingers are still looking like they belong to a 90 yr old! Got stage 3 AF dx a few months back and started the protein/carb cycling etc and have noticed my pointer and middle fingers are much better. Ahhh, I think, it’s adrenal! Then I read on Dr. Lam’s website about how serious AFS causes vasoconstriction and I think, that could make sense for the wrinkling! Then I read you and I’m convinced! Thank you! It may seem irrelevant but one, as you can tell, I’m an info nerd. I NEED to understand the whys, connections, all of it. Two, the hands have become a barometer for my recovery as they are the last visible evidence of dysfunction. (Though I will go look at my lips! ?) Thanks again for sharing your journey!
Interesting comment about sleeping before 10:30PM. I go to sleep at 12:00AM. I need to go to bed earlier. I think there is something there.
Wow, Sarah, I was shocked to see I have one of those symptoms (wrinkled finger pads)! Thank you!
Sarah Pope MGA
Yes that is a symptom most people do not think twice about! I used to have wrinkled fingertips in my heavy sugar eating 20’s, and when I got off sugar and began eating a traditional diet, they are now nicely plumped out for many years now 🙂 It doesn’t take long for them to plump out in my experience…just a few months. Wrinkled fingertip pads have nothing to do with age either. I’ve seen very very old people with nicely plump ones, who of course, eat an excellent diet.
To learn more about adrenal fatigue I highly recommend learning from Dr Carolyn Dean and her research with magnesium. Adrenal fatigue and magnesium deficiency go hand in hand. She’s written a book about it and sells a ionic form of magnesium that I take daily and have felt amazing with. I am not paid to advertise for her. I only am recommending it because I take it daily and like it.
I experience episodes of dry mouth yet a salty taste occurs at the same time and an occasional upset stomach. I do not sleep well every night either. I have vertical lines up and down the inside of my hands. Drinking a bubbly beverage like seltzer or ginger ale helps slightly. Sounds to me like I should look into this.
I would like to know if there is any medical doctor that would be able to help me with reversal of the adrenal gland issue I believe I’m having.
Bruce Rind MD in the Washington DC area specializes in this.
Get the Adrenal fatigue syndrome cookbook on Dr.Lam’s website, it is an amazing resource of healing yourself naturally. also look into leaky gut as it is directly connected with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, once you have both leaky gut and AFS they both feed each other, the adrenals don’t produce enough enzymes to feed the gut to break food properly and the gut in return stays leaky because it lacks the nutrients to heal it’s lining which also leads to candida infestation thus keeping the adrenals in a state of constant inflammation, it’s a vicious cycle indeed. I would recommend going on a leaky gut cleansing diet first while keeping in mind the AFS cookbook diet.
There is a lot of good info here, but I am tired of the incredibly patronizing articles on adrenal fatigue.
Sure there are people staying up late, consuming coffee and sugar and ignoring their health. This article has a bit of a lecturing tone towards these Americans running life at a hectic pace.
But, what about other people who are healthy, who just had a lot of bad luck?
I have had PTSD my whole life. Then I had severe post partum insomnia followed by harm given to my brain because of reactions to drugs that were given to me and severe drug withdrawal from drugs I took as prescribed.
And I cannot stop being a mom or afford to give up my career. So, I have adrenal fatigue. Not because I am an American living off of sugar, ignoring my health and making poor choices. But because I have suffered.
Also, I hate the advice given for adrenal fatigue where it says, “Get to bed by 10 pm or make sure to get adequate sleep.” when your body will not let you sleep due to adrenal fatigue.