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Fatigue

Woman falling asleep while working

Fatigue is a problem many women experience during menopause. Night sweats, insomnia, and other menopausal symptoms can contribute to fatigue, but the underlying issues are often linked to adrenal fatigue. Lifestyle factors can help with recovery, but many women also take supplements to support the adrenal glands and combat fatigue. 

Adrenal Fatigue and Menopause

The adrenal glands support the ovaries by producing a small amount of sex hormones until menopause occurs. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing sex hormones after menopause [1]*. When the ovaries stop producing estrogen, the adrenal glands can continue to produce estrogen and other hormones. 

If the adrenal glands are under chronic stress leading up to perimenopause, it can prevent adequate estrogen production from happening and thus affect hormone balance. This can be a significant factor in fatigue, hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. 

It can also result in Adrenal Fatigue. Abnormal levels of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, and an androgen called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), can lead to the adrenal glands becoming overly stressed and exhausted. 

Symptoms and treatment of adrenal fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue is characterized by a constant feeling of fatigue that is highly debilitating. It is very common to wake up in the morning feeling “groggy” and unable to get out of bed easily. There is often a strong reliance on artificial stimulants such as caffeine to provide an energy boost and cravings for sugary and salty foods. 

Experiencing Adrenal Fatigue as you enter perimenopause can become an even bigger issue as the physical and emotional changes that the body experiences are a major source of stress.

Lifestyle Changes

Happy woman waking up

Lifestyle factors are key for supporting the adrenal glands, regulating cortisol levels and overcoming adrenal fatigue. Some tips include:

  1. Going to bed before 10 pm. Staying up beyond this time can result in a “second wind” of cortisol that makes sleep difficult or even impossible.
  2. Training yourself to breathe out for longer than you breathe in can decrease cortisol levels, especially in the early stages of adrenal fatigue.
  3. Avoiding inflammatory foods such as sugars and processed carbs, which can add extra stress to the body.
  4. Managing stress levels as anxiety stimulates the adrenal glands.
  5. Doing light to moderate exercise, but not too much, as this can weaken the adrenal glands.

 

What are Adaptogens, and Should You Take These Supplements?

Adaptogens are a newly popular term in the world of wellness treatments, showing up everywhere from local health food stores to wellness blogs. If you’re curious about what adaptogens are and what they do, here’s the information that you need.

Where do adaptogens come from?

Adaptogens are extracts obtained from herbs. They are commercially available, and are promoted as supplements that help the body fight against stressors of many kinds. Adaptogenic herbs have been in use in Eastern medicine for centuries, and have been experiencing a form of revival lately. They can be eaten, or brewed in water to make nutrient-rich teas.

Do adaptogens help you?

While there isn’t much research in existence that looks at what adaptogens do, there are followers of Eastern medicine who swear by them.

Working out helps your muscles learn how to deal with stress. Adaptogens work in similar fashion, but for the adrenal gland and other glands. When you use adaptogens, your body learns to deal with stress without needing to raise the heart rate to high levels.

How do adaptogens work on the body?

Adaptogens help the body adjust to stress by working on three important glands: the hypothalamic gland, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland. They also work on the sympathoadrenal system. These systems are an important part of the way the body responds to stress. Adaptogens help keep these systems from overreacting in response to stress. Most studies to do with adaptogens have only been performed on animals. For this reason, it’s hard to know how exactly adaptogens behave in humans. Nevertheless, users tend to be very enthusiastic about the effects that they credit adaptogens with.

What kind of herbs make adaptogens?

Every adaptogen works in a slightly different way. Which one is likely to work best for you depends on the specific symptom that you’re trying to treat.

Adaptogens for chronic stress – When you suffer from long-lasting stress and the hormone problems that occur as a result, adaptogenic herbs such as Indian ashwagandha, basil and Asian ginseng can help.

Adaptogens for short-term stress – Adaptogens such as schisandra and Siberian ginseng help the body deal with the immediate effects of stress, and can help calm the mind down. These herbs can also help with physical stamina, energy, memory, and digestive function.

Some supplements blend a number of herbs and vitamins together to help support the adrenal glands. The body needs more vitamin C when the adrenal glands are under stress. The adrenal glands are the part of the body with the highest concentration of vitamin C [2]*.  Additionally, B vitamins are important for cell metabolism, including vitamins B5, B6, and B12 [3,4]*. Dietary sources include eggs, salmon, lentils, black beans, and meat. 

How do you use adaptogens?

Adaptogens can be brewed into teas, added into smoothies or into salads, and other foods. It’s also possible to buy them in capsule form. Before you begin to use adaptogens, however, it would be a good idea to talk to a doctor about them. Studies have found that some herbal supplements tend to interact with prescription drugs. At this point, however, there is little information available on such interactions or side-effects.

If you experience stress, trying adaptogens can be a great way to fight it. It’s always a good idea, however, to get to the root cause of your stress, and make changes to your lifestyle.

Disclaimers:

You should always consult your health care provider before starting any herbal supplements or products.   *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Resources:

  1. https://ndnr.com/womens-health/the-relationship-between-adrenal-function-and-menopausal-symptoms-2/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15666839
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6071262/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257642/
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