In the natural health world, you hear the term “adrenal fatigue” quite often, but what does it actually mean? Adrenal fatigue is caused by chronic stress and is not really an issue of the adrenal glands. Adrenal fatigue is not a medically recognized health issue, but HPA axis dysregulation is. They’re essentially the same thing, but it’s important to understand what it is and why it’s often called adrenal fatigue.
The HPA axis the the control center for your body’s stress response. When you get stressed, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CHR), which results in the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, from the adrenal glands. This is a normal response. Your body is designed to do this.
However, in our modern world, your HPA axis is constantly being activated, as you’re exposed to stressors all the time. Examples are financial problems, traffic, work problems, chronic infections. These chronic stressors can take a toll on your HPA axis, since they are things you deal with constantly. They make you more likely to develop HPA axis dysfunction.
In our busy world your body has two modes to operate – either fight or flight, or rest and digest. Fight or flight is a sympathetic dominated version of your body’s nervous system. And rest and digest is the parasympathetic. Your body is built to switch back-and-forth between these systems, so they balance each other out.
The parasympathetic nervous system functions to slow heart rate, store energy, stimulate digestion, and relax certain muscles. It allows the body to return to a normal and calm state after experiencing pain or stress.
The problem is is that through traumatic stressors that put you in that sympathetic state, or through chronic stressors that keep you in fight or flight, you are never are going back to the parasympathetic state where your body has a chance to restore. This is a problem because when you’re in a high stress state, all of your hormones go into high output. Your body shuts off things like digestion and all kinds of different processes in order for you to make the most amount of stress hormones because there is a perceived emergency happening.
You may be wondering why this is an issue? It’s an issue because in the past you would have times where you would be able to recover. Nowadays these stressors go really high and never stop. That means your adrenal glands are working overdrive all the time. This leads to inflammation, hormone imbalances, gut issues, and a weakened immune system.
You start to get sick throughout the year with colds and flu. You start having digestive issues like IBS. You have problems sleeping and you’re exhausted and fatigued during the day. Your weight starts to fluctuate. Maybe you start experiencing mood imbalances, skin issues, chronic pain or migraines.
Luckily, there are simple and effect solutions to activating your parasympathetic nervous system and recovering from adrenal fatigue.
Restoring your body to optimal health involves many components, especially getting plenty of high quality sleep and rest. Using essential oils are a wonderful tool for calming the mind and body to reduce stress, activate your parasympathetic state, and improve sleep quality.
Diffuse and/or apply topically to wrists, bottom of feet and brain stem.
Your goal should be to try to be in a parasympathetic state as much as possible. This can be achieved by incorporating calming activities and diffusing essential oils. Trying diffusing or applying topically the oils above while enjoying any of the activities below:
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I would love to hear from you. What is your favorite relaxing and calming essential oil?