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Chill out before you get sick: Being stressed out wreaks havoc on the adrenal glands, increases the risk of chronic diseases

If you ever find yourself constantly feeling tired or listless, you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue — an often misunderstood health condition for many people.

Adrenal fatigue, according to chiropractor and naturopath James L. Wilson, is a combination of symptoms that are caused by “below optimal adrenal function resulting from stress.

According to naturopathy — an alternative medical system that uses natural remedies such as herbs, massages, exercise and acupuncture to help the body heal itself — adrenal fatigue happens when your adrenal glands burn out from prolonged production of cortisol due to long-term stress. (Related: Do you suffer from adrenal fatigue? These 3 healthy sources of fat can relieve your adrenals.)

This adrenal fatigue can manifest in many ways, such as general listlessness and trouble sleeping. However, its most common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Recurrent infections
  • Difficulty shaking off infections
  • Poor response and “crashing” during stress
  • Aches and pains
  • Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar
  • Low blood pressure and dizziness upon standing
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Inflammation
  • Belly fat
  • Arrhythmia
  • Low cortisol levels
  • Lower back pain and sciatica
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tinnitus
  • Salt cravings

What are adrenal glands?

Adrenal glands are two glands sitting atop the kidneys and are responsible for producing over 50 hormones that drive almost every bodily function – many of which are essential for life.

The adrenals are made up of two distinct parts, the adrenal cortex, or the outer part, and the adrenal medulla, or the inner part.

While best known perhaps for producing the hormone adrenaline, which rapidly prepares your body to spring into action in a stressful situation, the adrenal glands secrete other hormones as well, namely cortisol, which helps regulate metabolism and helps your body respond to stress, and aldosterone, which helps control blood pressure.

Reduce your stress levels naturally

While there are treatments being advertised that claim to reduce stress, most of these are synthetic and chemical-based compounds that may cause more harm than good, especially if taken regularly.

On that note, here are some natural ways to reduce your stress levels:

  • Get regular exercise. According to studies, people who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t exercise. In addition, exercise also helps in the production of endorphins, which can help improve your mood in addition to acting as natural painkillers.
  • Take natural supplements such as lemon balm and ashwagandha. A member of the mint family, lemon balm has been studied for its anti-anxiety effects. It is usually available in the form of liquid extracts. Ashwagandha, on the other hand, is an ancient medicinal herb classified as an adaptogen, a substance that can help your body manage stress.
  • Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to a reduction in one’s stress levels. In fact, a study showed that medical students who received omega-3 supplements experienced a 20 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms.
  • Take green tea. Drinking a cup of green tea may calm your nerves after a long day at work or school. This is because green tea contains polyphenols, which have a wide range of possible health benefits such as increasing serotonin levels.
  • Try aromatherapy. Studies have shown that aromatherapy can help lower anxiety and stress. If you’re feeling particularly stressed, lighting a candle or using essential oils may be of benefit to you.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine can be a healthy addition to one’s diet. However, too much of a good thing can be bad. Limit your consumption of coffee to spare yourself from caffeine-induced jitters and nervousness.
  • Spend time with friends and family. According to studies, spending time with friends and children can help facilitate the release of oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. Called “tend and befriend,” this is considered the opposite of the body’s fight-or-flight response.
  • Try yoga. This relaxing form of exercise has a profound effect on one’s mental health. In fact, according to research, yoga can enhance mood, and may even help antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety.
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice that allows one to anchor himself to the present moment. According to a study, it can help combat negative thinking and its anxiety-inducing effects.
  • Listen to relaxing music. Music is a natural stress reliever. This was proven in a study, which showed that slow-paced instrumental music can induce relaxation in humans by helping lower their blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormone levels.
  • Practice breathing exercises. Sometimes all you need is a breather — literally. According to experts, deep breathing exercises can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response. This exercise allows one to focus his awareness on each breath, making it slower and deeper. This can lead one to feel more “peaceful” and stress-free.

If you want more stories and studies on how to address stress naturally, head over to

Sources include: 1 1 2 2 3

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