Q: What is adrenal fatigue and what are the symptoms?

A: Adrenal fatigue is caused by poorly working adrenal glands in people who are under mental, emotional, or physical stress. Your adrenal glands make hormones. One of these is cortisol, which helps your body deal with stress. There are two separate categories of adrenal fatigue symptoms, but the more common symptoms are fatigue, a weakened immune system and food cravings. There are also less common symptoms,including low blood pressure and frequent urination.

Q. ­­­How does adrenal fatigue (i.e., chronic stress) affect your life?

A: According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are at least three different types of stress, all of which carry physical and mental health risks:

• Routine stress related to the pressures of work, family and other daily responsibilities. • Situational stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness. • Traumatic stress experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster where one may be seriously hurt or in danger of being killed.

People under chronic stress no matter the cause are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold, and vaccines, such as the flu shot, are less effective for them. Over time, routine stress can lead to serious chronic health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder and other conditions, such as hormonal depletion, exhaustion and adrenal fatigue.

Q. What are the key elements to fight adrenal fatigue (i.e., chronic stress)?

A: In this day and age, it is essential to take care of yourself physically, emotionally andmentally. You can do this through breathing techniques, yoga, biofeedback and other stress reduction practices, diet modifications (e.g., consume less sugar, eat more protein and fat, and cut out caffeine), going to bed early, flooding your system with B vitamins, hydrating, and interestingly…investing in adaptogens. Never heard of them? Well, adaptogens are herbs, botanicals or other nutrients that have been used extensively in ancient healing practices. The term adaptogen is used to describe a plant that helps you adapt/cope to stressful circumstances whether physical, mental, or emotional.

Q. How do adaptogens work to help the body and mind adapt to stress?

A: Adaptogens support normal metabolism, help restore balance to the immune, nervous and endocrine systems, and allow the body to maintain optimal homeostasis. Adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha, Siberian eleuthero root, passion flower, rhodiola rosea, holy basil and lemon balm as well as the amino acid derivative L-theanine help the body and mind adapt and cope with occasional stressors while promoting an overall sense of relaxation. While they serve many purposes, two of the primary mechanisms of action include:

Neurotransmitter Support:GABA or gamma-amino-butyric acid is one of several neurotransmitters responsible for sending chemical signals in the brain. Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and passion flower provide GABA-like activity by inhibiting nerve cells from over-firing to an anxiety-producing stimulus, resulting in an overall calming effect. L-theanine, on the other hand, has been shown in research to increase the concentration and release of several neurotransmitters, including GABA, as well as serotonin and dopamine — both of which are influential in the mediation of mood. Additionally, rhodiola rosea helps the body adapt to stress by affecting the levels and activity of serotonin, dopamine andnorepinephrine. By supporting healthy levels of these three important neurotransmitters, stress levels are quickly abated.  Lastly, lemon balm extract has been clinically shown to inhibit the breakdown of dopamine in the brain as well as improve alertness and focus by reducing anxiety. It also helps modulate the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, which is responsible for enhancingalertness during a stressful situation.

Adrenal Support:  Siberian eleuthero root has been shown in research to support adrenal function when challenged by stress by decreasing adrenal fatigue. Ashwagandha, on the other hand, works to restore receptor sensitivity to the effects of cortisol and other adrenal hormones by lowering cortisol levels and balancing thyroid hormones, thus addressing adrenal stress and fatigue. By helping one cope better with stress and normalizing stressful conditions, Ashwagandha is in effect doing what exhausted adrenal glands are no longer doing. Holy basil also helps to decrease adrenal stress hormones, specifically corticosterone.

So, fight adrenal fatigue and chronic stress; boost your immune system; and regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and adrenal hormone levels with Bluebonnet’s Standardized Ashwagandha Vegetable Capsules and/or go the distance bytaking Bluebonnet’s Targeted Choice Stress Relief Vegetable Capsules with a full array of the aforementioned adaptogens supported bscience to:

• Serve as an adaptogen by helping the body cope with and/or revitalize from emotional and physical stress* • Improve cognitive performance and memory* • Promote overall balance in the body as it relates to managing stress* • Support an overall sense of relaxation*

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.   These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Trisha Sugarek MacDonald holds a Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University and also a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition and Foods from Texas State University. Mrs. MacDonald is currently the Sr. Director of Research & Development as well as the National Educator at Bluebonnet Nutrition where she investigates new ingredients, directs the launch of new products, and provides industry training on numerous subjects as it relates to the connection between nutrition and health. She is a frequent editorial contributor and lecturer on the benefits surrounding the responsible use of supplements.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine August 2017