Are your adrenals fatigued or burnt out?Mar 09, 2023
Adrenal fatigue isn't a recognised medical term (but it should be!) its a common term for HPA hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) axis dysfunction
Adrenal fatigue is a good descriptive term for what happens when your HPA axis is in trouble.
The HPA axis is a hormone-based system that regulates the body’s reaction to stress. So that your body can respond right away if you are, for example, being chased by a wooly mammoth!
When we experience stress, the brain communicates this feeling to the adrenal glands signaling them to produce stress hormones. A stressful situation triggers a reaction in the hypothalamus in the brain, which then continues through the pituitary gland, and ends in the adrenal glands.
The adrenals produce several hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline that play a key role in our “fight or flight” stress response to threatening situations.
The problem is that in our modern lives we experience stressful events that are not life threatening every day, yet they still trigger our fight or flight response.
As a result, the brain constantly signals the adrenals to make more cortisol, more cortisol...
Overtime, the adrenals can’t keep up with the demand. They are no longer able to make enough cortisol or other key hormones, which can cause them to get "fatigued" or “burnt out”
When you are under chronic stress, the Hypothalamus (in your brain) stimulates the adrenal glands to make more stress hormones. This can put an enormous tax on your adrenals, especially with the amount of hidden stressors in our world today such as:
- Blue light from devices
- Too much exercise
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of sunlight
- Poor gut health
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Emotional stress!
Coffee and Adrenals
Here's the deal with coffee and your adrenal glands (the tiny glands that produce stress hormones).
Caffeine majorly affects the HPA axis (Hypnothalmus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis) by increasing producing of cortisol, adrenaline, epinephrine.
Meaning coffee, literally creates stress within your body, the same way if you were running away from danger. Yikes.
If you are experiencing HPA axis dysregulation i do recommend you reduce or cut out coffee, at least for a period of time, when you are working on reducing your stress levels.
- Racing heart
- Trouble sleeping
- Brain fog
These symptoms are an indication the coffee is affecting your HPA axis.
Here's the thing I LOVE COFFEE. So I do not want to quit it altogether.
But when I recognise my adrenals are overworked, then I cut it out for at least a week or two until I can make other changes to address the root cause of my adrenal stress.
Want to learn the 4 mistakes I see women (and some practitioners) make when it comes to balancing hormones?