Adrenal stress occurs when our adrenal glands accumulate too much of the stress that the body and mind are exposed to on a daily basis. Fibromyalgia and all of its complexities can present a real challenge to the entire endocrine system and especially the adrenal glands.
Sitting on top of the kidneys, the adrenal glands are comprised of two sections, the outer portion called the cortex. And, the inner portion called the medulla.
The cortex mediates stress through production of cortisol, and the medulla manufactures adrenaline.
With fibromyalgia, lack of proper sleep and nightly “second winds” are often the number one adrenal disturbance, along with over stimulation and any toxic overload that the fibro body is exposed to in various toxic environments.
Continual adrenal stress increases inflammation, adversely affects body composition, and can also cause disruption in the sex hormones as well.
This leads to an overall disruption in the entire endocrine system. For a healthy thyroid, we must have healthy functioning adrenal glands, or this stress will continue to “draw” thyroid hormone from the body.
When the adrenals are constantly abused, this can drain thyroid hormone and in turn can lead to hypothyroid conditions.
The “fight or flight” mode is never adequately turned off leading to a cycle of non regeneration. If you have suffered with adrenal stress and exhaustion, you know it takes a lot of diligence to get them back on track, but it really must be addressed when dealing with any chronic illness such as fibromyalgia.
Researchers have recently found a direct correlation between our “fight or flight” response and fibro pain. Imbalances within our levels of Norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that initiates the fight or flight response, can result in higher levels of FMS pain.
In addition to solutions offered below, you can read the chronic muscle pain article. Many suggestions on that page are aimed at calming the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and can be applied to the adrenal stress issue. Another page that directly addresses “calming” methods is Coping With Fibromyalgia.
The adrenal glands need minerals to perform properly and ‘ignite’ balanced energy. A very acidic diet can deplete these essential minerals.
Sugars and grains (mostly grain flours) are very acidic and require these minerals for the process of digestion.
Concentrace is an ionic liquid mineral supplement that can be taken daily. The minerals in Concentrace are more easily utilized by the body and is safer for those with sensitive GI tracts.
Adrenals need salts-not sugars
Both adrenals and thyroid depend on an adequate intake of healthy salt. When sugar is consumed, this lowers the thyroid’s ability to manufacture thyroid hormone and also depletes the adrenals, kind of a losing situation all around!
Remember that lower insulin equals higher thyroid hormone, naturally! So keeping our sugar intake low can aid the increase of metabolism and the decrease of thyroid symptoms.
We use and recommend Himalayan Pink Salt and the variety of seaweeds which contain natural salt, iodine and minerals to balance. This way we are getting both minerals from salt and iodine from seaweed without additives that table salt carries.
The irony here is that when we are stressed or out of balance, the very thing we often crave is sugar; however, when utilized too often this creates a viscous cycle of dependency and adrenal stress surges.
Choose cultured foods or foods made with real Himalayan sea salt. This will better serve those adrenals and lower adrenal stress.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that we often use for issues such as leaky gut and muscle health, but it also works to decrease sugar cravings when used consistently.
Activated chromium and/or gymnema can also decrease sugar cravings. Aside from ionic minerals, adaptogens and vitamin C are also excellent for the adrenal glands, as listed below.
Read more at Nutrition Tips
Adaptogens To Help You Adapt…
What are some good adaptogen supplements?
Some of these can be found on the fibromyalgia supplement page.
Ashwagandha and Magnolia Bark are two of our favorite effective adaptogens to help lower thyroid stress and cortisol levels. (note: I have used the Savesta brand of ashwagandha for many years, which has the 5% effective withanolides) Check for it on amazon.
What About Exercise Stress?
Do you have issues with high or fluctuating cortisol and wonder what kind of exercise is best for you? First of all, we must remember that all of these tools work together, so we cannot just head into exercise without first using the other tools to balance hormones and prepare the body for exercise stimulation.
If CFS/ME is a co-condition to your fibromyalgia, then reading the two articles here in the website on CFS and research will help to create a more workable plan for exercise, rest, and nutrients to aid in avoiding the ‘oxidative stress’ that can accompany exertion. (Visit the Sitemap anytime at bottom of every article for those)
Consider a low dose DHEA supplement as in keto-7 or dissolve oral form to increase energy and balance hormones. The keto-7 form of DHEA does not convert hormones to estrogen like regular DHEA can. Talk with your doctor/naturopath if needed.
Also, for suggestions in better preparing the fibro body for exercise and reducing post exercise malaise, read more at Pre & Post Fibromyalgia Exercise Tips and follow on my fitness page, as a fellow fibro for almost 40 years, and trainer specializing in fibromyalgia, I certainly get the challenges. Fibro Fit People.
Use Deep Breathing To Lower
Cortisol And Adrenal Stress
Throughout the website we talk about deep breathing and ‘adrenal type’ breathing to counteract stress and symptoms. As we often say here, people with chronic illness tend to be shallow breathers. It can be helpful for both pain levels and adrenal stress to incorporate daily breathing techniques. Refer to meditation pages here on site for more information.
Adrenal breathing is controlled breathing in and out through the nose with occasional breathing through the mouth. Nostril breathing will also help with insomnia. Simply close off one nostril, and breathe in and out gently through the nose for about four to five breaths, then switch and close off the other nostril and breathe in and out through the other for another four to five breaths. This will help to relax the mind, body and adrenal glands.
Fibro-Girl’s Happy Adrenals Bath Recipe:
(This can be done in a full bath OR as a foot bath in warm water)
- 2-3 cups Epsom salt (one cup for foot bath only)
- ½ cup sea salt (or baking soda for most cost effective)
- 2-3 Tbsp. ginger root powder
The combination of salt and magnesium here works to balance and calm while the ginger root powder helps to decrease inflammation in the body.
NOTE: People often ask if whole ginger root can be used, however, for this application, the ginger root powder is better dispersed in the water and therefore more easily utilized by the body. (just be careful not to get into the eyes)
The foot bath can be just as effective when a full bath is not an option. We absorb well through our feet, and this can also be more cost effective when less salts and ingredients are used. Again, the addition of ginger powder can aid in warming up cold winter feet.
Adrenal Stress and Temperature Dysregulation
Another symptom that can occur when the adrenal glands become stressed is temperature dysregulation. This occurs due to living with symptoms, chronic pain, or even when being exposed to environmental toxins. Read more here regarding Temperature Dysregulation.
When Caffeine Doesn’t Love You Back
If you have any kind of adrenal dysfunction, you likely know that ingesting coffee, chocolate, or any other substances high in caffeine can not only leave you feeling anxious, but can be very damaging to the adrenals in the long run.
I have used and recommended alkaline and 97% caffeine free Gano coffee for over 12 years and still love it today, but there are other coffee alternatives these days as well. Use what works for you to bring calm instead of constant over-stimulation to thyroid, adrenals and the nervous system alike.
A great alternative to coffee that is both 97% caffeine free and acid free. With reishi healing mushroom also included to make this alternative not only safer but healthier as well!!
With calming properties, this Gano coffee can be taken anytime of day and it’s great at night before bedtime to relax the fibro body. This is a better choice for those who need to avoid the coffee substitutes made from grains.