The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system and are situated on top of the kidneys. They release a variety of hormones including adrenaline, cortisol (which helps regulate metabolism and response to stress), and aldosterone (which controls blood pressure).
When a person is exposed to intense or prolonged stress - which can be due to poor lifestyle habits, too little sleep, worry, over-working, serious or prolonged illness, death of a family member, trauma - the body is in a constant state of “flight, fight or freeze” and the adrenal glands become overworked and “fatigued”. This will negatively affect our immune system, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and memory.
The main symptom of adrenal fatigue is a tiredness which is not relieved by sleep, but other symptoms affect the physical, mental, emotional and behaviour, such as depression, irritability, anger, aggression. Weight gain, especially in the abdomen (muffin top), occurs when the body believes it is under threat due to the increased cortisol, and stores fat. You may have difficulty concentrating, feelings of being overwhelmed, headaches, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, minor ailments, aches and pains, palpitations and lethargy. Other signs include craving foods or sweets, being less social, unable to make decisions, procrastinating or avoiding responsibilities, wanting to cry, losing patience and developing addictive behaviors or a pessimistic outlook on life.
There are many things you can do to relieve these symptoms and begin to re-balance the adrenals. It is important to recharge, and do something that inspires or rejuvenates you on a daily basis. Re-evaluate your life, make some changes to your daily schedule and try to remove some of the stress from your life.
Aromatherapy for adrenal fatigue - there are many oils that can help to re-balance the adrenals. A good aromatherapist will take into account the underlying issue that is causing the stress on your body, and evaluate whether the adrenals are truly ‘fatigued’ (depleted supply of cortisol/adrenaline) of if they remain over-stimulated (flooding the system with cortisol and adrenaline). It’s a bit like needing to take your foot OFF the gas pedal for a while rather than keep pressing it down and over-revving in the hope of getting going.
This subtle difference on whether to help stimulate the endocrine system or calm the central nervous system, is what I look for when choosing which essential oils to blend for an aromatherapy treatment. As stress-management is part of my training and forms part of your treatment, I will be recommending good sleep habit (there’s oils for that too), diet, meditation, moderate exercise, daily fresh air, daylight and doing something fun, as part of your daily stress-management routine.