Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Crash and Burn

Jan 14, 2014 01:30AM

There are two triangle-shaped glands sitting on top of your kidneys, responsible for regulating your body’s response to stress by releasing cortisol. Cortisol is the main adrenal hormone used to manage stress. These glands receive a lot of abuse, due to the prevalent chronic stress we encounter every day. If you are reaching for your morning cup of coffee in order to function, hardly wake-up feeling refreshed regardless of how many hours you sleep and feel wired later during the day when it is time to sleep, you are likely experiencing adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue results when the adrenal glands undergo prolonged or intense stress, such as that experienced with running your own business, loss of a job, financial stress, divorce, loss of a loved one or an acute or chronic infection. The adrenal glands cannot adequately meet these high demands of stress, and cortisol becomes deregulated.

Normally, cortisol is highest in the morning and decreases throughout the day. During the initial period of stress, cortisol levels increase. However, with chronic stress, the adrenal glands can no longer produce adequate amounts of cortisol, resulting in adrenal burnout and extreme fatigue.

Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue include feeling rundown, overwhelmed and tired for no reason, increased susceptibility to infections, difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness, craving carbohydrates or sweet and salty foods, weight gain, midday fatigue and inability to fall asleep.

The goal in treating adrenal fatigue is to get your adrenals back in sync with your body’s normal rhythm. This requires a whole body approach that addresses the underlying cause of excess stress and unhealthy lifestyle habits. Start by balancing your blood sugar with your diet, avoid stimulants like caffeine, practice yoga and explore herbal adrenal adaptogens.

Dr. Isabel Sharkar is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic in Georgetown.

 For more information, visit found at



Global Brief
Health Brief