I would like your opinion about Adrenal Exhaustion / Fatigue. I note you’ve mentioned the term in previous articles and yet the medical fraternity tell me there is no such thing and “everyone gets tired”.
In 2005 I went from being in great shape, having just walked my 3rd Marathon, to barely being able to get out of bed. I lost the energy to motivate myself to maintain a healthy diet or exercise. I can only describe it as having an empty “tank”. The medical profession could offer no solution so after a year I sought alternative help and was told I had Adrenal Fatigue. Through diet, sleep and adrenal support supplements, I can improve my energy levels but nowhere close to where I was in 2005.
I love tramping but find I am extremely tired for days afterwards. High aerobic or weight bearing exercise is a real struggle. Will this ever go away and why does the medical profession deny it exists when there are hundreds of sufferers around the world if you believe what you read on the Internet?
I’d also like advice on what sort of food would help me when tramping"
Fifty years ago every doctor knew of adrenal fatigue which was successfully treated with glandular extracts and herbs. Nowadays, there is no reference to adrenal fatigue in the medical text books, the last doctors with any training in the condition have long ago retired and not even the medical professors of today know of the condition.
I can only speculate as to what happened and here goes:
In 1950, one of the most significant advances in medicine happened with the synthesis of Prednisone. This powerful anti-inflammatory drug spawned a multi-million dollar pharmaceutical and medical industry for treating autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Addison's disease, and lupus. Addison's is the end-stage of adrenal fatigue (Its not really and autoimmune disease, by the way). Herbs and glandular extracts can not be patented, so there's no great commercial value in promoting them. On the other hand, there are fortunes to be made with a patented drug, especially when it can be positioned to corner the market. Prednisone must be close to the being the most profitable drug of all time.
So, out went the herbs and glandulars and in came the patented drug; Predinisone. At the same time the idea of the adrenal glands gradually failing was replaced by - well - nothing! As far as medicine was concerned, you either had healthy adrenals or non-functioning ones - nothing in-between. The medical text books of today reflect this change of opinion and this is what modern doctors are taught. As the older doctors retired, all knowledge of adrenal fatigue went with them. The changing of the guard - the cleansing of knowledge is now complete. Astonishing when you think about it!
Meanwhile, as many as 80% of adults in modern society have signs of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is at the heart of the modern epidemic of thyroid problems.
The symptoms you are describing are consistent with adrenal fatigue. Medical treatment with steroids, such as Prednisone, is generally not a good idea. Externally introduced steroids risks causing the already under-functioning adrenal glands to further shut down. Even just a matter of weeks of steroid use can bring about complete adrenal shut-down (Addison's) and consequence permanent dependence on steroids.
Good for the pharmaceutical industry and you'll keep a whole lot of doctor's in employment; but very bad for you!
In cases of suspected adrenal fatigue, the best course of action is to seek the assistance of a health professional who is trained in its treatment with herbs, adrenal extracts and other nutrients. It is also necessary to identify causes of adrenal stress and exclude or mitigate them. Stressors include excessive exercise, heat, cold, infection, injury and drugs. Work, home and relationship problems can be debilitating. Commuting can be a huge drain. Even joyous occasions like getting married can exhaust the adrenals!
Most people will show a good response to therapy within three months. More ingrained and severe cases may take several months to show a lasting improvement and supporting therapy may be need to be ongoing.
Tramping can be restorative of the adrenals. It can also be exhausting. With the degree of adrenal fatigue symptoms that you are describing, I would follow the rule that all hikes be of a duration and difficulty that ensures the trips are exhilarating rather than exhausting. No to-the-death Polar expeditions please! Not for now anyway. Not until you are absolutely certain that recovery is complete. That may take several years.
Nutrition is most important with adrenal fatigue. In addition to the herbs and other supplements that your health professional may prescribe, I recommend that you have a scoop of my Super Smoothie formula each day. This supplies the proteins and nutrients that are essential for healthy glandular function.
When hiking, take a plastic bag with sufficient servings of Super Smoothie powder for the duration, plus a protein shaker. Talk about light weight! Most NZ alpine streams are safe to drink from. Fill up your shaker with clean water and a generous serving of Super Smoothie, shake it up and have a delicious guzzle. This is a refreshing addition to the usual tramping fare of scroggin, crackers and cheese. If you are sweating heavily, carry a small bottle of pink Himalayan Salt and take a few pinches washed down with water now and then. Its a good idea to have refreshment breaks at least every few hours of the active day. The harder the hike the closer the refreshment breaks.