Updated: Nov 1, 2022
Today the idea of rest and relaxation is often forgotten as life becomes more fast- paced and we try to do it all. As a result, we end up tired, burnt-out and suffering exhaustion and adrenal fatigue. Acupuncture is one such modality that can assist with adrenal fatigue.
What is adrenal fatigue and exhaustion?
Adrenal fatigue often develops after a period of continuous emotional and or physical stress. As our body continues to operate in the fight or flight (the sympathetic nervous system), the adrenal glands produce more and more cortisol to compensate. The production of excess cortisol begins to prevent the adrenals from being able to produce other essential hormones. Our bodies become exhausted and depleted, and other symptoms begin to arise.
Adrenal fatigue and Chinese Medicine
From a TCM perspective we refer to adrenal fatigue as a depletion of kidney qi (energy). The adrenal glands which are connected with our kidney energy/ our yang energy become depleted from the production of excess cortisol. Excess cortisol production prevents the adrenal glands from being able to produce other necessary hormones such as DHEA, testosterone, estrogen and adrenaline etc. This has a flow on effect into other energy centres within the body. We become exhausted, depleted and often begin experiencing other symptoms.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue
In my clinic I see many patients especially women who are tired, burnt out and suffering from adrenal exhaustion. As a society we think we can have everything; work, family, commitments all on the same day. Lists a mile long to get through, placing higher and higher expectations on ourselves.
We become tired, lack energy and overtime can experience a flow on effect in terms of digestive disorders, insomnia and other ailments. With adrenal fatigue no matter how much sleep one gets often they still feel wired and tired. Leaving us feeling like we need an afternoon nap, often craving food high in carbohydrates and sugar, that 3pm pick up, as well as caffeine and other stimulants to get us through the day.
Acupuncture for adrenal fatigue
When it comes to utilising acupuncture for adrenal fatigue, I always look at how each individual client’s body is presenting on the day. With the key focus to assist the body to switch over to the rest and digest, the parasympathetic nervous system. To move out of that heightened state of fight or flight into the resting nervous system. This allows the body to start to move back into balance. The adrenals can start to produce other essential hormones as cortisol production slows down and normalises. Digestion and sleep can improve, and our bodies have the space to begin to recharge and reenergise.
I will look at the kidney meridian line and acupuncture points to regulate and increase the flow of kidney qi (energy) in the body. When the flow of energy becomes blocked or the yin and yang imbalanced (the harmony of the opposing elements in our bodies) we can begin to experience different ailments, symptoms and diseases. Depending on how the client’s body is presenting I may also use moxibustion. Particularly if the client is extremely wired and tired and also experiencing digestive issues, moxibustion can be a useful tool to bring warmth back into the body, increase blood flow, absorption of nutrients and digestive fire.
With TCM and acupuncture for adrenal fatigue the key focus is always about bringing the body back into balance. Back to that state of homeostasis and assisting it to operate more and more in the relaxation part of the nervous system.
My philosophy and approach as a practitioner as you may or may not know always goes beyond the treatment room. For me it is about providing a holistic empowering approach that helps you feel confident in moving forward. With adrenal exhaustion I always have the conversation around where there is currently joy in your life? And how we can look at ways to bring even just a moment of joy back in. For some people it might be journaling, a bath, a coffee by themselves, massage, or a weekly acupuncture treatment. Whatever it may be, aside from using acupuncture as a support to help adrenal exhaustion it is important to find happiness and joy in life.
Alongside this there are other things we can do to bring more relaxation and rest into our daily life such as:
Taking time to sit and eat without eating on the run.
Consuming warm nourishing foods to assist digestion.
Nutritional support if the body is depleted such as magnesium which plays a big role in mental capacity, sleep, energy and the muscular system. A multi vitamin especially for women can also be beneficial to ensure the body is getting adequate nutrients. (With any nutritional supplements it is always advisable to consult with a health practitioner).
Relaxation and meditation techniques to help calm the production of cortisol.
Bringing more fun, laughter and joy into life.
Limiting sugary foods and stimulants such as caffeine to stabilise blood sugar.
Eating frequently to avoid adrenal spikes.
Going to bed and waking each day at similar times.
Trying to go to bed early and rising early to ensure adequate rest.
Allowing yourself time to wind down at night before bed.
Lowering stress where possible.
Looking for support for adrenal fatigue
Adrenal fatigue and exhaustion are becoming more and more prevalent. As a working mum I know only too well that feeling of overwhelm as I think about my to do list and try and ‘do it all.’ But what is important is also learning to slow down and create moments of play in our lives. To find a happy balance that allows our bodies to also relax and rejuvenate.
Acupuncture is a great way to assist the body to relax and come back into balance. If you are feeling tired, burnt out and exhausted please do get in touch. I would love to help you feel calm, energised and ready to take on the world.