When Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop began selling vitamins to ward off something called adrenal fatigue, we immediately thought two things: One, What the heck is adrenal fatigue? Two, Whatever it is, it must be the next big deal in wellness if Goop is so actively addressing it. And sure enough, lately it seems every time we mention how exhausted we are, someone responds, “You must have adrenal fatigue.” This would be helpful advice if we knew what this condition was, but despite ordering said vitamins in bulk, we still do not. So, we decided to do a little investigating to determine exactly what it is and what to do about it.
Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
Your adrenal glands are located on top of your kidneys and are responsible for releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. According to holistic doctors (Western medicine isn't quite sold on the concept yet), adrenal fatigue occurs when chronic stress causes the glands to stay in the "on" position, over-producing hormones. According to Alejandro Junger, MD, "If the adrenals are not working properly, your organs will not be able to run optimally."
Signs to look out for include insomnia, irregular menstrual cycles, feeling overwhelmed by things that didn't overwhelm you before, feeling achy, feeling wiped out after a workout, feeling bloated or having digestion issues, mental fog and a weakened immune system.
Bad news: If you think you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue, one of the first things to do is cut coffee, processed foods, refined sugar, wheat and gluten from your diet. You'll want to get more sleep (try going to bed earlier than normal) and try light exercise like yoga or a midday walk (for the added vitamin D). If you're feeling overwhelmed by the pace and demands of your life, cut what you can from your commitments. Finally, add supplements into your diet. Goop's adrenal package is one option, or see a holistic practitioner who can test you for adrenal hormone DHEA-S in a routine blood workup and do a saliva test to check your cortisol levels. He or she will likely recommend a course of supplements.