It doesn’t matter whether mental or physical stress comes first; they both add to adrenal fatigue.

Exhaustion is now so common that it has become a status symbol for the hard-working. The pace of life is increasing each day, leaving the body and mind struggling to keep up.

The adrenal glands produce hormones that regulate our blood sugar, blood glucose and inflammation. They also produce hormones (adrenaline, cortisol) that are our shock absorbers for stress, explains Dr Daphne Lyell, an integrative GP and homeopath based in Woodstock, Cape Town.

Adrenal fatigue | Longevity LIVE

“Today we are dealing with consistent multilayered stress, which is like taking money from the bank over and over without replacing it. We are sleeping an average of an hour-and-a-half less than we used to (before the industrial revolution), so we are starting each day  from a baseline of sleep deprivation.”

Dr Leah Murray, a Cape Town-based integrative medicine GP, adds: “The vast majority of patients I see are seeking help for debilitating (adrenal) fatigue, lack of motivation, mood changes and weight issues, which are symptoms of what people term ‘adrenal fatigue’. I believe it’s because of our very stressful lives, little restorative time and the continual bombardment of information.”

“When the adrenals are struggling, you often see unstable blood pressure, thyroid problems (usually hypothyroidism) and autoimmune diseases; plus, you become more susceptible to viruses like Epstein-Barr virus,” suggests Lyell.

Cortisol is made from the hormone progesterone. In a woman’s body, progesterone is also needed for a healthy reproductive system (and to grow babies). Therefore, stress tends to have a detrimental effect on women earlier than men. According to an article published in  the Psychological Bulletin 2006.

“Burnout is characterised by emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue and cognitive weariness, resulting from prolonged exposure to work-related stress”.

The authors present evidence linking burnout with ill health, including cardiovascular disease, Type-2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, nervous system dysregulation, sleep disturbances, systemic inflammation and impaired immunity functions.

Adrenal Fatigue | Longevity LIVE

Nutritionist Nicola Bentley reminds us: “Eating refined foods every day, while ignoring the good stuff, is enough to tip busy adrenals over the edge. A diet rich in protein, essential fats, minerals and vitamin C is necessary to fuel your anti- stress glands.”

Lyell concludes: “Research has shown adaptogen herbs can help our bodies to adapt in times of stress. We are not mechanical beings; we need to get our feet in the sand, eat organic food and get good-quality sleep to stay healthy.”


Joy Mphande

Joy Mphande Born and raised in Pretoria and known on the airwaves as Joy Gracious, which is a combination of her first and second name. Joy is a vibrant, opinionated and highly competent individual who aspires to thrive in the media industry. Joy has done first year media practices at Boston Media House, but was unable to complete the course so she decided to opt for a shorter course by enrolling at a presenting school called ‘Oncue Communications’, in that doing the 21-year-old stride taker qualified herself as a Radio presenter. A day after getting her radio presenting certificate she began interning as a technical producer and voice-over artist at a community radio station called Radio Today, three weeks into her internship she swooped up a co-presenting and content producing slot on an urban culture show called ‘The Ultimate Shutdown’ with two other mail presenters. This media personality is qualified as an arts journalist by the training and development programme of the 18th annual Jazz festival where she was mentored and trained by journalist and author of ‘yakhal’inkomo’ Percy Mabandu and journalist Gwen Ansell. Joy has also co-presented and produced a breakfast show called ‘The Tom London’s show’ which also broadcasted from Radio Today with radio legend Tom London.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.