Stress is a well-known factor in suppressing immunity and activating the Epstein Barr virus that causes mononucleosis. Mono treatment needs to address stress and adrenal fatigue in order for you to make a full and complete recovery from this illness.
Your adrenal glands produce hormones like cortisol and DHEA to help your body cope with stress. Measuring the levels of these hormones during mono treatment is a good way to assess your progress and how well your adrenal glands are functioning. Saliva testing of these hormones appears to be more accurate than blood tests.
In the early stages of adrenal fatigue there is normally high levels of cortisol and low levels of DHEA. Physically you may still feel OK.
Stage 2 of adrenal fatigue is marked by low DHEA and decreasing cortisol levels as the adrenals become exhausted. Feelings of tiredness and stress overload start to appear.
Stage 3 of adrenal exhaustion is indicated by low levels of both cortisol and DHEA. Physical symptoms may include low energy, poor immunity, headaches, brain fog, hormonal imbalances like PMT and low sex drive, unrefreshing sleep and cravings for sugar, salt and stimulants like coffee and alcohol.
If you suspect your adrenals are exhausted or if your tests come back showing that your adrenals are fatigued then there are a number of strategies you should include in your mono treatment plan to help them recover.
- Firstly quality sleep is a priority in repairing your adrenals, particularly during mono treatment. Aim for 8-10 hours a night of unbroken sleep, plus an afternoon nap if you need one.
- Nourish your adrenals with nutrients including vitamin C, the B complex, magnesium and the Omega 3 fats like those found in fish oils.
- Herbs like ginseng and licorice are traditionally used to strengthen the adrenals and help you cope with stress.
- Your diet during mono treatment and for adrenal repair should revolve around small, frequent meals. Focus on quality proteins like free range chicken, fish, lean red meat, eggs, legumes and cheese. Each meal should include plenty of fresh vegetables or low carb fruit plus some natural oils either through nuts, seeds, avocado or a cold pressed oil. Try and cut down your intake of stimulants like coffee and alcohol plus eliminate sugar and refined white flour products.
- Gentle exercise like walking, swimming, cycling, yoga and tai chi are recommended to help you cope with stress during mono treatment. Start off gently and build up to at least half an hour five times a week.
Lastly remember that it is how you respond to stress that counts. If you learn to go with the flow, maintain a positive attitude and look after yourself with the above strategies, then you should find that your stress can be managed.