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Adrenal Stress

The adrenal glands and their hormones have major physiological impacts on our body including bone metabolism, hormonal balance, gastrointestinal function, thyroid function, brain health, blood sugar balance, inflammation, immune system function, libido, etc. Today this is probably more challenging given malnutritional status and the modern stressors.

If you’re concerned about your adrenal glands, the first thing you must to is remove or address the source of stress. This may mean  for instance removing food sensitivities, addressing an infection, resolving mental/emotional blockage or stress, or reduced workload.

The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and pump out the hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which keep you physically and mentally driven through the day.  At times of  chronic stress, normal levels of any of these hormones are impaired. There are two main sections of the adrenal glands: the outer adrenal cortex and the inner adrenal medulla.

The adrenal cortex is further divided into three layers, or zones

  • glomerulosa – the site of aldosterone production which helps to regulate sodium/potassium balance in the body

  • fasciculata – the site of cortisol production which helps regulate blood sugar balance

  • reticularis – the site of sex hormone production (i.e. DHEA, androstenedione)

    The adrenal glands are unique in that part of them, the inner adrenal medulla, has a direct connection to the brain. As the adrenals become more exhausted then the symptoms get stronger and affect all zones.

    Overactive adrenal glands usually produce too much cortisol and possibly other adrenal hormones (i.e. epinephrine, aldosterone) leading to increased blood sugar level and in time to conditions like insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

    Underactive adrenal glands, on the other hand, produce inadequate amounts of hormones, especially cortisol, to maintain homeostasis in the body. A common clinical problem with underactive adrenal glands is hypoglycemic symptoms due to fluctuations in blood sugar.  When cortisol is unavailable, glucose levels get too low. This causes the lightheadedness, shakiness and irritability that people with low blood sugar experience, and is why people with low blood sugar commonly wake up during the night.

    If you feel tired all the time, sweat excessively or wake up and cannot get back to sleep, you may be suffering from adrenal stress also often called adrenal exhaustion. Other symptoms include  include tiredness, insomnia, anxiety, low blood pressure, muscle pain, multiple chemical sensitivity, food allergies, loss of libido, low body temperature, low energy, menstrual irregularities, insomnia, PMS, sluggishness, heart palpitations, salt craving and hypoglycemia.and loss of appetite are just some of the concerns associated with higher than normal levels of cortisol. Cortisol is naturally lower during sleep.

    In addition to the symptoms, many recognized conditions are related to or conditioned by  adrenal fatigue, including IBS, depression, metabolic syndrome,  type 2 diabetes, hypotension, other hormonal dysfunctions,  and  auto-immune diseases.

    Co-enzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) may ease symptoms of brain fog and may be necessary to support any remedial treatment because at cellular level the organ may be low in ATP. Small regular high protein meals may support the adrenals. Siberian ginseng  or Rhodiola,or other glandulars may increase the capacity of the adrenals but other adaptogenics can increase exhaustion. High levels  of Vitamin B5(pantothenic acid) and vitamin C are also supportive nutrients for adrenal health.  It is considered that poor adrenals are often accompanied by poor digestion and absorption of proteins. Other nutrients that affect the performance of the adrenals include Vitamin D, magnesium and L-tyrosine. Additions of hyrolysed collagen or free form amino acids can increase adrenal functioning.