The adrenals are a part of the body’s very complex Endocrine System. They are a matching pair of glands, each about the size of a walnut, that are located above both kidneys. They may be small, but adrenal health play a crucial role in our overall wellness. Their main function is to produce and regulate several key hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
When the adrenal glands are working properly, they help the body to healthily respond to stressful situations by temporarily releasing more hormones. The results may include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, a surge of energy, and heightened senses. This collective response is commonly called “fight or flight,” and is designed to help us manage short-term stress.
Adrenal health also play an important role in the immune system, and are responsible for the balance of hormones throughout the body. Strong, efficient adrenal glands are vital to both genders and during all cycles of life: for young people, through the child-bearing years, into menopause, and beyond.
One of the common problems many people must face in the hectic, fast-paced world of today is that stress is an ongoing part of their lives. Whether it’s financial, occupational, or related to a poor diet and lack of sleep, chronic stress is a “normal” part of life for far too many of us. Unfortunately, when this happens, adrenal health often get overworked, and are not able to do their job effectively.
Healthy adrenals can help to keep the body well and strong, but when they are not performing up to par, they have been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, thyroid dysfunction, arthritis, and other debilitating conditions.
What Happens When Adrenal Health Malfunctions?
When stress levels remain chronically high, the adrenals continue to manufacture and release increased amounts of hormones, and the body never returns to a normal, restful state. Initially, this results in a condition known as hyperadrenia, which means that there is too much of certain hormones, especially cortisol, present in the body. However, eventually adrenal health will begin to deteriorate, as they cannot keep up this overproduction indefinitely. At this point, they are not able to deliver normal amounts of hormones that the body needs, and this is referred to as hypoadrenia.
Symptoms of Adrenal Health Malfunction
When hormone levels are too high or too low, a person may experience the following;
however the three most common are fatigue, weight gain and depression.
- High or low blood sugar
- High or low blood pressure
- Gluten sensitivity
- Muscle and bone deterioration
- Weight gain or low body weight
- Food cravings
- Fatigue (physical and emotional)
- Low energy levels
- Prostate problems
- Increased hormonal issues such as PMS, poor libido
- Hair loss
- Dry eyes and skin
- Weakened immune system (chronic infections)
When the adrenals are continually overworked and thus forced to maintain high cortisol levels, they lose the ability to produce DHEA in amounts that the body needs. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an immediate precursor hormone to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This means that when DHEA is in minimum supply, it will be difficult to keep hormones in balance.
Adrenal imbalance may also be a contributing factor in many medical conditions, many of which may seem unrelated. They include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Depression and anxiety
- IBS or chronic digestive problems
- Premature menopause
- Chronic anxiety
- Rage attacks
Also, there are many health conditions as well as the drugs used to treat them can place an individual at risk in developing adrenal insufficiency.
Take The Adrenal Health Stress Test
If the answer to more than one of these questions is yes, your adrenals may be compromised.
- Are you always on the run?
- Do you feel like you “can never do enough”?
- Does everything seem like it’s a whole lot harder for you than it should be?
- Do you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning?
- Do you use caffeine or sugar to bolster your flagging energy in the afternoon?
- Do you feel weary and irritable much of the time?
- Do you often crave salty foods or binge on sugar?
- Do you fall asleep while reading or while watching movies?
- Do you struggle to “come down” at night so you can get to sleep?
Repairing Poor Adrenal Health
While unhealthy adrenals can be treated with medication, most of these drugs contain cortisone, and the possible side effects can be quite hazardous. As with all health and wellness issues, prevention is always the best course of action. Below are some tips for keeping your adrenal glands in tip-top shape:
- Deal with stress in positive ways. Regular exercise is a great way to destress. (However, don’t overdo it if your adrenals are compromised. Walking and rebounding are both great stress relievers.). Other stress fighters include deep-breathing, listening to healing music, and talking with a friend or loved one about issues in your life.
- Sleeping well is also important. This includes both quantity and quality of sleep. Making good sleep a priority will help to repair damaged adrenals and keep healthy ones operating at peak efficiency. The body is designed to restore and heal itself from sunset to sunrise, so try not to stay up too late.
- A healthy and nutritious diet is also vital to adrenal health. A good portion of your diet should consist of organic or locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink lots of pure water as well as herbal teas and homemade V-8 juice. Avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates as well as caffeine and other stimulants. Eat often and do not allow the body to become hungry as this will actually cause extra stress on the adrenals. You will feel healthier, and your adrenal glands will be able to do their job better. Many people find that going on a gluten-free diet helps tremendously with adrenal insufficiency. If you are craving salt then honor that craving by incorporating Himalayan Crystal salt in your diet. You can also make a mixture called Sole. Sole /so-lay/ is an excellent product for balancing the pH factor of your body. Sole can also help to get rid of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, amalgam and calcium because the crystal salt is able to break up their molecular structures.
- Enjoy mealtimes by sitting down, relaxing, and slowly but thoroughly chewing your food. Avoid large, infrequent meals. Instead, eat smaller portions 4-6 times a day. This will provide a steady flow of nutrition that will help to balance your adrenal function.
- Liver Cleansing & Support is very necessary in helping the body with stress and hormone balance and can be achieved by using an organic and wild-crafted herbal liver cleanse formula. The liver breaks down the group of hormones known as the steroid hormones. These include aldosterone (controls the balance of the minerals sodium and potassium and water in the body); sex hormones (controls our sex life and body shape) and cortisone (controls the immune system). When the liver is not efficient in breaking down these specific hormones they can accumulate in the body, causing hormonal imbalance including adrenal concerns.
- Supplementation that supports good adrenal function is very important. A food-grade organic liquid multi-vitamin-mineral complex such as intraMAX should be foundational for anyone dealing with adrenal concerns. Also recommended would be essential fatty acids, Cytozyme-Ad Natural Adrenal Glandular Support, Vitamin C (to bowel tolerance), full spectrum Vitamin E (mixed tocotrienols and tocopherols), emulsified Vitamin D-3 (check your levels before beginning) as well as adaptogenic herbs such as astragalus root and rhodiola rosea.
In short, taking care of your adrenal glands is one of the most comprehensive steps you can take to prevent disease and maintain wellness. Making a few lifestyle changes can dramatically affect your adrenals and the health of your entire mind and body.