How well you live depends to a large degree on how well your adrenal glands function
Why are we often tired and exhausted?
It is a combination of many factors in our lives, from diet to life style, including exposure to toxins through our environment and to stress. All these factors coming together can deplete our adrenals, which can lead to chronic fatigue and strongly affect our mood and well being.
The Adrenal Glands are, two small endocrine glands the size of walnuts that sit on top of each kidney.
They are stress-handling glands and produce a variety of hormones that help you handle all types off stress – physical, mental, and emotional. The adrenal glands keep your body functioning in a dynamic balance, amidst whatever external or internal changes or challenges you meet. They help you to mobilize the fight or flight response and control fluid- and blood sugar balance. They help with anti-inflammatory responses to injury or invasion and strengthen the immune system. They produce steroid hormones, which are the vitality hormones that determine overall strength, energy and stamina and provide a stable and healthy mood. The steroid hormones are also the backup system for sex hormones, and so are vital for everything from healthy fertility and pregnancy to healthy menopause.
The Adrenal Rhythm and Its Importance
The human adrenal glands do not secrete steroid hormones at a constant level throughout the day. When the glands are functioning properly, hormones are actually released in a cycle, with the highest value in the morning and the lowest value at night. An abnormal adrenal rhythm can influence many functions of the body, some of which are described below.
Abnormal adrenal function can alter the ability of cells to produce energy for the activities of daily life. People who have a hard time rising in the morning or who suffer from low energy throughout the day, often have abnormal adrenal rhythms and poor blood sugar regulation.
The maintenance of a stable blood sugar level depends on food choice, lifestyle, adrenal function and insulin activity. The Adrenal Stress Index™ panel measures stress hormones and insulin in order to help ferret out the causes of fatigue, cravings and obesity.
Muscle and Joint Function
Abnormal adrenal rhythms are known to compromise tissue healing. Reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown can lead to muscle and joint wasting with chronic pain.
The adrenal rhythm determines how well we build bone. If the night and morning cortisol levels are elevated, our bones do not rebuild well, and we are more prone to osteoporosis. Stress is the enemy of the bones. In postmenopausal women, the effect of stress worsens due to female hormone imbalances.
Various immune cells (white blood cells) cycle in and out of the spleen and bone marrow. The immune system traffic follows the cortisol cycle. If the cycle is disrupted, especially at night, then the immune system is adversely affected.
Short- and long-term stress is known to suppress the immune response in the lungs, throat, urinary tract and intestines. With reduction in the surface antibody (called secretory IgA), the resistance to infection is reduced and allergic reactions are believed to increase.
The ability to enter REM sleep cycles and experience regenerative sleep is interrupted by high cortisol values at night and in the morning. Chronic lack of REM sleep can reduce a person’s mental vitality and vigor and induce depression.
Human skin regenerates mostly during the night. With higher night cortisol values, less skin regeneration takes place. Therefore a normal cortisol rhythm is essential for optimal skin health.
The level of cortisol at the cell level controls thyroid hormone production. Often, hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue and low body temperature are due to an adrenal maladaptation.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
A common HPA axis defect in CFS is impaired corticotrophin release. As a result, low cortisol and eventual adrenal atrophy may appear. Depleted adrenals with flat rhythms are often seen on the ASI™ panel. Simultaneous use of several therapies can help counter the debilitating effects of CFS.
Chronic hypoglycemia can impair normal adrenal function by repetitive overstimulation of cortisol production. Recurring exposure to high cortisol will impair insulin activity, and invariably lead to insulin resistance and beta-cell exhaustion (diabetes). The ASI™ panel investigates the insulin-cortisol relationship under real-life conditions to allow targeted and meaningful interventions. This panel is useful in the following clinical situations: rapid weight gain and obesity, deranged blood lipids, sugar blues, early diabetes and associated emotional disturbances.
More than fifty years ago, Dr. W. Jefferies (author of Safe Uses of Cortisol) discovered that patients with environmentally triggered allergies and autoimmune diseases dramatically bene?ted when given cortisol for other purposes. More recently, German researchers reported that disruption of the adrenal axis and cytokine relationships leads to predisposition toward and aggravation of autoimmune diseases. The ?ndings of the ASI™ help identify patients with autoimmune diseases and adrenal problems who can bene?t from cortisol supplements.
Several recent publications report a hyperactive HPA axis in depressed patients. Elevated midnight salivary cortisol is now considered one of the best tests in diagnosing endogenous depression. Other anomalies in cortisol rhythm usually accompany the midnight elevation. On the other hand, cortisol elevations and rhythm disruptions throughout the day are typical of attention de?cit disorders (ADD). The anomalous cortisol ?ndings in depression and ADD can be diagnosed successfully with the ASI™. Subsequent interventions to rectify the time-speci?c cortisol elevations (during the day or night) are usually effective when applied under proper supervision.
What can we do to rescue our adrenals?
Living a balanced life between Yin & Yang (rest & activity). Eating really well, not exercising too hard, (too much sweating depletes our Yin), calming the mind through relaxation, meditation and Yoga. Be really careful with synthetic hormones. They increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke. Rather, balance your hormones with herbs, diet and acupuncture.
Pushing yourself to exhaustion, sugar, caffeine, junk food, skipping meals, staying up late, food that you react to or are allergic to, sodas, coffee, alcohol, juice, making someone else responsible for your health, people who steal your energy, taking care of everyone and everything else, feeling guilty about caring for yourself, excessive seriousness, aggressive exercise.
Pace yourself, eat real, whole, fresh food, be compassionate and kind to yourself, eat every two hours, eat a combination of carbs, fat, and protein, go to bed by 10:00 to 11:00 pm, sleep until 7:00 to 8:00 am when possible, eat balance, nutritious food, drink plenty of fresh water and herbal teas, become empowered and informed about you health, be with people who are concerned for your well-being and are helpful in your recovery, take care of and nurture yourself, find an inner balance and sense of peace with taking care of yourself, find things that make you laugh, do things that you enjoy. Keep your exercise mild to moderate.
ADRENAL FATIGUE SYMPTOMS & QUICK CHECK
Rate the following from 0 to 5, with 0 being no problem and 5 being a severe problem,
- _______ Difficulty getting up in the morning
- _______ Continuing fatigue, not relieved by rest and sleep
- _______ Lethargy, lack of energy to do normal daily activities
- _______ Sugar cravings
- _______ Salt cravings
- _______ Allergies
- ______ Digestion problems
- _______ Increased effort needed for everyday tasks
- _______ Decreased interest in sex
- _______ Decreased Ability to handle stress
- _______ Increased time needed to recover from illness, injury
- _______ Light headed or dizzy when standing up quickly
- _______ Low mood
- _______ Less enjoyment or happiness with life
- _______ Increased PMS
- _______ Symptoms are worsen if meals are skipped
- _______ Thoughts are less focuses, brain fog
- _______ Memory is poorer
- _______ Decreased tolerance for stress, noise, disorder
- _______ Don’t really wake up until after 10:00am
- _______ Afternoon low between 3:00pm and 4:00pm
- _______ Feel better after supper
- _______ Get a second wind in the evening and stay up lat
- _______ Decreased ability to get things done – less productive
- _______ Have to keep moving – if I stop, I get tired.
- _______ Feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be done.
- _______ It takes all my energy to do what I have to. There’s none left for anything or anyone else.
A score of 20-40 suggests mild Adrenal stress, 40-70 moderate, and over 70 severe.
For questions talk to Claudia at 510-978-3444 and visit our page on Natural Hormone Balancing