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Keep Calm & Love Your Adrenals

Posted by Pam on

Adrenal Basics

Adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys and release hormones into your blood stream in response to stress.  Adrenalin and Noradrenalin are first secreted in response to short term triggers, followed by Cortisol, which is  part of our long term stress response.  Cortisol is known as our "chronic stress hormone".  These hormone fluctuations are part of a natural stress response and are meant to eventually fall bck to normal and recover, once the stressor is removed.  However, in chronic stress lifestyles, the body continues to release Cortisol, and sustained elevated will eventually lead to problems.

Your ability to adapt to long term stressors depends on optimal function of your adrenal glands and Cortisol regulation.

Stages Leading to Adrenal Exhaustion

1.  Alarm Reaction Stage - Fight or Flight: 

  • adrenaline and cortisol are high as an immediate reaction to a stressor
  • Vitamin C, Vitamin B's and Magnesium are depleted
  • blood sugar and blood pressure are elevated
  • metabolism speeds up
  • muscles contract
  • digestion and immunity are paralyzed

2.  Resistance Stage:

  • adrenaline drops
  • cortisol remains high
  • experience brain fog
  • headaches appear
  • weight gain
  • slow metabolism
  • cravings
  • low libido
  • muscle breakdown
  • bone loss
  • low thyroid
  • water retention
  • insulin resistance
  • insomnia
  • energy crashes
  • mood swings
  • frequent infections

3.  Exhaustion Stage or Burnout Stage:

  • both adrenaline and cortisol are low as adrenals crash and lose their ability to secrete hormones.
  • inflammation
  • autoimmune conditions appear
  • allergies

What Stresses the Adrenal Glands?

Adrenals respond to stress of any kind, whether psychological, physical, chemical or environmental.  Caffeine, poor diet, blood sugar imbalances, alcohol use, drug use, food sensitivities, inflammation, tobacco, toxins, lack of sleep, and dehydration will all tax your adrenals.

Suggestions to Help Calm Your Adrenals

  • avoid triggers and stressors if possible.
  • use key supplements which include:
    • prevention pack of a multivitamin, probiotic and essential fatty acid (ie. fish oils)
    • important stress nutrients such as Vitamin B-Complex (especially Vitamin B5), magnesium and Vitamin C
    • adaptogens - herbs that assist your body in adapting to stress by supporting the adrenal glands.  They have a normalizing effect and support immunity, fight fatigue, improve mental ability, increase resistance and counteract the effects of stress.  Examples include Ginseng, Suma, Rhodiola, Ashwaghanda, Schizandra.
    • calming supplements - consider herbs (valerian, passionflower, lemon balm, hops, skullcap, kava kava) , and other ingredients (L-Theanine, GABA) that quiet the nerves, promote restful sleep, increase focus and calm anxious states.
  • lifestyle factors which include:
    • regular moderate exercise
    • drink water
    • manage blood sugar
    • stress management techniques
    • acupuncture
    • consider counseling if necessary