Written by Deb Lundquist
October 7, 2017
The Adrenal Glands are 2 of the most important glands in our bodies. Without them, we cannot live. Think of them as the ‘Guardians at the Gate of Stress’* They sit at the top of each of our kidneys and are the size of a walnut, weigh less than a grape. They determine how your body will respond to any internal or external environmental change. Thoughts and emotions drain or CHARGE your adrenals and every cell in your body. Adrenal health helps create your core strength and endurance.
These little glands are extremely powerful and produce a lot of our needed hormones. The adrenal glands are actually endocrine glands that produce and store steroid hormones like cortisol, adrenaline (stress hormones), estrogen and testosterone that are essential for life, health and vitality. These hormones are the ones the regulate the function of every gland, organ, and even every tissue in your body. When your body sends a response to an event, the adrenal glands release some hormone that it determines you need. They keep some hormone levels increased while purposely keeping others down. Stress is the most common cause of adrenal fatigue.
The purpose of your adrenal glands is to maintain the homeostasis of your body during any kind of stress, no matter if it is a slight injury like a paper cut, a shot, negative thoughts, depression, stress at work, at home, a major injury like an accident, or surgery. Whatever the stress, the adrenals respond accordingly. This is where the fright and flight signal is directed. The adrenals will give you the energy to get out of any dangerous situation. This is why you hear of super strength when people find themselves in an emergency, like they can lift a car or that kind of thing. In ancient times, this is how man could fight and kill big animals, go for long periods of deprivation, or go for long journeys with dried food, nuts, seeds, and eating roots along the way.
In today’s world, we have the same internal system, however now we fight air pollution, toxins in the food we eat, medications we take, cleaning agents we use, even the new car smell has toxins in it. If you get infections, if you overindulge in food, if you are sensitive to food, have allergies or asthma, or are addicted to drugs or if you smoke, all of these are triggers for the same Adrenal responses. If your adrenal function is low, as it is in adrenal fatigue, your body has trouble responding appropriately to stress. In this case, you are more likely to develop physical and psychological illnesses. These, in turn increase the stress causing the Adrenal Glands to further deteriorate.
Maybe by now you realize that the Adrenal Glands are in charge of keeping your body in balance to stressors so that they do not cause harm. How can they cause harm? Cortisol, one of the hormones they produce, helps to prevent swelling and inflammation when your body reacts to allergies all the way to autoimmune diseases. ‘When cortisol levels are deficient, heightened immune activity cannot be shut off once it’s no longer needed, the off switch is broken. When your immune system is always activated, your adrenals release even more cortisol. This suppresses your immune system and is one of the primary factors resulting in CHRONIC inflammation which leads to chronic disease.
Excessive cortisol damages brain function causing memory problems and much more. Fatigued adrenals may cause high or low blood pressure, hypoglycemia (which comes with light headedness and fainting when very low), vertigo and noise in the ears. Confusion, lethargy, constant fatigue, weakness, brain fog, profound sweating, palpitations, fainting, and varicose veins. Swelling, craving salt and/or sugar, WEIGHT GAIN-belly fat, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction/ED, PMS, problematic menopause, thyroid issues and low stamina. Difficulty sleeping, tired when you wake up, and over reacting to stress, startling easy, and dilated pupils. Adrenal Fatigued individuals can also be susceptible to infections, recurrent allergies, difficulty recovering from flu and colds, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, cystitis, depression, anxiety/panic attacks, behavioral problems, and ADD/ADHD. Inflammation (aches and pains), knee pain, carpal tunnel, extreme sensitivity to cold, hyperpigmentation, osteoporosis, restless leg syndrome, leg length difference, headaches-migraines, LOW BACK PAIN. Not to mention accelerated aging!
Adrenaline: Also called epinephrine. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are two hormones produced by the adrenals. Sympathetic nervous system = fight/flight. Parasympathetic nervous system is activated when body is relaxed. Adrenaline has a direct and immediate effect on your heart and is related to an increase in strokes and other heart problems.
Your recovery is contingent upon what you eat, drink, the thoughts you feed your mind, and the beliefs you base your life on. How you spend your energy, how you conserve your energy, and how you create your energy are all extremely important.
Addicted to Stress?! Psychologists tell us that we can get addicted to the highs and lows of hormone rushes produced by trauma, tragedy, crisis, or chaos. (Adrenaline Junkie). Some people are drama queens or kings or like to stir the pot and find themselves in messes over and over again. Have you seen someone that has to make sure things go wrong even when they are going well? These people are ADDICTED to chaos or crisis. Shots of adrenaline and cortisol pump through our bodies when we are stressed. We can somehow seek to bring familiar emotional and hormonal chaos BACK so we can feel the adrenaline rush again.
Your adrenals may be week from birth: Children born to mothers suffering with adrenal fatigue and children who experience severe stress in the womb typically have lower adrenal function. From birth on, these children may have less capacity to deal with stress in their own lives and are more prone to adrenal fatigue throughout their lives.
Emotions/Actions associated with adrenals: Lost, abandoned (including abandoning yourself), deserted, lost love or not loved in return, vulnerable and heart broken. Can’t figure it out, up and down, emotional instability, paranoid, sluggish thinking or memory, lack of emotion, suppressed, non-thinking, absent mindedness, and insecurity. Rapid mannerisms and overly talkative.
Action Points: Adopt an optimistic attitude to help you respond better to situations and people that contribute to your stress. Expect good things to happen, not bad. What part do you play in creating stress? Avoid people that stress you out. Mend or end toxic relationships.
~Throw a life ring to your adrenals…
~STOP using energy drinks and coffee!
~Do everything in your power to sleep!
~Eat better and take specific supplements.
~Decrease toxic- load.
~Eliminate as much stress as possible.
~Improve relationships and communication.
Coffee sets off a chain reaction: Acid based oil in coffee irritates the lining of the stomach which increases gastric secretions which sparks/ignites adrenaline, which stimulates insulin production, which fuels hypoglycemia. END result = Tension, mild rise in blood pressure, craving sweets 2 or 3 hours later, low energy, depressed mood. Coffee causes nutritional deficiencies: B1 in particular = fatigue, nervousness, aches, pains, headaches. Damaging to small intestine = more problems assimilating nutrients properly. Throws off the bodies Ph balance = depletion of many minerals.
Leading cause of toxins: Pesticides in coffee are one of the most significant sources of toxins in the U.S. Long-term consumption taxes the liver causing congestion in this vital organ which leads to other problems. Lots of yeast, fungus, and mold in coffee as well. Decaf may be even worse. May contain large concentrations of trichloethylene a chemical used as a degreasing agent in the metal industry and a cleaning agent in dry cleaning. Related to chemicals linked to certain types of liver cancer.
Considerations regarding coffee. In the very least, start by limiting yourself to one cup and use organic low acid coffee! Eat something BEFORE you consume coffee. Try to replace it all together with healthy warm teas including sipping essential oils in tea like ginger which is very good for digestion and an immune system tonic.’*
These hormones closely modulate many metabolic processes such as:
the utilization of carbohydrates and fats
the conversion of fats and proteins into energy
the distribution of stored fat – especially around your waist (the spare tire) and at the sides of your face
normal blood sugar regulation
proper cardiovascular function
After mid-life, the Adrenal Gland become the source of the sex hormones for both men and women. These hormones, affect a whole host of issues. These include your sex drive all the way to gaining weight, especially around your waist and your puffy cheeks. Then there are the hormones, steroids, that affect your muscle’s strength and stamina.
Have a chronic illness? Your Adrenal Glands have a direct impact on your chances of getting certain kinds of diseases and how you respond to chronic illnesses. The more chronic the illness or the more autoimmune illnesses you develop, the stronger and longer the Adrenal Gland reaction. This causes the Adrenals to be under even more stress. When it is constantly on stress duty, you develop even more Adrenal fatigue. As you can imagine, how well you live, how well you feel all depends on how well your Adrenal glands function.
Adrenal fatigue and stress together have a direct effect on your healthy blood sugar levels. Cortisol, which we have already talked about, works with insulin to keep your blood sugars at a healthy level. It also regulates the flow of glucose into the cells for energy production. This is why stress or some level of Adrenal Fatigue, often comes before hypoglycemia, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Then, once you develop these diseases, they create greater demand on the already stressed Adrenal Glands. For this reason, some level of Adrenal Fatigue often is found with hypoglycemia, diabetes. If that is true, then add Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Thyroid Disease, Lupus, Arthritis, and Depression stress the Adrenal Glands even more.
Here is an interesting fact. The symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue are the same as Fibromyalgia and all the diseases it mimics.
*Laurie Langfitt’s Adrenal Class Notes doTERRA Convention 2015
* Dr. James L. Wilson’s Article on Adrenal Glands and Function, located at adrenalfatigue.org