This is What Being Stressed All the Time Does to Your Adrenals (and how to reverse it)

Dr. Aoife Earls

This is What Being Stressed All the Time Does to Your Adrenals (and how to reverse it)

This article is shared with permission from our friends at draoife.com.

Stressed About Stress: Let’s take a look at your adrenal glandsCortisol_production-normal-adrenal-glands

95% of my patients are abso­lutely stressed out. Our lives these days are tax­ing and busy, our jobs too demand­ing, our “ fun ” extra­cur­ricular activ­it­ies not fun but hec­tic, and our sleep dis­turbed with the chal­lenge and push to get less and less sleep to do more and more.

As I recently pos­ted, B-12 is a vit­amin that many dis­cover when trolling the inter­net for its fant­astic bene­fits like improv­ing fatigue. However, it doesn’t always work. Why ?

The Small but Mighty Adrenal Glands

Our adrenal glands are two small triangle-shaped glands that sit on top of our kid­neys. Bet you didn’t know that ! I had no idea what they were talk­ing about in neur­os­cience class when I first learned about them ! The adrenal glands are part of what is called the hypo­thalamic – pitu­it­ary – adrenal axis — they are the back­bone of our hor­monal sys­tem and the sig­nal­ing that goes on in our body between our brain and the rest of the body.

The adrenal glands are incred­ibly import­ant in that they syn­thes­ize most of our hor­mones. The out­side of the gland, or the cor­tex, makes hor­mones like cortisol (our day­time hor­mone), all of our sex hor­mones ( estro­gen, pro­ges­ter­one, testoster­one ), and a hor­mone called aldos­ter­one that is related to the kid­neys ( another story for another day ).

The inner part of the gland, or the medulla, makes epi­neph­rine and nore­pineph­rine or our flight-or-fight hor­mones and with cortisol helps us get through stress­ful peri­ods ( basic­ally they decide when we should rise to the occa­sion in a stress­ful event, or when it is appro­pri­ate to sit back and relax ).

My focus of con­ver­sa­tion today will be about this fight-or-flight and then relax­a­tion response that the adrenal glands can induce. You will all be famil­iar with the signs that the adrenal gland is in action, and I’ll paint a pic­ture for you to get famil­iar with the body sensations:

“You’re camp­ing up north in Algonquin park and you hear rust­ling through the trees. At the end of a clear­ing, you spot a large bear behind you. Not know­ing if you are sup­posed to run or stay still, you race in the oppos­ite dir­ec­tion. Your heart is pound­ing ; the hun­ger you felt a minute ago is com­pletely gone. Your eyes feel more sharp, you feel agile, and you are breath­ing, hard.

After run­ning for 5 minutes and not look­ing back, you real­ize your one of your friends put on a bear cos­tume. You’re annoyed, but you start to calm down. You look down, and you real­ize your legs have small cuts all over them that you did not feel when you were run­ning (immune sys­tem sup­presses dur­ing stress so you don’t feel pain). You are sud­denly raven­ous and you need to use the wash­room urgently (diges­tion and bod­ily func­tions are put on hold). You are over­whelmed with fatigue.”

The adrenal gland allows us to rise to the occasion in the face of a stressful event, and then calms as we are recovering from that stress.

What if your body can no longer tell the dif­fer­ence between run­ning from an actual bear, or the bear that is run­ning around in your mind? Virtual bears could be your ter­rible boss, your stress­ful com­mute, your three chil­dren who all wake up scream­ing at 3 am, or a stress­ful fam­ily event that occurs every month that you dread. Worse, you exper­i­ence many of these scen­arios all at the same time.

There are nutri­ents that the adrenal gland needs when it goes through stress-support and stress-recovery, and these nutri­ents can be depleted eas­ily. Vitamin B5 or pan­tothenic acid is a major sup­port to the adrenal gland, as is vitamin C. However, with years of stress, these vit­am­ins are not often enough.

There are many herbs and foods that can be very effective for helping the adrenal gland. Here is a list (via youngandraw.com):

  • Leafy greens

  • Fresh fruits

  • Raw nuts

  • Seeds

  • Essential fatty acids

  • Sprouts

  • Garlic

  • Onions

  • Shitake mushrooms

  • Foods rich in vitamin B and potassium

  • Schisandra

  • Ginseng

  • Rhodiola

Source

http://www.draoife.com/2011/07/stressed-about-your-stress-lets-look-at-your-adrenal-glands/

http://www.youngandraw.com/foods-herbs-that-help-combat-adrenal-fatigue/

Image Sources

http://cdn.theheartysoul.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Cortisol_production-normal-adrenal-glands-250×312.jpg

 

Dr. Aoife Earls
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Dr. Aoife Earls

Dr. Aoife Earls is a naturopathic doctor, helping people heal themselves; body, mind, and soul. She has a Bachelor and Masters of Science from McMaster University in Hamilton ON. In addition, she has com­pleted the 4-​year Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine pro­gram at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Dr. Aoife Earls
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