Your adrenals are tiny glands with an enormous job!
The adrenals are walnut sized endocrine glands that sit on top of your kidneys that secrete stress hormones during fight or flight situations. Due to modern life, our body can feel chronically stress which can cause the adrenals to constantly sending out those stress hormones. putting your adrenals into the alarm phase, compensation phase or exhaustion/burnout phase.
While small, the adrenals have an enormous job. Research shows us that when we are chronically stressed our adrenal glands, along with the rest of our mind and body, suffer. Adrenal exhaustion can contribute to ongoing cycles of sleep disturbances, poor nutrition, emotional issues, waves of mood swings and hormone and mineral imbalance.
Adrenal fatigue, exhaustion or burnout is many times overlooked or ignored in conventional health. As a Naturopath that is one of the first places I assess with clients. When I ask my clients why they think they have adrenal concerns, they respond almost always that they feel too overwhelmed. To manage their stress levels, the body is calling out for adrenal support, but instead they are grabbing for what they feel will help them quickly; high carb snacks, coffee, pop, and sleep aids – even alcohol to manage their stress, which we know is disrupting their stress handling glands further. Our adrenal glands do have an enormous job, they are vital in maintaining our mineral levels, cell permeability, energy, our cortisol and other hormones, our metabolism and down regulating inflammation on our body.
Adrenal Glands Influence
- Blood sugar
- Short term memory concerns
- Abdominal weight
- Energy especially in the morning
- Digestive enzymes
- Hormones such as aldosterone, cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, adrenaline and noradrenaline.
- Cell permeability
- Food allergies
Here are some common complaints linked to adrenal imbalance:
I wake up tired and go to bed tired.
What did I come into this room for?
I crave salt or crave sugar!
I’m gaining weight in my belly or have love handles.
I’m boated! I’m gassy!
In my practice I have found that 80% plus of my clients I test have weak adrenal patterns, from young children to the elderly. Many times there are some hereditary patterns, but keep in mind, we know those are correctable. Weak adrenal and spleen patterns can be in the family tree. 95% of my clients test for miasms which can be linked to any imbalance including adrenal issues.
The three chronic miasms that Hahnemann introduced in 1828 are called Psora (the itch miasm), Sycosis (the gonorrheal miasm) and Syphilis (the chancre miasm).
The word “miasm” means the effects of microorganisms on the vital force including the symptoms that are transmitted to the following generations. These chronic miasms are capable of producing degenerative illnesses, auto-immune diseases and lead the organism toward immuno-deficiency disorders …unless these are cleared from the body. (Source and read more about miasms)
Phases of Adrenal Function
- Alarm phase. Immediate response/Wired and Tired phase. Sympathetic nervous system responds in seconds to shift the body into “fight at flight” mode. Catecholemines like norepinephrine cause short term hyperglycemia, increased glucose synthesis and increased fat breakdown. This first stage of adrenal fatigue cortisol levels are higher at night and lower in the morning, causing an edgy and wired and tired feeling. Ideal levels should be high in morning and lower at night.
- Compensation phase. Adrenal hyperfunction/Stress and Tired phase. Sustained stress causes constant release of ACTH from the pituitary gland. The adrenal gland responds to ACTH by producing elevated blood cortisol. With elevated cortisol, you usually see elevated insulin, glucose production in the liver and higher blood sugar rises. Metabolic syndrome occurs and raises cholesterol/triglycerides, abdominal fat increases, tendency towards high blood pressure and insulin resistance can occur, even leading to diabetes. The second phase usually yields higher (or close to normal) cortisol levels in the morning, but then the levels crash in the afternoon, just after lunch, leading to afternoon fatigue and brain fog. Many times they wake in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep.
- Fatigue phase. Adrenal hypofunction/Adrenal burnout. Stage three will present as someone who is exhausted all the time-day or night, more sleep or less sleep. In the burnout phase the adrenals become so fatigued they may not produce enough aldosterone, cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, adrenaline and noradrenaline.Symptoms of Adrenal Burnout:
- Excessive fatigue like Epstein Barr Virus
- Needing stimulants to get you moving in the morning
- Poor short term memory
- Inability to concentrate
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Poor digestion. Lack of HCL, protease, bile, digestive enzymes. Adrenal folks are lousy digestors!
- Menstrual irregularities. Adrenal burnout can descrease T3 conversion
- Low blood pressure
- Low T3, creating low progesterone and high estrogen
- Food allergies
- Inflammation due to lack of cortisol (red ears, too warm), they will need potassium
- Eventual tissue damage and degenerative diseases such and heart failure, cancer, celiac, asthma and connective tissue disorders.
Cellular Sodium and Potassium
Cellular sodium can adversely affect transport across or into the cell membranes. Potassium is responsible for letting toxins and fluids out. With adrenal exhaustion, nutrients do not get in and toxins don’t get out, therefore you have a starving and poisoning of cells.
According to Analytical Research Labs, sodium is the main electrolyte which “turns on the adrenals”.
Adrenal Support Supplements Recommended
- Sea salt
- Vitamin C. Taking up to 5,000 mg of Vit C daily is very important for adrenal recovery.
- B Vitamins: Especially B5 and B6.
- Adrenal glandulars
- Strong probiotics
- ADHS. Most of my clients test strongly for this herbal adrenal support.
Lifestyle Recommendations to Support Adrenal Health
- Eat a real food paleo diet, free of grains, dairy sugar and alcohol. That is high is good quality fat, including coconut oil, proteins, sea salt and vegetables.
- Eat small meals (high is protein and fat), every 2-3 hours. This is key is restoring adrenal function!
- Lift weights. I cannot stress this enough! Building muscle tone at the same time as detoxing your body, is one of the quickest ways to build and support your adrenals and blood sugar.
- Getting to bed early and sleeping 8-9 good quality hours each night.
- Visit traumas and old wounds. If they are not addressed, they tend to manifest physically.
- Address stress. Acknowledge and learn to better manage stress. Learn to say no, hold personal boundaries and make being happy your top priority.
- Be in congruence. When you are in harmony with your values and your lifestyle, you help keep your energy and chakras open and in alignment.
These are my eight essentials to be the absolute best version of you.
- Let food be thy medicine
- Balance your gut ecosystem
- Reduce your toxin exposure
- Balance your vibration and energy
- Heal your emotional wounds
- Embrace biological dentistry
- Regenerate your body with therapeutic herbs and supplements
- Adopt early imbalance detection by working with a skilled Naturopath or Functional Nutrition Practitioner, who can help you in all the above areas.
More adrenal health resources: