The adrenal or “stress glands” are small, triangular shaped glands located on the top of the kidneys. Their function is to prepare the body’s resources to run or fight through the releasing of specific hormones. When this primitive, instinctive response is activated, blood is diverted from digestive system while our blood pressure, pulse, blood sugar levels increase. At the same time, our pupils dilate and the speed of reflexes increases. All of this happens as a way to ensure our survival.
In modern times, we don’t have to worry about becoming dinner for a hungry tiger or being trampled by a herd of buffalo. Our bodies, however, automatically respond the same way when we are under physical, emotional or mental stress. Many of us live in a state of constant stress that strains our bodies to the point of exhaustion. Over time, and through repetition, this can impact the way the adrenal glands function, causing us to experience adrenal insufficiency or “burn-out”.
If you think about it, our adrenal glands can be likened to the batteries in a flashlight. They are filled with a charge that is used to run the body and give us that extra edge in times of need. Each time we use our flashlight, we drain some of the charge from our batteries. Fortunately for us, our batteries are automatically recharged when we eat healthy and get lots of rest. If, on the other hand, we use our flashlight all of the time, and don’t recharge our batteries regularly, it is only a matter of time before the light starts to dim and eventually goes out all together.
Technically speaking, adrenal insufficiency refers to the inability of adrenal glands to produce the proper quantity of hormones needed to run the body. It should not to be confused with Addison’s disease, which is when the adrenal glands fail to produce hormones or shutdown completely. The most common symptom of adrenal insufficiency is fatigue. Other symptoms include: not feeling rested after sleep, inability to deal with life stressors, poor memory, a low sex drive, frequent infections due to a suppressed immune system, inability to concentrate, depression, mood swings, irritability, weight gain, weakness and hormonal imbalances.
There are a number of reasons why people experience adrenal insufficiency. It can be from a genetic or congenital abnormality, but the most common one is stress. Some of us force our bodies to run or fight all the time. Life challenges, financial pressures, relationship issues and unresolved emotional concerns will eventually deplete your adrenal glands. Internal stressors such as allergies, physical disease, nutritional deficiencies, food and environmental toxins can also put pressure on the body’s natural reserves. In addition, stimulants, such as sugar, white flower, caffeine, as well as constant exposure to loud music, loud noise or EM radiation can take a toll on our adrenal glands.
Recommendations For Wellness
First and foremost, stop forcing yourself to keep going and start listening to your body. It will tell you what it needs. If it is tired, try closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Taking a break, even a short one is a great way to let your body rest.
Just let it go. Allow your body to let go of any resentment, blame, guilt, worries or fears that can paralyze the adrenal glands.
Learning relaxation techniques such as biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery can help you cope with stress better.
Try taking a hot bath with lavender or neroli oil at night. These oils can help to calm frazzled nerves, promote a feeling of calmness and bring about a restful nights sleep.
Siberian ginseng is an adaptogenic herb that supports the adrenal glands making it a great tonic to help the body deal with stress.
Found in the rainforest of South America, the herb suma has been reported to help increase energy levels and rejuvenate the spirit. It has been found to be useful in restoring glandular function and balancing the endocrine system.
Licorice Root has traditionally been used to support the adrenals. This herb is very sweet and is not recommended if you are diabetic.
Pantothenic Acid, vitamin B5, is vital for adrenal hormone production and is recommended in supporting the adrenal glands.
Nature’s Sunshine’s Energy-V Capsules and Nervous Fatigue Formula are a collection of stimulating & adaptogenic herbs which can help the body adapt to stress.
DHEA is a hormone precursor produced by the adrenal glands. Leading health experts to believe that after the age of 25, the body’s ability to produce DHEA declines and supplementation can help increase energy and counteract the effects of stress.
Supplements made from bovine adrenal glands provide nutritional support for proper adrenal gland function. Only use this supplement for short periods of time as to not disrupt the normal function of the adrenal glands.