The adrenals are a pair of pea-sized glands located atop each kidney. The adrenal gland consists of two sections: The Medulla (the inner portion) and the Cortex (the outer portion). The adrenal glands release certain hormones that allow us to be able to del with immediate and long-term stress. These glands and the hormones they release allow us to be resilient to day-to-day stress.
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Stress, Stress, Stress, and More Stress
Persistent, unrelenting stress will ultimately lead to adrenal “burn-out.” Adrenal “burn-out” and exhaustion render the person defenseless against the continuous chemical, emotional, and physical damage that occurs with chronic stress.
Could you have stress-induced adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue can be stress-induced, especially if any of the following apply:
– I’ve been under stress for long periods of time.
– I or my spouse works over 50 hours a week.
– I’m overweight; I have a chronic illness; I have a nervous stomach.
– I have been on a low fat diet this year; I do not exercise.
– I exercise more than 14 hours a week.
– I drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day; I drink soda pop daily; I smoke.
– I cannot sleep at night.
– I get < 7 hours of sleep a night.
– I eat sugary foods on a regular basis.
– I’ve had surgery in the past year, or > 1 surgery in the past 2 years.
– I’m a professional or family care-giver.
– I take prescription or over-the-counter medications to “lift me up”.
Between years of poor sleep, unrelenting fatigue, chronic pain, excessive stimulants, poor diet, and relying on a plethora of prescription medications, the adrenal glands, and the hormones they release, have been used up. Once adrenal exhaustion sets in, it’s not long before the body begins to breakdown.
Adrenal exhaustion accelerates the downward spiral towards chronic poor health. Some of the more common symptoms that occur are as follows:
Ragland’s Sign – this is an abnormal drop in systolic blood pressure when a person arises
from lying to a standing position. There should be a rise of 8-10 mm in the systolic number. A drop in systolic blood pressure indicates adrenal fatigue.
Pupil Dilation Exam – To test for this reflex you’ll need a flashlight and a mirror. Face the mirror and shine the light in one eye. If, after 30 seconds, the pupil starts to dilate, adrenal deficiency should be suspected.
The adrenal cortex, when healthy, produces adequate levels of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA boosts our energy, sex drive, resistance to stress, self defense mechanisms (immune system), and general well-being. I find DHEA to be notoriously low in the majority of patients I treat for chronic illness. I’ve found most of my patients with adrenal fatigue have low to very low DHEA levels. DHEA is an extremely important hormone. It helps increase immune function, energy and mental acuity.
• DHEA increases our mental abilities, including our memory.
• DHEA increases the effectiveness
of our immune systems.
• DHEA increases stamina and over
all strength, energy, and mood.
• DHEA counters effects of stress.
Correcting Adrenal Fatigue
1. Drink plenty of water. I recommend you drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. If you weight 120lbs, you should consume at least 60 ounces of water a day.
Nothing else counts (cola’s, teas, coffee, etc.) only pure water. You can add a lemon or lime wedge if you want to, but please drink plenty of water.
2. Get plenty of rest! Remember, you won’t get well unless you’re getting a minimum of 8 hours of deep restorative sleep. If possible, periodically sleep late. This allows the adrenal glands an opportunity to rest and regenerate. Mid day naps of 15-20 minutes are also helpful.
3. Reduce your stress! Don’t over do it. Once patients start to feel better, they have a tendency to try to do too much. Don’t try to be the Tasmanian Devil, only to be
wiped out in the next few days. It may take months for your energy reserves to build back up. Pace yourself and enjoy the new found energy.
4. Always eat breakfast and never skip meals. Individuals with low adrenal function are usually not hungry when they wake-up. They instead rely on chemical stimulants (coffee, soda’s, cigarettes, etc.,) to get them going. Your morning cortisol level is at its highest around 8 A.M. The increased cortisol will often cause people to not feel hungry. Eat anyway! A small snack (avoid simple sugars) is all you need until you get hungry, usually a couple of hours later. Then eat another balanced snack to tie you over until lunch. Don’t skip lunch!
5. Use Adrenal cortical extracts. This will help repair and restore normal adrenal function.
• Chronic Headaches
• Nagging Injuries
• Joint Pain
• Low Sex Drive
• Chronic Infections
• Cold Hands and Feet
For my patients with adrenal fatigue I recommend taking a good optimal daily allowance
multivitamin and 500mg of adrenal cortex twice a day with food for those with pronounced adrenal fatigue, low immune function, poor stress coping abilities, and/or suffer with anxiety or depression, add 25mg of DHEA.