Should I charge or chill my adrenals?

Do you ever wonder why your heart beats faster in stressful situations? Or how your body makes use of the different macronutrients you consume? Well, you’ve got your adrenal glands to thank for those processes. 

What are the adrenal glands?

Your adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped glands that are located on top of the kidneys. Their main job is to produce hormones, and release them directly into the bloodstream. These hormones help regulate metabolism, the immune system, blood pressure, stress response and even more. 

What hormones do the adrenal glands produce?

The adrenal glands are made up of two parts: the cortex and the medulla. 

Each of these components are responsible for producing different hormones. The cortex is composed of three zones (zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata, zona reticularis), and is responsible for producing cortisol, aldosterone, DHEA and androgenic steroids. The medulla is responsible for releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline – the hormones that initiate the human fight or flight response.


What do these hormones do?

Cortisol:

  • Controls the sleep-wake cycle

  • Regulates blood pressure

  • Increases blood sugar

  • Commands the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates

  • Gets released in stressful situations, giving the body an energy boost


Aldosterone:

  • Regulates blood pressure 

  • Maintains certain electrolytes

  • Helps regulate blood pH


DHEA and androgenic steroids (weak male hormones):

  • Precursor hormones that are converted in the sex organs to produce estrogen (in females) and androgen (in males)


Adrenaline and noradrenaline:

  • Increases heart rate, forcing heart contractions

  • Increases blood flow to the muscles and brain

  • Assists in glucose metabolism

  • Production is activated in stressful situations


How does stress impact the adrenal glands?

Since the adrenal glands are involved in our natural stress response, when there is constant stress in your life, they’re working overtime. 

Under normal circumstances, the stress response passes once the perceived threat is gone. However, under conditions of chronic stress, this reaction stays engaged, overexposing your system to cortisol and other stress hormones. 

If your adrenal glands produce too much or too little of certain hormones, imbalances can occur. This is often due to conditions affecting your adrenal glands or your pituitary glands, which send signals to your adrenal glands to produce hormones. If our hypothalamic and pituitary glands are suppressed, thyroid hormone production is impacted. This can cause a condition called hypothyroidism, which slows the body’s metabolism and often leads to issues with balancing blood sugar. 

Hormone imbalance and hypothyroidism can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Headaches

  • Sleep problems

  • Digestive issues

  • Heart disease

  • Unwanted weight gain

  • Memory and cognitive impairment


What can I do to promote healthy adrenal function?  

There are certain lifestyle choices you can prioritize in order to care for your adrenal glands and prevent adrenal fatigue. This includes:

  • A healthy diet full of whole foods, limiting sugar and highly processed carbohydrates

  • Being mindful of caffeine consumption, and not overdoing it

  • The practice of relaxation techniques (yoga, mindfulness, deep breathing and meditation are great places to start)

For extra support, keeping herbal remedies like Adrenal Chill on hand is worthwhile. Its main ingredient, ashwagandha, has adaptogenic properties, which are known to help balance our nervous system by regulating activity in our hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands. 

Another helpful product for helping recharge your energy is Adrenal Pro, which also contains ashwanganda. This product also contains b vitamins as well as other adaptogenic (stress supportive and nourishing) herbs to help improve mental and physical performance.

When dealing with stress, it’s important to consistently check in with yourself and evaluate your environment. Ensure that you stay mindful of what causes you anxiety, and what makes you feel good. Life is all about balance, after all.

To continue the conversation around managing stress and adrenal health, visit CanPrev Women Conversations

Nature's Vibe Natural Health Centre is home to many natural health Practitioners that can help you deal with stress and support, boost or chill your adrenals. Visit our Centre's home site for details on the services available.

Sources
Adrenal Fatigue: Is it real?
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
Adrenal Glands
An Overview of the Adrenal Glands
Chronic stress puts your health at risk
John Hopkins Medicine Adrenal Glands