All about the Adrenals

All about the Adrenals

What are the adrenals and what do they do?

The adrenals are a pair of small glands which sit above the kidneys.

They produce a variety of hormones. Two of the most important hormones include cortisol and aldosterone. The adrenals also produce other hormones including adrenaline and small amounts of sex hormones.

Cortisol helps to regulate metabolism, the body respond to any kind of stress (e.g. physical or emotional) and also has significant anti-inflammatory effects. Cortisol assists by shutting down unnecessary functions, like digestion, growth, reproduction and the immune system, in order to allow the body to direct all energies towards dealing with the stress at hand.

Aldosterone helps to control blood pressure. Adrenaline is a crucial part of the body’s fight-or-flight response, but over-exposure is not ideal for good health.

Many things can impact the adrenals; ranging from poor diet, emotional stress, detox, medications, heavy metals, toxins, mould, viruses, Lyme disease to thyroid issues. See my visual post for more info.

 

What does stress do in the body?

Stress (of any kind) can cause the body to produce cortisol. In short spurts, cortisol boosts immunity by limiting inflammation. However, when stressors are present on a frequent basis, the fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on and we become over-exposed to cortisol and other stress hormones. When this happens more inflammation can occur, as well disruption to so many body processes.

 

Symptoms

High and low cortisol symptoms are so similar, this is where testing can be really helpful. Here’s just some of the symptoms of adrenal issues, the list is way longer, but it gives an idea:

  • Fatigue
  • GI issues
  • Inflammation
  • Salt cravings
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increase of abdominal fat
  • With lower cortisol, compared to high cortisol you have more chronic burnout/ fatigue and inflammation
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Light headedness
  • Shakiness
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Racing heart
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • High cortisol can block thyroid hormone, resulting in hypothyroid issues.
  • Sleep issues – trouble falling asleep etc.
  • Allergies (food allergies, skin or asthma)
  • Needing stimulants (caffeine) to get through the day
  • Depression (usually high cortisol)

Symptoms, particularly in children

  • Excessive emotions: anger / irritability / meltdowns
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Insomnia/trouble getting to sleep
  • Sensitivity to light / touch / sound

 

Testing

The hair mineral analysis test is a good tool and gives us an idea about the health of our adrenals. Alternatively, or in addition, you can do a saliva test.

The saliva test includes four different saliva samples throughout the day. This tells us what times of day your adrenals are struggling and whether you are high are low in cortisol. It’s then much easier to devise a program to support the adrenals.

 

Treatment options

As there’s so much overlap with low and high adrenal symptoms, I never advise guessing how to treat.

  • Adrenal Cortex (ACE) support, nourish and restore normal adrenal function if you have LOW cortisol (these are not suitable for high cortisol).
  • A range of herbs can help low or high cortisol.
  • Nutrients: Vitamin B, C & E, Magnesium and calcium if required and many micro minerals (e.g. zinc, selenium, manganese, molybdenum, chromium, copper & iodine). Please don’t guess and check what YOU need on a hair mineral test. If you take the wrong nutrients, you can feel worse!!
  • Plenty of sleep!
  • Relaxation
  • Good food choices (sufficient protein, not too many high GI carbohydrate foods or sugar. Good fats and plenty of water).

 

As you can see the adrenals have such an important role in our health from the hormone & immune systems to healthy gastrointestinal & detoxification systems. For any more details on testing, please contact me at kathryn@routestonutrition.co.uk

References

Adrenal fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. James L Wilson.