Adrenal hormones can affect our every day living.
Adrenals are glands that are located on the top of both kidneys. They produce many types of hormones in the body.
Adrenal hormones (cortisol, in particular) are released when we experience stress, encouraging physiologic responses that allow us to escape danger: more energy going to the muscles and away from digestive processes, the immune system, and higher brain functions.
This system is designed for short-term stress (such as running from a predator). Problems arise when we are subjected to the unrelenting stressors of modern life, where escape is not guaranteed, like prolonged insomnia, long hours at work, difficult living situations, long hours of studying, taking tests, personal relationships issues.
Continual release of stress hormones has detrimental effects on immunity (including wound healing), digestive function, the functioning of the rest of the endocrine system, mood, and mental acuity. Adrenal imbalance can also be a part (cause or effect) of other endocrine syndromes, such as Type 2 diabetes or hypothyroidism.
One of the most pronounced symptoms of adrenal imbalance is chronic fatigue. Hence, the other name used for the adrenal imbalance is adrenal fatigue. It can be thought of as if adrenals overused, overexerted its supply of stress hormones and now they are not regulated properly. This imbalance can also lower sex hormones, affect thyroid function, and decrease immunity.
How it usually happens – sluggishness in the morning with difficulty waking up, feeling awake immediately after lunch but another energy drop from 2-4 pm, best energy around 6-7 pm, and then feeling tired but with difficulty going to sleep at night, with a burst of energy at midnight.
The other symptoms can be hyperglycemia (high glucose), insulin resistance, weight gain, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, loss of libido, increased susceptibility to illness, slow wound healing.
Naturopathic doctors (N.D.) address adrenal imbalance and fatigue by recommending basic life style changes (the same time to bed, the same time for meals daily, more time for rest, appropriate exercise routine). Diet can be very helpful in addressing adrenal fatigue. Each meal is perceived as medicine. Whole food balanced nutrition with 90% vegetable intake, high quality protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits and healthy fats. Many herbs (called adaptogens) can be used to heal adrenal glands and allow them to produce the correct amount of cortisol at the correct time (more in the morning, less in the evening, and stable throughout the day). Testing for adrenal hormones can be completed if needed.
If you have any issues with the above listed symptoms, it can be a good time to see a naturopathic doctor to address the cause of the fatigue.