Exhausted, over anxious, not sleeping well or struggling with digestive issues? Then you may be suffering from Adrenal fatigue.
Below we'll talk about adrenals, cortisol and hormones: how they work, how they are interlinked and what impact they have on you.
Adrenal fatigue, or adrenal burnout, is unfortunately a common condition, especially amongst people who live with high stress.
As we know, some stress can be good. An extra burst of energy before a big presentation for example, or a little extra oomph in your gym class. However too much stress of any kind, be it work-related, financial, emotional, socialising too often or poor sleep can have negative effects.
Issues related to adrenal function are some of the most common problems we treat here at The Maas Clinic. Fortunately, if you are suffering with an adrenal or hormonal issue, there are many things we can do, using functional and integrative medicine, to help you to rediscover your equilibrium.
What are adrenal glands? What is cortisol? How are the two interlinked?
Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys, you have a pair of them. Your adrenals are responsible for producing life-giving hormones that maintain your ability to handle stress. The hormone most commonly known as the ‘fight, flight or fright hormone’ is cortisol.
The adrenals also produce other hormones which help to repair and regenerate your brain and tissues, and help you to sleep at night.
Cortisol, much though we know it as a ‘stress’ hormone, is in fact fundamental to living a joyful life. It naturally secretes every day to control your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm relates to how your body operates over twenty-four hours. In other words, cortisol impacts when you feel energised, and when you feel relaxed and ready for bed.
Many people suffer with a cortisol imbalance. This is one of the issues we regularly treat here at The Maas Clinic.
Your daily Cortisol cycle
- Cortisol peaks in the morning somewhere between six and ten so that you have the energy to get on with your day.
- It then slowly tapers off towards the afternoon.
- The lowest levels of cortisol in your body are in the evening, just in time for bed.
On to hormones: What part do your adrenal glands play in the production of hormones?
The first hormone that gets produced by your adrenal glands is called pregnenolone. This happens via a conversion of cholesterol.
Pregnenolone is responsible for the production of cortisol as well as other life-giving hormones you may recognise including: oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone).
These hormones, and the optimum balance of them, is fundamental to your vitality. Without adequate adrenal gland function, and consequently hormones, you will fall ill. This is where chronic fatigue syndrome comes in as well as other chronic diseases and auto-immune diseases.
You may be having issues with your hormones if you have…
- Low blood pressure
- High blood pressure
- Low libido
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
Cortisol and stress: what is the relationship? And how does it impact your health?
As we mentioned before, cortisol is a life-giving hormone. It helps you to feel energised and, when needed, it can give you an extra burst of energy to get you through a stressful situation. The problem comes when your body thinks it needs cortisol because you are stressed, but the cortisol has nowhere to go.
Over time using your adrenal glands again and again, without using up that extra cortisol, can lead them to burn out. Hence the term adrenal burnout, or adrenal fatigue and this will have a hugely negative impact on your health.
As we’ve already discussed, you need your adrenal glands to produce cortisol at the right times, as well as other hormones, to live an energised joyful life.
You may be having issues with your adrenals if you’re…
- Craving salt
- Craving sugar
- Prone to dizzy spells
- Suffering with low blood pressure
- Prone to anger
- Not able to handle stressful situations
Do hormonal imbalances affect both men and women?
Hormonal imbalances affect both genders.
- When men get stressed their bodies will sacrifice testosterone in favour of producing more cortisol.
- When women get stressed, their bodies will sacrifice progesterone, again in favour of producing more cortisol.
On the whole however, Laurens reports that women have a much harder time with hormonal balance.
- Women have two hormonal systems cycling within one month’s menstrual cycle: namely oestrogen peaking around day 12/13 and then progesterone peaking at around day 21/22.
- As such, women are more vulnerable to adrenal stresses, and adrenal malfunction takes a greater toll on women’s health.
Adrenal function and female health
- A clear sign of a woman suffering with an adrenal issue is painful periods, known as dysmenorrhea.
- Absent periods, known as amenorrhea, can also indicate an adrenal issue, as can endometriosis and ovarian cysts.
- For women, if they lose their progesterone, they’re more prone to ovarian cysts, endometriosis, endometrial cancer and breast cancer.
Adrenal function and male health
- For men suffering with an adrenal issue, they may experience an enlarged prostate and a difficulty urinating.
- Whilst this is not as extensive as the impact adrenal malfunction can have on women, it is still significant.
- For both genders, the mental health impact adrenal function can have is vast too.
- Hence why healthy adrenal function is so fundamental for everyone.
How can Functional and Integrated Medicine be used to treat adrenal issues?
We use extensive testing to unpick each client’s unique biochemistry.
We then take a close look at every client’s lifestyle choices and assess how those choices impact their health.
To treat adrenal issues Laurens takes a two-prong approach.
- On a functional level, Laurens uses organic plant (yam) hormones to treat patients.
- On an integrative level, Laurens devises a treatment plan made up of four key pillars: nutrition, lifestyle, behaviour and exercise.
Laurens will see a client every 2 – 3 months, and our in-house nutritionists will check in, on average, with the client every week.
Scientific data is collected via stringent testing, and this then informs Laurens as to how effective the treatment plan is. If anything needs to be adjusted this is informed by the testing.
Laurens will always implement the law of the minimal dose for a client. Never too much, never too little.
On average it takes a client suffering with adrenal burnout six to nine months to heal and find equilibrium again.
“Put simply, Laurens gave me my life back. I cannot thank him enough for guiding and showing me the way. I feel like me again and 10 years younger!"
If you think you are suffering with an adrenal or hormonal issue, we can help.