5 things worth knowing about your adrenal glands and stress.
Adrenal burnout, otherwise known as adrenal fatigue, is an increasingly common condition experienced by people who live with high stress. Fortunately, adrenal conditions are now widely recognised and are one of the most common reasons people seek our help here at The Maas Clinic.
If you are curious about the ins and outs of how your adrenal glands work, and how they are linked to your stress levels and hormonal health, you can read our in depth guide here. If you’d like a snappy overview on the topic, read on.
Here are five things worth knowing about your adrenal glands and stress:
Your adrenal glands produce cortisol naturally every day, and it’s a good thing!
Cortisol has a bad reputation as ‘the stress hormone’, but it’s actually a fundamental part of living a healthy and joyful life.
Your adrenal glands secrete cortisol every day, which impacts when you feel energised and when you feel relaxed and ready for bedtime.
Cortisol, when secreted correctly, works in line with your circadian rhythm.
Your circadian rhythm, refers to the energy pattern you experience on a daily basis. Namely: more energy in the morning, and less energy as your day goes on.
You should experience your lowest cortisol levels right around bedtime.
Your adrenal glands also produce cortisol when you are stressed.
Though cortisol is secreted naturally every day, it is also secreted when you are stressed.
Cortisol causes your blood pressure to rise and an extra surge of sugar to hit your muscles. This happens so that you are ready to tackle any urgent situation in day to day life.
Unfortunately your body cannot tell the difference between a need for urgent action requiring an extra burst of cortisol, and a genuinely stressful situation.
Either way, when you are stressed, your adrenal glands will secrete extra cortisol.
Misuse of your adrenal glands can lead to them burning out.
Use anything too often in the wrong manner, and it will burn out. Your adrenal glands are just the same!
When your adrenal glands consistently secrete extra cortisol because you are stressed, eventually they will burn out.
Hence the terms adrenal burnout and adrenal fatigue.
Your adrenal glands also produce other hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA.
Your adrenal glands don’t just produce cortisol, they also produce other life-giving hormones.
The first hormone your adrenal glands produce, via a conversion of cholesterol, is called pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is fundamental in the production of cortisol, as well as oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone).
When you are stressed and your adrenal glands produce an excess of cortisol on a regular basis, your body will sacrifice the production of another hormone in favour of producing more cortisol.
For men, this means sacrificing testosterone production. For women, this means sacrificing progesterone.
Adrenal burnout not only affects your ability to produce cortisol, and therefore your body’s ability to regulate your circadian rhythm, it also has a huge impact on your hormonal health.
You can read more about the effects of adrenal malfunction on your hormones here.
Functional and integrative medicine can be used to treat adrenal issues.
Here at The Maas Clinic, Dr Laurens Maas has treated countless clients suffering with adrenal issues—it’s a common problem!
Functional and integrative medicine can help. If you are new to the functional and integrative medicine, you can read our in depth introduction here (link to Article 1a).
Simply put however, functional and integrative medicine is a natural, scientific approach to each client’s unique biochemistry.
Via stringent testing Laurens can get to the root cause of a client’s adrenal issue.
Laurens will then develop a treatment plan tailored to each individual client’s needs which normally includes supplements, bioidentical hormones, and an an integrative approach to nutrition, lifestyle, behaviour and exercise.
On average it takes a client suffering with adrenal burnout six to nine months to recover, and achieve equilibrium once more.