The adrenals are two small, triangular-shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys.
These glands are an important part of the endocrine (hormonal) system.
The adrenals might be small, but their role in the body is not! They are responsible for producing many hormones called catecholamines. Dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine are the primary catecholamines. As you can see in the graphic included in this article, these hormones are released into the bloodstream when you are physically or emotionally stressed. The adrenals do play a role in regulating stress response, blood sugar, blood pressure, sex hormones, inflammation and immune function.
As the adrenals have so many important jobs, adrenal dysfunction can create severe physical and emotional distress. Some common symptoms of adrenal dysfunction include midday fatigue, waking through the night, blood pressure issues, dizziness, back pain, weight gain, depression and anxiety; however, these are only a few of the issues adrenal dysfunction can cause!
There are many lifestyles and environmental stressors of the adrenal glands. For example, emotional stress causes the adrenals to work overtime. Other stressors include alcohol consumption, caffeine and other stimulants, drugs; whether pharmaceutical or recreational and sleep deprivation.
To keep your adrenals functioning optimally it is important to have good emotional stress handling skills, a healthy diet, and appropriate supplementation.
Emotional stress handling is a very personal thing. Find something that relaxes you. For many individuals light exercise, like walking or yoga, spiritual practices or relaxing hobbies are effective.
A diet that supports healthy adrenals is devoid of white sugar, low carbohydrate and rich in healthy fats and proteins, includes lots of veggies, and is primarily whole foods. Timing is everything! Eating spaced meals regularly without snacking is key. If you are hungry between meals, you’re not eating enough fat. Good quality salt, like Celtic sea salt, is also vital to nourishing the adrenals.
If you have adrenal issues, supplementation is dependent upon your particular issue and how severely your adrenals are dysfunctioning. Early stage adrenal problems often respond well to whole food sourced vitamin C and B vitamins. However, if your adrenals have been in trouble for a long time, often herbal adaptogens are needed.
Adrenals often become extra stressed over the holidays! Between all the celebrations, stress, lack of sleep and holiday food, it is especially important to care for your adrenals at this time! If you have adrenal symptoms and are wondering how your adrenals are doing, there are easy tests you can take. Our office offers a urine collection test that is only $49, and you can do from the comfort of your home.
Doing this test will give you a good idea of the current status of your adrenals. This test can be redone after your health interventions to gauge your progress.
Need further help to navigate how to support your adrenals? Consult with an NHCAA practitioner. Or if you have a question, send me an email at [email protected]
Yours in Health, Dr. Amanda Childress