Stress due to prolonged problems and life challenges can wreak havoc on your well-being. The most common “outside” challenges which people face are the threat of losing a job, financial issues, personality conflicts, relationship problems and death or illness of a loved one. The common stressors we inflict upon ourselves are skipping meals, yo-yo dieting, drinking too much coffee and/or energy drinks, eating too many carbs, not sleeping at least 7 hours per night, over-exercising, and not resolving emotional issues from the past or present.
Stress affects both the mind and body (for article on how to calm the mind read – You Have The Power To Keep You Inner Peace). Physically the glands most affected by stress are the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are two small glands, one on top of each kidney. Each has an outer part called the cortex and the inner portion which is the medulla. The cortex secretes three different classes of hormones: mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, and androgenic hormones. The medulla secretes epinephrine and norepinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline).
ESSENTIAL HORMONES WHICH THE ADRENALS SECRETE
The most important mineralocorticoid hormone is aldosterone. It’s main function is to keep both sodium and potassium in check. This in turn keeps blood pressure in check and fluid (water) in balance (so as not to retain water; edema, which increases blood pressure). The kidneys need to have sodium and potassium at proper levels so they can also function properly and keep all fluids and waste acids in check. Too much aldosterone hormone or too little aldosterone affects our organs, especially the heart, blood pressure, muscles (feel weak) and joints (painful and achy).
The more well known glucocorticoid produced by the cortex is cortisol (hydrocortisone) or “the stress hormone”. Normally, it’s present in the body at higher levels in the morning, and at its lowest at night, which allows the body to “come down” and “unwind” so that we can get to sleep. Although stress isn’t the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it is termed “the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress (when the hormone epinephrine is secreted; a.k.a. adrenaline), and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body.
While cortisol is an important and a helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body return to a neutral mode after a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress. Which can lead to build up of body fat around the mid-section, muscle wasting, inflammation, blood sugar imbalances and depress your immune system which leads to more bouts of colds, flu and respiratory issues.
The adrenaline hormone, epinephrine, secreted by the adrenal’s medulla, historically came into play when our life was threatened. The threat would cause a rush of this hormone to enter our blood stream so that we could muster as much ability to “win” a fight or successfully run away. Epinephrine increases heart rate, blood sugar, and it increases an individual’s metabolic rate in order to produce the most amount of energy for the individual to utilize. If the brain is under constant stress, more adrenaline is secreted in order to satisfy the body’s needs. This is where the problem begins.
Living in a constant state of energy is not a healthy lifestyle because the brain is already over stimulated (sub-consciously as well). An exhausted brain will not be much help when you are trying to perform trivial every day tasks much less important or complicated tasks.
HORMONES GONE WILD!
When the adrenal glands begin to act “dysfunctional” due to prolonged stress, they first go into a hyper (overactive, stressed) state. As they are pushed further and not given the opportunity to recover they go into an “extreme” stressed/overactive state and eventually reach the hypo (under active, exhausted) mode. At every stage of “dysfunction” certain symptoms begin to develop because the hormones secreted by the adrenal glands are not at their proper levels (too much or too little). The following charts list many of the symptoms which arise due to adrenal dysfunction.
- Overactive – Hyper Adrenals (can lead to Cushing’s Disease)
- Underactive – Hypo Adrenals (can lead to Addison’s Disease)
HOW TO REVERSE THE SYMPTOMS
The adrenal glands in most cases can be brought back to normal function with appropriate herbs and vitamins. When the glands are hyper they need substances which will calm down the hyperactivity. Such herbs and vitamins tend to be passion flower, hops, chamomile, fennel seeds and vitamin C (in ascorbate form). The vitamins and minerals which need to be replaced because of the hyperactivity are the B-complex vitamins (especially pantothenic acid, B-5), potassium and magnesium.
With a hypo condition the glands are in need of nourishment and support. Herbs which nourish are astragalus, licorice root (avoid if have hypertension) and Korean ginseng.
The herbal formula I use with great success for a hyper condition is Stress-J. It provides an excellent mix of calming herbs. The herbal supplement I recommend highly for a hypo condition is Nervous Fatigue TCM Concentrated Formula an excellent Chinese formula. It takes about 3 months for a hyper condition to resolve itself while a hypo condition may take 4 months to fully resolve.
If you are not quite sure which formula would be best, first try taking passion flower to discover if the glands are overactive (3 caps at dinner). If in 4-6 days your symptoms do not worsen then you probably will do well with the Stress-J formula. However, if you feel worse, then the Nervous Fatigue TCM may be the appropriate formula.
With overactive adrenal glands I suggest a regimen of Stress-J (2 lunch, 3 dinner) with first bottle and there after dropping by 1 capsule on the subsequent bottle and for the 3rd and 4th bottle I recommend taking 3 capsules with dinner. In addition taking 1 Pantothenic Acid (B5) in the morning (Nature’s Sunshine carries) until all gone and increasing potassium in the form of coconut water and/or carrot juice or emergen-c packets (2-3 per day) would support you in feeling much better sooner.
With underactive adrenals I suggest taking 1 to 2 (1 with a meal) of the Nervous Fatigue TCM formula (they have non-concentrated version but need to take 8-9 per day) with dinner. In addition taking 1 licorice root with breakfast, lunch and dinner would support the nourishing of the adrenal glands (do not take licorice root if you have high blood pressure).
** If you would like to order some of the Nature’s Sunshine products (NSP) like Stress-J or Nervous Fatigue Concentrated Formula, call them at 1-800-453-1422 and you can use my account number #576437. You will purchase product at my price. You can only call in the order. Online ordering is for members only. Tell them you want a drop ship order. For more information about NSP go to my Health Analysis page from the Services tab and read the last section.
Take note that the Stress-J is 100 capsules so taking 5 per day will only last 20 days. Consider ordering at least 2 or 3.
For a more comprehensive health analysis in which I will use your body’s wisdom to customize a nutritional program you need, consider a private consultation. Click on the Contact tab above.