Adrenal Dysfunction

Definition:

Adrenal glands produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress, and other essential functions. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. It also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress. However, when cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can hurt you more than it helps.

  • Adrenal dysfunction is a common condition caused by the stress of modern life which causes erratic cortisol production.
  • Elevated cortisol levels can increase the fight-flight response and worsen the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Estimates are that adrenal dysfunction affects 16% to 67% of the population at varying levels of severity.
  • Symptoms of an underactive adrenal gland include weakness, hypotension, dizziness, sugar cravings with irritability when hungry, and recurrent infections, all of which are common in chronic fatigue symptoms (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM).
  • Other hormonal imbalances such as DHEA need to be identified and treated.

 Treatment:

Lifestyle/Diet:

  • Take frequent breaks at least one mid-morning and once midafternoon and practice a quick relaxation technique such as belly/diaphragmatic breathing
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Do what brings joy to your life
  • Exercise daily
  • Eating whole foods, chew well, and avoid junk foods
  • Add sea salt to your diet, if you can tolerate it and do not have any cardiovascular disease
  • Many patients with hypoadrenalism have reactive hypoglycemia and may benefit from eating small, frequent meals and avoiding refined sugar, other refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and alcohol.¬†

Vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, C vitamins, and magnesium as well as certain herbs such as Rhodiola may be of benefit in treating adrenal dysfunction. Prescription medications may also be helpful in treating adrenal issues.

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