Adrenal Fatigue & Stress

How Does Adrenal Fatigue Happen?

adrenal fatigue & stress: the adrenals affect

The adrenals are two small glands, each about the size of an almond, that are located above the kidneys. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, DHEA-S, aldosterone, and adrenaline. These hormones help you buffer stress and adapt to everyday life demands.

Under stress, healthy adrenals increase their output of cortisol and DHEA to help you stay healthy. When necessary, adrenaline is boosted to give you the energy you need  (i.e. a mother lifting a car off of a baby).

As adrenaline surges during stress, digestive enzymes are lowered and blood sugar levels rise.  But when stress becomes a chronic occurrence, the results of long-term high cortisol and adrenaline levels wreak havoc on the body.

If this stress becomes chronic, the adrenals can no longer keep up with the demand, and DHEA levels begin to fall, signifying adrenal fatigue. All systems that are required for rest, repair, and digestion shut down.

How Stress Hurts Your Health

Energy Production

Abnormal adrenal function can alter the ability of cells to produce energy for the activities of daily life. People who have a hard time rising in the morning, or who suffer from low energy throughout the day, often have abnormal adrenal rhythms, adrenal fatigue, and poor blood sugar regulation. The maintenance of a stable blood sugar level depends on food choice, lifestyle, adrenal function, and insulin activity.

Muscle and Joint Function

Abnormal adrenal rhythms are known to compromise tissue healing. Reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown can lead to muscle and joint wasting with chronic pain.

Bone Health

The adrenal rhythm determines how well we build bone. If the night and morning cortisol levels are elevated, our bones do not rebuild well, and we are more prone to osteoporosis. Stress is the enemy of the bones. In postmenopausal women, the effect of stress worsens due to female hormone imbalances.

Immune Health

Various immune cells (white blood cells) cycle in and out of the spleen and bone marrow. The immune system trafficking follows the cortisol cycle. If the cycle is disrupted, especially at night, then the immune system is adversely affected. Short- and long-term stress is known to suppress the immune response in the lungs, throat, urinary tract and intestines. With reduction in the surface antibody (called secretory IgA), the resistance to infection is reduced and allergic reactions increase.

Sleep Qualityadrenal fatigue & stress - loss of sleep

In sleep deprived individuals, the mean cortisol levels are elevated, and the quiescent period is shorter. Evening cortisol level is increased in patients with insomnia, affecting the first part of the nocturnal sleep period, increasing risk for depression. Chronic lack of REM sleep can reduce a person’s mental vitality, vigor and induce depression.

Fertility

Couples with a high level of stress markers are less likely to succeed in conceiving. Stress alters the brain signals that trigger the ovaries to release eggs each month, so women under non-stop stress ovulate fewer eggs than less stressed women. Stress can also affect testosterone level and sperm production in men. Helping couples to de-stress while trying to conceive can impact their success rate.

Skin Regeneration

Human skin regenerates mostly at night. With higher night cortisol values, less skin regeneration takes place. Thus normal cortisol rhythm is essential for optimal skin health.

Thyroid Function

The level of cortisol at the cellular level controls thyroid hormone production. Often, hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue and low body temperature are due to stress or adrenal fatigue.  Chronic stress will convert thyroid hormone to its inactive form (reverse T3) and shut down the production of TSH.

Gluten Sensitivity and Stress Response

Approximately 12-18% of the U.S. population suffers from a genetic intolerance to grains, such as wheat, rye or barley contained in cereals, breads and pasta. A high incidence occurs in people with Celtic, Nordic, non-Caucasian and Mediterranean ethnicity. The gut becomes inflamed within 30 minutes after consuming grains, and this can lead to an adrenal stress response, increased cortisol and reduced DHEA.

adrenal fatigue & stress - impact on the brainMemory

Sustained stress adversely affects brain function and memory processing. Too much cortisol interferes with the functioning chemicals the brain uses for its cellular intercommunication as well as decreases the function of the hippo campus, which is the part of your brain that forms memories. Chronic long term stress, with increased cortisol level at night, makes it perplexing to think, organize, and store new memories or retrieve long-term ones.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

A common adrenal fatigue issue in CFS is impaired corticotrophin release.  As a result, low cortisol and eventual adrenal atrophy may be observed.  Simultaneous use of several therapies can help improve the debilitating effects of CFS.

Glycemic Dysregulation

Chronic low blood sugars can impair normal adrenal function by repetitive over-stimulation of cortisol production. Recurring exposure to high cortisol will impair insulin activity, and invariably lead to insulin resistance and beta-cell exhaustion (diabetes).

Allergies/Autoimmune Disorders

More than fifty years ago, Dr. W. Jefferies (author of Safe Uses of Cortisol) discovered that patients with environmentally triggered allergies and autoimmune diseases dramatically benefited when given cortisol for other purposes. More recently, German researchers reported that disruption of the adrenal axis and cytokine relationships lead to predisposition and aggravation of autoimmune diseases.

Depression/ADD

Several recent publications report a hyperactive HPA axis in depressed patients. Elevated midnight salivary cortisol is now considered one of the best tests in diagnosing endogenous depression. Other anomalies in cortisol rhythm usually accompany the midnight elevation. On the other hand, cortisol elevations and rhythm disruptions throughout the day are typical of attention deficit disorders (ADD).

Discover the Root Cause of Your Symptoms

This online analysis is your first step to discovering what systems of your body may be keeping you from obtaining the health you deserve.

TAKE THE ADRENAL FATIGUE HORMONE ASSESSMENT