The Importance of Adrenal Health

The Importance of Adrenal Health The Importance of Adrenal Health

Does the following sound all too familiar to you?

You find yourself complaining that you are always tired.

Your schedule is packed with meetings and to-do’s from the moment you wake up in the morning to the moment that you finally place your head on the pillow at night.

You are many things to many people: you are a mother, a professional, a wife, a coach, a cook, a chauffeur, a friend, a care taker, and more.

You have gained weight and can’t lose it and find yourself feeling anxious, foggy-headed, and stressed more often then not.

You are exhausted, but you cannot sleep and find yourself unrested in the morning.

If this sounds like you, you may be suffering from adrenal dysfunction.

Feeling tired and wired is common in individuals who experience unregulated cortisol, a hormone produced by two small glands above our kidneys: the adrenal glands.  The adrenal glands are on duty all day long. In a healthy individual, cortisol is high in the morning, providing adequate amounts of energy for daily functions, and then it slowly declines over the course of the day, allowing for relaxation and a restful sleep. However, when the body and mind are under persistent stress – be it positive or negative – the demand for cortisol is constant and eventually the adrenal glands become unable to secrete adequate amounts of cortisol, setting the stage for dysfunction.

Chronically stressed individuals may have low cortisol in the morning and higher levels at night.  They often feel that they need a coffee to “get going” and may need to stimulate themselves with caffeine and sugar to get through the afternoon. Many feel that they get a “second wind” in the evening and have a hard time winding down.  This is due to increased secretion of other neurotransmitters, epinephrine and norepinephrine: our fight or flight hormones, resulting in an imbalance in our excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters.

In order to help our adrenals recover it is important to manage stress and to maintain a proper sleep-wake schedule. This means going to bed and waking at the same time every day; regardless of the day of the week and lowering our cortisol through activities such as meditation, qi gong, tai qi, yoga or deep breathing.  Additionally, a healthy whole foods diet, gentle exercise, connecting with nature and nutritional supplements can also significantly impact the ability of our adrenal glands to combat stress.

Adaptogens for adrenal support

Adaptogens, are herbs that are often referred to as tonics. They support the hormonal and immune functions of the body, promote mental clarity and alertness, support a healthy immune response and maintain energy, vitality, and physical stamina. Additionally, they help to promote emotional well-being, improve energy, and help the body adapt to mental, physical and metabolic stress. Some examples of Adaptogens include:

Ashwaganda root

An adaptogen that relieves stress, promotes mental clarity, supports immune function and promotes physical stamina.

Eleutherococcus root

Maintains energy and vitality while supporting mental alertness and cognition.

Astragalus root

An immune tonic that contains cardioactive flavonoids.

Codonopsis root

Used to increase alertness and improve stress resistance.

Fo-Ti root

Traditionally used as a liver and kidney tonic, and may also support health and structure in muscles, tendons and bones.

Devil’s Club bark

Helps promote muscle relaxation and balance blood sugar.

Adaptogens come in tincture, powder and pill forms. Adrenal support formulas are also very effective as they contain herbs, vitamins and minerals. Our Wholistic Dispensary staff can help you choose the best product for your needs.

Suzanna Ivanovics BSc, ND. Naturopathic Doctor

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