Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys. These glands produce many hormones and biochemicals that are essential to energy production, blood pressure regulation and responses to stress. How do you know if you might have a problem with your adrenal glands? You might answer yes to two or more of the following questions:
Do you frequently feel like you do not have enough energy?
Do you feel like you need to drink coffee or caffeinated beverages just to get through your day?
Do you find it hard to work long hours or to push yourself because you get exhausted easily?
Do you feel lightheaded if you stand up quickly?
Do you get infections easily?
Do you have trouble falling asleep?
Do you have trouble exercising because you feel exhausted?
Do you have trouble gaining muscle?
Do you have trouble losing weight?
Adrenals and circadian rhythms
Your adrenal glands use various precursor molecules, vitamins and nutrients to secrete hormones in response to stressors as well as to biological clocks. Your levels of cortisol, a major anti-inflammatory and regulatory hormone, are usually higher in the morning and gradually decline until just before you go to sleep, when they should be at their lowest. If cortisol levels are high at night, it can be difficult to fall asleep; if they are too low in the morning, it can be difficult to get out of bed.
What can go wrong?
Your adrenal glands can develop dysfunctions similar to your thyroid gland, but with definite patterns. Initially, when a person is under a lot of stress, your adrenals release catecholamines (epinephrine, etc.) and cortisol increases. If everything in a person’s body is working well, these levels will return to normal soon after the stress is gone or reduced. If a person is exposed to a moderate to significant amount of stress over three or more months, cortisol levels can remain elevated and abnormal patterns of cortisol levels can develop.
A salivary hormone test, called an ASI test (adrenal stress index), can measure cortisol and DHEA levels to detect a problem. If the test shows a problem with your adrenal glands, your healthcare provider can suggest ways to reduce and manage your stress. This would include adequate rest, relaxation techniques, stress and time management and exercise.
It might also include working on attitudes and emotions. Your healthcare provider may also give recommend supplements to improve your adrenal function. The Truestar Online Store will have a number of supplements to support your adrenals.
If your adrenals are not functioning well it will be more challenging to lose weight. One of the reasons for this is that excessive cortisol can lead to muscle break down and to fat storage. It can also lead to fatigue and difficulty having enough energy to exercise adequately to lose weight.
Supporting your adrenals
A number of vitamins can support your adrenals. Most important among these are vitamin C, biotin and pantothenic acid (B vitamins). You can get some of these in a good multivitamin. Nutritional and herbal adrenal support varies depends on the phase of adrenal dysfunction. Consult a naturopath or holistic MD who will monitor your response to adrenal support herbal supplements such as eleutherococcus, ashwagandha and rehmannia. If your levels are high at night, you may benefit from phosphorylated serine.
In addition to the above-mentioned vitamins, a number of things may help if you are exhausted and your adrenal levels are low throughout the day. These include licorice extract (do not take this if you have a blood pressure problem), eleutherococcus and Korean ginseng (this can give you a real boost, but may be difficult to use for more than four weeks). General support with an adequate dietary intake of protein and calories is also important. If these measures do not show success, it may be necessary to seek professional help.
While it can take months on a support program to heal from adrenal dysfunction, you should notice improvements in your energy and health every week. Supporting your adrenals should be an ongoing health goal—it is important for adequate energy, for weight loss and for longevity.