The adrenal glands are situated on top of the kidneys and secrete a variety of hormones. One of these hormones is Cortisol, which has an incredible strong impact on metabolism and disease. Abnormal Cortisol levels can lead to a condition of severe exhaustion known as Adrenal Fatigue (previously known as neurasthenia or hypoadrenia). Cortisol can also cause high blood pressure, weight gain, sleep disorders, high sugar and low sex drive. When Cortisol rises, it makes you retain salt and water, and it brings his “3 sister's” hormones with it: epinephrine, nor-epinephrine (which stimulate blood pressure and heart) and insulin (which causes weight gain and Diabetes).
Adrenal response—The adrenal glands are the center of stress response, and they have been essential for our survival over the last several thousands years. During wars, famine, long winters, hunting, escaping, prisoner camps, etc., the adrenal response to stress has been our ally in the struggle for survival. Nevertheless, as society is today, full of stress everywhere, this response is working against us.
We face different kind of stressors nowadays: spouse, children, job, driving, excess of caffeine, wrong diet, exams, school demands, bad professors, junk food, addictions, responsibilities, etc. These stress events stimulate the brain to release its chemical messengers which then go to the adrenal glands to stimulate the secretion of Cortisol and its “sisters”. This starts when we are in high school, and keeps going when we are in College, when we get our car, when we start working, when we start a family, we start facing bills and responsibilities and so on. It doesn’t stop. Some get it worse than others, coming from difficult homes, bad neighborhood, difficult relationships, being abused, facing hardship, etc. Some get it because of toxin excess in their body. Some provoke this upon themselves with a high carb diet, abusing drugs, with dietary mistakes, but the response is always the same.
However, when we are young and strong, we can cope with it. We fight, we climb, we push ourselves, and we go forward. On those days Cortisol is abundant and his “3 sisters” epi, nor-epi and insulin, are flowing everywhere like a river full of fish. But time passes on, and the abuse to this system creates lack of regulation, abnormal responses, a phase of excessive or insufficient response and finally the system goes wasted ( with very low response = because of fatigue of the system, known as Adrenal Fatigue). According to the type, length and intensity of the stressors, this final face may take 5 months, 5 years or 25 years.
Anyone can be affected, and of course doctors, nurses, policemen and paramedics come in first place. Some professions are harder on the adrenals than others. But then come the students, the bank workers, the mothers, the teachers, the business owners, the pain-sufferers, the drivers and many other professions.
Metabolic effect — Initially, Cortisol, Epinephrine, Nor-Epinephrine and Insulin ( ‘the four sisters of doom’) (doesn’t this name already give you a hint ? ) are abundant and proportional and work well coordinated, but when the system loses its fine regulation bad things start to occur:
WE TEACH ALL OF THIS IN OUR OFFICE.
As the process advances, the Insulin abuse leads to Insulin wasting, which combined with the other factors causes Diabetes. The same process causes low thyroid function, abnormal DHEA, low hormones, poor sleep, low muscle energy, decreased brain chemicals, bowel malfunction (which can be a cause or a consequence of the process) which causes lack of vitamins and nutrients and the result is even worse fatigue. All these vary from person to person, and some individuals can have fatigue and no obesity, some may just have obesity, some may have both. But write this in the wall of your bedroom: malfunctioning adrenals will waste your hormones AND your thyroid (which , by the way, may both be slowly going down because of your aging and that bad food you’ve been eating).
But wait, it gets even more confusing. In some persons low thyroid (for whatever reason) and/or low hormones (Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, etc) caused by aging, toxins, bad food, etc., are the ones who are stressing the adrenals, and then all together cause the metabolic disasters that lead to obesity and/or fatigue. See ? One affects the others. And sometimes you just can’t tell who started the fight. But one thing is for sure: regardless of who started it, the 4 sisters, the thyroid and the hormones are involved, since they are part of the “hormone triangle”. Whichever started the fight will lower the other two…and then they will all go down. Slowly. This is a slow process that usually takes years.
IMPORTANT — WHEN ADRENALS ARE NOT IN BALANCE, THEY WILL CONTINUE TO SUPRESS YOUR THYROID AND TO DRAIN YOUR HORMONES EVEN IF YOU TAKE THYROID MEDICATIONS AND YOU USE BIO-IDENTICAL HORMONES.
Overweight, obesity, fatigue, chronic fatigue, difficulty getting up in the morning, poor sleep, lethargy, low sex drive, low ability to handle stress, poor immunity, frequent respiratory infections, increased time to recover from illness or injury, lightheadedness, depression, PMS, less enjoyment, mental fog, poor memory, frequent bronchitis or asthma, frequent cough, inability to lose weight.
ADDITIONAL SYMPTOMS AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS -- coldness, feeling wasted, no erections, hormonal disorders, breast problems. If brain-chemicals are very affected: pain, muscle pain, anxiety, fibromyalgia, intellectual disorders. You can also experience muscle weakness, cravings sweets, craving salt, poor alcohol tolerance, exhaustion, addiction, apathy, allergies, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, Diabetes, poor sleep, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, increased belly-fat, decreased serotonin (causing depression, craving and lack of satiety), stiffness, nervous stomach, indigestion, frequent headaches, easy fatigability, nervous breakdowns, chronic fatigue and accelerated aging.
I repeat: even if you feel better by taking thyroid pill and using hormones, if you don’t fix your adrenals these symptoms will come back to hunt you.
DIAGNOSIS—If you have the symptoms then you need the test, and then you have the diagnosis.
WE DO ALL THESE TEST IN OUR OFFICE.
Ask yourself about any of the above ‘symptoms’ and ‘additional symptoms’. Do you ever get them? do you get them rarely, occasionally, frequently, very frequently or all the time ? Do not circle them if you only get them rarely or occasionally. Make a circle or underline those you get frequently. Make a darker, bolder, circle or line on those you get very frequently or all the time. Then show it to me. However, if you get too many circles you know you need the test.
TESTS….finally. Thyroid and hormone tests are not a problem: we do blood test in the office.
Unless these test are done, and done well, you will never find out what is going on in your metabolism. And you may never know what is causing the above symptoms and hurting you. ‘Adrenal Fatigue’, ‘Adrenal Imbalance’, ‘Adrenal Dysfunction’, they all mean the main thing: the adrenals are sick, an extremely frequent condition.