There are ways you can support this important part of your endocrine system, to heal, and feel whole again.
The adrenals are small, but are responsible for so much. They are two little glands that sit just on top of the kidneys. They keep cortisol and adrenaline in check (two major stress hormones but essential components to our metabolism) as well as regulate inflammation in the body. They also produce aldosterone, which helps to control blood pressure.
Hormones secreted by the adrenal medulla are:
- Epinephrine: This hormone is also known more commonly as adrenaline. Adrenaline (made by the adrenals) rapidly responds to stress by increasing your heart rate and rushing blood to the muscles and brain. It also spikes your blood sugar level by helping convert glycogen to glucose in the liver. (Glycogen is the liver’s storage form of glucose.)
- Norepinephrine: Also known as noradrenaline, this hormone works with epinephrine in responding to stress. However, it can cause vasoconstriction (the narrowing of blood vessels). This results in high blood pressure.
When the adrenals do not make the right amount of hormones and release too much cortisol and adrenalin into the body, the following things start to happen:
- First Stage ‘Fried’ Adrenals – You are wired and tired. Though the adrenals fire more in the morning as part of a healthy system, when the adrenals are fatigued, they will instead fire at night, leading to insomnia, even when you already feel very tired.
- Second Stage Adrenal Exhaustion – Your body is full of cortisol more often, and though you may get a little boost of energy at night, you feel sluggish and foggy-brained during the day and have a hard time going back to sleep if you wake up at night. Dr. Kalish explains:
“If you stay in this high-cortisol state for long enough – at stage one – you eventually go to stage two. Stage two means that the cortisol levels are now starting to fail. This is when people start to gain weight. This is when people start to not be able to sleep. This is when your sex drive starts to go away. This is when people just know that there’s some health problem.”
- Full Adrenal Burnout
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