A little bit of stress has scientifically been proven to strengthen the body and mind, but too much can lead to chronic fatigue, consistent colds and flus, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, sugar handling problems, insomnia, ulcers and the list goes on and on. If the body is balanced and has the support it needs, then stress can be handled properly and not translate to major symptoms.
The stress glands of the body are the adrenals, which are two small glands on the top of each kidney. All types of stress to the body, either physical or emotional, cause the pituitary gland to signal the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol and epinephrine (hormones produced by the adrenals). Some of these stressors include physical pain, working too hard, improper sleep, pollutants and toxins, emotional trauma, processed and high sugary foods.
Other hormones produced by the adrenal glands are aldosterone (which is responsible for sodium and potassium balancing in the body), norepinephrine, and dhea( keeps cholesterol levels in balance, is a building block for sex hormones, provides energy, regulates sleep, and increases bone density).Adrenal Insufficiency
If the body is under consistent stress, our adrenal glands produce extra hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. In time, the adrenals will get depleted and decrease their output of these hormones. This is referred to as adrenal fatigue or "burn out." If a person suffers from an adrenal insufficiency, they can have:
- Low back pain
- Knee pain
- Tired feet
- Light sensitivity
- Chronic Fatigue
They will also tend to need a lot of sleep to function, incur sleep disturbances, and have general inflammatory disorders.Adrenal Gland Disorders
People that have a diminished secretion of cortisol may have sugar cravings, feel like they require caffeine to function, headaches, mood swings, allergies, brain fog, ringing in the ears, and feel like they are depleted. You can compare adrenal gland disorders to the gas tank in a car. Once the gas light is on, the driver knows that the car probably has a good 20 miles or so left in gas before the car stops working. It will continue working fine until the gas runs out.
If a person has adrenal fatigue or burn out they do not have the fuel reserve, once the light goes on they conk out. They cannot go an extra 20 miles. At this point in time, a person has no reserve capacity to handle stressful situations without the body overreacting emotionally or physically.
Other causes of adrenal gland disorders include eating white sugar, honey, maple syrup, fruit juices, and drinking sodas often, which causes a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. The pancreas will secrete large amounts of insulin to bring the blood glucose levels down, and as a result the adrenal glands are constantly pumping out cortisol to bring blood glucose levels back to normal.
This exhausts the adrenals and leads to hypoglycemia. Eating foods that you are sensitive to will have the same effect on the adrenals. Infections such as from parasites, fungus, bacteria, and viruses will affect the adrenals. Taking cortisone shots or using cortisone creams over prolonged periods of time will also suppress the adrenal glands.
When you lie down and rise to a standing position quickly norepinephrine and cortisol are secreted from the adrenal glands. This causes blood vessel constriction and a normal rise in blood pressure of 1-5mm Hg. People that have adrenal problems will experience a blood pressure drop, and sometimes they feel dizzy.
You can have someone test your blood pressure by lying down for 5 minutes and take your blood pressure (leave cuff on deflated so you can take blood pressure again quickly) and then take it again as soon as you rise quickly from the lying down position. This will reveal adrenal problems and is also a good way to monitor your improvement if you are taking adrenal supplements.