The adrenals are hormone glands that sit above the kidneys. Among its many functions, one is to secrete epinephrine (better known to some as adrenalin) which provides us with energy. They also secrete cortisone when there is inflammation present in the body. When women get close to menopause, the adrenals replace the function of the ovaries in the production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
What can interfere with healthy adrenal function? Stress first and foremost. Of any kind. When we’re stressed the adrenals secrete adrenalin as if we were preparing to fight tigers in the jungle. The physiological changes brought on by the adrenal glands during stress is called the fight or flight response. Your adrenals don’t know the difference between the stress of facing a tiger and the stress of facing an irate boss, a bouncing checkbook or rush-hour traffic. They just jump into gear and adrenalin flows. Many people in modern society do not have the luxury of a recovery period for their overworked adrenal glands. Stress is constant. The changes caused by the overproduction of adrenal hormones stay with them. The stimulation of the adrenal glands causes a decrease in the immune system function, so an individual under constant stress will tend to catch colds and have other immune system problems, including allergies.
Adrenal hypofunction is when the adrenals are not adequately responding to stress. People who have adrenal hypofunction may suffer from allergies, asthma, back pain, knee pain, muscle tightness (sometimes so severe as to be called “fibromyalgia”), fatigue and depression. People with weak adrenal glands frequently crave coffee and sugar because sugar and caffeine stimulate the adrenal glands.
To effectively treat the adrenal glands, you must eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Emotional stress is the kind of stress most people think of when stress is mentioned, but there are many different kinds of stress. Thermal stress results from being exposed to extremes of temperature; physical stress from heavy physical work, poor posture, structural misalignments, lack of sleep and being overweight; and chemical stress from ingestion of food additives, exposure to pollutants and consumption of sugar and alcohol. Changes in blood sugar are also a form of chemical stress. Eating frequent, small meals is often very helpful, since people suffering from hypoadrenia are often hypoglycemic (having low blood sugar). Situations are not always controllable, but stress is. Stress is cumulative. Emotional, structural and chemical stresses all affect the body the same way. Your adrenal glands do not know the difference between an IRS audit, treading water, extremes in temperature or excessive sugar consumption.
Possible signs and symptoms:
- Joint pain (especially in the low back and knee)
- Food cravings (especially salt, sugar and caffeine).
- A tendency toward sports injuries
- Digestive disturbances
Patient Brochure from Standard Process