Raise your hand if you don’t have any stress in your life. Stress becomes a problem when we don’t handle it correct.
What is stress?
There are outside stressors like financial worries, driving to and from work, and inside stressors like candida overgrowth or parasites. What happens when we are under stress? Fear and anger builds up, we have trouble sleeping and need our coffee in the morning to get going. Over time we notice that we have trouble fighting off a simple cold and it takes weeks to get well. Sweets are out best friend. We experience diarrhea and / or constipation, have food sensitivities all of a sudden.
Adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol is being released by the adrenals; this increases the heart rate and more blood is being pumped through the body, digestion slows down, blood sugar is being elevated for energy, respiration rate increased. This is called a Fight or Flight reaction.
If the stressor is not removed the adrenals will pump out cortisol in elevated levels all the time which weakens the adrenals in the long run. We just notice that we don’t have the energy anymore or suddenly in the afternoon we run out of energy, need a nap or just can’t keep up anymore with the demands in our lives. Most people who experience this kind of energy loss reach for some kind of stimulants like coffee, soda, pills, alcohol, chocolate, nicotine, etc. We all know that those measures are only masking the problem and in the meantime it grows worse without us noticing it.
Cortisol is important to increase blood sugar levels. During stressful times cortisol helps to raise the blood sugar level in our body, to provide energy for the cells. Rising blood sugar levels increases insulin levels and the up and down of blood sugar levels causes insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Cortisol is an Anti-inflammatory agent. For example, in the case of a trauma, cortisol is being releases to reduce the swelling like in arthritis. Elevated cortisol suppresses the immune system, especially in the gut lining. This causes the person to be susceptible to illness like viruses and bacterial infections. Since cortisol has so many functions in our body, it is important to support the adrenals.
First we need to test the adrenals with a saliva test.
This will help determine the stages of adrenal fatigue and steroid hormone imbalance. A prescription drug to relax will not solve the problem but only mask it. The medical community is not testing for adrenal fatigue, in fact, they don’t even recognize it. Why not? they test the cortisol in a 24 hours urine test, which gives them the total cortisol output for that day, nothing else.
Cortisol is being released in high levels in the morning and in low levels at night as shown in the image. Your adrenals may be really tired in the afternoon around 3 pm because reduced cortisol output is occurring, which is not being seen by a urine test.
Also, your cortisol could be high in the morning, which would bring your total cortisol sum for the day up into the normal range. If your doctor would test your cortisol level in the morning via a blood test, then he would see that it is a little high. Would he look for underlying causes? Probably not. And he will not look for cortisol levels throughout the day.
We need to identify and remove the underlying causes of stress, be it outside/ or inside stressors.
Sleep! Is so important, getting good quality sleep as well as 8 hours of sleep will help to repair your adrenals.
Healthy food, no junk food, no sugar will allow for adrenal repair.
Exercise is important, but how much is enough or healthy for you? It depends on the severity of the adrenal dysfunction.
Sometimes it is necessary to add some hormones to reduce pregnenolone steal.
What is pregnenolone steal? Pregnenolone is the mother hormone, produced in the adrenal gland and converted into DHEA, Estrogen, Progesterone and Cortisol. During times of increased stress, pregnenolone is stolen from the DHEA pathway to produce enough cortisol. Some people try stress reduction but still don’t feel better, simply because of the burned in pregnenolone steal and consequently low DHEA and estrogen levels.
Supplements? Which ones? It all depends on the person, on the stage of adrenal fatigue.