The Adrenal Glands - What do they do?
The glands are pyramidal in shape and sit upon the kidneys. They measure approximately 5cm x 3cm x 1 cm or 2 inches x 1 inch x 1/2 inch in the average adult and weight approx. 4-6 grams or 2 ounces.
The adrenal medulla—the inner part of the gland—produces nonessential (that is, you don’t need them to live) hormones, such as adrenaline (which helps your body react to stress).
Adrenal Cortex - (Outer part of gland)
Makes about 50 Hormones
Helps alleviate inflammation
Helps alleviate inflammation
Sex Hormones for Gonads
Cortisone type compounds
Sodium & Potassium ‘water’ Balance
Adrenal Medulla – (Inner part of gland)
Helps Stress levels
Get Up And Go
Helps alleviate inflammation & allergy responses
Helps Heart problems
Muscle Tone including Peristalsis
The adrenals are our bodies ‘stress supporting glands’. They are the fight and flight mechanism. Stress is one of the effects of the adrenal glands being out of balance.
HOW TO RECOGNISE STRESS
SHORT TERM PHYSICAL STRESS - Physical Symptoms:
Increased heart beat
Raised blood pressure
Rapid shallow breathing
Frequency of urination
If adrenaline continues to pump around the body with no outlet, this can lead to:
Easy to distract
LONG TERM STRESS SIGNALS - Physical Symptoms:
Aches and pains
Frequent colds and infections
When the body is subjected to long-term stress, the mind is unable to think clearly and rationally about everyday situations. This can lead to feelings of:
Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
Little or no appetite
May comfort eat
Take excessive medication
Drink and smoke to excess
Reduced sex drive
BEHAVIOURAL STRESS SIGNALS:
If a person is under constant stressful pressure, they may:
Talk too much
Display signs such as twitching and fiddling
Be over critical
May overreact to situations
Make many mistakes
Become very negative about everything
May even neglect their own personal hygiene and appearance
Avoiding friends and family
Work longer but achieve less
Be reluctant to do their job properly
CHANGES OF FEELINGS:
Loss of sense of humour
Feelings of failure
Lack of self-esteem
Cynical and bitter attitude
Unreasonable jealousy of others
Conflict at home and at work
CHANGES OF THINKING:
Resistance to change
Wanting to leave job or end relationship
Feeling tired all the time
Poor sleep patterns
Prolonged minor illnesses resulting in frequent absences from work
Suffer from backache and general aches and pains
Headaches and migraine
Fear of rejection
People suffering from stress may see themselves in a different way.
They may jump to conclusions, if other people see them in a certain way, or anticipate that situations will turn out badly.
If they fail in one aspect of their life, they assume they are a total failure.
They may dwell on negative events to the exclusion of everything else, eventually rejecting all positive aspects of life.
THE EFFECTS OF STRESS ON THE BODY
When the body is under constant physical or psychological stress, it increases the production of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones produce changes in the body, such as raised heart rate, high blood pressure, metabolic rate increases and physical activity increases. These changes can help a person function effectively in certain situations in the short term, but in the long term, they can produce lasting damaging effects. Dr. Hands Selye called the body’s response to stress the “general adaptation syndrome”, which he suggested is divided into three stages.
The three stages of Adrenal Stress
First Stage: Is known as the “Alarm Stage” which is the body’s initial reaction to the perceived stressor. This involves the “fight or flight” reaction, involving the sympathetic nervous system and the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
The effects on the body create an alert response and produce the following changes:
Increased heart rate
Increased ventilation rate
Increased diversion of blood to muscles and brain
Increase in perspiration
Increased release of glucose from the liver
When the threat is over, the parasympathetic nervous system returns the body to its normal state. The best way to support the adrenal glands at this stage is to take a good quality supplement of Vitamin C 1000mg per day.
Second Stage: However, if that restoration does not occur due to lack of rest, or another immediate stressor, the next stage is initiated, called the “Resistance stage”. This stage allows the body to continue responding to the stressor even after it has passed. This eventually leads to symptoms of disease as the body’s energy reserves are depleted. Symptoms associated with this stage are colds and flu, anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, chest pains, tiredness, insomnia, indigestion, headaches and migraine. A typical sign of second stage is when you feel you can’t stop working and are irreplaceable, so overwork, take your laptop on holiday and sleep with the phone on next to you ‘just in case’. Drinking caffeine drinks, such as coffee or Red Bull etc are typical habits. Lifestyle changes are key at this stage.
Third Stage: is the “Exhaustion stage” which takes place if the stress response continues without relief, and can result in organs becoming more and more compromised. This is harder to recover from and needs very gentle care, nutrition and rest. A relaxing holiday from work could help the adrenal glands to recover.
OTHER CAUSES OF STRESS REACTIONS
Medication, pollution and depression are all stressors on the organs of the body as each of these depletes the body’s ability to utilise nutrients, thus increasing even further the long-term damage potential of unresolved stress.
The adrenals, due to their importance with the fight and flight system often require extra support due to our bombardment of modern stresses, lifestyle, medication and our daily intake of chemicals and stimulants and substances that are aimed at them. Each stage will affect our digestive system and hormone balance. A typical secondary effect of adrenal stress is thyroid imbalance.
What can you do?
The adrenal glands act as shock absorbers to our system – they help us bounce back from life’s many stressors. Keep them healthy to have more resistance to the effects of hay fever, intolerances and allergies. Start with:
Reducing things like fizzy drinks - any
Reduce or stop drinking coffee
Take time off work if possible
Try not to eat lunch at your desk
Get out and take a walk in the fresh air
Learn to relax more
Book a holiday
Spend quality time with your family - talk to them
Eat food made from scratch rather than a ready meal from the microwave
Drink water, take some exercise
Put down your phone more and turn it off at night
Take a good supplement of 1000mg of Vitamin C a day to boost the glands
There are many things you can do to help yourself and your body. Put yourself first for once.