The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They pump out regulatory hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, helping the body to adapt to stress/trauma.
These stress hormones, raise blood sugar, activate the muscles of the body, and send oxygen to the brain. In a time of need, stress hormones activate the fight-or-flight response, keeping you on your toes and ready to move.
Stress hormones also weaken the immune system, halt tissue regeneration, and shut down digestive function. When stress is ongoing, this can become a problem. This means that cortisol is always high. Worse still, ongoing stress over a period of years can eventually weaken the adrenal glands, flat-lining cortisol levels.
When the adrenals start to go haywire, every part of the body can be affected.
Chronic exhaustion may be a sign of adrenal fatigue, a condition that describes the long-term effects of stress on the body. One red flag that may also indicate adrenal fatigue includes changes in mood, such as depression or anxiety.
When you restore your adrenal health, you restore the systems that produce energy and manage stress – this means your digestive system, which has a close relationship with your immune system and your brain (gut-brain connection). This also means your detoxification pathways, primarily the large intestine and the liver (where serotonin is produced and where many hormones are metabolized).
Adrenal fatigue symptoms include:
- Blood pressure imbalances
- Food cravings (salt/sugar)
- Weight gain (abdomen/thighs)
- Low energy but unable to stop (‘tired and wired”)
- Poor immune response (long time to recover from infections/trauma)
- Hormone imbalances & low libido
Specific emotional/psychological symptoms include:
- Emotional instability & feeling overwhelmed
- Poor coping ability
- Brain fog & racing thoughts
- Sleep disturbances & waking exhausted
- Apathy, despair, suicidal tendencies
- Mood swings, bipolar disorder
- Anxiety, irritability, anger
- Addictive, compulsive or obsessive behaviour (to stimulate adrenals into activity)
- Feeling hopeless
Read my “Stress & Fatigue” article for more information on adrenal fatigue.