Adrenal fatigue happens when the adrenal glands wear out due to continual production of the stress hormone cortisol affecting the thyroid gland and thus creating many other hormone imbalances.
The inner medulla triggers the instinctual fight or flight response which then secretes adrenaline hormones that increase blood sugar levels, blood pressure and heart rate in response to stress. Over time chronic elevated stress levels can lead to weight gain, decreased resistance to infections, fatigue, muscle aches and low blood sugar.
During menopause, for women the workload of the adrenals increases as these glands become the primary source for creating estrogen and other sex hormones.
What are the Adrenal Glands?
The adrenal glands are the workhorse of the body driving the endocrine system. They regulate the body’s response to stress and are made of two separate organs combined into one location – the outer portion called the adrenal cortex and the inner portion called the adrenal medulla.
The adrenal cortex serves primarily a hormonal function – including regulation of mineral metabolism (sodium, potassium, chloride), water balance, metabolism (utilization and distribution of protein, carbohydrates, and fat), allergic and immune reactions (autoimmune diseases, hypersensitivity, and allergies), and production of the male and female hormones (progesterone, testosterone, estrogens, DHEA, etc).
The cortex also secretes corticosteroids in response to stress. These hormones help us to cope with long-term stressors by converting protein to energy. Long after the fight or flight response mechanism subsides, the energy still remains available.
The upside is that adrenal dysfunction can be healed. Creating a healthy endocrine system that continues to balance your hormones and incorporating stress reduction techniques will slow the aging process and keep you vibrant and healthy as you age.
Energy Medicine Quick Tips for Adrenal Support
A. Daily Energy Routine. (Get the free e-book)
B. Triple Warmer Triangle – use to balance Thyroid, to reduce hot flashes, to calm and de-stress. Hold #1 at the jugular notch with your thumb, index and middle fingers of one hand. With your other hand use the same 3 fingers to hold #A at the temple for 3-5 minutes. Switch and repeat on the other side.
Adrenal Points – Using the 3-Finger Notch described above, hold A – Triple Warmer Neurovascular on one side of temple and with the other hand hold 1″ above and 1″ out from navel on both sides with thumb and middle finger for 3-5 minutes. Switch hands and repeat on other side. An alternate version is to hold a 3-Finger notch at the #1 Thyroid Point while simultaneously holding the Adrenal Points above the navel.
C. Cortisol Points – Using the 3-Finger Notch described above, hold A – Triple Warmer Neurovascular on one side of temple and with the other hand hold #12 – Cortisol Points 1″ below and 1″ out from navel on both sides with thumb and middle finger for 3-5 minutes. Switch hands and repeat on other side.
An alternate version is to hold a 3-Finger notch at the #1 Thyroid Point (above) while simultaneously holding the Cortisol Points.
Avoid these Dietary Stressors for Good Adrenal Health
*Refined sugar or artificial sugar substitutes that contain aspartame.
*Foods rich in Potassium like bananas, melons, dried figs, raisins, dates, grapes, oranges, and grapefruit as they may make your adrenal fatigue worse.
*Simple or refined carbohydrates like pasta, white bread, crackers, cakes, cookies, etc.
*Caffeine, alcohol, sweetened fruit juices, and carbonated soft drinks.
* Processed foods that use sodium nitrates as a preservative such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon.
* Wheat products that contain gluten found in breads, crackers, pastas, etc.
* All fermented foods such as wine and cheese.
*Monosodium glutamate (MSG) used in many processed foods.
*Stimulant drugs, and nicotine.
Endocrine System: Understanding Adrenal Fatigue
The endocrine system is responsible for hormonal functions in the body and produces over sixty distinct hormones each of which has a very specific job to do. This system controls your physical growth, mood, stress response, reproduction, mental functionality, and immune system. When not working properly you become more susceptible to disease and your ability to fight off infection is weakened. Endocrine glands and their function impact every area of your health. The keystone of Energy Medicine has always been awakening the body’s natural intelligence to heal itself and restore balance to all nine energy systems. The acupuncture meridians are energy pathways that crisscross the body communicating with organs and endocrine glands. When your body’s energies become depleted, you can suffer from fatigue, hot flashes, environmental sensitivities, anxiety, weight gain, joint pain, irritability, depression, digestive problems, dizziness upon rising, poor concentration, infertility, insomnia and much more.
What are the endocrine glands and what do they do?
The major endocrine glands include the adrenals, pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, pancreas, testes and ovaries. Lets begin our focus on your adrenals. They are about the size of a walnut sitting on top of and controlling the Kidneys. Between living in a stressful environment, making poor food choices, and not getting enough sleep our adrenals operate from a place of exhaustion. There is not a single function in the body that doesn’t occur without your adrenals playing some key role.
Optimizing Your Adrenals
The endocrine system provides regulation of the body through hormonal secretions. Cultivating your endocrine health combined with proper nutrition and diet can boost energy, reduce insomnia, relieve depression, improve circulation, improve appetite, relieve muscle aches and assist in recovering from endocrine disorders. One of the easiest ways to create a healthy endocrine system is to eat nutritious meals and have a well balanced diet.
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Melanie Smith is co-owner of Well Within Natural Medicine, Inc., Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture Physician, Eden Energy Medicine Advanced Practitioner and Senior Faculty Member of Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine Certification Program.