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Adrenal Function: The Key to Long-Term Stress Resilience!

By Dr Kathy Van Zeyl, ND

The impact of stress on the mind and body are many-fold. Stress is often a major underlying causative factor for chronic health conditions including anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic fatigue, thyroid issues and weight gain, infertility and menstrual imbalances, chronic infections, as well as IBS and indigestion. Supporting your body’s ability to adapt to stress by nourishing the “ADRENAL GLANDS” may be the missing key to regaining your health and preventing stress from running you down!

Your “Adrenals” are two walnut-sized glands perched on top of your kidneys that are frequently overlooked and undervalued. As their name would imply, they release “adrenaline” during acute stress which activates the “fight-or-flight” response. This allows you to act quickly during a work crisis, run a 10km race or chase down a bus, helping you meet whatever demands are immediately in front of you.  

Cortisol is another important adrenal hormone which is released gradually in response to chronic stressors – work demands, family or relationship issues, overscheduling, overtraining, and environmental hazards just to name a few examples. Adrenal issues often happen when cortisol levels are either too high or too low, which can lead to an impaired stress response resulting in any of the above-mentioned symptoms. High cortisol levels are often linked with anxiety, insomnia, hypertension and weight gain. In some cases this can also lead to adrenal “burnout” where the body is no longer able to produce enough cortisol to cope with the demands of stressors. Low cortisol is linked with chronic fatigue, depression, impaired concentration, allergies, frequent infections and an inability to properly manage inflammation in the body.

Luckily, there are ways to support your adrenals and increase your body’s stress threshold! Try one or all of these 3 simple techniques to get your adrenals back on track:

1)  Go to bed before midnight: Getting yourself on a regular routine helps your body normalize its hormonal fluctuations.

2) Spend 5 minutes per day doing nothing, sitting quietly, or deep breathing:  Stress management is an important factor in repairing your adrenals.  By consciously switching your brain into “rest” mode, your body is better able to conserve energy and learn how to stay calm and grounded in otherwise stressful scenarios.

3) Drink 1 cup licorice tea daily:  Certain herbs act as “adaptogens” which can give the adrenal glands some extra energy and help you to regain normal stress adaptation.  Just remember to drink these types of tea before 4 PM as they can be energizing. 

Naturopathic Doctors are extensively trained to diagnose and treat adrenal issues, so if you’re noticing any of the above symptoms talk one of our ND’s at Somerset Health, and get those little glands some lovin’!