The adrenal glands are responsible for helping the body adapt to stress by secreting key hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. However, when an individual experiences chronic stress, their adrenal function can become dysregulated, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, poor concentration, and susceptibility to illness. Saliva or dried urine testing can help assess adrenal function and guide treatment plans. Adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise are essential for maintaining optimal adrenal function.
The Adrenal Connection
Shaped like two tiny pyramids, the adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and mobilize your response to changes within your environment.
Whether coming from outside of ourselves in the form of a natural disaster or from within, like the anxiety you feel before public speaking, it is the adrenals’ job to help you adapt to a variety of stressors.
They accomplish this by secreting the key hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) to mobilize the body’s natural “fight or flight” response in an emergency, and cortisol, the primary stress hormone that fine-tunes your response to the stress and strains of everyday living.
When your life is balanced by optimal nutrition, exercise and sleep, the adrenals perform 24/7. However, when you burn the candle at both ends, the adrenals malfunction – and so do you. The adrenal glands enable your body to cope with stress and survive
Assess Your Stress
People vary greatly in their ability to respond to and withstand stress. Assessing your stress response and adrenal function to see how well you are dealing with stress can easily be done with a simple saliva or dried urine test.
Routine testing is a key element of effective hormone management.
We offer both saliva and urine testing for diurnal cortisol levels at four-time points during the day along with other important adrenal markers. By reviewing test results, our healthcare provider can:
- Identify adrenal imbalances caused by too much or too little hormone
- Visually compare your current cortisol pattern against the normal curve
- Match tested hormone levels with your symptoms to help individualize a treatment plan
- Retest to monitor and adjust treatment as needed
- Track progress with follow-up test reports
If you experience the following symptoms you may be a candidate.
- Am I tired when I wake up in the morning, but too ‘wired’ at night to fall asleep?
- Do I routinely get too little sleep?
- Am I unable to live without coffee?
- Do I generally feel run down?
- Do I feel worn out after exercise?
- Is it harder to bounce back from illness
How many symptoms do you have that might indicate an undiagnosed adrenal imbalance?
- Chronic stress
- Sleep disturbances
- Morning fatigue/evening fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Memory lapse
- Abdominal fat & sugar/food cravings
- Susceptibility to infections
- Low libido
The Role of Adrenals
Adrenals in balance produce adequate amounts of DHEA and cortisol to power you through the day, taking stress in stride.
Together these hormones impact nearly every process in the body, from energy production and immune activity to cellular maintenance and repair.They are key regulators of blood sugar, insulin, and inflammation, and play a major role in mood and mental focus, stamina, and sleep cycles.
Adrenals out of balance are dysregulated and fail to produce enough essential hormone to keep you running on all cylinders. When a person is under constant physical or emotional stress, the brain signals the adrenal glands to release elevated amounts of cortisol.
Stress & Adrenal Dysfunction
The difference between stress we can handle, and stress that gets out of hand – stress versus distress – marks the difference between adrenal balance and imbalance.
Acute stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and regulates cortisol release. When the stressor is gone, this regulating system brings cortisol levels back to normal. Under ongoing stress, such as chronic diseases, inflammation, or blood sugar problems, the HPA axis may weaken in its ability to respond appropriately, resulting in a lower output of adrenal hormones. You start to run out of steam, sleep fitfully, get sick, and pack on pounds through the middle. These are the hallmark signs of adrenal dysfunction.
Cortisol’s main impact on the immune system is double-edged. Acute stress sends white blood cells to their battle stations to pump up your defenses against disease. Chronic stress weakens immune reserves, leaving you vulnerable to illness, inflammation, and any virus that comes along.
How BHRT can help!
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) may be an effective treatment option for individuals with adrenal dysfunction. BHRT involves the use of hormones that are molecularly identical to the hormones naturally produced by the body. By restoring hormonal balance, BHRT can help regulate the body’s response to stress and support optimal adrenal function. In particular, BHRT may help increase levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Our healthcare provider at Hope Health & Wellness can work with an individual to determine if BHRT is a suitable option for their specific needs and develop a personalized treatment plan.