Societal expectations, family obligations, job pressures, and economic hardship can result in stress, and if that stress becomes chronic, it can result in Adrenal Dysfunction and ultimately lead to:
- Mood disorders and depression
- Weight Gain in abdominal area
- Hormone Imbalance/Reproductive disorders
- Increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases
- Dementia/memory loss
- Sleep disorders
- Insulin resistance/diabetes
- Premature aging
The adrenal glands are normally involved in the “fight or flight” response. One of the body’s initial responses to fear or stress is the release of hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol that initially help us to react or adapt to a stressful situation. Cortisol raises blood sugar and blood pressure, and increases the breakdown of protein while inhibiting protein synthesis. Cortisol interferes with thyroid hormone action and stimulates fat deposition in abdominal and other unwanted areas, which can lead to metabolic syndrome. However, this response was only supposed to last for a very short period. In our stress filled lives we live with a constant “fight or flight”, which wreaks a havoc on our body. Medical literature has confirmed the correlation between high levels of cortisol secondary to chronic stress (hypercortisolism) and disease development, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Immune suppression
- Impaired thyroid function
- Decreased kidney function
- Exacerbation of skin conditions (acne, psoriasis, eczema)
- Gastrointestinal problems (GERD, Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Over time, the body may no longer be able to produce the needed amounts of cortisol and patients can ultimately end up with low cortisol levels(hypocortisolism). One of the hallmark signs of low cortisol ishave no energy in the morning and throughout the day. When there is a continued cortisol (stress) dysfunction our body compensates and takes much needed hormones and cofactors to regulate cortisol production and depletes the hormones from being able to do their natural and normal functions. This can eventually lead to hormonal imbalance.
Treatment of Adrenal Dysfunction
- Stress reduction techniques – Gentle exercise, Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates, meditation
- Sleep hygiene – Regular sleep-wake cycle, avoid third shift work. The following supplements may be helpful: 5-HTP, Melatonin, Phosphatidylserine, L-Theanine, Calming herbs (Valerian root, Chamomile, Hops, Passion flower)
- Lifestyle modification – Delegating responsibilities to eliminate stressors, regular meals, avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Vitamins and minerals – Magnesium Glycinate or Citrate, B Vitamins, selenium, zinc, calcium, manganese, Vitamin E with mixed tocopherols, Vitamin C (Ascorbate)
- Adaptogens – Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Holy Basil
- Pharmacologic therapy – Low doses of hydrocortisone (by prescription, and closely monitored) have been found to help when the body fails to produce sufficient amounts of cortisol.
- It really takes time to treat severe cortisol dysfunctions. Once all the stressors are controlled in could take up to 6 month for patients to start feeling “like themselves” again. However, it really is worth the wait..so many of us live our daily grind and forget how it felt to feel “normal”.
Our pharmacists will work together
with patients and their physicians
to treat adrenal dysfunction.