Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tip-Sharing Tuesday: This Gland is Your Gland. . .

. . . This gland is my gland.

Dear Reader,

Today we'd like to talk about the health of something we all have, but most of us take for granted: the adrenal glands. This is a subject which is close to our heart, having suffered unknowingly from adrenal exhaustion for years before learning and recognizing the symptoms.

What are the adrenal glands, and what function do they have? The following information is taken from from the University of Maryland's Medical Center website:

(Taken from the website of the University of Maryland's Medical Center)

Anatomy of the adrenal glands:
Adrenal glands, which are also called suprarenal glands, are small, triangular glands located on top of both kidneys. An adrenal gland is made of two parts: the outer region is called the adrenal cortex and the inner region is called the adrenal medulla.

Function of the adrenal glands:
The adrenal glands work interactively with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the following process:

  • the hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormones, which stimulate the pituitary gland.
  • the pituitary gland, in turn, produces corticotropin hormones, which stimulate the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroid hormones.

Both parts of the adrenal glands -- the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla -- perform very separate functions.

What is the adrenal cortex?
The adrenal cortex, the outer portion of the adrenal gland, secretes hormones that have an effect on the body's metabolism, on chemicals in the blood, and on certain body characteristics. The adrenal cortex secretes corticosteroids and other hormones directly into the bloodstream. The hormones produced by the adrenal cortex include:

  • corticosteroid hormones
    • hydrocortisone hormone - this hormone, also known as cortisol, controls the body's use of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
    • corticosterone - this hormone, together with hydrocortisone hormones, suppresses inflammatory reactions in the body and also affects the immune system.
  • aldosterone hormone - this hormone inhibits the level of sodium excreted into the urine, maintaining blood volume and blood pressure.
  • androgenic steroids (androgen hormones) - these hormones have minimal effect on the development of male characteristics.

What is the adrenal medulla?
The adrenal medulla, the inner part of the adrenal gland, is not essential to life, but helps a person in coping with physical and emotional stress. The adrenal medulla secretes the following hormones:

  • epinephrine (also called adrenaline) - this hormone increases the heart rate and force of heart contractions, facilitates blood flow to the muscles and brain, causes relaxation of smooth muscles, helps with conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver, and other activities.

  • norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline) - this hormone has little effect on smooth muscle, metabolic processes, and cardiac output, but has strong vasoconstrictive effects, thus increasing blood pressure.
Why should we be concerned about adrenal exhaustion? From the functions listed above, we can see that if the adrenals are not working well, WE will not work well!

According to one source, 80% of Americans suffer from adrenal exhaustion at some point in their life.

The following is a list of common symptoms of adrenal exhaustion (Although these symptoms can indicate other situations, as well.):

The 30 symptoms include, but are not limited to:

1. Excessive fatigue and exhaustion, chronic fatigue
2. Non-refreshing sleep
3. Sleep disturbance, insomnia
4. Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
5. Craving salty and/or sweet foods
6. Sensitivity to light
7. Low stamina and slow to recover from exercise
8. Slow to recover from injury or illness
9. Difficulty concentrating, brain fog
10. Poor digestion
11. Irritable bowel syndrome, IBS
12. Low immune function
13. Premenstrual syndrome
14. Menopause symptoms
15. Low blood pressure
16. Sensitivity to cold
17. Fearfulness
18. Allergies,
19. Frequent influenza
20. Arthritis
21. Anxiety (Also a cause of depletion)
22. Irritability (Also a cause of depletion)
23. Depression (Also a cause of depletion)
24. Reduced memory
25. Low libido, sexual drive or interest
26. Lack of lust for life and/or food
27. Excess hunger
28. Low appetite
29. Panic/anxiety attacks
30. Irritability, impatience, quick to anger.

Here is a list of things that can cause stress on the adrenal glands: Physical trauma, excess exercise, emotional trauma, pregnancy, chemical toxins, lack of sleep, anxiety/ depression, poor diet, infections, and prescription drugs.

In other words, daily living in our hectic world can wreak havoc on all of our systems, including the adrenals.

Learning how to eat whole foods, with emphasis on green leafy vegetables and foods in season, and learning to take life easy, forgiving and forgetting, are ways that we can help to combat the wearing down of the adrenals, along with other body systems.

The following are herbal supplements that are indicated for adrenal exhaustion: Licorice (Not recommended for those with high blood pressure), ashwaganda, parsley, nettle seeds, milky oat tops, mullein, siberian ginseng, gotu kola, hawthorn berries, cayenne, and ginger.

Dr. Christopher has a formula called Adrenetone, which is supposed to work very well for rebuilding the glands.

Of course, getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine, in contact with the earth, are imperative for un-doing the damage which comes from life's stresses and strifes. Walking barefoot in the grass or in sand recharges us, releasing the static electricity which can build up from wearing shoes and being indoors. Clothing made of natural fibers, organic where possible, can also give one a feeling of well-being, allowing the skin to throw off toxins more easily.

Drinking lots of steam-distilled water, or water that has been very well-filtered, helps to wash out and purify the bloodstream and all body systems, as well.

During the "Mother years", the adrenals are truly under a lot of pressure, with sleepless nights, crying infants, etc. etc. This is a time to take as many hot baths as possible, using essential oils such as lavender and balsam fir, to aid relaxation. St. John's Wort, the sunshine herb, is said to help with the depression that can come from being indoors during the winter months, as well.

Staying away from sugar and other refined carbohydrates, and even dried fruits, as much as possible, is imperative for healing these glands. Whenever I notice myself craving sweets, I have to stop and remember that I am craving them as a stimulant because my adrenals want attention.

Re-building does take time, and it is so important to be kind to oneself during this, or any other healing process. But I can attest to the effectiveness of adding fresh foods to the diet (We love our green blender drinks!), and taking the herbal supplements.

Learning that I had adrenal exhaustion was very freeing for me, because I realized that there was a reason why I couldn't remember what it felt like to feel good, and that there was something I could do to feel better. I now can tell, after a trying day, that I had better rest the next day and take my supplements, because my glands take a few days to get back on track, and if I push myself, I will regret it later.

May we all learn to be more gentle with ourselves, no matter our circumstances.



Go on "trying", my child;
God will give strength and courage,
and help you to fill each day
with words and deeds of love.

~Louisa May Alcott's mother


  1. Thank you for the information. It is very useful to know. It sounds like I've suffered from adrenal exhaustion in the past.


  2. Thanks for the great post I definitely have dealt with these symptoms...good advice too!! when ever I am feeling exhausted I get outside and in the sun and fresh air this definitely works!! ~Blessings :-)

  3. Gracias mi querida amiga por esta informacion. Yo he sufrido con fatiga por mucho tiempo, y me he dado cuenta que cuando yo salgo a la terraza, y me sient ha admirar las flores, me comienzo a relajar y sentir mejor.

    Tomarla suave al dia siguiente es una buena idea!

    Gracias otra vez.


    lady m

  4. Well, I know just where to come for adrenal information! wow... what a ton of facts!


  6. Thank-u for sharing this info.Hope you have a great day! Blessings, Faye


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