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Monday, January 23, 2012

Adrenal Fatigue | Part One: 
What are the Adrenals?

The adrenal glands sit over the kidneys, where they play a significant role in the body, secreting more than 50 hormones necessary for life, including epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), progesterone and testosterone. Since they produce so many essential hormones, the adrenal glands are responsible for many of the functions we need to stay alive and healthy, including energy production: carbohydrate, protein and fat conversion to blood glucose for energy and fluid and electrolyte balance. Cortisol, in particular, is extremely important for keeping our body systems in balance, as well as protecting our cells: It normalizes blood sugar and it regulates blood pressure. It controls the strength of the immune system: Too much cortisol weakens the immune system, setting the motions for increased susceptibility to infections and cancer, while too little leads to an overactive immune system and autoimmune disease.
 
Good adrenal health is important. As the manufacturer of adrenaline, they are the first glands to fail during prolonged or intense periods of stress. The problem with stressors is that they are "cumulative," in the sense that their impact tends to add up in the body over time until your adrenal glands (and probably your mental state) just can't take anymore.
 
For example a "nervous breakdown isn’t when nerves break down, as nerves really don't break down; adrenal glands do. A "nervous breakdown" is actually adrenal fatigue, or when the adrenal glands can't deal with the amount of stress they're given. Adrenal fatigue used to be rare, but is now all too common because of our lack of relaxation and other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, sleep deprivation, poor eating habits and excessive caffeine intake, as well as allergies.