Do you have “Adrenal Fatigue?” Part 1

Do you have “adrenal fatigue?”

Adrenal fatigue has been misinterpreted and is nothing more then the body expressing its inability to keep up. Identifying “adrenal fatigue” with labs and treating it with supplements is ineffective and a waste of money.

Here is why:

The general adaptation syndrome is a term coined by Hans Selye used to describe the body’s short-term and long-term reactions to stress.

Selye explained his choice of terminology as follows: “I call this syndrome general because it is produced only by agents which have a general effect upon large portions of the body. I call it adaptive because it stimulates defense…I call it a syndrome because its individual manifestations are coordinated and even partly dependent upon each other.

Selye showed teh interrelations of the nervous system and the endocrine system via the HPA axis. The HPA axis (hypolthalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is a major part of the neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress.

As you read through the remainder of this information the most important thing to remember is the adaptation to stress is a normal and essential part of human physiology.

Hans Selye outlined the three distinctive stages in the syndromes evolution:

Alarm Reaction: The alarm reaction is the normal physiological response to stress designed to preserve internal stability. The HPA axis works as the hub of the body’s stress mechanism and in response to stimuli increases the output of catacholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline). It is the effects of the glucocorticoids upon a stress response that influence the body into a series of responses:

  • Glucose mobilization
  • Anabolic process are halted
  • Digestion is shut down
  • Reproductive function is inhibited
  • Immunity is suppressed
  • Pain perception is altered
  • enhanced cognitive and sensory skills

Stage of Resistance/Compensation: If stress persists, the negative feedback of the HPA axis will continue to repeat with little to no recovery. Over time and when stress is persistent, chronically elevated cortisol levels desensitize the HPA system and cortisol levels remain elevated.

* The body normally goes through these first two stages many, many times. With proper rest and recovery the body is able to regain homeostasis. It is when external stressors exceed internal reserve capacities that our resistance to stress diminishes.

Stage of Exhaustion: This stage is the most hazardous. This is when stress levels go up and stay up. The body is no longer able to meet the demands being placed on it.

The adrenal cortex is so fatigued it is unable to respond to the ACTH stimulation. This leads to a dramatic decrease in the body’s ability to manufacture and secrete ALL steroidal hormones. The priority now becomes to keep the heart pumping and the brain functioning.

Unidentified stress has detrimental effects on the human body and ultimately leads to the malfunction of our “fight/flight” responses and stress related disorders:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Immune system disorders
  • GI disorders
  • Endocrine dysfunction/imbalance
  • Migraine headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction

So…the take away…if you do not fix the stress in the environment, treating your adrenal glands with supplements is useless.

Modifying nutritional and lifestyle habits to reduce stress on the system is primary and essential to recovering from the effects of stress on the body.

To learn more about how Food Strategy can help you heal your adrenals and thyroid, contact Josh and Jeanne to schedule a time to talk!


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