Your adrenal glands play a central role in your endocrine system when it comes to regulating and reacting to your body’s stress levels. When they are functioning properly, you are able to effectively accommodate and react to the day-to-day stresses that you encounter.
Does This Sound Like You?
Do you have body aches, fatigue, anxiety, and/or sleep disturbances?
Do you need several cups of coffee just to feel awake and start your day?
Or maybe you just experience low energy throughout the day?
You may have even mentioned it to your doctor, only to be told “it’s just part of getting older”.
Chances are, it has nothing to do with age – but that it is actually a hormonal issue involving imbalanced adrenal glands. To be more precise, it involves the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal Axis (HPA-Axis).
Sadly, many conventional physicians will overlook this critical system and are not familiar with the latest in laboratory testing used for it’s evaluation. These tests give valuable insight into the HPA-Axis and how it’s imbalances are affecting other systems in your body.
And that’s why a traditionally trained doctor is typically in favor of using your symptoms to reach a diagnosis like “chronic fatigue” – a mystery illness with no cure!
Adrenals & Stress
Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which governs the ‘Fight or Flight’ response, releasing epinephrine (adrenaline). It also activates the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis, which causes the release of certain hormones, including cortisol. When this activation occurs, the body immediately redirects its available resources away from normal physiologic activities such as digestion and tissue regeneration, to things like increasing blood sugar, and blood flow to the heart, lungs, and extremities.
This stress response system has been critical in the survival of our species over millions of years. When a threat presents itself, we instantly have an increased focus, vigilance, strength, and energy to fight or flee. Once the threat has ended, our systems are designed so that normal physiology should return to baseline in short order.
The Effects Of Stress
As good and as important as the stress response is to our survival in the short term, long term activation causes significant damage to almost every system in our bodies. Let’s look at the short-term effects of stress that have helped humans survive for 70,000 generations. Think about the benefits of these in terms of a response to a sudden threat.
- Heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration increases to provide the muscles and brain more oxygen.
- Blood flow is diverted from the liver, kidneys, gut, and skin and to the brain and muscles.
- The immune system is suppressed.
- The reproductive system is suppressed.
- Blood sugar is increased.
- Increased awareness, sharper vision, and improved hearing.
Now think about what would happen if those same changes persisted over the long term.
- Increased blood sugar
- Poor digestion leading to nutrient deficiencies
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Increased sugar cravings
- Impaired cognitive function
- Impaired thyroid function
- Increased abdominal and visceral fat
- Depression and anxiety
Prolonged stress can negatively impact nearly every system in the body. We must eliminate stress when possible. When eliminating the source of stress is not possible, we must learn to manage it.
How We Approach Stress
At CCFM, we are trained to get to the root of your chronic fatigue along with any other symptoms from which you may be suffering. Advanced hormone testing is a key tool that ensures you won’t continue to “run on empty”.
If we do discover you have HPA-Axis imbalances, then chances are your stress hormones are not “shutting off” correctly, which could happen for a variety of reasons.
“How do I fix my HPA-Axis?” might be your next question.
Balancing this system requires more than just dealing with the adrenal glands. There is a complex brain – adrenal feedback loop, that typically gets “off kilter” called the HPA axis, which also involves glands in your brain. That’s why in Functional Medicine, we never treat “areas” or “parts” of the body separately, but look at the body as a whole.
As part of our stress reset program, we devise a full body balancing protocol that not only supports your adrenals but also brings balance back to other areas that may be causing problems with your adrenals – including diet, gut health, lifestyle and stress factors, sleep habits and more.
If you have been experiencing symptoms that may be connected with adrenal dysfunction and are looking for answers, schedule an appointment with Carolina Center for Functional Medicine today.
Take The First Step Today On Your
Do you have questions about our program and starting your path back to health? We are happy to answer any questions you have to determine if Carolina Center for Functional Medicine is right for you.