Article - Adrenal Glands 101

Adrenal Glands and their Relationship to Stress

Adrenal Glands are major players in our system functions. Most of our issues with adrenal glands today is that they are drained from their energy system due to stressful lives and become depleted of their ability to function properly.

Overactive adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. Since cortisol plays a role in elevating blood sugar, this is often accompanied by an increased blood sugar level. This can set us up for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Underactive adrenal glands produce insufficient hormones, especially cortisol, to maintain homeostasis in the body. A common clinical problem with underactive adrenal glands is hypoglycemic symptoms due to fluctuations in blood sugar. Healthy people release cortisol to help liberate glucose to maintain the functions of our brain, organs and cells when blood sugar levels decline between meals or overnight during sleep.

What are some causes for dysfunctional adrenal glands? It could be mental, emotional stress, food sensitivities, blood sugar imbalances, infections, parasites, fungus or anything that is a perceived stress on the body.

Adrenal Glands do not secrete steroid hormones at a constant level throughout the day. The hormones are actually released in a cycle with the highest value in the morning and the lowest value at night. This 24 hour period in called the circadian rhythm. Below are some of the functions of the body affected by the glands as they are balanced.

1. Energy production

2. Muscle and joint function

3. Bone health

4. Immune health

5. Sleep quality

6. Skin regeneration

7. Thyroid function

8. Grain intolerance and stress response

It has been shown that an excessive ratio of carbohydrates to protein results in excess secretion of insulin, that often leads to intervals of hypoglycemia. Our body, in an attempt to normalize blood sugar, initiates a counter regulatory process during which the adrenals are stimulated to secrete increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline. It follows that an excessive intake of carbohydrates leads to excessive secretion of cortisol. This contributes to chronic cortisol depletion and adrenal exhaustion. We know that in order to stabilize blood sugar you must maintain a balance between two hormones, glucagon and insulin which are produced by the pancreas.

This is a complicated body system so if you do suspect an issue, please talk to your physician.