Stress, over work, feeling unfulfilled, and over reactive are just a few symptoms routinely indicated living in an industrialized country. Lifestyles have become so fast paced, replacing time allowance for better nutrition, rest and a balanced lifestyle; with the quickest most convenient method of feeding the body. Adequate hormone production especially from the adrenal and thyroid glands is required for a return of some semblance of normality and happiness into our personal lives. In addition to different aspects of adrenal health, I have provided 3 tests, all of which can be done at home to determine the functioning level of your adrenal glands. A follow-up post will cover how to nutritionally support these glands – so they in turn will be able to support you.
About Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are two small triangle shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys composed of two diverse compositions; the outer adrenal cortex and the inner medulla. Both produce hormones including ones in response to stress, especially “fright and flight”. The adrenal cortex produces cortisol, aldosterone and androgens. The inner medulla mainly produces adrenaline and noradrenaline. These very hard working glands are responsible for releasing the hormones cortisol, aldosterone, epinephrine (adrenaline) and noradrenaline, DHEA and androstenedione. The adrenal cortex surrounds the medulla, the main source of adrenaline and noradrenaline (catecholamines). Circulating catecholamines are derived from the amino acid tyrosine which is of great interest to me since it is also related to the production of dopamine.
The hormones secreted by the adrenal glands are metabolized by enzymes within the gland and in various other parts of the body. These hormones are involved in many pathways throughout the body performing critical functions for the balancing and maintenance of health. For example, the hormone aldosterone controls the fluid retention in the body and not surprising is related to kidney function. Aldosterone is involved with the regulation of sodium and potassium balance in the body by way of the kidney where it increases the uptake of sodium as well as the excretion of hydrogen ions and potassium. The production of aldosterone requires a steady influx of calcium to maintain aldosterone supplies. Calcium is in most foods and throughout North America; many products are being fortified with extra calcium and vitamin D.
Saliva Testing for Adrenal Hormones
Cortisol levels are among the most reliable markers of adrenal function and stress response by the body. Depending on daily activities and events, cortisol will fluctuate throughout the day. A test referred to as the Cortisol/DHEA Saliva Test provides information about the stress hormones cortisol and DHEA from the patient’s saliva. The test involves spitting into a test tube, four times throughout the day; starting in the morning at eight am, noontime, four in the afternoon and at eleven pm in the evening. Other hormones can be measured during the eight am testing such as steroid hormones including DHEA, testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. Follow directions provided by the company and results will be mailed back to you and your doctor.
Home Test for Adrenal Fatigue
You may also wish to investigate a test that you do at home involving the dilation of the pupil to see how well your adrenals are functioning. This test is called the paradoxical papillary reflex. It involves standing in a dark room in front of a mirror. Using a flashlight or penlight, position the light at a 45 degree angle from the side. From being in a dark room your pupil should be dilated – large. Upon shining the light, the pupil should constrict. It is the duration of time between constricting that may indicate adrenal fatigue. In performing the same test on both eyes, wait at least 30 seconds before treating the other eye.
1. Healthy adrenals are usually indicated when the pupil stays constricted for at least 20 seconds
2. Moderate to fair adrenal function is indicated when after approximately 10 seconds the pupil starts to pulse (fasciculate)
3. Adrenal exhaustion may be demonstrated by immediate dilation of the pupil accompanied by pulsating
Blood Pressure Adrenal Test
A Third Adrenal Test uses a blood pressure monitor referred to as the Orthostatic Hypotension Test. Lie down for 5 to 7 minutes or longer if you have been agitated or in an exercise activity. Take your blood pressure and record the top number (systolic). Continue by standing up and take your blood pressure again. If your BP remained the same or it actually decreased, this indicates a problem with adrenal function and hormone output. Ideally you want your systolic number to increase when you stand up.
Symptoms of Adrenal Dysfunction
Overactive adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and aldosterone, all of which may lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
Underactive adrenal glands essentially do the opposite, producing inadequate amounts of hormones such as cortisol which then interrupts the release of insulin, causing symptoms of hypoglycemia. Symptoms related to low blood sugar may be trembling, feeling light headed, impatient and irritable.
Being overtired and weak are not the worse symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue. If the adrenals become exhausted, they are usually coupled with the feeling of sadness and depression. All too often, people suffering from adrenal fatigue or exhaustion routinely turn to stimulants like coffee and colas to get them through the day. Stress may also be compounded by and related to the frequent use of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and medications. You may want to consider natural methods of propping up your adrenals if you regularly experience one or more of the following symptoms:
1. Fatigue or listlessness, in spite of adequate sleep
2. Still feeling tired in the morning even when you’ve had eight hours of sleep
3. No get up and go, feeling worn out and perhaps overwhelmed
4. Do not have the reserves to bounce back from stress or illness
5. Crave salt or sugar, eating binges
6. Lack of sleep as a result of insomnia
7. Sluggishness, especially in the morning and mid-afternoon when (the thyroid gland reaches its low for the day at mid-afternoon – a contributing factor)
8. Low libido or a decrease in sex drive
9. It now requires a great deal of effort to do everyday tasks
10. Stress becomes overwhelming
11. Heightened PMS symptoms and increased weight gain
12. Brain fog, hard to focus or memory problems
13. Far less resistance to bacteria and virus invasion. Recovery time is much longer
14. Mild depression to feelings of desperation. Under these circumstances a person will not experience much enjoyment or happiness in their life.
Can the Adrenal Glands Contribute To Weight Gain?
Other symptoms of low adrenals include higher than normal levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) which often signals fat storage. During this time, adrenaline may be over produced, creating more unwanted feelings. Overproduction of unwelcome substances like cortisol and other hormones, needlessly overworks the glands, weakening them. This scenario may create sugar cravings and eating binges.
Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved – Michelle Honda Ph.D.
Look for my new forthcoming books “Reverse Heart Disease Naturally” (Jan.31, 2017) and “Reverse Inflammation Naturally” (summer 2017) and “Reverse Thyroid Diseases Naturally” (fall 2017)
In my book Reverse Gut Diseases Naturally you will find helpful information on these over achievers (adrenal glands) and on many aspects of the thyroid gland. These two glands constently interrelate with each other impacting our moods and energy. They have great influence on our healing processes which is why they hold a prominent place in my book.
Look for 2 other corresponding posts to come for supporting this area of your endocrine system.
Renew your adrenal health in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, San Antonio and Jacksonville with Michelle Honda PhD Holistic Doctor. She is an natural health expert because of the breadth of her clinical experience and education combined. You can restore radiant health via effective natural health solutions whether you are coping with hormone issues, women’s issues, skin problems, diabetes, heart disease or gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s or Colitis.
Michelle’s book Reverse Gut Diseases Naturally is a fantastic body of work that provides Crohn’s & Colitis solutions and heals other gut disorders like IBS, celiac disease and more. It provides natural remedies, solutions and strategies to heal and restore normal health, many times to full symptom eradication. Her results are so unparalleled for her Colitis and Crohn’s patients that some might think of her unbelievably appreciatively – she’s that remarkably effective. In 2017-2018, her next books are going to be published on reversing inflammation naturally and reversing heart disease and cholesterol naturally. Many people doing this nutrition and holistic work are amazed at how their life can start to change in 30-60 days from Michelle’s safe, natural remedies, diet and solutions. A restored healthy life awaits you again. Get started today.
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While close attention was given to the accuracy of information in this article, the author accepts neither responsibility nor liability to any person with respect to injury, damage, loss or any circumstances involving alleged causes directly or indirectly related to the information in this article. The sole purpose is to educate and broaden ones awareness. This information is not meant to replace medical advice or services provided by a health care professional.