The adrenal glands are an often overlooked part of the endocrine (hormonal) system in the body. They produce multiple hormones responsible for various functions. The adrenals don’t have to be in a pathogenic state of disease before you have problems. Insufficiency in function can lead to many symptoms. The body is not black or white. When a gland or organ begins to diminish in function, or to deteriorate, and progresses in that deterioration of function, we call that the “grey area”. The organ or gland is neither functioning perfectly, nor dead or severely diseased. In between those two states is where the grey area comes into play.
Adrenal dysregulation is a term that describes the grey area in adrenal function – the gland is neither dead/severely diseased, nor perfectly functioning, but instead is struggling to varying degrees. Since the adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney, is responsible for the quality of sleep at night, produces DHEA, which gives sustained energy throughout the day, regulates metabolism and blood sugar balance, is responsible for the balance of several hormones, and is key in the body’s response to stress, lots can go wrong. Because of this stress response, there can be an imbalance in what is called the “HPA axis”. The HPA (Hypothalamus, Pituitary and Adrenal) axis is key in homeostasis in the body and how well it manages those things it is responsible for. When it comes to energy, the thyroid also comes into play (HPTA axis).
If these glands are sub-functioning, a whole array of symptoms can display. Symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, sugar and salt cravings, eye sensitivity to light, diminished coping with stress, weight gain and other symptoms can indicate reduced efficiency of the adrenal glands. Because those symptoms can mean a lot of other health issues, it is imperative that you seek a practitioner that will dig deep to see if it is an adrenal problem or something else going on that needs to be addressed. The good news is there is a lot you can do to support adrenal health. Stress is really tough on the adrenals, as is inadequate sleep, a poor diet and other things. Lifestyle changes can really help a lot. Acupuncture, nutritional guidance, herbs or other dietary supplements, and other modalities can go a long way in supporting not only adrenal health, but the HPTA axis health as well.
©2022 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.