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All About Adrenals

The Importance of Adrenal Support



Middle aged woman in kitchen holding green juice with salad and avocados in foreground.


The adrenals are endocrine glands that are also called “suprarenals” since they are located above the kidneys. Although they release hormones into the bloodstream that regulate metabolism, blood pressure, aid the immune system and support reproductive function, they are most often associated with stress and the body’s “freeze, flight, fight” response.


Anatomy

The adrenals sit on top of the kidneys which are located in the back of the abdomen, under the rib cage with one on each side of the body.


The adrenals consist of 2 distinct parts: an outer shell which is called the adrenal cortex and an inner core called the adrenal medulla.


They are orange in color and shaped like rounded triangles. In addition to being part of the Endocrine System, they are also components of the Nervous System and play a role in kidney function.


The HPA Axis is a medical term that is used to describe the relationship between the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. Often an imbalance in one of these will negatively affect the others, so it is important to consider the adrenal glands as a part of this axis.


Function

Through the production of 6 different hormones, they regulate metabolism, blood pressure, the immune system, the stress response and some reproductive function.


Adrenaline is the common name for epinephrine and norepinephrine which are hormones responsible for the body’s response to stress. This is an important hormone needed during times of danger since it increases everything we need when survival is threatened. The heart rate and breathing becomes rapid which increases strength and speed. This also sharpens our senses and decreases our ability to feel pain. Adrenaline is the hormone that helps us jump out of the way of a moving car or lift a large object off of someone that we could never have lifted on our own in a normal circumstance. Adrenaline production is stimulated by the amygdala, a part of the brain that senses fear and danger.


Cortisol is a steroid hormone that most people associate with stress since it is also part of the “fight or flight” response. Our bodies need the right balance of cortisol since it is also responsible for glucose metabolism, regulating blood pressure and reducing inflammation. The production of cortisol is controlled by the pituitary gland.


Aldosterone is another steroid hormone produced in the cortex of the adrenal gland. The main function it serves is to balance sodium (salt) and potassium with water in the body which is why it is referred to as a mineralocorticoid. The kidneys play a large role in the function of aldosterone. High blood pressure can be a result of an elevation in this hormone.


Problems

The adrenal glands generally contribute to health concerns by producing too much or too little of the hormones they are responsible for. For example, Cushing’s disease is when there is too much cortisol and Addison’s disease is when there is not enough. Although these diseases are rare, adrenal suppression is more common and occurs when people use medications such as prednisone and hydrocortisone.


Another issue that some people claim to experience is known as adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms may include fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, digestive problems, etc. and is often attributed to chronic stress.


It is important to realize that a lack of balance in the adrenal glands could be related to problems in the gland itself, but also could be connected to the amygdala, kidneys or other glands. For example, if someone perceives their environment as being unsafe, the amygdala will constantly be signaling the adrenals to produce adrenaline as a response to threat. Being aware of our emotional and mental health and how that affects our adrenals is very important.

The adrenal glands are often associated with fear, worry and the subconscious belief that life must have burdens.


Care

Eat a well-balanced diet that is nutrient-dense and includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and animal protein from beef, venison, lamb, goat and fish.


Limit caffeine and other stimulants.


Maintain a regular sleep cycle.


Take time for both exercise and meditation.


Reduce unnecessary stress and engage in habits and activities that will calm the mind and emotions.


The adrenal glands need vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium and selenium.


AzureWell products specially formulated with the adrenal glands in mind are AzureWell Adrenal Food (Super-charged Vit C) and AzureWell AdrenaNew Adaptogen. Also consider AzureWell Racing Mind Relief with Magnesium M.





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