In today’s hectic world of mobile technology, faster internet access and a 24.7 news and information cycle, it can often seem as though there are just not enough hours in the day.
Life is getting more hectic, with no end in sight. As a result of this, we try to get by with less sleep and more caffeine, but it never quite seems to be enough. We ultimately end up perpetually exhausted from just trying to keep up with it all.
If you feel this way, odds are very good that your patients feeling the exact same way. They generally will present with very vague complaints that include feeling tired, exhausted, and run down all the time, even if they seem to getting an adequate amount of sleep.
A medical history and exam will usually rule out anything obvious that could account for these symptoms. There has been some intriguing research showing that the adrenal glands may hold some of the answer to these vague symptoms. Supporting the health of your patients’ adrenal glands could very well improve their mood and energy levels.
What functions does the adrenal gland perform?
The adrenal glands modulate levels of the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, and aldosterones.1 These hormones act in response to mood changes, such as stress, anxiety, depression. Aldosterone regulates blood pressure by balancing sodium and potassium levels.
Cortisol is responsible for both metabolism and blood-sugar levels, both of which are involved with controlling diabetes. All four hormones work in tandem to regulate the body’s stress reactions.1
The adrenal gland is activated by the pituitary gland in the brain, which signals how much of each adrenal hormone to release in response to external stimuli.1 For example, if you are running late for work, your pituitary gland will send a signal to your adrenal gland to produce more adrenaline and noradrenaline in response to your stress about the possibility of not getting to work on time.
What is adrenal fatigue?
The pituitary gland normally will signal the adrenal gland to slow down or stop sending out hormones if a particular stimulus is no longer present. In cases such as Addison’s disease (when the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol or aldosterone), or a tumor around the adrenal gland, there may not be enough hormones being released into the body.
If the adrenal glands are not producing enough hormones on a regular basis, this will lead to your patients’ vague symptoms of sluggishness and exhaustion. This may eventually lead to other health issues, such as poor sleep and weight gain.1,2
Treating adrenal fatigue
A combination of vitamins and supplements, along with stress-reducing exercise techniques, is the best way to support your patients who suffer from adrenal fatigue. Helpful vitamins and supplements include fish oil, magnesium, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc.3,4
Second, a stress-reducing exercise program that includes yoga, Pilates, and mindful meditation can help your patients learn to clear their minds and lower their stress. This may help keep their adrenal hormones better regulated.
You may not be able to slow the pace of modern society for your patients. However, proper nutritional supplementation and gentle exercises to lower stress can help them better cope with the world around them.
- Adrenal glands. Accessed 1/28/2018.
- Kakiashvili T, Leszek J, Rutkowski K. The medical perspective on burnout. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 2013 Jun;26(3):401-12.
- Allen LV Jr. Adrenal fatigue. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounds 2013 Jan-Feb;17(1):39-44.
- Adrenal extract: Uses, side effects, interactions, and dosing. Accessed 1/28/2018