The adrenal gland is critical for life and optimal health. The many facets that play into the health of the adrenal gland also help the rest of the body. The United States and nations around the world face a new epidemic of chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia (for more common questions and experts answers on Fibromyalgia, visit Sharecare.com), chronic fatigue and arthritis. It is important to study these factors to help the body regain its health.
The adrenal gland will rely on the same principles that the rest of the body uses: proper nutrition, adequate rest, exercise and stress reduction. Certain aspects of these concepts resonate very loudly with the adrenal gland. Our current lifestyles are a recipe for disaster in terms of health and longevity. It has become obvious that the body was not meant to take a lifestyle of processed foods, excessive sugar and preservatives, and chronic stress with little or no activity. This is the current prescription many of us are following and the reason our health care spending is spiraling out of control.
Chronic stress will inevitably cause the adrenal gland to struggle. Controlling and eliminating stress might be one of the most important treatments the body will ever need. Chronic stress will also cause declines in physical health, which can heighten the stress. Breathing exercises, yoga, counseling, a focus on nutrition, job changes and regular exercise routines can all help alleviate the stress cycle. Seek out an option that allows a feeling of peace and also provides direction in where your body needs to go. If your stressors are putting your life in danger, immediately get away from them. Otherwise, write out what makes you so stressed and why, and then think about the change you hope to bring and a plan to do so.
Nutrition is a great starting point for those wishing to regain control of their health. Replace processed and junk foods with whole foods, mainly fruits, vegetables and proteins. Focus on foods that primarily do not come in packages or sit on a shelf for weeks or months. Junk food and soft drinks are very hard on the adrenal gland. Include healthy fats in the diet and throw out any foods that contain hydrogenated oils, margarine or high fructose corn syrup. Many people experience even faster results by avoiding extra wheat and milk; they can be very highly processed and often are poorly digested. A food that is digested poorly is more work for the body. There are several vitamins to help the adrenal gland, which will be discussed on the next page, but food is probably the most important treatment that can be put in the body to strengthen the adrenal gland and the body in general.
Nutrients for the Adrenal Gland
The adrenal gland relies on a several nutrients. Vitamin C is found in significant quantities in the adrenal gland. In his classic study of native cultures, Weston Price described how the Native Americans of the northern parts of Canada avoided scurvy or vitamin C deficiency [Source: Price]. Without any significant fruit or vegetable sources of vitamin C for much of the year, these tribes prevented scurvy by including the adrenal glands of the moose in their diet, somehow knowing that it prevented the deficiency. The adrenal gland also needs B complex vitamins, especially B-5, chromium and magnesium. Typical dosing could include:
- Vitamin C: 1,000 mg twice a day
- B complex: 1 capsule twice a day
- B-5: 100 mg a day in addition to the B complex
- Chromium: 200 mcg twice a day
- Magnesium: 200 mg twice a day
Ginseng, licorice, ashwagandah and rhodiola can all be helpful when the adrenal gland is out of balance. Licorice should typically be avoided by those who are treated for high blood pressure. The herbs rhodiola and theanine can be useful for stress. Healing herbs like ginseng often help with fatigue and low stamina that can come from low adrenal output. The vitamins are helpful and are pretty simple to start. Clinically, these herbs have good safety and are tolerated quite well. Dosages are typically 1 capsule twice a day. Everyone will not need the same treatment, and it is probably best to seek counsel on which herbs can be right for a given set of symptoms.
Sleep is a common problem when the adrenal gland is out of balance. Unfortunately, poor sleep will perpetuate fatigue, which often makes it harder to remain on schedule at work and still get adequate rest that night. Make time for good quality sleep. Sleep in a dark room. Keep the cell phones and computers out of the bedroom and try to keep alarm clocks a few feet or more away from where your head will be resting.
For some, even the above treatment strategies will not be enough. In some cases, test results for the adrenal gland can be very low. Individuals in this group might have to be treated with hydrocortisone or Cortef. Cortef is essentially like hormone replacement for the adrenal gland. It is not for everyone. In fact, if the adrenal gland is overactive, Cortef will aggravate the problem. If the adrenal gland is very low, Cortef can be very helpful and can provide fairly prompt relief. This is a prescription medication recommended after tests through blood, urine or saliva. Saliva testing is becoming a popular method because it is cheap, done at home and the patient can easily obtain several samples throughout the day.