the Effects of Long Term Stress
The adrenals are part
of the endocrine or glandular system. These bean-shaped glands
sit on top of the kidneys and produce a variety of hormones that
regulate energy production, fluid balance, immune functions, and
other important processes.
There are two parts
to these glands. The adrenal cortex produces mineralocorticoids
which regulate body fluids, glucocorticoids which mediate the
effects of stress and suppress inflammation, and sex hormones,
such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. The adrenal medulla
produces epinephrine and norepinephrine, which help to regulate
energy and help us deal with stress.
The adrenal glands
help the body deal with stressful situations by adjusting the
internal biological factors in response to external pressures.
They create what is called the fight-or-flight response, the reaction
we have when we are scared, startled, stressed, or worried. Adrenal
hormones provide the energy we need to meet life's challenges.
They also reduce inflammation and regulate fluid balance.
Constant stress, especially
when coupled with poor nutrition, can deplete the adrenal glands,
resulting in adrenal fatigue. In our modern society many people,
feel under constant stress and pressure. Financial pressures,
traffic jams, busy schedules and relationship problems all take
their toll on the adrenals. Caffeine and sugar also tend to deplete
the adrenal glands by over stimulating them. As a result, adrenal
weakness is very common in modern society.
Severely depleted adrenals
cause a person to feel tired, tense and exhausted, a "burned
out" sensation. Specific symptoms of adrenal exhaustion include
severe fatigue, difficulty relaxing or feeling peaceful, disturbing
dreams and restless sleep patterns, nervousness, anxiety, heart
palpitations and a sensation of pres- sure in the chest that is
often interpreted as a cardiac problem. Persons suffering from
adrenal fatigue will tend to have dark circles under their eyes,
a quivering tongue and pulsing pupils in their eyes. Other symptoms
include dryness, blood sugar imbalances, inflammation, difficulty
breathing, tension head- aches and excessive allergic reactions.
There is a class of
herbal remedies that have been scientifically proven to help exhausted
adrenals recover by mediating the effects of stress. Known as
adaptagens, these herbs reduce the effects of stress by acting
on signals from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland which trigger
the production of stress hormones from the adrenal gland. By reducing
the production of stress hormones from the adrenals, adaptagens
giving the adrenal glands a much needed rest. Two of the very
best adaptagens are eleuthero root and schizandra berries. Eleuthero
(formerly known as Siberian ginseng) and schizandra berries have
a calming effect on adrenal function and keep the adrenals from
being over stimulated.
Suma is another herb
shown to have adaptagenic properties. Suma has been called Brazilian
ginseng because of its tonic properties. Suma
Combination combines suma with eleuthero root, astragalus,
ginkgo, and gotu kola. In combination, the herbs in Suma Combination
reduce stress levels, enhance immune function and improve memory
is another valuable adaptagenic formula. It combines a variety
of adaptagenic herbs including: Korean ginseng, eleuthero root,
rhodiola, ashwaganda, gynostemma, schizandra, and suma. This formula
can be used to reduce stress responses, enhance immunity, reduce
oxidative damage, brighten moods and support the immune system.
Fatigue Formula is a valuable product for exhausted adrenals,
chronic fatigue, restless sleep and chest pains brought on by
anxiety and stress. According to Chinese tradition, it helps "calm
the spirit”, promotes deeper sleep, reduced stress levels,
a calmer mind and more energy. It is particularly indicated for
people who are tired after a long bout with stress but cannot
sleep peacefully through the night.
There are also formulas
that act directly to nourish depleted adrenal glands. One of these
is NutriCalm, which provides
vitamin C and B-complex vitamins vital for nervous and adrenal
function. It is helpful for reducing anxiety levels, nervous tension
and the tendency to overextend one's energy.
For severely depleted
adrenals, there is Adrenal Support.
Combining some of the same anti-stress vitamins found in NutriCalm
with schizandra and other adrenal-supporting herbs and nutrients,
Adrenal Support also contains adrenal tissue substance. It nourishes
and rebuilds the adrenal tissue, as well as supporting adrenal
It is very important to avoid sugar and caffeine when recovering
from stress and adrenal burn-out. Where caffeine and sugar cravings
are a problem, licorice root can help. It supports adrenal function
and stabilizes blood sugar levels and energy. Target
Endurance can also be used to increase energy levels in people
who crave sugar and caffeine.
With herbal and nutritional
support, rest and good nutrition, it is possible to recover from
adrenal burn-out. For more information talk to an herb specialist
to help you develop the program that is right for you.
note: The information contained here is for educational purposes
only and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or prevent any illnesses.
We recommend that you contact a health care practitioner if you
have any immediate health care concerns.