The adrenal glands shaped like triangular are located on top of kidneys and weight about 5 grams. The glands are divided into two sections. The outer section (cortex) is in charge of production of hormones, androstenedione, aldosterone, cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The central section (medulla) is in charge of production of adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine which function as neurotransmitter and hormone.
In fact the four major stress hormones are adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine and DHEA. These hormones are highly released in the mornings and lowest at nights.
Aldosterone also helps the body to maintain salt (electrolyte) and water balance and androstenedione and DHEA are hormones that can be converted to testosterone. Cortisol also regulates blood sugar and metabolizes carbohydrates.
Adrenaline fastens the body's metabolism and helps the body to cope with stress during danger. The release of large amounts of cortisol during extreme stress can lead to many health problems.
The reduction in adrenal functionality can cause allergies, food craving, headaches, memory problems, weakness, dizziness and blood sugar disorders. Sometimes the server reduction in adrenal functionality can lead to a rare condition called "Addison's disease" and its symptoms such as extreme fatigue, diarrhea, depression, craving for salty foods, nausea, chill, darkening of the skin, dizziness and loss of appetite.
The most common type of Addison's disease is autoimmune Addison's disease and this happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks the adrenal glands and destroys them. Addison's disease also coexists with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) known as Schmidt's syndrome.
Excessive production of cortisol or similar steroid hormones can cause a rare disorder called "crushing syndrome". The symptoms of crushing syndrome are fatigue, depression, sleep apnea, absence of menstrual period, increase in thirst and urination, weak muscles, poor skin healing and in some cases osteoporosis and increased susceptibility to infections and diseases like tuberculosis and fibromyalgia.
The adrenal glands functionality is mostly impaired because of arthritis, asthma and excessive use of cortisone therapy in nonendocrine diseases.
You can perform a simple test at home to check your adrenal gland function:
Normally your blood pressure is 10 points higher when you are standing than when you are laying down. If your measured blood pressure was lower when you are standing up than when you are laying down you might have a reduced adrenal gland.
- Milk thistle helps liver function and adrenal gland. Also nerve calming herbs such as valerian and kava kava are good for reduction of stress.
- Echinacea and goldenseal can also increase white blood cells and protect tissues from bacteria invasion.
- Astragalus can also improve adrenal glands and reduce stress.
Do not use astragalus if you have fever