Archive for the ‘Physiology’ Category

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog
Mark Twain’s famous quote can be related directly to the Adrenal Gland.  It produces more hormones than any other gland, metabolises proteins/fats/carbohydrates, balances blood sugar levels/stress/sodium and potassium levels, produces corticosteroids,  controls water retention and is only the size of a walnut, weighing in at about the same as a grape!  It’s fair to say that if we have an adrenal related disorder than we will potentially be in a bit of a state, conversely if we have any disorder than it’s also a fair assumption that our adrenal gland is out of sync hormonally somewhere!
The adrenal glands sit above both the kidneys (abdominal region) and consists of the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla.  The Adrenal cortex consists of three layers (zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata and the zona reticularis), this area of the Adrenal Gland is hormonally controlled and is in charge of secreting hormones such as cortisol (stress), sex steroids (reproduction) and aldosterone (water retention).  Whereas the adrenal medulla is in charge of the fight or flight activity (release of epinephrine and norepinephrine) and is therefore sympathetically activated (neurological control).
An inefficient Adrenal Gland can cause numerous disorders such as low blood pressure, allergies, asthma, stress, anxiety and autoimmune problems.  Interestingly, its known that disorders such as anxiety and depression can be due to a malfunctioning adrenal gland so before your doctor goes putting you on anti-depressants and ant-anxiety medication (which may cause detrimental side effects) you should find out if you just need to address your adrenal gland firstly.
The signs and symptoms are vague and non-specific so may just reflect the individuals personality type, immune function or physiological issue rather than an adrenal issue.  Symptoms are as followed: Run down, weakness, sweet and salt cravings, mid/lower back pain, PMS, mood swings, mental exhaustion, easily agitated,  chronic headaches, weak pulse, low blood pressure/blood sugar, irregular heartbeat, constipation, dizziness when standing up.
Reasons for the Adrenal Glands becoming fatigued are from basic things which can be controlled daily: Dehydration, food allergies, anaemia, toxicity, traumatic event (chronic stress), protein malnutrition, blood sugar surges, poor sleep pattern, caffeine consumption, alcohol, leaky gut and trans fats.  Therefore rehabilitation of the adrenal gland consists of doing the following:
– Rest/Sleep
– Hydration (plus sea salt once in morning such as himalayan sea salt for electrolyte balance)
– low/moderate carbohydrate intake
– Saturated fat (surprising? not really seeming as saturated fat maintains structure and rigidity of all our cells!)
– Increase vegetable intake
– Alkaline diet!
– Yoga (believed to temporarily turn of the  adrenal glands to help repair them)
– Vitamin C
Also exercise seems to have benefits on the adrenal system, as the adrenal glands have an indirect effect on stroke volume, heart rate, blood volume, respiration, perspiration and blood flow than the more efficient we become with our cardio-respiratory system the less stress is placed upon the adrenal glands during exercise or fight/flight activity.  However we should be aware that anybody with diseases such as increased blood pressure and diabetes may be on medication which slows these processes and the effects of the adrenal gland so make sure you understand what your limitations are and if you don’t know ask your doctor!
As you can see the adrenal gland is very important to our bodies.  In fact before they new much about the gland they tried removing it from patients who have a dysfunction and each time the patient died (compared to pancreas removal etc in which doesn’t result in death) so look after your gland with care!
That’s me done for this article, let me here what you think!
Healthy living,
Luke Nevill