Oladapo Ashiru, Professor of Anatomy/Consultant Reproductive Endocrinologist
In the last several months, Nigerians have witnessed recession followed by an increased stress level. This requires a revisit of the importance of the adrenal glands. The adrenals are two small glands on top of the kidneys, which produce hormones that are vital to life.
These hormones help the body to control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to stressors like a major illness or injury, and regulate blood pressure. Two of the most important adrenal hormones are cortisol and aldosterone. The adrenal glands also produce adrenaline and small amounts of sex hormones called androgens, among other hormones.
Adrenal disorders can be caused by too much or too little of a particular hormone. For example, Cushing Syndrome is caused by an overproduction of cortisol, or, more commonly, the use of medications called glucocorticoids—cortisol-like drugs (steroids)—which are used to treat inflammatory disorders such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Untreated Cushing Syndrome can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and other health issues.
When the adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone, blood pressure rises. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can put you at risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure.
Adrenal insufficiency or fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands don’t make enough cortisol and sometimes, aldosterone. Symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness, decreased appetite, weight loss or even weight gain. Some people experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. A genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia also causes the adrenal glands to make too little cortisol and/or aldosterone, and too much androgen.
The good news is that the conditions caused by the overproduction or underproduction of adrenal hormones are treatable.
Stress causes adrenal fatigue. Stress can be due to physical, emotional, psychological, environmental and infectious factors, or a combination of these factors. You can become stressed due to the death of a loved one, a car accident, or a serious illness. You can also become stressed from less obvious reasons, like an abscessed tooth, a bout of flu, too much exercise, quarrel with a loved one, pressure at work, an unhappy relationship or environmental toxins. Other reasons may be poor diet, bad eating habit such as sugar or refined carbohydrate overload, not getting enough sleep and so on. If these stressful events happen all at once and are continuous so that your adrenals are not given time to recover between each incident, adrenal fatigue will set in. When the adrenals are completely exhausted, the condition is called Addison Disease or Hypoadrenia. However, you will experience many symptoms and illnesses between when your adrenals are stressed or weakened and when they are completely exhausted.
People suffering from adrenal fatigue will suffer from many seemingly unrelated symptoms such as low blood sugar – leading to hypoglycaemia, allergies, arthritic pain and decreased immunity. Other symptoms include insomnia, respiratory infections, rhinitis, asthma, frequent colds, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, adult onset diabetes, auto-immune disorders, and alcoholism.
Women will have many difficulties with menstruation and menopause. The adrenals also affect the mental state. You may also suffer from many anxieties, irritability, unreasonable fears, and depression. You may also have intervals of confusion, increased difficulties concentrating and less acute memory recall. You may also have less tolerance than normal and become easily frustrated and emotional.
Anybody can suffer from adrenal fatigue, but it happens most frequently to perfectionists and those who drive themselves relentlessly with little rest and relaxation to enjoy life. Someone who is never satisfied, who is under constant pressure, especially with little outlet for emotional release, who feels trapped or helpless and who feels overwhelmed by repeated difficulties; someone who has experienced severe, chronic, emotional or physical trauma, or illness.
Some lifestyles also lead to adrenal fatigue. For example, if you have unrelieved pressure and frequent crises at work or home, severe emotional trauma, death of a close friend or family member, major surgery with incomplete recovery leading to chronic fatigue, among others.
Stressors also add up. When one or more of the above stressors occur at once or when emotional and physical traumas occur, they can lead to adrenal fatigue. It could also happen that your adrenals may be weak from birth, particularly if your mother was stressed while she was pregnant with you or if there is a history of adrenal fatigue in the family.
A number of therapeutic measures have been recommended for adrenal fatigue. They include vitamin supplements and adrenal support formulations. Also important is to ensure improved quality and length of sleep. However the best remedy for adrenal fatigue is to experience a full detox period in a medical spa and undergo total stress elimination therapy. At the Mart-Life Detox clinic, this would entail thorough cleansing of and ridding the body of accumulated toxins from physical and psychological stress.
Also, resting the body, mind and spirit to ensure rejuvenation of all organ systems and synchronisation of the body’s physiological processes and the psychological functions to attain balance and hence optimise health. The detox de-stress therapies also inculcate supplementation with appropriate orthomolecules, a customised anti-inflammatory hormone balancing diet, hormone balancing wraps, lymphatic massages, anti-stress and detoxifying hydrotherapy baths, redirecting the body’s bioenergies and unblocking energy pathways that reduces the body’s abilities to cope with stress, cellular regeneration treatments and pure oxygen exposure sessions to calm the senses and improve the body’s energy producing pathways. Among these also, is the True-Rife frequency machine, a new technology in stress management.
Lifestyle modification counselling and trainings on how to improve quality of sleep, reduce and handle stress and stressful situations are also part of the treatment plan. Any treatment plan short of the above may cause a rebound of adrenal fatigue with exposure to even less stress levels.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.