The adrenal gland is a small organ located above the kidneys on both sides. Together, the adrenal glands are one of the main organs in our body. The adrenal gland is surrounded by a capsule and consists of the outer adrenal cortex and the inner adrenal medulla. The medulla primarily produces the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline and the cortex produces aldosterone, cortisol and DHEA. However, adrenal glands also produce female sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Adrenaline and noradrenaline
Adrenaline and noradrenaline are stress hormones and serve short-term effects. The two hormones are released in a moment of shock, for example, when a car suddenly swerves in front of you or you notice that you have lost your wallet.
Cortisol is the long-term stress hormone. It helps us cope with stress and is therefore incredibly important. The hormone is also incredibly important for regulating blood sugar levels, metabolism, the immune system, and blood pressure. Cortisol levels are closely related to our sleep-wake rhythm and change throughout the day.
What do we need the adrenal glands for?
The main task of the adrenal glands is to ensure our survival, by setting priorities: In a dangerous situation, such as an attack, they signal to the body by releasing stress hormones that it is currently in a state of emergency. At that moment, all our body energy is pumped into the most important organs, such as the heart and lungs, which are needed for survival. Non-essential functions of the body are neglected. For example, thyroid, digestion, skin and hair arn’t that important right now. This process is also called the fight-or-flight response. Actually, it’s a clever response by our body. Unfortunately, it is only when the danger passes and the adrenal glands have time to regenerate. Unfortunately, this is often not the case in everyday life. Beacuse of this so energy and strength of the organ is at some point at the end of its tethers. With a healthy adrenal gland, you can turn night into day or eat too much fast food and sweets and be fit the next day. In the long run, of course, this does not work well.
Adrenal fatigue tends to affect anyone. Age and gender do not matter. The following external and internal stressors can promote adrenal weakness:
- Excessive sports
- Physical or psychological pressure
- Diet, coffee, alcohol, nicotine
- Lack of sleep
- Hormone fluctuations
- Nutrient deficiencies
- operations, intestinal diseases, inflammations, food intolerances, thyroid diseases, autoimmune diseases
- Environmental toxins
Influence of adrenal weakness on cycle activity
Everything that permanently overworks the body sooner or later also exhausts the adrenal glands. This certainly does not happen overnight, but is a gradual process. However, too much stress or even exhausted kidneys can harm your hormonal system. This leads to:
- cycles that are too long or too short
- irregular cycles
- missed menstruation
- lack of ovulation (anovulation)
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
From an evolutionary and survival point of view, this is actually understandable, because as already described, the body perceives any form of stress as a dangerous threat! For example, conception should be prevented in an obviously dangerous life situation, therefore ovulation would not make sense. However, a permanent lack of ovulation leads to hormonal imbalance, which can manifest itself in cycle irregularities. Signs of an overworked and burned out adrenal gland may include:
- Exhaustion, depression, burnout
- sleep disturbances
- abnormal blood sugar levels, prediabetes, diabetes
- hormonal imbalances
- concentration disorders, forgetfulness
- loss of appetite
- susceptibility to infections
- Loss of libido
- Mood swings
- Improvement through food (energy through sugar)
Have you ever thought about what stresses you out all day without consciously noticing it? What are your stressors?
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