Natural Approaches to Adrenal & Cortisol Health

Adrenal Gland Fatigue : Adrenal gland fatigue is a popular term used to describe a theoretic condition where the adrenal glands excrete too much cortisol when under prolonged stress, leading to a cortisol deficiency. It is important to note that while this term is often heard, adrenal gland fatigue is not a medically accepted condition due to lack of evidence that it exists. In this article, we discuss more about Adrenal Cortisol Health in detail.

Adrenal Cortisol Health
Adrenal Cortisol Health

How to Regulate Adrenal Cortisol Health?

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

Though this condition has not been medically proven, adrenal fatigue symptoms include brain fog, fatigue, and low motivation. These symptoms are nonspecific and can be explained by a variety of other conditions and therefore may not end up being adrenal fatigue symptoms.

Adrenal Medulla Hormones

The adrenal glands consist of two sections called the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla, each responsible for producing a different set of hormones. Adrenal Medulla hormones dictate the “fight or flight” response, and consist of epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine.

Zona Glomerulosa

The adrenal cortex is divided into three parts; the zona fasciculata, the zona reticularis, and the zona glomerulosa. The zona glomerulosa has the important job of producing aldosterone, a hormone used to help regulate blood pressure, blood PH, and certain electrolyte levels.

Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency

Secondary adrenal insufficiency, in contrast to primary adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s Disease) is a condition where there is a lack of cortisol in the body due to insufficient stimulation of the adrenal cortex by adrenocorticotrophic hormone, or ACTH. Causes of secondary adrenal insufficiency range from tumors, to radiation exposure, to certain medications called glucocorticoids.

Adrenal Crisis

Adrenal crisis, also called Addisonian crisis, is a life-threatening acute condition where there is a dangerously low amount of cortisol in the body, resulting in symptoms like severe fatigue, low blood pressure, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Adrenal crisis can result from damage to the adrenal or pituitary gland, extreme dehydration, and infection. Perhaps the most common cause of adrenal crisis is the sudden discontinuation of medications known as glucocorticoids.

Aldosterone and Potassium

Aldosterone, an important hormone produced by the adrenal glands, plays a significant role in the body by regulation blood pressure and electrolyte levels, one of which being potassium. Aldosterone and potassium have an inverse relationship – when the adrenal gland release aldosterone, it signals the kidneys to release potassium into the urine to be excreted out of the body, helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure and PH.

Addison’s Disease & it’s Treatment

Addison’s Disease Treatment

Addison’s Disease treatment involves medications designed to replace the hormones that are deficient. In most cases Addison’s disease treatment consists of either fludrocortisones (for aldosterone replacement) or one of hydrocortisome, methylprednisolone, or prednisone (for cortisol replacement. 

Is Addison’s Disease Hereditary?

Those who suffer or know someone who suffers from Addison’s disease often worry about inheriting or passing on this condition, prompting the question “is Addison’s disease hereditary?”  In very rare cases Addison’s disease may be passed through affected families through a genetic predisposition; however, the vast majority of cases result from other causes.

Cortisol & it’s Symptoms

Cortisol and Sleep

Cortisol and sleep have a closely linked relationship. Cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, is one of the key players of the sleep-wake cycle. Studies have shown that cortisol is at its lowest concentration around midnight, where it then begins to gradually rise as the day begins. This inverse relationship may also help explain why those who are stressed (and therefore have a higher concentration of cortisol) have difficulty sleeping.

Pineal Body Function

The pineal body, also known as the pineal gland, is a gland located deep inside the brain. The pineal body functions as an essential part of the circadian rhythm by secreting a hormone called melatonin. Curiously, this hormone’s release is inversely related to light, despite the Pineal glands deep location. In lower light conditions, such as nighttime, the Pineal body begins to release melatonin which helps us to fall asleep.

High Cortisol Levels Symptoms

High cortisol levels symptoms may include weight gain, fatigue, irritability, acne, headache, and high blood pressure, among others. Cushing syndrome is a condition where the body produces too much cortisol, resulting in many of the symptoms listed above. Other explanations of high cortisol levels also exist, such as taking high doses of glucocorticoids. 

Cortisol Stress

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Although it does provide multiple functions throughout the body, cortisol is commonly thought of as a stress hormone because it is released as part of the body’s response to stress. The cortisol stress response may include symptoms such as sweating, increased blood pressure, and rapid heart rate.

Chronic Stress Symptoms

Stress is the body’s normal response to challenging conditions, but when this stress becomes chronic, the short term symptoms may lead to lasting problems. Chronic stress symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, depression, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and trouble focusing. It is important to deal with stress in a healthy way since allowing it to linger can lead to serious health implications.

Cortisol Hormone

The cortisol hormone is produced by the adrenal glands which are located at the top of each kidney. Cortisol plays an important role in the regulation of sleep, metabolism, blood pressure, and more.

Cortisol Levels Range

A cortisol test is used to measure the amount of cortisol in the blood in order to diagnose conditions such as Cushing syndrome or Addison’s disease.  Because levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day, cortisol levels range depending on when the blood was drawn. Because of this, there is usually a series of measurements taken at different times. The reference range of a healthy individual is generally around 10-20 mcg/dL when measured between 6-8am, and 3-10mcg/dL when measures near 4pm.

Hydrocortisone Side Effects

Hydrocortisone is a medication commonly used for a variety of conditions. Most often it is applied as a cream to treat bug bites or allergic reaction, though it can also be taken orally for the treatment of Addison’s disease. Hydrocortisone side effects may include dizziness, anxiety, headache, mood changes, and weight gain, though this list is not exhaustive.

Low Cortisol Symptoms

Low cortisol symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, nausea, irritability, abdominal pain, low blood sugar, and drowsiness. If cortisol levels become dangerously low, symptoms such as confusion, loss of consciousness and severe weakness may be experienced. To aid the adrenal gland using a natural dietary supplement, please check our products page by clicking on either of the following links: USA Visitors or International Visitors.

References

Is adrenal fatigue “real?” Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-adrenal-fatigue-real-2018022813344.  Accessed April 2, 2020.  

Adrenal glands. Johns Hopkins. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/adrenal-glands. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Secondary adrenal insufficiency. NADF. https://www.nadf.us/adrenal-diseases/secondary-adrenal-insufficiency/. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Addison’s disease. The Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350293. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Acute adrenal crisis. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000357.htm. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Addison’s disease. NIH. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/5740/addisons-disease. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. NCBI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688585/. Accessed April 2, 2020.

An overview of the pineal gland. Endocrine Web. https://www.endocrineweb.com/endocrinology/overview-pineal-gland. Accessed April 2, 2020.

High cortisol symptoms: what do they mean? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cortisol-symptoms#meaning. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Stress management. The Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Hydrocortisone (oral route). The Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/hydrocortisone-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20075259. Accessed April 2, 2020.