Quick anatomical and physiological description:
The adrenals are two small glands weighing 3-5 grams and located just above the kidneys. They have a high rate of blood flow per gram and a high Vitamin C content per gram in the body. The outer zone is called the Cortex and accounts for 80-90% of gland secreting your steroids (cortisol, DHEA-S and aldosterone). The inner zone called the Medulla comprises of 10-20% of gland and secretes catecholamines (epinephrine and nor epinephrine). Remember the three main adrenal stress hormones are :
- Alcohol intolerance
- Chronic inflammation
- Chronic pain
- Craving for sweets
- Dry and thin skin
- Excessive fatigue
- Food allergies & sensitivities
- Heart palpitations
- Inability to concentrate
- Low body temperature
- Mental depression
- Poor memory
- Premenstrual tension
A normal rhythm for the adrenal glands would be highest secretion in the morning and lowest in the evening. This is called the circadian rhythm. Anything that disturbs that rhythm can be influenced by
mental/emotional, biochemical and physical stressors.
How can you evaluate your adrenal glands function?
If you have a hard time rising in the morning or have a low energy throughout the day, as well as poor blood sugar regulation you may have abnormal adrenal function. Your cells are having difficulty producing energy. If there is reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown, you may have muscle and joint wasting with chronic pain.
If the morning cortisol levels are elevated we do not build well and prone to osteoporosis. Stress is the enemy of the bones especially in women.
Various immune cells ( white blood cells) cycle in and out of the spleen and bone marrow. The immune system follows the cortisol cycles so if there is disruption especially at night, the immune system is adversely affected.
It has been known that short and long term stress suppresses the immune response to the lungs, throat, urinary and intestinal tracts. This can reduce the surface antibody - secretory IgA. Thus, resistance to infection occurs and allergic reactions are said to increase.
If you have sleep disturbance it may mean your cortisol levels are high interfering with REM sleep. If chronic, it can cause reduced mental and physical vitality and subsequently depression.
Higher cortisol levels also interfere with normal regeneration of skin health.
At the cell level, the cortisol level controls your thyroid hormone production. If symptomatic there may be poor adaptation of the adrenals.
Think about your diet. Within 30 minutes after consumption gluten grains can create allergic responses in the body, especially at the gut. 20% ( or more as of late ) of the population suffers from this. If the intestine becomes inflamed, cortisol increases and DHEA decreases.
(excerpts from Pure Prescriptions re: Underrated Adrenal Glands)
Lab tests that check cortisol levels: adrenocorticotrophin stimulation test
corticotrophin releasing hormone test
Those tests show if the adrenal gland is secreting adequate amounts of cortisol.
Dr. Cart does evaluate the adrenal gland function via Nutritional Response Testing using select remedies. Muscle strength is an adequate design to check the body's intelligence for what it needs to restore normal function. Sometimes it becomes much more complex as other glands enter into the bigger picture. This is evaluated in detail during Nutritional testing.
NOTE WELL: Licorice be it in herbal compounds or tea or as candy, stimulates the cortisol levels, causes a rise in blood pressure as well. The Medical community warns against any pregnant woman eating licorice. Licorice is also known to cause heart irregularity. It causes a drop in potassium levels. Patients are told not to eat licorice if on blood pressure pills, diuretics, estrogens, heart meds. The reasoning may be that it interferes with detox of drugs via liver. (excerpt via WebMD)