The Adrenals: Your Personalized Battery Pack
The two walnut-size glands that sit just above each kidney are the unsung
heroes of the human body. Our adrenal glands work as batteries to
energize our body. Although they secrete adrenaline and other hormones
that play a number of essential physiological processes in our body, they
are most commonly associated with their ability to help us deal with stress.
The adrenal glands are crucial to our overall health and taking good care of
them throughout our life is essential as they also work as our back up sex
hormones, a role which becomes even more important as we age. In
addition, they help manage our blood sugar, regulating metabolism and
controlling blood pressure.
So the three big questions are: How do these dynamos work? How do we
know when they are not functioning? And how can we take care of them?
How do our adrenal glands work?
The fact is, we are all subject to stress in our lives and our bodies are hard-
wired with what is known as the “fight or flight” stress response. Think of it
like pressing the gas pedal on your car. When there is a perceived threat,
the hypothalamus sends a signal to the adrenal glands (via the pituitary
gland). This causes them to release hormones such as adrenaline and
cortisol. It’s what allows us to spring into action with a burst of energy
during times of emergency. For many of us, the challenge to our health
arises when we are faced with “chronic stress” for protracted periods of
time. Sadly, with modern-day living, this scenario is all too common.
Adrenaline and cortisol are released whether we are undergoing acute
stress -- such as a death in the family, a divorce, surgery and other forms
of trauma -- or simply dealing with low-grade stressors such as traffic jams,
work deadlines, expectations from family and friends, environmental
stressors, or even worrying excessively or just feeling irritated. Over time,
the constant secretion of these key hormones can cause the adrenals to become stressed to the point of exhaustion. The result: Adrenal
Symptoms of weakened adrenals
Knowing when you’re adrenal “batteries” are low and needing a boost has
become more important than ever before. Weakened adrenals can
manifest themselves through fatigue and lack or energy, insomnia,
irritability, cravings, weight gain and ultimately a weakened immune
system. You might find your capacity to deal with workloads has
decreased and your overall tolerance to stress and capacity to handling it is
much lower than it once was. People often describe what they feel as an
overall unwell feeling. For some, just having enough energy to get through
the day is a challenge. It’s clear that prolonged stress plays havoc on the
body and can potentially create a myriad of issues that can elevate anxiety
and potentially affect our working memory.
Recognizing our own self-imposed stress triggers is a huge step towards
managing, reducing and possibly eliminating them from our lives. Some of
the most effective stress management and lifestyle strategies include
diaphragmatic breathing -- also known as belly breathing. Walks in nature,
meditation and laughing have all been shown to have positive effects on
calming the sympathetic system (the fight or flight response) and activating
our parasympathetic system (rest and digest).
The role of adaptogens in supporting our adrenals
That’s where adaptogens come into play in mitigating the effects of
protracted stress. They are a group of specialized substances that help
normalize the body’s response to stress and rebalance the hypothalamic,
pituitary, adrenal axis (HPA), which is the body’s central stress response
system. Adaptogens such as those found in Purica Vitality Adrenal
Support can literally help revitalize our adrenals and increase our capacity
to manage the inevitable stressors that have become synonymous with
Inspired by the principles of Chinese, Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine,
Purica Vitality is a powerful combination of two certified organic micronized
medicinal mushrooms (Chaga and Cordyceps) and the herb ashwaghanda.
This powerful blend calms and restores balance within our overworked
adrenal glands, enabling them to better deal with the impacts of stress.
Especially when used in conjunction with some of the stress management
techniques outlined above, it is one of the ways we can replenish the
adrenal “batteries” and maintain the kind of energy we need to make the
most of our lives, whether at work or at play.
- Tawnya Ritco, R.H.N. is a health educator that specializes in the
relationship between nutrition, lifestyle and vitality.