Healing from the Top Down - Adrenal Glands

The topic for this article is the adrenal glands. But first I would like to summarize what we have talked about so far in our Healing from the Top Down series.

Purple flower
First, we talked about the hypothalamus, which is in the center in the brain (sometimes referred to as an organ). The hypothalamus really runs the show. It sends messages directly to the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and our digestion system. Its proper function affects every organ in our body. In the same article, I mentioned the pituitary gland which is considered the master gland. It talks directly to the thyroid gland and with the help of the liver, keeps the thyroid functioning well. We then discussed the thyroid gland which regulates metabolism. I have left out the smaller, lesser thought about organs for now and today will talk about the adrenals.

The adrenal glands are small organs located on top of the kidneys and consist of two very distinct parts, the outer, or the adrenal cortex, and the inner, called the adrenal medulla. The adrenal medulla is responsible for producing the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, the hormones that regulate our response to stress (called the "fight and flight " response). Epinephrine (also called adrenaline) increases the heart rate and the force of the heart contractions. It also facilitates blood flow to the muscles and brain, causing the relaxation of the smooth muscles. In addition, it helps with the conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver. Norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline) has very little of the above effects, but has strong vasoconstrictive effects and can cause an increase in blood pressure.

The hormones produced by the adrenal cortex are called corticosteroid hormones. These hormones serve three basic functions: the mineralocorticoids help regulate the sodium and potassium balance; the glucocorticoids help regulate the metabolism of glucose and other organic molecules; and the sex steroids, which are weak androgens (and lesser amounts of estrogens) which help supplement the sex steroids secreted by the sex organs. Hydrocortisone, which is also known as cortisol, is the most predominant glucocorticoid found in humans. It controls the body's use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The second hormone produced is called corticosterone. This hormone, together with the hydrocortisone hormones, suppress the inflammatory response in the body and also affects the immune response.

The interesting thing about the adrenal glands is the fact that if one aspect of the gland is "off" it effects all the other aspects of the functions of the gland. For example, if you have an infection, your stress response will also be affected as well as you inflammatory response. So when balancing the adrenals, all aspects of the adrenal glands need to be taken into consideration.

The basics on keeping your adrenals happy:

Peaceful pond
The first thing we can do for our adrenals is to eat right. Another thing to do is to relax which might not be so easy for some people. Let me talk briefly about these two things. Every time our blood sugar takes a dive, our adrenals produce cortisol in order to raise the blood sugar back to normal. Similarly, every time we are stressed our adrenals produce cortisol which tells us to run from danger. In both situations, our adrenals are taking a hit. Additionally, getting enough sleep and living in a peaceful, supportive environment also create positive effects on the adrenals.

contact me if I can be of any service to you. Until next time, be well!

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