Adrenal Glands and Stress Disease and Fatigue

What are the Adrenal glands?

These are triangular shaped glands that sit superior to or on top of the kidneys like a hat around the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebrae.  These are known as the endocrine glands and are actually two different glands in one. The cortex and the medulla are encapsulated inside each other.  They secrete hormones such as mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, cortisol and androgens.

What is the major function of the Adrenal gland?

Medulla:

  • Release Adrenaline (epinephrine) – fight or flight response function, increase blood pressure and insulin resistance
  • Release Noradrenaline norepinephrine) – Vigilant concentration, increases contraction of the heart

Cortex:

  • Glucocorticoids, hydrocortisone (cortisol) – Weakness, fatigue, anorexia nausea, trouble sleeping
  • Testosterone, Androgens – Weakness, fatigue, lack of sex drive
  • Mineralcorticoids, aldosterone – Hypertension

What happens when this gland is dysfunctional?

One can experience hypo function of the adrenal gland itself and hyper function of specific hormones of the adrenal gland. Adrenal insufficiency is less serious but can cause major lifestyle dysfunction.

Hypo Function

  • Addison’s Disease – a failure of the adrenal cortex which can be caused by external triggers, infection, trauma, toxic chemical exposure and psychological stress (considered autoimmune)
    • Symptoms:  hyperpigmentation (mouth, areolae, perineum), weight loss, depression, postural hypotension causing vertigo and Azotemia (kidney failure and urea)
      • Test:  Serum cortisol, 24 hour free cortisol and ACTH stimulation test, standard electrolytes may be imbalanced potassium and depressed sodium
      • Adrenal Insufficiency Syndrome – caused in Western culture due to psychological stress and poor nutrition which depletes adrenal reserve
        • Symptoms:  Excessive fatigue, PMS, irritability, salt craving, confusion, poor memory, weakness, palpitations, insomnia, constipation or diarrhea
          • Tests:  Saliva or Urinary Cortisol usually done in 4 saliva tests or a 24-hour urine sample.  Also Test Testosterone, DHEA-S, Glucose, Serum Na, Serum K, BUN high normal or elevated

Hyper function

  • Cushing’s Disease – Excessive adrenocortical hormone production.  Adrenocortical production increases when a stressor occurs and then cortisol is released usually, cortisol is released until the stressor goes away, but in Cushings disease release of hormone is excessive and constant.  Some suffer from a low level of Cushing’s called hypercortisolism.  It is thus triggered by stress.
    • Symptoms in full blown cases:  Redistribution of the fat on the face and truncal (chest area) area (moon faces), hypertension, osteoporosis, weak connective tissue, insulin resistance, decreased immunity, mood disorders, poor wound healing, virilism (secondary male characteristics) in women.
      • Tests:  24-hour cortisol test, EKG, Elevated Na levels, K levels, Eosinophil levels low
      • Primary Aldosteronism (Conn’s Syndrome) – Excessive aldosterone is produced by the adrenal gland.  Most commonly caused by stress and seen in the majority of hypertensive patients.  Can occur secondarily to renal artery stenosis and thus a build up of a product called rennin or a begin tumor called an adenoma.
        • Symptoms:  Hypertension, women in 30-50 years old, heart palpations, weakness, muscle cramping, headaches, parasthesia, polydipsia and polyuria
          • Tests:  Potassium serum testing, blood pressure measurement, ECG, Serum aldosterone, urinary aldosterone, CT Abdominal, plasma renin levels
          • Pheochromocytoma – Tumor of the adrenal medulla that secretes high levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine.  It is relatively rare.
            • Symptoms:  Headaches, diaphoresis, palpitation and hypertension
              • Tests:  Urinary measurement of Neuropinephrine and Epinephrine, CT scan Abdomen

How would I determine if I have Adrenal Insufficiency?

Adrenal insufficiency is a common diagnosis heavily related to everyday function and is especially prevalent in individuals with Thyroid conditions.  It is often under diagnosed since it is generally not recognized in conventional medicine.

Testing is done either through serum blood or saliva. Saliva testing is preferable because you can do it easily at home taking four separate samples throughout the day allowing you to see a daily rhythm. This is important as this gives us clinical knowledge to see if, and at what point in time, your cortisol level needs support or supplementation.

Sample of what a normal healthy cortisol level should look like.

cortisol_12032012

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the treatment for Adrenal Insufficiency?

The treatment is usually some lifestyle modifications coupled with a group of herbs called adaptogens.  A doctor will determine what types of adaptogens are needed based on your lab results and symptoms.  Lifestyle modifications include diet, sleep habits and stress reduction techniques.

What happens if I don’t treat Adrenal issues?

Since they are largely caused by autoimmune and stress response, people who are left untreated can face the following problems:

  • Hypertension
  • Thyroid issues start or become worse
  • Sleep issues
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Increased cancer risk

Our clinic prides ourselves on helping manage your health. It is our passion and it should be your goal.  You can fill out the hormone checklist on our website and email it to info@in-healthclinic.com for scoring to see what risk factors you may have.  We do cortisol and hormone testing in office and even offer 10-minute free phone consults to determine if we are a right fit for you.

Pregnancy and Chiropractic

Is chiropractic safe during pregnancy?

 

“There are no contra-indications to chiropractic care during pregnancy,” according to the American Pregnancy Association.  And when you think about how long chiropractics has been around, it could be considered one of the safest procedures that can be performed during your pregnancy. While all chiropractic professionals receive some training in school with regards to the special needs of pregnant women, only some doctors, like Dr. Walker at InHealth Clinic, continue their training and work with pregnancy in their practice.

 

Why should I have chiropractic care during pregnancy?

 

As you go through physiological and hormonal changes, your body becomes the perfect environment for developing a child. This can sometimes cause physical stress, which can improve with chiropractic care. Keeping your back joints and pelvis from misalignment and keeping you comfortable means that your baby will have the optimal amount of room in the pelvis to develop. This also means your baby will be in the best position possible for delivery reducing the intensity of back labor during your birth and preventing dysticoa (difficult labor).  Additionally, keeping your spine and pelvis in alignment can reduce the occurrence of breech positioned babies.

 

What happens if my baby is breech?

 

A wonderful chiropractor, the late Larry Webster D.C., developed a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment which enables the chiropractor to balance the women’s pelvis and reduce pressure and stress on the uterus so that the fetus will reach an optimal position which is head down in the birth canal.  The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported in July/August 2002 that the success rate of babies turning vertex was 82% using the Webster Technique. The technique is widely used and much more comfortable than the external version that is performed in many cases. The highest success in turning a breech baby is achieved at 36-38 weeks. Once it gets much past this, the success rate drops due to the baby’s larger size taking up more room in the uterus. It is always best to seek chiropractic care as soon as you are told your baby is breech.

 

When is the soonest I can see a chiropractor post-partum?

 

The soonest is immediately, however most women tend to wait about two weeks until they have had time to adjust to being a new mom and have healed vaginally a bit. Our office does make house calls for one special group — our post-partum moms, whether for you or baby.  The earliest we have responded was four hours after a birth for a mom that had a C-section and the little one’s head was flexed to one side and not moving.  Mom was also having a burning low back pain, which was treated at this time.

 

What about preparing for labor? Are there things that I can do naturally?

 

Pregnancy may leave you concerned or tired. Here are a few things we treat with natural remedies.

 

  • Gestational diabetes – diet, minerals and botanical medicine
  • Stress – herbal stress reducing minerals
  • Preparing the uterus for labor – Uterine tonics
  • Breast soreness due to breast feeding – healing salves
  • Episiotomy healing – herbal poultices and sitz baths
  • Umbilical cord healing – salve and powder
  • Nutrition – vitamins, oils safe for pregnancy, and minerals
  • Preventing antibiotics for newborn – mom on a strong probiotic
  • Morning sickness – homeopathic remedies

 

We have more tools at our disposal, but the above give you some of the common needs of our patients.

 

Remember that chiropractic is safe as soon as you need it!  At inHealth, we are here to serve you during this very special time. If you have concerns or needs feel free to call our office, we never mind being a resource and promise to direct you to the best person to meet your needs.

 

Resources:

 

American Pregnancy Association:  http://www.americanpregnancy.org

BABI:   http://www.bayareabirthinfo.org/

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