Fatigue, sleep disturbance, stress and tension are the most common complaints in many doctor’s offices. In this article we will talk about the adrenal glands and their relation to stress and fatigue.
These thumb size glands sit atop our kidneys. They make many hormones, nerve messengers and immune regulator substances. Some of the hormones are precursors to the sex hormones, others help control water and sugar levels, and still others trigger our “flight and fight ” mechanisms. The two hormones we want to feature today are DHEA and cortisol.
Both DHEA and cortisol are derived from cholesterol. Cholesterol is then converted into pregnenalone, which converts to cortisol, the stress hormone, or DHEA, the immune enhancer and sex hormone precursor.
Cortisol is a “flight or fight” stress hormone. It helps us fight inflammation, puts us on alert, opens our pupils, rushes blood into the head and heart. It slows down our digestion, suppresses our immune system, and keeps us “revved up”. It is catabolic in effect, meaning literally, “it eats us up inside”.
DHEA is a precursor to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. It also has profound immune system supporting and anti-aging properties. DHEA is anabolic, meaning it builds up our insides.
DHEA levels decline with aging, while cortisol levels do not. Stress is often associated with high cortisol levels and low DHEA.
When stress and fatigue are associated with low levels of DHEA, supplementing with DHEA is to be considered. With high cortisol levels, supplementing with Vitamin C, B5, and ginseng’s is to be considered. When stress is high and long term memory poor, especially in people over 60, pregnenalone may be indicated. With low cortisol from adrenal exhaustion, raw adrenal concentrates are a possibility. With poor sleep, combinations of valerian and passionflower are often useful.
Exercise, a good diet of small frequent meals, deep breathing, and prayer, praise or meditation are basic to any stress management program.
Dr John H Maher
Ed., “Longevity News”
“Your Prescription for Wellness”
Article Posted: July 28, 2003