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Do you realize how important your adrenal glands are? First of all, you have two adrenal glands and they are located on top of your kidneys. They make over 40 different hormones that are crucial for regulating many systems and functions in your body: your energy, metabolism, immune, digestive and reproductive systems, stress response, heart rate and blood pressure, glucose and electrolyte levels, etc. Commonly known adrenal hormones include cortisol and adrenaline (you may remember these as hormones that allow the ‘fight or flight’ response to happen). In this article I’ll let you know important natural solutions to help support your adrenal glands.

What is adrenal stress?

The adrenal gland supports all these systems and functions with the help of other glands in your body (the hypothalamus gland and the pituitary gland). Now, when you face ongoing or frequent stressors, this affects the rhythm of how the adrenal gland works with the other glands in your body, like how a musical quartet can get thrown off if one instrument is playing irregularly or off-key. This is called adrenal stress (see symptoms below).

Signs and symptoms of adrenal stress:

• Low energy
• Sugar/carbohydrate and salty cravings
• Disturbed sleep
• Difficulty losing weight
• High or low blood pressure
• Moodiness or irritability

What causes adrenal stress?

Several things can throw off the rhythm of your adrenal glands. It may be ongoing work or relationship stress, but other types of stressful situations such as overeating processed foods, shift work, electromagnetic field exposure, exposure to toxins and inadequate sleep.

Natural solutions for adrenal stress:

• Restore your adrenal gland rhythm with light; make sure to get bright light exposure in the first hour after waking and to reduce light over-exposure at night, keeping your bedroom as dark as possible

• Eat regularly, not irregularly. Your hormonal system prefers regular intake of nutrients, such as 3 meals a day. When you get out of your dietary rhythm, then your adrenal glands detect a type of dietary stress that they have to ‘balance’ by promoting the breakdown of glycogen or muscle, which can have sugar regulation and metabolic problems.

• Reduce caffeine and sugars. These are more challenging foods when you are trying to heal your adrenal rhythm. Avoid other hard to digest foods as well.

• Get your thyroid checked. When the thyroid gland is unbalanced, then your adrenal gland can also be off.

• Herbs that can help. There are several herbs that promote adrenal gland balance (often called ‘adaptogenic’ herbs since they help your body to adapt to stressors) such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, Siberian ginseng, schizandra, holy basil, etc.

• Supplements for your adrenals. Several nutrients are required for your adrenal glands to function normally: vitamin c, vitamin B5 & B6, magnesium, zinc, copper, omega-3 fats, etc.

• Sleep and relaxation. Make sure to plan for around 8 hours of sleep and to schedule time for relaxation – this can simply mean time to read, paint, meditate or to go for a gentle stroll.

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Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.