Goodbyes… Stress and Your Adrenal Glands


I’ve been away from my blog for about a month now.  My sweet, strong, beautiful mother passed away on March 20th, and I’ve been dealing with all of the issues… practical and emotional… that arise with the death of a loved one.

My mother would have been 101 next month, so I would be hard pressed to say that her death has been a shock. As a matter of fact, each time I’ve seen her for the past number of years, I’ve wondered as I was leaving her if this would be the last time I saw her.

But 100 years old or not, losing a person of such importance who has been in your life since the very first instant that you were created is an emotional drain.
                                                                   
Add to that, as in my mother’s case, that she’s lived in our family home for 70 years. She loved this house. I love this house. And those of us who remain have to give it up.
Cleaning things out and preparing this home for someone else to claim as their own is a real roller coaster ride. Saying that my feelings are conflicted would be an understatement. There really is pain involved…. and stress.
And that’s what my post is going to be about today. Stress…. and specifically the part of our body that is most involved with stress reactions…. our adrenal glands.
You know, it would be kind of funny if it weren’t so mind boggling, but physicians in general aren’t into adrenal glands.
I was speaking to a very succesful, well regarded neurosurgeon about adrenal fatique, and he said,verbatim, that he’d “never even heard of it”.
I was floored, because I, being immersed in the functioning of the “whole body” and nutrition, or holistic medicine, would say that one of the first things all of us should learn about are our adrenal glands.
So what are they? 2 glands… each one looks kind of like a little pyramid, and they sit like a hat on top of each of our kidneys.They’re small… no bigger than a walnut… but they are hugely powerful. We would, quite literally, die without them.
  • They’re responsible for our “fight or flight” response, that’s been in effect since the beginning of our time on this earth.
  • They produce and pump hormones such as cortisol, and epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline)into our bodies.
  • They manufacture all of our steroid hormones, with the exception of the sex hormones. Actually, they even take over the production of our sex hormones from our ovaries and testes at mid-life (menopause/andropause).
I hope everyone is becoming more aware that there IS validity in the term stress-related illness.
Many of our illnesses could be a result of or influenced by our adrenal reaction to flat-out too much cumulative stress.

“Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your very life all depend on their proper functioning.
Your adrenal glands respond to every kind of stress in the same way, whatever the source.
Adrenal fatigue occurs when the amount of stress overextends the capacity of the body to compensate and recover from that stress or the combined stresses. Once this capacity to cope and recover is exceeded, some form of adrenal fatigue occurs.
The number of stresses, whether or not you recognize them as stresses, the intensity of each stress and the frequency with which it occurs, plus the length of time it is present, all combine to form your total stress load.”
from “The Adrenal Gland” by Michael Lamm, MD, Dr Walter Schmitt, and James L. Wilson, DC, PhD.
Remember that this is a hard-wired survival mechanism that was at the crux of our being able to survive on this planet. It goes back a LONG way!!
Regarding total stress load? Whether YOU think you have legitimate reason to be stressed or not (like major crises)… your body can’t tell the difference between:
  • being chased by a saber toothed tiger,
  • getting in a fight with your spouse,
  • being caught in gridlock in traffic when late to a meeting,
  • too much chemical exposure,
  • allergies,
  • too much sugar sending your blood sugar and insulin levels skyrocketing,
  • too much loud noise,
  • toxic people… etc… you get the picture.
Your body only knows that it’s stressed and it doesn’t differentiate as to the cause.
Keep hammering away all of these different ways, and eventually, you’re very likely to develop adrenal fatique, lower immune system responses, weight gain (particularly around the middle) lowered sex drive, and even heart disease and cancer. The list goes on and on.
And I really COULD go on and on about this. It’s such an important and incredible part of our endocrine system and so involved in our daily life. However… I’m going to skip to:
1.  Read Adrenal Fatigue The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson.  This is a fascinating subject… and there’s so much more info than I can realistically put in a blog. 

2. What Can You Do to Support Your Adrenal Glands?

  • The absoulte best thing you can do is to live in healthy balance (clever of me to throw that in isn’t it?). But seriously, moderation in all things is key.
  • Get plenty of rest. Go to bed by 10:00. (This avoids a cortisol surge that happens as a part of our natural circadian rhythms…. you know. the 2nd wind)
  • Avoid caffeine, sugar, alcohol, processed foods, especially white flour products.
  • Stop pushing yourself.
  • Never skip breakfast and make it a high protein meal. Avoid fruit (& sugar) in the morning.
  • Eat high quality whole foods. Don’t eat any more processed fake foods… get them out of your life.
  • Get rid of sugar!
  • Get regular exercise and adequate rest.
  • Resist the urge to think negatively. Surround yourself with positive thoughts, postive people, and get away from energy suckers in all forms.
  • Nurture yourself… to a massage, a new book, an afternoon break, a walk in nature… bottom line, make your physical and emotional well-being a priority.
  • James Wilson advocates figuring out what and who drains the energy from you. He says you have 3 choices: either change that situation or relationship; change yourself so that you can adapt to the situation or relationship; or leave the situation/relationship
Supplements that can be helpful:
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Co Q 10
  • Ginseng
  • Vitamin B complex
I’m lucky to have access to high quality supplements and 2 products I love are:
  • Adaptocrine: an adaptogenic herb blend that combines Vitamin C, Panax Ginseng, Ashwaganda, Holy Basil, Rhodiola, Eleutherococcus, and Pantethine.
  • AdrenaCalm: a cream that contains phosphatidylserine and key B vitamins as well as valerian root, lemon balm, milk thistle, hazel bud extact.. CoQ10, St Johns Wort, Magnesium phosphate, etc…..It also contains some pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid, which I usually don’t dive into, but in this case…. I do.

It can take months to restore your adrenal glands if you have entered into a fatigued state, so don’t become discouraged. You can only win with the above suggestions, so keep it up and you’re bound to start feeling better.

My husband used to have a term he’d throw at me called “self-imposed stress” and you know what? It’s true. We all subject ourselves to self-imposed stress and we need to recognize it and stop over-doing, over-extending, burning the candle at both ends, etc…. so here’s the opposite of Nike’s slogan….. Just STOP.

If we make nurturing ourselves a priority, we’ll hopefully have the stamina, strength and energy to get through the inevitable times that life throws at us… when we have no choice but to put our head down and get through it.

So Mom… I will nurture myself and I will get through everything that I need to get through with closing down your house, your belongings, your life… all of your kids will…. but I have to say that I am sad and I am going to miss you very much. I’ll hold onto the beautiful memories.

My love always. Sue   

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4 Responses to Goodbyes… Stress and Your Adrenal Glands

  1. Hollie Barton says:

    Hi Sue,
    That is amazing your Mom lived such a long life. She must have thought about her health like you do or came by it naturally. The pictures were wonderful and I can see the resemblance. Take Care, as you say.
    Hollie

  2. Niki Thommen says:

    Your mom lived with such grace and beauty. A truely remarkable woman. She left an amazing legacy with her family.

  3. JRM says:

    100 is such a fabulous number … you were very fortunate.
    What a wonderful thoughtful story … and then to have the opportunity to memorialize this sad moment of transition with a connection to the legend with whom you’ve had the incredible good fortune to share almost two thirds of your life AND, arguably, the greatest industrial giant in the western world – all in one paragraph … well, it surely does NOT get better than that.
    I trust that your many many fabulous memories of your mom will help sustain you during these difficult days … Be well SMH!

  4. Ginann says:

    Sue,
    Thank you for sharing such important information. You have many of your mother’s qualities to carry forward.

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