Stress Could Be Damaging Your Adrenals

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Scott: Doctor can you explain what the adrenal glands are and more importantly their function?

Dr. James Wilson: Certainly Scott. The adrenal glands are two little glands that sit over the kidneys about eight to nine grams in the weight and about the size of a large grape. But despite the smallness of the glands they secrete over 50 hormones that go everywhere in your body. And they do a tremendous amount to create balance in your body, what we call homeostasis. And it's not just a homeostatic but especially during stress, so the adrenals were called by Dr. Hans Selye, the 'glands of stress'. Dr. Selye was a famous researcher who started his research in about 1929 and he did research for almost 50 years, published over 300 articles. And he showed how prominent the adrenal glands were and the different hormones they secreted. So that the adrenal glands help you feel able to do that stressful thing that happens. It helps your blood pressure rise and your blood sugar rise and the cells to get the nutrients and the oxygen they need in order for you to be able to rise to the stress that's needed. So that's why they're called the glands of stress. But even when there's no stress, the adrenal glands secrete its hormones to keep you feeling normal and balanced and roughly happy. 

Scott: So they're working all the time.

Dr. James Wilson: They're always working. That's right. They're never not working. But, when they go into a stressful state the adrenal just automatically rise to keep you able to handle that stress. The problem is the poor adrenals weren't designed to have the kind of stress as we're having, constantly, multiple, prolonged and so some of these times, matter of fact, unfortunately its often now in our society, that the adrenal glands just can't keep up with that. And they can't continue to put these hormones out all the time, all the time, all the time. And so they go into a state of non-response. And we call that adrenal fatigue. When it just can't rise. Those poor adrenals, just can't rise to the occasion and secrete the amount of hormones needed for the amount of stress that someone's under.

Scott: When you talk about stress, is it all kinds? Emotional, mental, physical?

Dr. James Wilson: It is. And it's not, you don't even have to be aware of it. For example, there was an excellent article about a pediatric ward in Sweden where they examined the doctors and did a paper and pencil test and asked them what kind of stress they were under. And they didn't experience being under any kind of stress. But when they did their blood test, they found that they had three times the normal coritsol levels. Why? Because they're adrenals were strong enough so that even their under this intense stress, their adrenals rose up to the occasion to make them still feel calm, able to handle the situation. 

So, stress doesn't have to be conscious. And it's not just the present stress. And the stress we're talking about is physical, chemical, thermal, emotional, mental, and its also anticipated stress. So it could be that for example, you and I are sitting in the same room, if we decided to go out that door, and one of us thought that an attorney was going to sue us with a lawsuit and the other one was going to have Ed McMahon give us a million dollars, we'd have very different emotional anticipation going through that door. And so people have the adrenals, that through the hypothalamus, another little gland in your brain, and the pituitary, they modulate this stress response, called the HPA axis, hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis. But the adrenals are the master sergeants of this and they're the ones that have to secrete those 50 some hormones out to the rest of the body to help that person balance the stress they're under.
What exactly is the different kinds of stress you face doing to your body? Dr. James L. Wilson explains what your adrenal glads do and how they react to different kinds of stress. Find out how that can affect your mood, energy and overall health and why managing stress is so important.

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