Maintaining Adrenal Health
Proper adrenal supplementation is as personalized as your causes of stress. The way the body adapts to stress can take many forms, and the best treatments will reflect your individual constellation of symptoms. However, everyone has some levels of adrenal fatigue just from the life we live, and daily generic supplementation will assist your body in maintaining adrenal health. Healthy adrenal glands are like rich ripe plums, sitting atop our kidneys, playing key notes in our endocrine orchestra. Stress and exhaustion can cause them to become dried up and shriveled like prunes, which sequentially affects all the other players of our hormone system. Nourishing your adrenals and caring for them will help keep your entire hormone system playing smooth and true.
So, what products are best for you? The endocrine system includes a diverse set of very important glands including pituitary, thyroid, pancreas, adrenals and ovaries. This system often triangulates in function, and it is very rare to have a solo organ problem. Therefore, when choosing adrenal supplementation the rest of the endocrine system is also assessed in best practice treatment. Nourishment is multifactoral and includes vitamins to restore deficiencies caused by stress and botanical medicine to restore glandular function. This assessment is best done by a licensed professional who has had training in natural medications, contraindications, pharmaceutical interactions and adverse reactions.
Generally – an adrenal supplement taken daily will include Vitamin B5 and Vitamin C, both required for adrenal function. Rhodiola is a botanical that increases endurance and mental focus. In Russian army trials it proved to improve responses to stress – the typical dose is 150-300mg. Holy Basil is a lovely botanical that helps the body to regulate cortisol’s relationship to blood sugar; therefore, it may be helpful for emotional binge eaters. It has just come out a tea called Tulsi Tea. Relora is also a patented neutraceutical that has evidence based studies supporting its ability to re-regulate cortisol to normal diurnal patterns. It can also help reduce abdominal adiposity related to stress. My favorite general adrenal supplement for (US) long-term use is Vitanica’s Adrenal Assist – 3 capsules daily, which contains several of the above-mentioned products and more. In Canada, I like CanPrev’s Adrenal Thyroid Pro. Please note – if you are taking medications especially cardiac or blood pressure medications there is a potential for multiple interactions with these products, please seek advice from a Naturopathic Doctor or other professional trained in pharmaceutical-herbal interactions.
Adrenal Supplementation is a multi million-dollar industry as modern culture whips us into looking 15 years younger and doing the work of 3! There are many approaches to restoring adrenal health, and new products available on a daily basis. One can be very scientific about adrenal disease, approach it from an energetic perspective, or start from somewhere in between. Adrenal restoration is best done with a medical practitioner whether it’s a Naturopathic, Osteopathic or Allopathic Physician. Chiropractors are often trained in prescriptions for endocrine health, as are Nutritionists, Herbalists and Nurse Practitioners. Even some Pharmacists have jumped on the bandwagon. There is no Right answer or best practice that has been established, so finding someone with good credentials, experience and an approach to wellness you resonate with is the best place to start.
Depending on your state of health, laboratory testing may or may not be recommended. Salivary Hormone Testing of the hormone cortisol is a common place to start. This can be done as a single assessment or a 4-point panel reflecting an entire day. The 4-point is a more thorough and accurate assessment of daily cortisol activity. (Cortisol is pumped out by the adrenal gland in response to stress along with epinephrine and norepinephrine.) An entire endocrine panel including pituitary, thyroid and reproductive hormones can also be done for a good quality snapshot of the whole hormone system. Salivary testing is not required, but it is helpful to tailor an accurate treatment plan. However, a good practitioner will be able to read signs and symptoms of adrenal dysfunction from the initial interview, and will be able to do a differential diagnosis of whether or not there is thyroid involvement present. Therefore, laboratory testing is not always required. Bloodwork may also be suggested to assess whether the adrenal diseases Cushings and Addisons need to be ruled out.
Treatment of adrenal fatigue and endocrine dysfunction is a long slow process. Prescribed herbs and vitamins will need to be taken for a minimum of 3 months, and often over a 6-9 month period. This is especially true for women as the female reproductive hormones change weekly over a four-week period, so rebalancing can require several cycles for a noticeable response.