Adrenal function- Diet and Supplementation

October 19th, 2014 by Dr. Keith Nemec

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Chronic fatigue syndrome is not a new disorder and was first termed in the 20th century. It has been thought to redefine chronic fatigue syndrome to myalgic encephalomyelitis or myalgic encephalopathy chronic fatigue syndrome (ME-CFS). Since fatigue is just one symptom of the condition, it would be better to rename this disorder. Common symptoms include fatigue, only having energy at night, poor response to stress, achiness, exercise intolerance, depression, anxiety, insomnia, cognitive dysfunction, craving salty or sweet foods, hypoglycemia, low blood pressure and recurrent or persistent infections.

Siberian ginseng (Eleuthero) has been used for centuries as an herbal immune stimulator and to prevent the depletion of stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands. According to the National Institute of Health, mice treated with ginseng resulted with higher endurance and survival rates when subjected to strenuous physical activity. In a large placebo, controlled study, subjects taking Asian (Panax) Ginseng had a noticeable increase in energy and concentration of the six week period. There is also a strong anti-stress effect, of reducing high cortisol levels and bringing the ratio of cortisol to DHEA to a proper level.

Licorice is a great herb to improve function of the adrenal cortex. Licorice is a standard treatment for adrenal insufficiency and ulcers. Glycyrrhizin is the main active compound in licorice. Licorice has other health benefits as well including better blood glucose control and fat modulation, decreased inflammation, and healing of the gut lining, thus providing proper adrenal support.

Ashwagandha root is an Indian Ayurvedic medicine treatment. It is great for stress-induced sleeping problems and recent Indian trial studies showed that there was improvement in both DHEA-S and testosterone levels, which affects adrenal function.

Rhodiola is another adaptogenic herb with quite some history. There have been a number of positive human trials especially for stress and fatigue management and enhancement of mental performance. Rhodiola has beneficial effects by adapting key hormones of the stress response.

Vitamin C is important as the adrenal glands contain it more than any other organ in the body, suggesting its important role in the stress response. During stress, the adrenal glands secrete Vitamin C locally along with the stress hormones suggesting that the Vitamin may regulate the function of the adrenal glands. Subsequently, the body needs higher levels of Vitamin C in times of stress and especially during chronic stress. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables and in higher doses with supplements.

Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid is very important as a large portion of what is absorbed from the GI tract is stored in the adrenal glands. It is a major component of coenzyme A (CoA) which is a key enzyme for many biochemical reactions including energy production and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. It is truthful to say that Vitamin B5 and CoA are required for the production of steroid hormones by the adrenal glands, which is why sufficient continual supply is necessary for those with adrenal fatigue. Vitamin B5 is common in many sources including broccoli, avocados, mushrooms and greens.

To help have proper function of the adrenal glands, it is recommended to not eat too many carbohydrates which can disrupt stress hormones. If one is stressed, the immune response in the gut suffers as a consequence and becomes damaged, letting bad bacteria overtake good bacteria causing immune deregulation of the gut. A diet low in sugars and carbohydrates, along with a quality probiotic is important for proper immune and thus, adrenal function. Proper hydration and limiting caffeine intake is also vital to proper adrenal function.

The adrenal glands have numerous functions in the body, but are affected easily by lack of sleep, dehydration and improper diet. Many herbs can help restore balance to the adrenal glands. Vitamin C is also a key component when the body is in a stressed state, thus regulating stress hormones. Vitamin B5 is vital as the adrenal glands utilize a good portion of ingested B5, being it is needed for the production of steroid hormones in the adrenal glands. Lastly, diet is a key preventative measure one can take to have healthier adrenal glands or to help ease chronic fatigue syndrome. This would be a diet high in living and raw plants like greens, all vegetables, herbs, seeds, nuts, and avocados.

AllĀ of our patients that have adrenal imbalance take Adrenal Support.

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