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What is Adrenal Stress?

By Carol Francois
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Adrenal stress is also commonly known as adrenal fatigue. This term is used to describe a set of symptoms related to the way the body is managing stress. Stress is any type of physical, mental or emotional pressure. The adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys. Their role is to manage the flow of hormones in the body that deal with stress. The hormones that these glands create are used by the body to regulate heart rate, mental acuity and physical strength.

From a biological standpoint, sources of stress are danger, fear, hunger, outside attackers and unknown future events. When the human body is under stress, heart rate increases and blood pressure rises, forcing more blood to the muscles. The brain becomes more active, analyzing the situation and determining the next course of action. When the stress or threat is over, the adrenal glands release their hormones to lower the heart rate and drop the blood pressure level, allowing the body to relax and recharge.

This cycle allows the body to respond quickly to an immediate threat of danger by escaping or removing the danger. Once the situation has been resolved, the body can then return to the previous state of rest. If the adrenal glands are under-performing, the body remains in a heightened state of stress. Over a period of time, the person becomes anxious, tired and prone to depression.

The higher the continual level of adrenal stress, the lower the hormone levels in the body. Many people believe that they are suffering from adrenal stress or fatigue, due to their body's inability to respond to stress. For them, any minor additional stress seems overwhelming and they are unable to recover.

There are two hormones in the adrenal stress response: dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and cortisol. These hormones have been successfully synthesized and are available as supplements. The medical community is not certain about the true existence or prevalence of adrenal stress as a disease. However, DHEA and other hormones are used for treating Addison's disease, which occurs when the adrenal glands completely fail. The prevailing logic is the same supplements should be used, in lower dosages, to treat adrenal stress.

The sale of DHEA without a prescription is very controversial. It is currently legal in the United States, but illegal in Canada, England and much of Europe. Many people who want to take DHEA believe that it has the ability to reverse some of the effects of aging. These include mental fatigue, tiredness and the appearance of wrinkles.

Anyone who feels that he may have adrenal stress or fatigue should consult with his doctor. The systems are very broad and may mask another, more serious illness. A good naturopath will encourage patients with these symptoms to also visit their medical doctor to rule out leukemia, abnormal growths and Addison’s.

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Discussion Comments
By anon935642 — On Feb 26, 2014

In the case of real problems there are a fair few. Medical doctors can't help worth a crap either.

By anon260263 — On Apr 10, 2012

"A good naturopath will encourage patients with these symptoms to also visit their medical doctor.." Yes, because in a case of real problems, a naturopath (a good one or otherwise) won't be able to help worth a crap.

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