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Getting To Know Your Body: Your Adrenal Glands

Getting To Know Your Body: Your Adrenal Glands | Mindful Healing Clinic Dr. Maria Cavallazzi Naturopathic Doctor In Mississauga Streetsville Clinic

Despite their importance to your health, many people don’t know how to take proper care of their adrenal glands.

Sure, it’s easy to think about taking care of your health when it comes to sleep, diet, and exercise.

But you might be stumped when it comes to thinking of strategies to take care of your adrenal health.

You might even be unsure of what exactly your adrenal glands are to begin with.

Perhaps you’ve been looking for a clear definition.

Well, look no further.

I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, naturopathic doctor and owner of the Mindful Healing Clinic in Mississauga.

In this article, we’ll talk all about your adrenal glands: what they are, what they do, and how they can affect your health.

What Are Your Adrenal Glands?

Your adrenal glands are a pair of triangular shaped glands that sit on top of each of your kidneys.

They’re part of your endocrine system, a collection of organs and glands that produce hormones.

This includes your thyroid, pituitary gland, and pancreas, among others.

Speaking of your pituitary gland, it plays a major role in your adrenal gland function.

It’s a tiny little gland, about the size of a pea, that sits at the base of your brain.

Its job is to send messages down to your adrenal glands in order to regulate their functions.

While small, your adrenal glands are mighty.

They’re responsible for several hormone related functions, such as your immune system and stress response.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.

What Do Your Adrenal Glands Do?

Your adrenal glands are each made up of two distinct parts, which are in turn responsible for producing distinct hormones.

The outer layer is referred to as the outer adrenal cortex and is responsible for producing certain steroid hormones, such as aldosterone and cortisol.

The inner part is referred to as the inner adrenal medulla and produces multiple hormones, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline.

These hormones play a role in numerous different bodily processes.

For instance, the production of aldosterone helps to control your blood pressure whereas cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline play a major role in your stress responses.

Additionally, cortisol plays an essential role in the regulation of several bodily functions, including your immune system, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and metabolism.

As you can see, your adrenal glands are kind of a jack of all trades.

Common Adrenal Gland Diseases

Adrenal gland diseases may develop for a variety of reasons, such as when:

  • Your pituitary glands stop properly controlling your hormone production
  • Benign, or non cancerous, tumors grow in your adrenal glands
  • Malignant, or cancerous, tumors grow in your adrenal glands
  • Infections develop in your adrenal glands
  • You have an inherited condition

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Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common adrenal gland diseases.

1. Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that causes your adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol.

It typically produces similar symptoms to long term steroid use.

Symptoms may include:

  • Weight gain
  • A round face
  • Increased fat around the base of your neck
  • A fatty lump between your shoulders
  • Easy bruising
  • Wide purple stretch marks, typically on the abdomen, breasts, hips, and underarms
  • Muscle weakness

Naturopathic treatments for Cushing’s syndrome include yoga, nutritional counseling, and using adaptogenic herbs

2. Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is a rare autoimmune disease that develops when your adrenal glands fail to produce enough cortisol or aldosterone.

It’s referred to as a “self destructive” disease because it causes your immune system to mistakenly begin attacking adrenal tissue.

Symptoms may include:

Botanical medicine and nutritional counseling can both be effective naturopathic treatments for Addison’s disease.

3. Pheochromocytoma

Pheochromocytoma is a medical term used to describe a tumour that develops in the medulla of your adrenal glands.

Fortunately, these types of tumors are rarely cancerous.

Symptoms may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Frequent headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Shortness of breath
  • A pale complexion (pallor)

In extreme cases, it may be required to have an adrenalectomy – a surgical procedure to remove your adrenal glands.

4. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a condition inherited through genetics.

It causes your adrenal gland to struggle to produce hormones.

Symptoms may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Very low blood sodium levels
  • Low blood glucose
  • Excessive acid in the blood (metabolic acidosis)
  • Weight loss
  • Impaired penis development

5. Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal cancer is a serious disease caused by the formation of malignant tumors in your adrenal glands.

Symptoms may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Deepening voice and increased hair growth, typically on the face
  • Pain in the abdomen or lower back
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

What Are Your Adrenal Glands? | Mindful Healing Clinic Dr. Maria Cavallazzi Naturopathic Doctor In Mississauga Streetsville Clinic

How Do I Know If I Have Adrenal Gland Issues?

Typically, symptoms of adrenal gland issues appear subtle at first before gradually worsening and becoming more frequent.

Book an appointment here at the Mindful Healing Clinic if you’re experiencing symptoms of adrenal gland issues, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased salt cravings
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Dark patches on your skin
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Unexpected weight gain or loss

Can You Live Without Your Adrenal Glands?

You might be surprised to learn that it actually is possible to live without your adrenal glands.

There may be certain limited situations where it’s required to remove them, like in more serious cases of adrenal cancer.

But while you can live without your adrenal glands, you can’t live without the hormones they produce.

So if you do lose your adrenal glands, you’ll have to supplement with adrenal hormones for the rest of your life.

How To Keep Your Adrenal Glands Healthy

When you don’t take care of your adrenal glands, you can really start to feel cruddy.

Luckily, there are many steps you can take to keep your adrenal glands in tip top shape.

1. Get Enough Sleep

Making sure to get enough sleep is one of the most important factors for your adrenal health.

It is through rest that your adrenal glands have the opportunity to rejuvenate.

Ideally, you should aim to get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

If you’re dealing with insomnia, naturopathic medicine can help.

RELATED: Why Do We Need Sleep, Anyway?

2. Eat A Balanced Diet

Making sure your diet contains the right foods is also important for your adrenal health.

This means eliminating or seriously reducing foods loaded with sugar or deep fried in vegetable oil, and instead opting for a nutritious plant based diet.

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3. Take Natural Adrenal Boosting Supplements

It’s always best to get the bulk of your nutrients through the foods that you eat.

However, adrenal boosting supplements can help to support your adrenal health.

Vitamins and minerals crucial to your adrenal health include:

Of course, it’s always a good idea to book an appointment to chat with me before you add a new supplement to your routine.

4. Reduce Your Stress Levels

Managing your stress levels is an important factor in maintaining good adrenal health.

After all, your adrenal gland health is inherently tied to your stress levels.

Therefore, it’s important to do everything you can to reduce yours.

Here are some examples of natural ways to reduce your stress levels:

  • Resting when you’re tired and making sure to get a good night’s sleep
  • Regulating your sleep schedule
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Doing yoga or meditation
  • Relaxing when possible
  • Reducing your work load to avoid overworking yourself

Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today

Are you wondering how to keep your adrenals healthy?

Do you live a high stress lifestyle and worry about burning out?

If so, we’re here to help.

Book your appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today.

Until next time,

Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D
Mindful Healing Naturopathic Clinic
Mississauga, ON L5M 1L7
(905) 819-8200

Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.