What is adrenal health?
When someone is referring to adrenal gland health, they are talking about the two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. These glands produce several hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. Your stress levels and hours of deep sleep directly correlate to healthy or unhealthy adrenal glands. Just like you, your adrenal glands can get burned out if not properly cared for and affect your health, particularly the endocrine system – a network of glands that creates hormones. They are responsible for almost every function, organ, and cell in your body and ensure they are “talking to each other.”
As I always say, our bodies are miraculous beings because every tiny part is connected. If one part of off, it can lead to more significant health issues such as breast cancer, fatigue, body aches, low progesterone levels, and so forth.
Adrenal Fatigue Vs. Adrenal Insufficiency
There is a lot of debate in the medical community about adrenal health and if “adrenal fatigue” is an actual medical condition. As of now, adrenal fatigue is considered a layperson’s term to refer to nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, digestive problems, sleep issues, and nervousness. These can all stem from chronic stress and consistently being in a fight-or-flight mode. There are many blood tests that can detect the decline in adrenal function. However, if you are battling adrenal fatigue, you don’t need a test to tell you something is off.
YOU have to be the best advocate for your health. Sometimes that means finding a trained person to truly listen and acknowledge how you feel.
“Adrenal insufficiency” is a medical term that blood tests and stimulation tests can diagnose. It refers to the inadequate production of hormones correlating to an underlying disease or previous surgery. Some of the most common symptoms are feeling weak, confused, dizzy, and tired. It can also lead to low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
What causes adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is rooted in your stress, especially when it is endless and becomes too much for your body to handle. Our body deals with stress by producing hormones like cortisol. Under long-term stress, the adrenal glands cannot keep up.
What are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
Here are a few of the symptoms. This is not an exhaustive list, and these symptoms could be a myriad of different health concerns. Talk to your doctor and/or coach about your specific symptoms.
- Pain in the lower back: Since your adrenal glands are above your kidneys, a dull ache or throb in your lower back could be caused by unhealthy adrenal glands.
- Weakened immune system: The immune system affects the secretion of hormones from the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Therefore a weak immune system, which can be from even emotional stress, directly impacts how the adrenals work.
- Raised heart rate: It is obvious, but adrenaline levels and heart rate are intrinsically linked. This can have disastrous consequences if you already have a heart condition.
- Fatigue: It could cause you to want to sleep more, feel lethargic all day, or crave boosting yourself up with caffeine – thus continuing the cycle of bad sleep.
- Malaise: This condition is when someone experiences an impending feeling of dread. Usually, this happens when the body does not understand what is wrong with it. Depression, extreme doubt, lack of motivation, and emotional distress can take over if not quickly resolved.
Adrenal health and the breast cancer connection
Fatigue, emotional distress, changes in appetite…breast cancer conquerors, do these feel familiar?
For years I suffered from adrenal health issues – my adrenal glands produced insufficient cortisol and adrenaline. They were burned out from a lack of sleep, and a pile of chronic stress wore heavy on me as I was burning both ends of the candle. I was literally burning out, and it was affecting my health. Staying in the stress response over the long term is one of the main factors for developing chronic diseases, including breast cancer. Yes, stress can directly lead to breast cancer cell growth. This is why Essential #3 is Balance Your Energy, and Essential #4 is Heal Your Emotional Wounds in my 7 Essentials System®.
To start healing my adrenals, before I went to bed, I took Adrenal Calm to calm down my adrenals and rejuvenate my adrenal health. This should be done in conjunction with melatonin. Now, I take these 2 supplements every day to ensure I keep my body, adrenal health, and mind in tip-top shape!
As it turns out, the adrenals are also the production center for progesterone, a vital hormone for the reproductive system and also a strong cancer protector. Research has found that adequate amounts of progesterone in the system and functioning cellular receptors for progesterone are vital ingredients for slowing down ER+ breast cancer.
Your nervous system and adrenal glands regulate gene expression in primary tumors and their surrounding microenvironment. Another major reason why keeping them healthy is essential!
Studies have discovered that “Activation of the sympathetic division of the ANS, in particular, modulates gene expression programs that promote metastasis of solid tumors by stimulating macrophage infiltration, inflammation, angiogenesis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and tumor invasion, and by inhibiting cellular immune responses and programmed cell death.”
How to heal adrenal fatigue
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. As always, make sure to thoroughly discuss your health challenges with your doctor, natural health practitioner, breast cancer coach, or whoever you trust with your health. Remember, you are not stuck with one person. If it is not working out – find someone else.
And since I am a woman of action, there are things you can do – literally right now – to prioritize healing relaxation, and restorative sleep. Taking your body out of the fight or flight mode and into a restorative mode, as well as intentionally living a calmer, more peaceful life, just might literally save your life. It may sound “too simple” or “too woo-woo,” but it is neither. Don’t let the cycle of chronic stress, poor sleep, decreased melatonin, weak immune system, and chronic dis-ease continue. Break the cycle by starting new habits – now!
- Meditating – start with just 45 seconds a day. Kick it off with this meditation-made easy blog post.
- Turn off your phone 1 hour before bedtime. Take this hour to enjoy a hot bath, read a book, listen to music, talk with a friend or partner…anything but look at a screen.
- You DO have control over your life. If a job, relationship, or lifestyle choice is causing your chronic stress – change it!
- Before going to bed, take Adrenal Calm to calm down your adrenals and rejuvenate your adrenal health. This should be done in conjunction with melatonin.
Lastly, make sure to join the Breast Cancer Conqueror Facebook group: Wellness Warriors! A community of women encouraging and supporting each other is waiting for you to join!