Stress is very often the root of many people’s health problems, whether they recognize it or not.
What is Stress?
“Stress is simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. In other words, it’s an omnipresent part of life. A stressful event can trigger the “fight-or-flight” response, causing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to surge through the body.” ~Psychology Today
Types of Stress
Stress comes in a lot a different “shapes and sizes” and not all stress is bad. Just as bones and muscles need physical exercise to stay strong, we also need certain amounts of stress to stay healthy. A complete lack of stress would not be a good thing! There are different types of stress, each of which can have “good” and “bad” effects.
1. Physical Stress:
Good – Beneficial Exercise
Bad – Over-Exercising
2. Chemical Stress:
Good – Organic food, balanced hormones
Bad – Synthetic drugs, pesticides
3. Electromagnetic Stress:
Good – Sunlight
Bad – Too much sun, ELF
4. Psychic/Mental Stress:
Good – Setting goals, positive mental outlook
Bad – “Stinkin Thinkin”
5. Nutritional Stress:
Good – Organic food, eating Scripturally Clean, eating according to Metabolic Type
Bad – Eating too much, too little, poor quality foods
6. Thermal Stress:
Good – Maintaining body temperature
Bad – Too hot / cold
7. Spiritual Stress:
Good – Fellowship and obedience to the Creator
Bad – Dis-fellowship and dis-obedience to the Creator
So how does Stress affect the Adrenal Glands (Hormones)?
For most people, life is busy. In fact is it often too busy for many. At work and at home, people find themselves dealing with seemingly endless obligations, projects, tasks and chores that all need attention. They are subjected to frequent stimulation from smart phones, tablets, laptops, mp3 players and televisions which cause overload. There are hundreds of things demanding time and attention which leads to plenty of daily stress. And each time stress occurs, whether is it physical, emotional or chemical or whether the threat is real or imagined, it causes the HPA Axis to spring into action.
The HPA Axis is part of the endocrine (hormonal) system and consists of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal glands. It is this axis that creates the stress response in the body, when you encounter any type of stress in your daily life, no matter how big or small.
When you face stress, the hypothalamus releases a hormone known as Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH). The release of CRH sends a signal to the pituitary gland to release another hormone known as Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH). Once released, this hormone travels through the bloodstream, down to the adrenal glands where it triggers the release of the steroid hormone Cortisol. Once released into the body, Cortisol prepares it to either run, fight, or freeze by flooding it with glucose as a means of creating a burst of energy that would allow the body to face the potential threat. Along with increasing energy, Cortisol also suppresses the digestive system, the production of insulin, immune system responses and the reproductive system during times of stress, so that all energy can be directed to either fleeing, fighting, or freezing.
There are many symptoms that accompany HPA axis dysfunction. Here are some of the most common complaints that people deal with:
- Sleep problems
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Blood pressure problems
- Lowered immune system
- Blood sugar problems
- Increase in abdominal fat
- Brain fog
- Fatigue, particularly during the morning and mid-afternoon
- Slow wound healing
- Cravings for salt or salty foods
- Dry skin
- Low libido
- Poor muscle tone
- Poor circulation
When the body is under chronic stress, pregnenolone, the precursor to all other steroidal hormones, is diverted to produce cortisol (known as pregnenolone steal or cortisol escape). This is the detriment of all other steroidal hormones [such as DHEA and its metabolites, including progesterone, testosterone, and the estrogens (E1, E2, E3)]. As pregnenolone is diverted to cortisol, DHEA depletion begins. (See picture above and below) The result is an elevated cortisol to DHEA ratio.
Achieving a balanced Cortisol to DHEA ratio is foundational to health!
If you are struggling with stress or hormone related issues and would like to overcome these issues contact me via email at: email@example.com
New Adrenal (Hormone) Testing Option:
I use the DUTCH TEST to assess adrenal (hormone) function!
“DUTCH – The Most Informative Hormone Test Out There” ~Dr. Mercola
Learn more about the DUTCH TEST below in Dr. Mercola’s interview with Mark Newman: