The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys and play a critical role in the production of a multitude of hormones in your body. The adrenals comprise the endocrine system and are responsible for activating your stress response and regulating adrenaline and cortisol, which aid in energy and sleep; the adrenals also have a part in the reproductive process. Imbalance of the adrenal system is problematic to health and ranges from mild disorders, such as adrenal fatigue, to life-threatening conditions such as Addison's disease. Too much or too little adrenal hormone production results in various symptoms including fatigue, weakness and digestive disturbance. Restoring adrenal health involves proper diagnosis, medical intervention and lifestyle changes.
Get a physical exam and lab work to diagnose your condition. Various adrenal gland disorders exist and without proper diagnosis, treatment is a challenge. Initially, describing your symptoms to your physician can prompt further testing to determine if you have a hormonal imbalance. Your physician may order an adrenocorticotropin stimulation test and corticotropin-releasing hormone test, to determine your cortisol levels and distinguish if your pituitary gland is secreting the proper amounts of hormone. Other labs include x-rays or ultrasound as well as additional blood hormone levels. Your course of medical treatment depends on test results and the specific condition. However, basic lifestyle changes are implementable in most cases of adrenal disturbance.
Start eating on schedule to maintain energy during the day. In the event of hormonal imbalance due to adrenal problems, it is important to keep a regular eating schedule to maintain blood sugar levels. Blood sugar that is too low, due to missing meals, results in stress on your adrenal glands. Womentowomen.com suggests eating at least three well-balanced meals and two snacks in between to sustain sugar and energy levels. Choose natural sources of sugar such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid snacking on cakes, potato chips and sodas. Try to eat close to the same time every day to support even cortisol levels throughout the day.
Consume vitamins daily through foods or use of supplements. Vitamins are essential for maintaining adrenal health. Eating a diet comprised of 4 to 6 servings of fruits, 6 to 8 servings of vegetables and adequate sources of protein provides nutrients to maintain adrenal balance. Vitamins C and E as well as the B vitamins are found in citrus and green vegetables. Choose low-fat dairy for calcium and vitamin D sources. Poultry, fish and lean meats are also good sources of the B vitamins, iron and selenium, which maintain adrenal balance. Consult your physician regarding use of supplements if you choose not to eat nutrient-rich foods regularly.
Take small breaks and get on a sleep schedule. In the event of fatigue during the daytime, try to schedule small breaks to rest your mind and body. Take a 15 to 20 minute power nap or simply lie down for a few minutes and rest your mind. Relaxation in addition to getting a full night of sleep recharges your body and helps to level out cortisol, which is altered in adrenal disorders. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Exercise daily and lose weight as needed. The Hormone Foundation notes that the adrenal glands can produce excessive hormone called aldosterone, resulting in the condition hyperaldosteronism. Too much of this hormone causes high levels of sodium and potassium in your body, leading to high blood pressure. In addition to medical treatment for this condition, engage in light exercise daily to regulate the adrenal glands. Additionally, reducing your intake of sodium is significant as well as losing excess weight. In the case of adrenal disorders causing less hormone production, exercise is still suggested to help regulate your cortisol levels. Engage in light exercise daily such as walking, jogging or riding a bike.
Take licorice root or Siberian ginseng. Licorice root used with ginseng can stimulate your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol. MedlinePlus notes that using these herbs is likely safe, although research is not conclusive on their effectiveness. Both herbs are available as supplements. Consult your physician before trying these herbs to ensure safety.
Serious adrenal disorders require medical intervention such as medications or surgery.
Licorice and ginseng can interact with certain medications consult your pharmacist or doctor before taking them.