Being a practitioner that places a heavy amount of emphasis on nutrition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t continue to elaborate on the far reaching hands of the adrenal glands. Being a beaming new father who has been blessed with a beautiful and healthy wife and baby, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t go into more detail about how adrenal dysfunction can influence the sex hormones responsible for reproduction and beyond. Well, nobody wants to be labeled as remiss, so here we go.
In the simplest terms, the adrenal glands are our stress glands.
(For a review on these essential workhorses feel free to refresh: https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/03/12/de-stress-your-life-part-1/
When they are overworked for any of a variety of reasons (mental or physical stress, food intolerances, etc.) they shift towards an overproduction of cortisol in order to help us deal with stress. One of the many downsides to this is that the production of hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone decreases.
In order for the adrenal glands to make cortisol in response to sustained levels of elevated stress, it ends up stealing the cholesterol precursor that would normally be used to make something called DHEA, which is the precursor to our sex hormones. This is a phenomenon called pregnenolone steal and can result in hormonal imbalances, PMS, infertility, male menopause, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Your hormone production is also dampened by overactive adrenals on a cerebral level. As we’ve discussed in the past, the adrenal glands are under control of a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which in turn directs the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland either makes, pumps out or sends the signal to trigger hormones like growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, oxytocin, as well as hormones that signal the adrenals.
The anterior pituitary is also responsible for LH (luteinizing hormone) and thus progesterone, and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and thus estrogen. These hormones are intracle in properly regulating the menstrual cycle, reproduction and beyond. Adrenal overdrive overworks the pituitary causing it to be sluggish in its output of other hormones, like LH or FSH.
Another fact to be cognizant of is the fact that an inflammatory diet or unknown food intolerances will also have the adrenals logging extra hours at the office. This not only attenuates hormone production for reasons described above, but it also downgrades the immune system. This is critical for us all, but especially for a mother and her un or newborn child.
When dealing specifically with pregnancy, studies have shown that a mother with adrenal dysfunction can actually pass it on to her unborn baby by drawing hormones through the umbilical cord. We’ve illustrated the systemic effects of adrenal dysfunction in the past, so a newborn child with this condition is highly susceptible to immune and gut dysfunction, allergies, eczema, food intolerances, even autism.
The best thing to do if you are having issues that have been deemed or you presume are hormonal is to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner. Cleaning up the diet and repairing the gut, identifying potential food intolerances, providing adrenal support if necessary, making lifestyle changes, making sure the nervous system (which ultimately controls ALL) is balanced, and just taking a deeper look inside for the root of the issue is the logical course of action.
If you or anyone you care about is going through any of this, please give us a call (321-848-0987) and we’ll work through it together.
On a personal note, as I prefaced in the intro, my wife and I are proud new parents. Going into 2013 we didn’t have a time table to begin trying. However, my wife is a patient of mine and we actually had her on various adrenal support and supplements due to symptoms she was having and the results of an exam. After that we both partook in a fast/detox/cleanse together, while congruently sticking to an elimination/provocation diet. A couple of months later we decided to “stop not trying” to get pregnant. A month later Ashley was pregnant. And 9 plus months later we have a healthy baby boy.
I realize there are always other factors that contribute to hormonal imbalances and things such as pregnancy. But don’t rule out these seemingly simple things. Don’t fall victim to the current status quo and believe that “that’s just the way it is,” or you need a pill to fix that. Keep hope alive. Trust the body and treat it well and most likely it will return the favor. This goes for the current topic or any other.
Good luck and do not hesitate to call for a consult if any of this resonates with you.