The Adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and their primary purpose is to help us cope with stress. One of the hormones the adrenals secrete is adrenaline which is associated with the stress response. Those hormones travel everywhere in the body and affect every organ and tissue. Adrenaline stimulates and controls the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for rapid motion to escape danger by
- Increasing the heart rate
- Increasing respiration
- Dilating the pupils (need to see escape routes)
- Decreasing of saliva and GI activity
- Increasing blood to skeletal muscle via vasoconstriction
- Decreasing the urge to urinate
- Increasing sweating
- Stimulating the cardiac muscle
When you are exposed to stress, the body increases secretion of cortisol and adrenaline. When this happens, progesterone decreases since it is used to produce cortisol. This makes it important to control stress response in non-threatening situations, in order to increase progesterone levels. Men need progesterone to produce testosterone, and women need progesterone for their monthly cycle and maintaining a pregnancy. When our systems continually move into the fight-or-flight mode, we use excess amounts of progesterone which is needed for other purposes. In our current times, we are seeing estrogen dominance in women because of both the stress response using up a large amount of progesterone and because of endocrine disrupting chemicals. We are also seeing the rise of infertility in both men and women due to the depletion of progesterone due to the excess stress response. We are also seeing the rise of adrenal fatigue due to the adrenals being continually stimulated in today’s society.
There is so much that Ayurveda and Yoga have to offer in the lessening of stress, and in the re-balancing of the endocrine system with herbs, diet, lifestyle changes, yoga, breath practices, meditation. Some examples include herbal nasal oils which go directly to the brain, and herbal formulas, nutritive formulations, specific Ayurvedic recipes for immune system building, body treatments which calm down the Nervous system, and herbal pastes that can be applied directly over the adrenal glands. All of these return the body back to balance in order to help the inherent intelligence of all the body’s cells function optimally.
The overall intention of Ayurveda is to reset digestion on multiple levels. On the physical level, the digestive fire of the digestive organs is optimized. On a micro level in the physical body, the cellular digestion is increased. On a psychological level, the digestive fire of the mind is enhanced to properly take in all sensory input. By utilizing the methods of Yoga and Ayurveda, we calm our minds and slow down the body so that our bodies can replace depleted energy. When the body and mind are balanced, the body’s self-regulatory processes operate correctly to keep the body in a state of homeostasis.
If you are working with unmanageable stress, please schedule an initial consultation with me to develop a plan that moves you to optimal health.
By Mary Bruck – a doctoral Ayurvedic practitioner practicing Ayurveda in Boulder, CO. Vibrant Health carries ayurvedic herbal remedies, ayurvedic spice packets, ayurvedic teas, ayurvedic oils, ayurvedic cookbooks, and offers ayurvedic body treatments, and panchakarma treatment and much more