The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system, situated on top of your kidneys. Although the glands are only small in size, they play a powerful role within the endocrine system – a system that affects every cell in your body and impacts the function of total body health. The adrenal glands release hormones in response to physical or mental stress, such as epinephrine (adrenaline).
Adrenaline is the body’s natural energy booster, meant to ‘kick in’ when the body is in extreme danger and support the ‘fight or flight’ instinct. This instinct is especially useful in life or death situations, where the body needs to respond quickly in self-defense or to outrun danger. Imagine a wild antelope being chased by a lion on the African plains. In this case, the adrenal gland has prompted an appropriate ‘flight’ response in the antelope to escape danger.
But in a modern world of constant emotional and physical stresses, the adrenal gland is triggered in situations that don’t threaten human survival in the least. The adrenal gland is overused and becomes easily depleted, causing fatigue. When work-related fatigue is experienced in the long term, it can cause corporate burn out.
It is of no surprise that so many people are burnt out. Our work hours are extending and some people are forced to hold multiple jobs to meet financial demands. Dealing with pressures of work and family causes sleep deprivation and means we have difficulty in controlling chronic stress and anxiety. When this happens, the body loses its ability to make protective Cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body in response to stress that increases blood sugar and regulates blood pressure, suppresses the immune system and increases energy production through fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Losing the ability to produce cortisol is an unprotected and unnatural state for your body and leads to exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue wreaks havoc on your immune system, triggering chronic inflammation, which leads to disease and the gradual inability to produce the essential hormones at all.