Stress is killing us. It robs us of our health – mentally, physically and emotionally. Too much stress weakens our immune system and shortens our lifespan. It’s an epidemic that seems to be on the rise in our overworked and uber-busy society. Of course, we can’t get rid of all of life’s stressers like our jobs, our kids or our obligations, but there are ways to reduce stress’s destruction to our bodies.

And it starts by protecting two small-but-mighty glands – our adrenal glands.

What’s an adrenal gland and what does it do?

These two important glands sit right on top of each kidney and are responsible for keeping us alive and safe – nature’s built-in alarm system, if you will. Also known as our Sympathetic Nervous System, these glands provide our body’s “Fight-or-Flight” mechanism. By releasing hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and androgens, they also help control our heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and water/salt balance – all life-sustaining functions. When our adrenals are balanced and functioning well, our energy levels (and systems) are strong and vibrant.

 What does stress do to our adrenal glands?

The adrenals release cortisol, which is the body’s main stress hormone, and works with the brain to control our mood, our sleep cycle, and boost our energy, among other things. If your body is on high alert (super stressed), cortisol will inhibit other functions not needed during that time, such as digestion, the immune system or reproduction system. After the stresser passes, everything in your body should return to normal. But if you’re under constant stress, this barrage of cortisol doesn’t subside and can lead to health issues such as anxiety, depression, headaches, heart disease, digestion issues and memory issues as well as interfere with sleep. And often times, when we feel fatigued by stress (and lack of sleep), we turn to caffeine and sugar, becoming over-stimulated.

In healthy conditions, the opposite of our Sympathetic Nervous System – our Parasympathic System – should kick in to stimulate our body’s unconscious action of resting and recovering. However, if our adrenals are in overdrive and overstimulated, the Parasympathic System can’t do its job effectively. Our adrenals are unable to replenish, and our body can’t heal and recover.

 How do we help our adrenals become balanced?

Besides lowering the many stresses in our life, we can also give our body some well-deserved self-care. In addition to healthy food choices and exercise, we can also do our body a great service by visiting a chiropractor regularly. Why? Since our central nervous system is housed within our spine, the spine’s alignment is vital. When it’s not aligned, nerve blockages occur, impeding proper energy flow throughout out nervous system and ultimately to all of our vital organs. (Only 10% of our nerves sense pain, so some could be blocked without exhibiting any symptoms!)

“A chiropractor helps support the adrenals by assuring that the parasympathetic system and the sympathetic systems work in harmony and in balance,” says Dr. Ray Vactor, of Wexford Chiropractic Centre. “This is achieved through making sure the nervous system is unimpeded and the energy is flowing properly. Chiropractic care helps your body to rest, recover and heal. This, combined with exercise and a healthy diet, can help you achieve your healthiest you, and live a longer, healthier life.”

The doctor feels the other component of healthy adrenal glands is nutritional support. “When your adrenals have been stressed and depleted you usually need to support them with supplementation for faster and complete healing and a great sense of well-being. At our office, we can test you for deficiencies to find what adrenal support is best for you,” says Dr. Vactor.

We will cover other ways to manage stress and increase your energy in upcoming posts, but for now, take care of those important adrenal glands!

Dr. Raymond Vactor has been practicing for over 30 years in Western, PA and believes the key to wellness is the combination of exercise, nutrition and chiropractic care. 724-935-1610


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