Hormones act as the command and control system of the body and regulate energy production, fat burning and mood. Hormonal imbalances are common among people suffering from weight issues, fatigue and depression. Most cases of hormonal imbalance are a secondary response to a primary stress, whether it is emotional stress, physiological stress due to pain and inflammation, or dietary stress. In general, if the stress can be addressed with diet changes, correction of chronic inflammatory conditions and support for emotional health, the need for continued hormonal support is eliminated.
In your hormonal system, the adrenal glands produce and regulate your stress hormones. Normally, when the stress dissipates, the glands have time to rest and prepare for the next stressful event. However, if your stress levels remain chronically high, your body will remain locked in a state of stress. If your stress hormone levels remain elevated for extended periods of time, your body’s ability to recover can be reduced, and the ability of your adrenals to make stress hormones can be compromised. Under chronic stress conditions, the adrenals eventually “burn out.” At this point, the adrenals become fatigued and can no longer sustain an adequate response to stress. Once the glands have been depleted of their ability to produce stress hormones, it becomes more and more difficult for the body to recover. Constant fatigue and low-level depression can appear in otherwise emotionally healthy people.
Stress hormone depletion also impacts the female hormones progesterone and estrogen, as well as the predominant male hormone, testosterone. Since sex hormone levels drop as stress hormone levels drop, sex drive diminishes in both men and women. In both men and women, hormonal symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, sweet cravings and headaches can be related to the failure of the adrenals to adapt to stress. Female hormone symptoms such as menstrual cramping, infertility, night sweats and hot flashes can also be related to adrenal insufficiency. Many women feel they are on an emotional roller coaster with their female hormones, and testosterone levels in men also suffer as a result of weak adrenal output.