The adrenal glands are two tiny glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They are part of the overall endocrine system that produces hormones that regulate the body. The adrenal glands produce three very important hormones, adrenaline, cortisol and aldosterone. Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, prepares the body to spring into action during stressful or life-threatening situations. Cortisol helps regulate metabolism and assists the body in responding to stress. And aldosterone helps control blood pressure. When the adrenal glands are not functioning properly, many diseases can develop.
Adrenal fatigue is becoming increasingly common in the United States, despite the fact that most conventional doctors claim that there is no such thing as adrenal fatigue. However, excessive and chronic stress can indeed deplete the adrenal glands over time. Even though most Western medical doctors deny adrenal fatigue is a real diagnosis, it is impossible to deny stress plays a factor in how our bodies thrive and survive.
Chronic stress can have serious health implications. Stress causes the adrenal glands to produce excess cortisol and adrenaline, which puts these glands in a constant state of “fight or flight.” This can lead to symptoms such as poor sleep, weight gain, digestive issues and chronic illnesses. Cortisol normally helps the body convert food into energy, while keeping the mind alert and reducing inflammation. This is why many people who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia are probably also clinically experiencing adrenal fatigue and chronic stress.
Traditional Chinese Medicine provides some of the best tools available to battle chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. Acupuncture is one of the tools in the toolbox of the TCM practitioner. Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles to stimulate acupressure points on the body. And studies have shown acupuncture treatments actually turn on or stimulate the relaxation areas of the nervous system, also known as the parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic nervous system is switched on, it helps to regulate the heart rate, improve digestion and balance sleep cycles. Many people who get regular acupuncture treatments actually fall asleep once the needles have been inserted.
Moxibustion is another modality commonly used by TCM practitioners. Moxibustion uses the herb mugwort to boost the functions of the adrenal glands and balance hormones. Crushed mugwort is placed on various acupressure points and then lit on fire. There are barriers between the herb and the body to prevent any actual scarring. Over time, moxibustion can help with many of the symptoms experienced by those suffering from adrenal imbalances.
In TCM, the adrenal glands are frequently included or related to the functions of the kidneys. Therefore, many of the points that help balance the adrenal glands are found along the kidney energetic pathways. Thus, by stimulating these acupressure points, the licensed acupuncturist can help regulate the hormones being produced by the adrenal glands. The pericardium energetic pathway also plays a vital role in helping balance the adrenal glands.
With all the excess stress placed on humans today, it is quite feasible nearly everybody deals with some sort of hormone imbalance and adrenal gland weakness. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Seeking out a licensed acupuncturist may be the perfect answer to this problem. To find a licensed acupuncturist in your area, check out the NCCAOM’s (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) website and get on the natural path to healing.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.