In today's world we are exposed to a huge amount of stress. This can lead to a persistent tension and ongoing nervousness. It can even cause illness. Everyone has different sources of stress - everyone is stressed about different things. Sources may include: fear, anxiety, compulsion to conform, certain past traumas, an accelerated lifestyle and too much work.
The adrenal gland produces a lot of cortisol (the so-called "stress hormone") when "stressed". If we fail to manage the sources of stress over the long term, over time the adrenal gland will become damaged, 'fatigued' and will no longer be able to secrete sufficient amounts of cortisol, which is when cortisol deficiency occurs.
To understand this, let's look at an example of what happens to your body under stress. Imagine we're walking down the street and we are being attacked, robbed. What happens in our body?
Suddenly your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, you sweat, your pupils dilate, you concentrate only on the task at hand to fend off the attacker, and all the energy is transferred to the muscles, you find you are much stronger than usual. We call this the "fight or flight" response and it is encoded in us for survival. Adrenaline raises your heart rate and blood pressure, getting more blood to your muscles. And cortisol is responsible for supplying energy to the muscles and brain, helping to increase the supply of nutrients to any damaged cells.
As you can see, cortisol and adrenaline are essential for survival, and these hormones are constantly being produced. From the moment we wake up they help us stay energetic and fit throughout the day. It makes us feel fit and energised after exercise.
However, constant stress makes the cortisol and adrenaline receptors increasingly insensitive, and then adrenal fatigue sets in - there's an official name for this: hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal regulatory disorder.
There's good news: magnesium plays a key role in this pathway (hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal gland), so taking it can improve its function and help with stress management.
This may help to improve the function of the adrenal glands and may help to relieve stress
Main symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
- Main ones: constant tiredness, lethargy
- Sleeping difficulties
- Getting up difficulties
- Addiction to caffeine, alcohol, nicotine
- Loss of apetite
To prevent this, in addition to taking magnesium, we need to manage the sources of stress in our lives. In order to balance cortisol and adrenaline, we need to stimulate serotonin and dopamine hormone levels.
Serotonin (5-HT) is one of the 'happy hormones', we don't know all the effects of this hormone, but it plays a role in regulating mood, appetite, sexuality, sleep, pain and the reward system.
Serotonin deficiency has been linked to a number of neurological disorders:
- Bipolar disorder
- Fibromyalgia (chronic, body-wide pain)
Serotonin is made by the body from an amino acid called tryptophan. Therefore, supplementing with tryptophan and 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) can stimulate serotonin levels, improving mood and helping to manage stress.
Dopamine also has multifaceted effects, including a role in motivation, memory, movement and the reward system, and thus in the development of addiction. Dopamine cells are destroyed in Parkinson's disease.
A non-consciousness-altering agent extracted from cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), may help in the treatment of Parkinson's. There is no consensus on whether CBD acts on the dopamine pathway. There have been studies that have shown that CBD may be able to bind to dopamine-sensing receptors at low levels. In addition, CBD may also bind to serotonin receptors. This may help to induce a better mood and help with stress management.
Stress management is also greatly influenced by our sleep. Sleep is an essential process for our body and brain to function properly, during sleep serotonin production is greatly increased. This is where the 'sleep hormone' melatonin, responsible for the feeling of sleepiness and for triggering sleep, comes in handy. Melatonin also improves the quality of sleep, so it can imporve many sleep disorders.