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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jen

What is adrenal fatigue? What is the HPA axis?

What is the HPA axis?

The Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

The hypothalamus secretes corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP), which stimulate the anterior pituitary to synthesize adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH). ACTH in turn stimulates the adrenal cortex to produce glucocorticoids and adrenal androgens.

These glucocorticoids and adrenal androgens are important for secretion of sex hormones, energy, thyroid health and much more. It is an important part of our body's homeostasis.

Why is the HPA axis important?

There is adrenal insufficiency and also adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal insufficiency is primary adrenal insufficiency or Addison's disease. This is destruction of the adrenal cortex, usually due to an autoimmune or infectious etiology, results in decreased cortisol, aldosterone, and androgens. This is diagnosed by an elevation of serum ACTH and cortisol levels). A normal DHEAS concentration excludes secondary adrenal insufficiency and other laboratory findings includes hyponatremia, hyperkalemia (only in primary adrenal insufficiency), hypercalcemia, mild anemia, lymphocytosis, eosinophilia, and hypoglycemia. True adrenal insufficiency is rare but must be ruled out in certain conditions.

Adrenal fatigue is not quite recognized by many health officials and some coin it pituitary adrenal dysfunction instead. The phrase adrenal fatigue was coined by James Wilson. It was said to be caused by stress and characterized by persistent fatigue, non-restorative sleep, difficulty rising in the morning with afternoon sleepiness, the need to use caffeine, energy drinks, salty, sugary foods to stay awake and to function, low sex drive, and feeling stressed.

How does this relate to the thyroid? Hypocortisolism can be associated with autoimmune issues- is the cause of autoimmune conditions linked to an HPA axis problem?

Either way we need to fix our stress!

Two supplements at can be very helpful when it comes to adrenal health are Stress Adapt and Stress Less from Healthology by Dr. Jen.

Stress Adapt provides a unique blend of "stress-adapting botanicals" which help increase the body’s resistance to fatigue, improve attention and immune function and maintain balanced cortisol and DHEA levels.

Stress Less contains a nootropic and a blend of adaptogenic botanicals and nutrients specifically formulated to counteract the effects of daily stress, improve mental performance, and support healthy energy levels.

Both are a great choice to support the HPA system!

In Health,

Dr. Jen

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