The acorn-helmet shaped adrenal glands are well known for producing adrenalin. Adrenaline is the instant hormone produced in response to an emergency when the body needs a fast burst of energy, as in running away from a wild animal. It can also be secreted in small ongoing bursts if there is a constant low level of stress.
Cortisol, another hormone, is also made by the adrenals and secreted into the blood. Around the time you wake up your blood level of cortisol vastly increases. This acts as an energy stimulus to get the day going. Long term stress and low constant levels of stress can create cortisol spikes throughout the day.
What relevance does this have to menopause?
Another set of hormones is also produced in the adrenal glands – similar to the oestrogen produced by the ovaries. And here is the connection between menopause and adrenal function. Around the time of menopause when the ovaries reduce and ultimately halt making oestrogen, the adrenal glands should and can make an oestrogen-like replacement, thus ensuring a relatively smooth transition through menopause.
Often though, the adrenal gland struggles to make this replacement hormone as it is being overtaxed by excessive demands for cortisol and adrenalin from the rush and busyness of life in general. This is when a lot of the symptoms attributed to menopause can arise.
The classic signs of poor adrenal reserve during menopause are:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Poor or non-existent libido
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
Entering menopause with strong adrenal reserves is a goal worth considering. Even if menopause is swamping you at the moment, strengthening your adrenal function can only help improve your symptoms.
What can be done?
Herbs such Siberian Ginseng, Withania, Liquorice, Bacopa and Rhodiola help restore adrenal reserves, and over time may aid reducing the symptoms of menopause through helping the adrenal gland to make the oestrogen replacement.
Red clover is another herb that also weakly mimics natural oestrogen via its naturally occurring phytoestrogens and can reduce the load on the adrenal glands.
How are your adrenal glands doing? Do you need adrenal herbs to aid your transition through menopause?