Asked if they are stressed, patients will often reply “no, I don’t think so, I have nothing to be stressed about.”
Yet, with some gentle probing, we later establish that they have had stress or trauma in their past or still do, and their adrenals are just not coping.
How do you know if you are stressed? First of all, there are some objective tests you can do.
Ragland’s Test measures the nervous system’s ability to adapt to stress.
You do this by taking your blood pressure lying down and then stand and take your blood pressure. The number at the top represents the systolic rate, and that should adjust after you stand up (due to gravity), anywhere between 6 to 10 points higher than it was lying down.
If you have an adrenal problem due to stress, the number will go way higher than 10 or lower than six because your body is not adapting and compensating for simple gravitational changes.
Iris Test: When shining a light in your eyes, your pupils should hold their contraction. When you’re stressed and it has affected your adrenal glands, pupils will dilate and contract quickly and continuously because your eyes can’t hold their contraction.
Scratch Test: If you take a paper clip and make a small scratch on your arm and the scratch stays white for any length of time, it may indicate your adrenals are under load. This is because when your adrenals are fatigued, you make more histamine in your body and this will increase inflammation and immune issues.
Hair Test: There is now an effective hair test for cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It functions mainly to increase blood sugar levels, suppress the immune system, aid in the metabolism of fats, protein, and carbohydrates, and decrease bone density. Cortisol levels should peak in the morning and slowly decline in the afternoon while being at their lowest at night. It is also very sensitive to both emotional and physiological stressors.
Low cortisol indicates chronic stress of a particular nutrient, neurotransmitter hormone, or organ in the body. It can negatively impact sleep, energy, and mood function in the long term. High cortisol will impact the same as low cortisol in the short term, and this indicates acute stress.
Some subjective tests are:
Tolerance to stress: How are you feeling? Do you get irritated by small things? Do people get on your nerves quickly? Do you fly off the handle easily? This is a great indicator of adrenal stress.
Cognitive ability: With adrenal stress, you can’t turn off your brain. Thoughts go through your mind constantly, like popcorn thoughts, just popping away. Do you forget things easily? Have brain fog/memory fog? Can’t switch off your brain when you go to sleep?
Productivity: You have things to do, but by the end of the day, you feel as if you haven’t gotten through them? You don’t feel productive because you are feeling overwhelmed? Do you feel like your ability to focus on one thing at a time is hindering you because you go off to work on another project before you have finished the last one? Classic adrenal cases are “multi-taskers”.
How do you feel when you get out of bed in the morning?
Do you look forward to a new day or drag yourself out to face another day? Do you wake up bright and refreshed, or does it take you a while to get going and possibly need coffee to wake yourself up?
If you have serious adrenal issues, it may take you until 11am to wake up and get going because your adrenals are so burnt out.
Adrenals can be treated and repaired with nutrition and supplements to get your health back on track. It is more common than you may think.
Trudy Kither is a naturopath and owner of Natures Temple. Visit naturestemple.net