The Psycho-Dynamics of Adrenal Fatigue

In order to discuss the psycho-dynamics of adrenal fatigue we must also look at the biology and physiology. Let us take a look at some of the physiological associations in a quick summary:

– Adrenal glands is the body’s pharmacy of glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids – cortisol, testosterone, oestrogen etc
– Thyroid works directly with adrenals
– The correlation between adrenals and thyroid is critical and if the adrenal function is depleted (due to working to hard) its going to lower the function of the thyroid
– Cortisol is produced by the adrenals and is associated a great deal due to our perception and stress
– TSH is decreased by stress
– TSH creates T3 and T4 – these have to be carried to tissue/site by thyroid binding globulin (protein) -> T4 converted to T3 in Liver, intestines, kidneys and lungs
– Dietary selenium necessary for T3 production
– Oestrogen can also bind to TBG -> so making TBG harder to carry T3 and T4 -> this can lead to low thyroid function. Low thyroid function -> over-working adrenals

So how is this connected to our emotional wellbeing?

– It all starts off with our body’s inability to adapt to stress
– Stress is defined by the body’s inability to adapt to stress
– Adrenal’s signal attack, retreat or surrender
– Adrenals help mobilise resources for our fight or flight response
– This is based on perception of physical, chemical or emotional stress
– When stress increases cortisol, then our immune system becomes depressed because at times of stress you don’t need your immune system as a major priority (hence why you get sick, colds and flu etc)
– Cortisol down-regulates insulin receptors – however due to the influx of cortisol at times of stress, blood sugar increases. This is because the sugar cravings help give us immediate energy) – it also increases blood pressure to initiate the fight or flight response
– An Increase in blood sugar can impair and use up lithium -> low levels of lithium can disrupt neurotransmitters responsible in our brain for feeling good
– This is primarily based on perception because the brain doesn’t know the difference between imaginary or real stressors
– Our perception signals receptors on cell walls, the message goes inside the cell to produce a behavioural shift. If the protein for that particular behavioural shift/action is not available, it goes into the nucleus, into the gene, to transcribe and create the protein that will produce the behaviour to match that negative/stressful thought
– Over time, the same negative thought (perception) creates weaker molecular proteins with worn down genes that create fatigue, degeneration and ageing

Let’s go back to the thyroid connection:

– The thyroid embryologically is connected/originated by the tongue
– So many people (primarily women) who have hypothyroidism – this is psycho-emotionally connected to a lack of voice – a lack of expression of their true self/identity (lack of voice is lack of articulating your values – heart controls tongue and heart controls lungs/values (according to the ke cycle in TCM)
– Now, earlier I said that the T3 and T4 is carried to the site/tissue by Thyroid Binding Globulin (protein) and the conversion of T4 to T3 happens in Liver, Intestines, Kidneys and Lungs. So is it possible – when we are not able to adapt to stress (Hun liver, the spiritual component of the Wood Liver system in Chinese Medicine), not live to our highest intrinsic values and our true expression of who we are (Po lungs – the spiritual component of the Metal Lung system in Chinese Medicine), not live with purpose (Zhi kidneys – the spiritual component of the Water Kidney system in Chinese Medicine) and not assimilate life experiences (Small Intestine – passing tainted messages to Heart Shen – the spiritual component of the Fire Heart system in TCM), that we can have so many poor functioning thyroid problems in society? (A theory of mine).

Further Insights to the Psycho-Dynamics of Adrenals:

– The right adrenals represent assertion and trying to be powerful but due to the price people have to pay for standing up for themselves is too high, this shuts down optimal functioning adrenals
– The left is about living congruent to your inner being – one of nurture and nourishment (feminine) and so you may lack nurturing yourself in comparison to others (common in females). It also represents family unit, responsibilities and feminine power. This is also important as the adrenal’s in deficiency can represent a self-wrongeous thought process whereby you minimise yourself and exaggerate others in order to get accepted or approved
– Adrenals can represent conflicts with male (right) or female (left)
– Adrenals become depleted in future projecting unrealistic and delusional based fears with a background of worry. If you are not purposeful in life (kidney in Chinese Medicine), not authentic and therefore not living according to your source (essence – San Jiao is a system in Chinese medicine responsible for many of the metabolic processes as well as dispersing and carrying our source energy and essence to each organ and channel system) then adrenal function can be compromised. Remember adrenals are located at the level of the San Jiao Shu acupuncture point
– Fear of failing in work or in your relationship/family can deplete the adrenals and therefore make you work harder with an unrealistic expectation that you need to take on board other people’s responsibilities
– This can also be based on a lack of patience and therefore a need to over-control situations to see them in your favour

These are just some of the psycho-emotional connections to adrenal fatigue and how it impacts our life and the implications associated with it.

Feel free to share the article with those who may need to read this.

Dr. Sohial Farzam (Doctor of TCM)

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