Formerly known as Adrenal Fatigue, Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal axis dysfunction (HPA axis dysfunction) can affect all of us – it’s a condition that occurs when the neurological system that regulates the body's stress response becomes dysfunctional. In turn, the adrenal glands are unable to meet the stress demands on the body.
Stress occurs in many forms – physical, mental or emotional. Regardless of the source, it can eventually wear this system down, leaving you with compromised health and a variety of symptoms.
Chronic stress, serious illness or even a single, traumatic event can lead to HPA axis dysfunction. Excess training, without adequate time for recovery and proper nutrition, can lead to HPA axis dysfunction in athletes.
Because the nervous system is directly wired into the adrenal glands, they respond instantly to any type of stress. And while we’re made to endure stressful conditions, everyone has their limits and that’s when symptoms can strike.
Signs of Needing HPA Axis/Adrenal Support
The most common signs of HPA axis dysfunction include overwhelming fatigue, non-restorative sleep, intense sugar and caffeine cravings, and exercise intolerance (meaning it makes you feel worse and “hung over” after).
One of the surest signs is weight gain around the waist – this signifies an imbalance in the neuroendocrine system that controls adrenal hormones. Both too much, and too little cortisol can contribute to fat storage around the waist.
Athletes are some of the most often affected by HPA axis dysfunction. They may experience an elevated resting heart rate, weight gain around the waist and increased injuries like tendonitis, bursitis and more aches and pains because their bodies can no longer control the inflammation due to imbalance adrenal responses to those stressors.
Diagnosing HPA Axis Dysfunction
HPA axis dysfunction can be tough to diagnose - it takes a combination of a person's signs and symptoms along with a careful look at their entire hormonal balance. One place to start is by looking at what's termed a diurnal cortisol rhythm, otherwise known as an Adrenal Stress Response test.
Adrenal B Complex to the Rescue!
One of the primary ways to support ailing adrenal glands is by using Adrenal B Complex. It’s designed to optimize nervous system function (remember stress is controlled through the nervous system, and the nervous system directly controls the adrenal glands.)
The B complex in Adrenal B helps to reduce the effects of stress on the body, and serves as a precursor to adrenal hormone production.
Additionally, adrenal-specific botanicals further complement the stress reducing properties of the B-complex vitamins. The adaptogenic herbs Rhodiola rosea and Panax ginseng help promote physiological equilibrium and improve the body’s resistance to stress.
These herbs also help balance the production of the adrenal-stimulating hormones adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and the production of corticosterone, so the adrenal glands themselves can attain a state of recovery.
Lastly, the herb Ashwagandha helps to support the adrenals and the HPA axis, along with the amino acid complex N-acetyl-l-tyrosine that can serve as a precursor to adrenal hormone production.
Adrenal B Complex is a uniquely formulated product, which makes it an important part of any adrenal support protocol.
It can also be used as needed, when you feel like you need an energy boost, during a long workweek or period of stress, or for long periods of athletic training.