Arenal Health and Support

Adrenal health is of importance particularly going through perimenopausal years as well as menopause and beyond. So what are our adrenals and what do they do?

Our adrenals are small glands that sit on top of our kidneys, and are responsible for making and releasing adrenalin and cortisol; hormones produced as part of our stress response, and our sleep/wake cycle.

Imagine you are crossing a road and suddenly seemingly out of nowhere a lorry is approaching at high speed. Immediately your adrenals create a stress response which causes your body to put all of its reserves into your limbs so that you can run fast to safety. Once safely across the road, your body is then flooded with a sense of relief and you will need to rest and recover from the experience. This would be a normal, healthy example of how our adrenals are supposed to work for us.

However, our busy and hectic modern day lives leave us stresed more than ever. Rushing from appointment to appointment, too many things on our to-do list, worries over children, finances, constant attention to our mobile phones, balancing and juggling parenting with careers, all impact our adrenals. As far as our adrenal glands are concerned, this is stress and they will be creating a stress response. A continued stress response, without the physical release or the recovery time.

Clues that your adrenals may need support include:

  • Poor sleep;
  • Changes in the way you’re able to cope with stress;
  • Blood sugar spikes;
  • Fatigue;
  • Mood swings and low mood;
  • Brain fog.

In addition to this, as we approach menopause (perimenopause can be as much as 10 years leading into menopause) our reproductive hormone levels begin to decline as the ovaries gradually stop producing oestrogen and progestrone. As this happens, our adrenals respond. They answer by making a hormone estradiol (a type of oestrogen) which plays a role in bone health, heart health and protection of the nervous system through and beyond menopause.

As we have already discussed, our adrenals create a stress response within the body in order to keep us safe and away from danger. The additional role they take on (on behalf of the ovaries) during menopause and beyond will not be prioritised over their main function. So it is hugely important to find ways of managing stress. I think we are all guilty of saying “oh, its just stress” or “I am just stressed”: stress has huge implications on our health, particularly continued stress that isn’t acknowledged or managed.

Ideas to help create balance in your life and to carve out some me-time include:

  • Booking in for a regular reflexology session,
  • Run yourself a candlelit bath with expertly blended aromatherapy products;
  • Switch to herbal teas particularly in the afternoon and evenings (liquorice is a great choice);
  • Turn your phone off for an hour;
  • Go for a walk in nature near trees or open water;
  • Add more plants to your living space;
  • Declutter.

Understanding puberty in girls from a TCM perspective

We can all remember the struggles of our teenage years; problems such as acne, the start of our periods, breasts forming, getting used to wearing bras, peer pressure, increasing levels of school work and home work, not being able to get out of bed in the mornings.

As a parent, I want my own daughters to have an easier time than I did. As a therapist, I am more aware of the strains put upon children and teenagers, and how this can effect them physically, psychologically and emotionally.

In my previous blog post, I explained in general terms about our Kidney energy being responsible for our growth and development, and reproductive health. If we experience a painful puberty it is likely that we will experience a more difficult menopause. We also want to optimise fertility, pregnancy and childbirth in between these two milestones, as well as general health and wellness, and they are all interlinked.

The following behaviours can have a significant impact on a young woman’s health:

  1. Early sexual activity. This can have an impact on uterine health at such a vulnerable time, causing imbalances such as blood stasis.
  2. Excessive physical work and exercise, During puberty, this may cause weakness and deficiency in the developing body (Spleen and Kidney), which in turn can lead to stagnation. Of course this depends on the individual constitution, but it is important to be aware of as a parent.
  3. Exposure to external cold. Young women are vulnerable to invasion of external cold, particularly during puberty. Social pressure to wear clothes that reveal the lower back and abdomen, going out without a coat and scarf, prioritising their physical appearance over their well-being can leave them prone to being attacked by the external pathogen of cold. If cold attacks the uterus, it will contract and cause stagnation.
  4. The use of tampons blocks the natural downward flow of blood and can cause stagnation. There are also many other health risks associated with tampons including the exposure to environmental oestrogens which is covered in a different blog post.
  5. Emotional stress and anxiety will have a massive impact on energy levels, depleting the Kidneys and creating excess Heart energy. If it is held onto then this can cause stagnation.

Taking care during this sensitive time will have a massive impact on our young women’s health as they get older. Common problems such as period pain, irregular periods, heavy/scanty periods, infertility, endometriosis, anxiety and depression, fatigue can all be improved through gentle communication, education and sensitivity around these issues at a young age.

If you are interested in receiving some acupuncture or reflexology sessions please contact me directly for an initial chat.

Jackie Marsden is a Reflexologist, Acupuncturist and Foot Reading Practitioner, based at Elder Cottage Clinic, Warton, Preston, PR4. She is a full member of the Association of Reflexologists.