The Role of Inflammation in Adrenal Fatigue
Inflammation is not only strongly associated with the development of adrenal fatigue. It is also a major cause of many chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. What exactly is inflammation?
Basics of a normal inflammatory response
Your body's ability to generate an inflammatory response to an acute illness or injury is beneficial to your health.
If you get a sore throat, for example, the acute illness stimulates your body's immune system to fight off the infection. If you experience an injury, such as an ankle sprain, your body goes into repair mode. The inflammatory response, which can cause pain and swelling of the ankle, is designed to help the ankle get better. Healthy cells replace the injured cells.
The damage that occurs in the cells as a result of an acute trauma or acute illness causes something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes the formation of free radicals, which are highly toxic unstable molecules that damage cells. They're a potent stimulus of the body's inflammatory response.
The inflammatory response is necessary to deal with the acute injury or illness, eliminate the toxic free radicals that have formed as a result of the injury, and begin the healing process. After a few days, as your body begins to recover from the illness or injury, the body's inflammatory response decreases.
Basics of a continued inflammatory response
What if your body's inflammatory response never turns off after an illness or injury? Oxidative stress to the cells continues, and more free radicals form, which stimulates the inflammatory response even more.
Proteins that stimulate the inflammatory response are commonly referred to as cytokines. One class of these proteins is the interleukins; they're significant contributors to the sustained inflammation of many chronic illnesses, including cancer and arthritis. This continued inflammatory response can have dire health consequences and is felt to be a significant cause of and contributor to cancer, heart disease, vascular disease, kidney disease, and adrenal fatigue.
With adrenal fatigue in particular, sustained inflammation causes the adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol. Day after day, the adrenal glands are unable to meet the demands that chronic inflammation and chronic stress have on them. The adrenal glands become fatigued and, over time, exhausted.
Poor nutrition, stress, poor sleep, hormonal imbalances, an unhealthy intestinal tract, chronic illnesses, and acid-base imbalances are all potent stimulators of the inflammatory response.
Unless chronic inflammation is recognized and treated, the effects can be bad; they can include heart attack and stroke. While nearly everyone has some degree of inflammation because of his or her environment and lifestyle, the key to recognizing whether inflammation is present is to see a healthcare practitioner who is holistically minded.