Welcome to my blog, discover acupuncture with Dr Maggie Ju

Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences. This blog is for information only.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, adrenal fatigue and acupuncture

Stress causes changes of many systems in the body. In response to stress, the level of various hormones changes, such as glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin. This allows the body to cope with stress situation. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis consists of a serial of endocrine organs including hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands. In response to stress, this axis is activated to promote survival. Stimulation of this axis results in hypothalamic secretion of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF). CRF then stimulates the pituitary to adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), 8-lipotropin and 3-endorphin. Plasma levels of these hormones can increase two- to fivefold during stress in humans. ATCH stimulates adrenal glands to produce glucocorticoids which are a class of steroids. cortisols stimulate the formation of glucose and activates antistress and anti-inflammatory pathways. Stimulation of the pituitary-adrenal axis is also related to release of catecholamines which increased cardiac output, skeletal muscle blood flow etc.

Two small adrenal glands are above the kidneys. These glands produce various hormones. As mentioned above, cortisol is one of them and it helps the body deal with physical and psychological stress. Adrenal fatigue is not a proven medical condition but a description. When you are stressed, your adrenal glands might not be able to work properly. This may cause you to feel very tired. However there is no evidence there is anything wrong with the adrenal glands and also there is no specific investigation or treatment for adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems etc. Acupuncture can help to improve these symptoms.

If you suspect that your fatigue is caused by adrenal insufficiency, you can get adrenal glands checked by blood tests. Adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease) refers to inadequate production of hormones by adrenal glands. Signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency may include: fatigue, body aches, unexplained weight loss, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, loss of body hair, skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation).

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