Endocrine System, Hormones and Glands
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Volume 2 number 3
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For an aid to the adrenals, we formulated a group of herbs consisting of mullein and lobelia, Siberian Ginseng, Gotu Kola, Hawthorn berries, cayenne and ginger. Two of the important herbs recommended are mullein and lobelia. They are a natural pair to use in repair and rejuvenation of the glandular system.
The adrenal glands, seated on top of each kidney, are part of the endocrine system, that is: the internally secreting or ductless glands which release their secretions directly into the blood stream. The adrenals, often referred to as the suprarenal, are the Creator’s most intricate chemical factories “It would take acres of chemical plant” to synthetically manufacture “the 50 odd hormones or hormone-like substances” produced by the adrenal glands. (Ratcliff, 1975, p. 69)
Not only do these hormones control all the ‘oxidation” processes of the human body through the anterior pituitary body, but they regulate growth, mental balance, sexual development and maintenance, and a host of other phenomena which we shall describe forthwith. The adrenals, the pituitary, and the thyroid are functionally united comprising the adrenal system. THE ADRENALS ARE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO LIFE, so please try to avoid the knife of some frivolous surgeon on them.
Each gland consists of two portions, an outer cortex which on section appears bright yellow, and an inner medulla which is brown. They elicit the “fight or flight” reaction in response to life threatening situations: increased nervous system activity, dilated pupils, increased blood supply to skeletal muscle, blood shunted away from skin and gastrointestinal tract to more critical areas, increased respiration rate, and increased heart rate and force of contractions.
HORMONES OF THE ADRENAL CORTEX
CORTISOL: “Cortisol (or Hydrocortisone) is secreted by the zona fasciculate of the cortex and its rate of secretion is controlled by the pituitary hormone A.C.T.H.” (Mills, 1964, p. 3)
ACTH is secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary, and is a polypeptide composed of 39 amino acids. ACTH stands for adrenocorticotrophic hormone or corticotrophin.
The regulator or corticotrophin, known as C.R.F. or corticotrophin releasing factor, is secreted by the hypothalamus.
The pituitary hormone stimulates the adrenal to produce cortisol. Then when the level of cortisol rises in the blood it acts upon the pituitary to decrease the production of ACTH; except in conditions of stress, including severe infections, accidents, operations, emotional outrages, depleting drugs (and this includes the processed junk foods, salt, and preservatives) the plasma cortisol rises to high levels to enable the organism to cope with the induced tension or imbalance. In fact, stress itself has been known to cause an increased release of corticotrophin.
Corticotrophin has been synthesized in the laboratory. It is similar to, but not exactly the same as the ACTH produced in the healthy human body. However, it is used in various ailments, because it does, in fact, relieve some of the symptoms of adrenal hormone imbalance. It cannot, however go to the cause of adrenal exhaustion and is fraught with possible hideous side effects.
Cortisol is indispensable in the following functions of the body:
Excretion of water – Within four hours, the body should excrete 75% of an ingested load of water. If more than the amount is retained, or excreted very slowly over a period of many hours, there is an adrenal deficiency, and a need for cortisol, or a similar hormone.
Sodium-Potassium metabolism – Cortisol usually regulates sodium retention and potassium excretion, but if artificial cortisol is administered, the sudden mobilization of the retained water in the unbalanced body is usually accompanied by quick depletion of potassium as well as sodium. A further increased dose of cortisol continues to deplete the potassium, especially if it is administered in large amounts; an associated side effect is extra-cellular “alkalosis”, a raised plasma bicarbonate level.
Glucose metabolism – Cortisol is responsible for “glycogenesis”, that is, the conversion of protein to glucose in the liver. If cortisol is given to a normal person intravenously, the liver begins to trap amino acids at an increased rate, and the blood sugar level begins to rise after two hours. In people with adrenal imbalance where the cortisol secretion is very high, or with those individuals who are on cortisone treatments for some other malady, there is an interference with the peripheral action of insulin, that is, the intra-arterial insulin has much less effect upon the glucose uptake by peripheral tissues.
Protein Metabolism – An increase of “nitrogen loss” through the urine can occur with cortisol administration. This is associated with gluconeogenesis and the trapping of amino acids at a rapid rate by the liver. In extreme adrenal malfunction, Cushing’s Disease, and the use of large doses of cortisone or prednisone, the results are loss of muscle mass, decrease in thickness of the skin, and osteoporosis, which is the loss of the “ossein network” in the bone.
Calcium and Phosphorus metabolism – Because of the osteoporosis, decalcification of the skeleton occurs with an overproduction of “cortisol” in the adrenal gland. In addition, phosphorus is not reabsorbed by the body, but excreted in the urine. Massive doses of Vitamin D have no effect upon the decalcification syndrome. (Decalcification also discussed by Morton A. Meyers, M.D., 1963)
Fat Metabolism – Along with a stimulation of the appetite from cortisol overproduction, the amount of fat deposits in the body are more than normal. This may be, in part, due to the conversion of the “excess glucose” formed from “protein” trapping to fat.
Uric Acid Metabolism – Cortisone will lower the uric acid level in the blood plasma, and excrete the uric acid in increased amounts in the urine. In acute attacks of gout, relief is obtained from the steroids only when very little rise in uric acid excretion occurs.
Blood Cells – Although there have not been any long-term experiments, it would appear that steroids of the cortisol type tend to stimulate red blood cell production.
Blood Pressure – Cortisol is essential to the maintenance of normal blood pressure. In cases of overproduction of cortisol, or the administration (long term) of corticosteroids, hypertension may develop. In the case of adrenal deficiency, low blood pressure is one of the common symptoms.
Response to inflammation – Inflammatory states, be they from trauma, infection, or other disorders, are depressed or inhibited by the presence of cortisol. Cortisol often helps the dissolution of fibrous tissue (which may enclose an organism such as tuberculosis). On the other hand, an excess of cortisol affects “cell mitosis” which can interfere with the healing of wounds/or fractures.
Suppression of Allergic Reactions – The skin may produce a rash as a reaction to a foreign protein. Additional symptoms may be local edema and bronco-spasm. Both cortisol and adrenaline will suppress these reactions to an extent.
Peptic ulceration – Gastric secretion is stimulated by cortisol. It has been observed that people who are being treated with synthetic cortisol for arthritis and who are simultaneously ingesting aspirin, may be contributing to their own delinquency, as the excess cortisol may delay healing of the ulcers. The steroid in high concentration in the stomach (without food) may lead to the development of ulcers. Ulcers of the colon have been reported in patients being treated with synthetic ACTH.
Gonadal Function – Absence of menstruation, or irregular bleeding have been noted in the instance of long-term artificial corticosteroid therapy. Cortisol regulates the ovular cycles in females, and in males, an overdose of cortisol may lead to the atrophy of the testosterone secreting cells of the testis, and also adversely affect the seminal vessels.
Bleeding and Bruising – In Cushing’s Syndrome, an overproduction of Cortisol by the adrenal gland in addition to dysfunction of the pituitary, and possibly an adrenal tumor or disorder of the hypothalamus and the central nervous system, the sufferers bruise easily.
Mental changes – Hallucinations and delusions may be observed either with overproduction or underproduction of cortisol. Overdosage with cortisol may produce initial euphoria or difficulty in sleeping. Severe depression has been noted in people who have been on corticosteroid therapy for some time. Withdrawal of steroids alone will not usually cure the depression, and the person must be given antidepressant drugs with their attendant side effects.
Withstanding Stress – During stress or trauma, cortisol is absolutely essential for a person to be able to withstand the circumstances. In Adrenalectomy and Addison’s Disease, artificial cortisol is necessary when a person undergoes trauma or stress, or often all of the symptoms of adrenal depletion will occur. (Mills, 1964, p. 46-57)
Aldosterone is secreted by the zona glomerulosa of the cortex of the adrenal gland, and is the main mineralocorticoid. Aldersterone has a similar electrolytic effect as cortisol. (Mills, 1964 p.) In Hypopituitarism, there is less secretion of aldosterone than in the normal person. Some other symptoms of this ailment are anemia and tiredness. Also the victim can be very thin. There is decreased body hair. The true disease may go undiagnosed for years, while the person is given various inorganic iron compounds for the treatment of anemia.
An increased of secretion of aldosterone occurs after hemorrhage, on a low salt diet, when a person is loaded with potassium salts, during pregnancy, and during the first few days of ACTH administration. (Mills, 1964, p. 140) For an abnormal excessive increase of aldosterone and its accompanying syndrome, an adrenalectomy (removal of part of the adrenal gland which bears the aldosterone secreting tumor) is advised by the standard practitioners.
The androgens, which are three substances produced by the adrenals are the “main precursors of the urinary-17-ketosteroid. The other tissues contributing to these urinary steroids are the testes and the ovaries. (Mills, 1964, p. 79) These androgens affect puberty changes, the sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin, the nitrogen balance in the body, and the fusion of the ends of the long bones in forming the adult skeleton.
Androgen plays and important role in the fetal sexual development. Any imbalance in this important hormone group could display disastrous results in the form of genital abnormalities at birth, development of hirsutism (excess facial and body hair) in the female accompanied by deepening of the voice and loss of female fat distribution often associated with ovarian tumors. Adrenal tumors may also be responsible for feminization of males, with fat deposits on the hips of males and changes in the function of the reproductive organs.
Because licorice root acts as desoxycorticosterone when administered orally, and sodium retention are present along with some potassium loss (in experiments done in the Netherlands on human subjects) there may exist a slight caution in administering large amounts of the herb to those persons suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure. In these cases, we must seek to remove the causes of high blood pressure through diet, including herbs. Herbs and foods high in potassium, elder for example, or grape juice, would be indicated here.
The Adrenal Formula which we recommend consists of:
Mullein and lobelia: the perfect glandular foods
Siberian Ginseng: Successfully used in the Soviet Union to ease stress in everyday situations and tend endurance to athletes under great strain during training
Gotu Kola: Known to stimulate the brain and relieve fatigue when given in small amounts. Wonderful for the functioning of the pituitary in disorders of the adrenal system when used in conjunction with other herbs.
Hawthorn Berries: A celebrated cardiac tonic for many centuries. Under conditions of stress, the heart often “works overtime.” Hawthorn berries can help in treatment of high or low blood pressure, tachycardia, and arrhythmia. It is also anti-spasmodic, sedative, and soothing to nerves, especially in nervous insomnia.
Cayenne: Nature’s finest stimulant; source of calcium and vitamin A. Aids in circulation of blood which brings oxygen and other nutriments to cells in need of repair.
Ginger: A stimulant and a ‘lead sheep’ herb, bringing the other herbs in the formula into the abdominal area. Ginger differs from cayenne as a stimulant, in that the cayenne stimulates the heart, arteries, veins and then the capillaries. Ginger starts its stimulating effect in the capillary, flushing out the “constipated” capillary, driving these wastes into the veins for disposal. This formula may be taken as capsules or as a tea. It may safely be given to a person suffering from hypertension.
For those who wish to rebuild the adrenals and do not have the sodium retention problem, Licorice root can be used as a supplement the above formula in tablets, capsules, extract, or as a tea. The suggested dosage is one #0 capsule daily – six days each week. Relaxation, meditation, recreation, or some form of stress reducing activity will certainly help the cause of exhausted adrenals. We should wish to eliminate hate, anger, fear, and other negative emotions as they take their toll on the physical body. Listening to relaxing music has proven to be wonderful in easing hostile attitudes.