Hormones and Chronic Stress

Underlying Causes of Adrenal/Hormone Problems

Unhealthy lifestyle habits (poor diet, inadequate exercise, insufficient sleep, lack of relaxation, and internalizing emotional stress) are sources of chronic stress that may be underlying causes of adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalance. Other common sources of chronic stress include: food sensitivities, heavy metals, environmental toxins, radiation exposure, and regular use of prescription drugs. Chronic stress slowly erodes health and compromises longevity.

Under chronic stress, the adrenal glands increase their output of cortisol—often referred to as the “stress hormone.” The principal hormones produced by the adrenal glands—cortisol, DHEA, aldosterone, testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone—share a common precursor, the master hormone pregnenolone. When under stress, the adrenal glands are hyperstimulated and pregnenolone is diverted (stolen) from other pathways to produce cortisol.

Pregnenolone Steal

This increase in the production of cortisol (and the resulting diversion ofpregnenolone) causes fatigue and the general aches and pains associated with chronic stress. However, with time, pregnenolone steal has a much broader damaging effect on health. It exacerbates any developing or existing health problems because pregnenolone is not being adequately converted to other essential hormones. Refer to the following chart to see the dynamic of pregnenolone steal:

What stresses have become chronic, causing the body to divert pregnenolone to provide for the production of cortisol? The sooner you identify and deal with the offenders, the sooner you restore your patients’ health. Consider the following sources as a logical starting point:

  • Lifestyle: Diet, Sleep, Exercise, Mental
  • Environmental: Pathogen infections, chemicals, heavy metals, food sensitivities, mold, radiation.