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Detecting High Adrenal Activity On An HTMA

Detecting High Adrenal Activity On An HTMA

Detecting High Adrenal Activity On An HTMA


While the concept of "adrenal fatigue" has garnered significant attention in discussions about the toll of chronic stress on our well-being, the other side of the adrenal spectrum remains relatively unexplored. Amidst the clamor surrounding exhausted adrenal glands, the question arises: What about elevated adrenal activity, or the realm of "hyper activity"? While we are familiar with the idea that prolonged stress can lead to a state of diminished stress hormone production, the intriguing counterpart—where the adrenal glands are in overdrive—has largely remained in the shadows. It's time to shed light on this lesser-discussed facet of adrenal function and delve into the intriguing realm of heightened adrenal activity.

Understanding Adrenal Glands and Hormones

The adrenal glands, a pair of tiny glands on top of our kidneys, are essential for producing hormones that support the health of our neurological system, endocrine system, immunological system, metabolism, and blood pressure management, among other systems. These glands create hormones in five different categories:


  • Mineralocorticoids: Aldosterone and corticosterone
  • Glucocorticoids: Cortisol and cortisone
  • Androgens: Estrogen and testosterone
  • Catecholamines: Epinephrine and norepinephrine
  • Peptides: Somatostatin and Substance P


The adrenal glands unquestionably play a key role in our daily body activities. These hormones can have a significant negative effect on our wellbeing and cause pain if they are produced insufficiently or excessively.


The Theory of General Adaptation Syndrome

Although we have already discussed low adrenal activity, which you can read about here, today we wanted to delve even deeper into high adrenal activity. According to endocrinologist and scientist Hans Selye, he was the first to realize that stress had an immediate impact on the body and could be identified by hormonal patterns, coming to the conclusion that persistent stress may be mimicked through the system. 


His theory of General Adaptation Syndrome described the many stress levels that the body experiences when exposed to prolonged stress, even in little doses, which causes the body to adapt as a defensive response. Consider the example of breaking an arm as an illustration. Some people may first feel an adrenaline surge, which numbs the pain and gives them a boost of energy. The arm, however, starts to hurt and swell as the influence of the adrenaline wears off. The discomfort gradually lessens while the body heals (when the arm is in a cast or sling) since the stressor, the shattered bone, is no longer there.


Let's turn our attention to a different kind of stressor, like hunger. Consider cutting back on calories, which makes you feel hungry. While the hunger may subside after a few weeks, the stress brought on by malnutrition persists. When the body experiences ongoing, unresolved stress, it begins to adapt as a defense mechanism, which might lead to lesser symptoms but a compromised overall system. Acute, Compensatory, and Exhaustive are the three separate phases of this stress reaction.


The Acute phase is the initial reaction to a stress, the Compensatory stage is when you are still symptomatic and have enough energy to still be sending out a stress response, but you have adapted, and finally the Exhaustive phase is where the stress response has lowered significantly and you have no more energy to stay resilient under the stress you’re under. This is when the term “adrenal fatigue” or “low adrenal activity” comes into play. The Acute and Compensatory Phases are for individuals who experience elevated adrenal activity because the body still has enough energy or bandwidth to send a stress response. 

Signs and Symptoms of Elevated Adrenal Activity

Levels of mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, and catecholamines may be decreasing during the Acute or Compensatory Phases. All of these hormones are stimulating and can occasionally make someone unaware of the stress their body is experiencing or cause slight discomfort. Individuals may frequently experience increased stimulation, anxiety, probable sleep problems, energy slumps during the day, cravings for sweet foods, loose stools, frequent feelings of hunger, and a sense of overload.


It's crucial to remember that contrary to what the term stress is typically linked with, stress is not just restricted to mental elements. In fact, a range of variables, such as poor food choices, infections, recurrent injuries, exposure to heavy metals, medication use, alcohol and cigarette use, inflammation, insufficient sleep, and other factors, can cause these signs.


Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA): A Window into Adrenal Health


The Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is a useful instrument that explores the function of minerals as essential electrical signals for our cells. These minerals work as vital sparks, allowing hormone secretion and helping the recovery of adrenal function, whether to promote tranquilly or reactivate activity.  Minerals' primary function is to nourish our cells by igniting enzymatic processes by acting as catalysts. Vital cellular functions are thus accelerated by these reactions. Imagine a chain reaction where a cell's enzymatic activity sets off a reverberation that sends a signal to an organ, like the adrenals. The adrenal glands then produce hormones, which serve as messengers and convey information to all of the body's cells. 


Sodium, potassium, and vitamin C are the three main nutrients that have an impact on the adrenal glands. Notably, the major actors somewhat alter in the setting of Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) to include salt, magnesium, and potassium as the primary indications. Analyzing the outcomes of an HTMA test allows for a thorough evaluation of adrenal gland function. Through this assessment, it may be determined if the adrenal glands are overactive or underactive. With this knowledge, wise choices may be taken in order to properly support and strengthen the adrenal glands and stress response.


Key Minerals and Their Role in Adrenal Health


Magnesium is one of the first minerals the body tends to burn through when we’re stressed. Typically, in the acute phases of stress, magnesium is either very high on a hair test because we’re losing it and incapable of retaining it or we’re very low because we’ve “burned through” most of our stores. You can read more about the magnesium burn rate here. Generally speaking,  individuals with elevated adrenal activity are magnesium deficient, which is why it is recommended to supplement. 


One of the main solvents in the body and a mineral that stimulates activity is sodium. Since it aids in the synthesis of aldosterone, a hormone that aids in salt retention, it largely controls adrenal function. High amounts of sodium are generally seen in those who have high adrenal activity and are a marker of stress, inflammation, or infection on an HTMA. This isn't a symptom that someone is consuming too much salt, but rather that a stressor exists that has to be dealt with. When it's low, we associate it with fatigue, a sluggish metabolism, and worse adrenal function.


One of the body's main solvents, potassium, collaborates well with sodium. Although many people don't consume the necessary 4000 mg of potassium per day, it might appear to be high on an HTMA when they are actually lacking in the mineral. On an HTMA, potassium stands in for cortisol, and when it is high, one may conclude that the glucocorticoids are being secreted at a high rate.  

Na:K ratio

The "Life and Death" ratio or "Vitality ratio" is the name given to this ratio. The manifestation of renal and adrenal hormone activity as well as kidney and liver stress depends on whether the ratio is high or low. When the ratio is low, someone is approaching the exhausting phase of stress, which is characterized by exhaustion, liver and kidney problems, poor detoxification, low immunity, and other symptoms. When the ratio is high, there is a predisposition for greater acute stress. We typically assume estrogen dominance, liver or renal stress, concealed copper toxicity, or metal toxicity when we notice a high Na:K ratio.


Na:Mg ratio

Due to sodium's stimulatory influence on the body and magnesium's tendency to soothe a hyperactive system, this ratio is known as the "Adrenal Ratio". When this ratio is high, we begin to believe that the adrenal glands are overworking, which may be an indication of ongoing, frequent stress to which the body is responding. An increase in sodium in this ratio can be linked to magnesium loss and heavy metal toxicity.


If you want to look into this further and believe that your adrenals need some care but you're not sure how to balance your minerals, click here to get an HTMA with us right away and then have a consultation with one of our reputable practitioners in the future! 




In conclusion, while "adrenal fatigue" discussions dominate the chronic stress discourse, the intriguing "hyperactivity" realm of adrenal function remains unexplored. Amidst exhausted adrenal focus, exploring heightened responses emerges. Unraveling adrenal complexities reveals their profound role across bodily systems. Dr. Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome captures our responses to stress, highlighting adaptive phases. This comprehensive perspective emphasizes recognizing both low and high adrenal states, guiding interventions. HTMA proves pivotal, unveiling minerals' cellular and adrenal sparks. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium wield influence, echoing stress's dance. Na:K and Na:Mg ratios indicate adrenal phases and imbalances. Exploring heightened adrenal activity deepens stress understanding, paving paths to optimize health.

Barbara Madimenos
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach

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