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affects in this multifaceted organ. Controlling the release of several different hormones, vitamin C serves to support the tissue of the adrenal glands by both protecting and enhancing the responsiveness of this tissue.24 This is important as a specific group of hormones, the catecholamines, are released from the adrenals to mediate the body’s stress response. As mental and physiologic stress increases, more of these hormones are released, which can assist us in dealing with our stressors. When constantly exposed to stress, as much of us are, it is important to provide the adrenal glands with the nutrients it needs to continue manufacturing these supportive hormones. Vitamin C is essential for the production of hormones in the adrenals, as well as the conversion of these precursor hormones into their active forms. A study of animals that did not have the ability to utilize vitamin C in their adrenal glands showed that they were unable to produce adequate amounts of catecholamines and soon thereafter died from inadequate adrenal function.25


Known as a phospholipid, phosphatidylserine is manufactured in the human body in a complex series of reactions. Despite this, the body obtains most of it through the diet. This molecule has several functions, some of which include proper brain cell membrane function, cell-to-cell signaling in the nervous system, and secretory vessicle release (hormones are sent into the blood stream in “ waterproof” vesicles for transport to other parts of the body).26 Therapeutic use of phosphatidylserine increases catecholamine release in diseased animals.27 Phosphatidylserine can assist in supporting adrenal gland function by blunting the response of the gland to exercise-induced stress.28 This study demonstrated that phosphatidylserine attenuated the release of adrenocorticotropin by the brain (a hormone that stimulates the adrenal gland) and cortisol (the main “stress” hormone made by the adrenal glands).

Cordyceps Sinensis

A fungus harvested in mountainous regions of China, Cordyceps is said to be an adaptogenic agent. An adaptogen is an agent that assists a person in counteracting adverse physical, chemical, or biological stressors by generating nonspecific resistance. More simplified, adaptogens bolster our body’s defenses against stress, helping us to stand up to it. Cordyceps was used to measure the physiologic stress response in animals in one study, utilizing the weight of the adrenal gland as a guage.29 It was found that the adrenal glands of the animals given the Cordyceps and exposed to stress were not as large as those that were not supplemented and exposed to stress. (The adrenal glands grow in response to stress in order to compensate for increased demand on this gland.) Cordyceps can be used to assist the body in dealing with stress, and the hormonal consequences of this, by supporting the function of the adrenal gland.

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