Adrenal glands have traditionally been thought of as the body’s organ system responsible for the “fight or flight” response of our pets. During stress conditions they pump out epinephrine which is used in metabolizing glucose to give the body energy for it’s response. The adrenal gland has many other important functions besides releasing epinephrine during stress events. It is integral to many metabolic processes and involved significantly in the body’s immune system response.
Supportive therapy of stressed-out adrenal glands can include both glandular and herbal support. Gland or organ therapy is the use of raw glands and organ concentrates to achieve therapeutic results. Glandular extracts possess an affinity for similar tissues and contain hormones and enzymes that can produce significant therapeutic effects on cells and organs. Herbal medicine plays an important role in treatment of the adrenal glands. While herbs don’t replace the hormones that are frequently used to treat endocrine disease, they can treat the metabolic derangements that can occur as a result of these disorders.
Some herbs that influence the adrenal glads are the adaptogens. Adaptogen-type herbs help regulate and balance the body’s response to stress. These herbs act directly on the adrenal gland by exerting a normalizing effect, counteracting disturbances brought about by stress. ‘Panax ginseng’ is a classic adaptogen and has indirect action on the pituitary axis. Studies have shown that ‘Ginseng’ increases resistance to irradiation, temperature stress, stress from extreme pressure, physical exercise and viral and tumor load. ‘Licorice’ is considered to have a steroid-type action and helps in a supportive function of the adrenal glands. Adaptogenic herbs are helpful for minimizing the effects of stress in overworked horses and dogs. They may also be helpful in the treatment of chronically stressed dogs and cats exhibiting anxiety-related behaviors. Natural therapies can be an excellent way to treat stress in our pets and are safe and effective.