January 24, 2017

Adrenal Fatigue: Stress and Cortisol Control

The medical community does not recognize adrenal fatigue as a real condition – but if you suffer from it, you may beg to differ.

  • Do you have trouble falling asleep?
  • Are you restless, stressed-out and reliant on caffeine to make it through the day?
  • Do you feel unable to cope with stressful situations?

If so, you could be suffering from a condition that most doctors won’t acknowledge.

That is because there are no tests to prove it, no scientific evidence of its existence and treatment can be costly because insurance companies probably won’t cover the costs – if your doctor could even come up with a remedy.

It is called adrenal fatigue and if you suffer from it, then you know how real it is.

11 real symptoms of adrenal fatigueHere are some of the symptoms:

  1. Feeling run-down
  2. Difficulty keeping up with everyday life
  3. Trouble sleeping
  4. Trouble waking
  5. An unusual craving for salty or sugary foods
  6. Body aches
  7. Loss of body hair
  8. Low blood pressure
  9. Unplanned weight loss
  10. Nervousness
  11. Problems with digestion

All that said, these symptoms are non-specific and could be attributed to any number of other ailments. In fact, adrenal fatigue could itself be a symptom of fibromyalgia or depression. If you experience any of these symptoms, then you should see your doctor.

Glands on the Run

More readily explained and easier to diagnose is a condition called adrenal insufficiency. This malady is caused by insufficient production of hormones, which are normally released in response to stress in order to lessen the impact of stress on your body. If you aren’t getting enough of these hormones, stress will wear you down and cause physical illness. Simple blood tests and stimulation testing can reveal any decrease in the level of adrenal hormones.

Your body operates on a fight-or-flight system that is governed by adrenal hormones. The theory behind adrenal fatigue is that it is a milder case of adrenal insufficiency. When you are constantly under stress, the adrenal glands simply can’t keep up with producing enough feel-good hormones to balance out the trauma.

Standard blood tests cannot detect this mostly small decrease in hormone production – but your body detects it just fine!

You are not alone. Adrenal fatigue affects 80% of Americans just like you at some time in their lives – especially folks 40 years and older.

Other triggers for adrenal fatigue include our high-sugar diet, the rise of pesticides and chemical pollutants in our foods, intolerance to certain foods, and our sedentary lifestyles. Combine these factors with hormonal decline (which many of us are experiencing earlier and earlier these days), and you have a recipe for fatigue, sickness and loss of vitality.

Two of the major hormones that help reduce stress and its impact on your body are adrenalin and epinephrine. In a fight or flight scenario, these two hormones increase blood pressure and blood sugar to give you energy for coping with that stressful situation. When your adrenal glands malfunction and resources deplete, you become unable to handle stress and everyday life in general.

Of course, it is natural for hormone production to decrease with age, but if you are under regular stress, it can decrease much faster than normal. One hormone in particular will be especially missed when its production declines…

Damaging Cortisol

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If your cortisol level is low, then you have fatigue, hypoglycemia, poor immune function, an increased tendency to allergies and environmental sensitivity, as well as an inability to deal with stress.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that keeps blood sugar levels normal and is a natural stress fighter. It also works closely with your pancreas to give your cells the energy they need to function properly and allow you to take control of your daily life. Plus, it is a super-strong anti-inflammatory element that is released when you get hurt.

Cortisol rushes to the area of trauma and helps keep swelling down to repair the injury. The more traumas you have, the more cortisol is released.

Unfortunately, when your adrenal glands slow down hormone production, cortisol goes with it.  This can result in erratic spikes of cortisol at inappropriate times. If this continues to happen more and more frequently, it will eventually lead to burnout.

Listed below are some commonly reported symptoms caused by high cortisol:

  • Rapid weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Mood swings, anxiety and depression
  • Impaired cognitive function (fuzzy brain)
  • Dampened thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Poor sleep
  • Lowered immune function
  • Slow wound healing

If you’re worried about your cortisol levels, it is generally accepted that saliva cortisol testing is the most accurate. It gives a better estimate of the cortisol levels within your cells, where the hormone reactions are actually taking place.

The Adrenal Fatigue Treatment Plan

The good news is we are here to help! In this article are some specific recipe ideas that can repair the adrenals and keep them running at tip-top shape so you can get back your life and feel good again. These can give you peaceful, restful sleep, decrease your nervousness, reduce aches and pains and help fix any digestion issues you may be experiencing as a result of adrenal insufficiency.

First, here is some friendly advice on how to repair your adrenals. Then, we are on to the meals…

1. Cut out the Big 3

Caffeine, alcohol and sugar only serve to damage adrenal glands. You should avoid them if you want to rejuvenate your adrenals. After quitting coffee, most adrenal fatigue sufferers report a more even, consistent energy level throughout the day, without any of the crashes associated with caffeine intake.

2. Add in the Big 6

Be sure to add at least 6 organic vegetables to your diet and eat them every day. You can even juice them to help cleanse from the inside out. The darker and brighter the better.

3. Clean up Your Liver

Toxic overload can burden your liver, triggering adrenal fatigue. A warm cup of water mixed with the juice  from half an organic lemon is an easy and natural way to cleanse your liver and put you on the road to recovery.

4. Unlock Stress with Moderate Exercise

One of the most common reasons we give for not exercising is the stress of daily life. However, research shows that exercise is one of the first things we should turn to when we’re feeling stressed. Physical activity can help improve our mood and relieve anxiety associated with adrenal fatigue.

Exercise in moderation until you get tired. This will serve to keep things moving in your body and allow it to repair itself.

5. Start the Adrenal-Supportive Diet Plan

  • Be sure to eat regularly, 3 good healthy meals a day, or better still: 5-6 smaller meals. And NEVER skip breakfast. Those who suffer from adrenal fatigue struggle to maintain optimal blood sugar levels throughout the day. This is because cortisol is intimately involved with blood sugar stability. Focus on eating small meals throughout the day to reduce food cravings and blood sugar crashes.
  • Make sure to get plenty of healthy protein because it contains amino acids that restore adrenals.
  • Identify food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. They prevent the gut from digesting and excreting your food properly. If your body isn’t optimally digesting all the nutrients in your foods, you become weakened and lacking energy as well as troubled in your gut and immune system.

Also, be sure you are supplementing properly for adrenal repair. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a regimen. For naturally treating adrenal fatigue, take:

  • naturally treating adrenal fatigue 1000-5000 mg vitamin C (involved in the production of cortisol in your adrenals)
  • One 400 IU gel-cap of vitamin E per day (to absorb and neutralize damaging free radical molecules inside the adrenal glands and elsewhere)
  • 500 mgs or more of magnesium (helps to maintain energy flow)
  • 50 – 100 mgs of B complex twice a day (Improves your metabolic pathways and boosts energy levels)
  • DHEA – helps to neutralize cortisol’s immune-suppressant effect, thereby improving resistance to disease.
  • Probiotics – 2-3 times daily and digestive enzymes with each meal to improve digestion
  • Glutamine – Is an amino acid that your intestinal walls use as a fuel source. This aids in the repair and regeneration of the intestinal lining. Take 80 g of glutamine a day for 5 days, then to taper off to a long-term dose of 10-20 g. (A popular protocol pioneered by Charles Poliquin)

Following these guidelines can mean the difference between the healthy promotion of adrenal gland processes and a very nasty bout with premature hormone deficiency.

Grand Eats for Gland Repletion!        

Now for some meal ideas that will have your adrenal glands back to peak performance in no time. These are healthy comfort foods that bust depression in the jaw, help repair slowing hormone production and get you back on track.

They are simple to prepare and bursting with mouth-watering flavor. Try them and in one bite and you will instantly know what I am talking about. You will think you are back in mom’s kitchen when the aromas start to fill the air.

Calorie for calorie, beans represent some of the best nutritional value money can buy. Beans are also brimming with fiber, folate, B vitamins and protein. They help release short-chain fatty acids that make your intestinal cells stronger, and assist with absorption of micronutrients. They can also act as food for friendly gut bacteria to grow and multiply. Bon appetit!

beans best nutritional valueBlack Bean Soup*

What you need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 cup rinsed black turtle beans
  • 1 dried red chili pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • Organic veggie bouillon powder or cubes for 4 cups liquid. (You can substitute organic broth for the water and bouillon.)

What to do:

In a large pot, sauté cumin seeds in EVOO until golden brown.

Chop the garlic and onion and add it to the pot. Sauté until the onions become translucent. Add 4 cups water and black turtle beans. Add the chili pepper. When the beans become somewhat tender, add turmeric powder and half the ginger. When they become totally tender, add your bouillon.

Top off the water and throw in the rest of the ginger and more turmeric to taste. Eat several times a day to build stamina and drain fluids from your body.

All the hormones made by the adrenal glands are made with cholesterol. You must eat cholesterol-rich foods like red and white meat and full fat dairy and eggs to produce hormones. This meatloaf recipes focuses on healthy fats and quality animal protein to support your adrenals.

Mom’s Meatloaf**

  • 1 lb lean hamburger
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup herbed salsa
  • 1 cup Nature’s Path Organic “Mesa Sunrise” cereal
  • Fine chopped onions & garlic
  • 1 cup of chopped zucchini
  • Fresh corn off one cob or organic sweet corn (quantity to liking)
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl except for the salsa. Scoop mixture into an ungreased 9×5 loaf pan, or shape into a loaf that size on an ungreased baking sheet or pan. Spread a layer of salsa over the top.

Bake about 1 hour @ 350 degrees or until beef is thoroughly cooked.

Serve with brown rice with a side of lightly sautéed, dark greens or brightly colored vegetables for a balanced, healthy meal your body will thank you for.

Healthy Hormone Production for Life

You do not have to live with adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency. All you need to do is take greater care to repair your adrenal glands to live the healthy life you deserve. Regain lost energy, deal with stress and boost the feel-good hormones that allow you to wipe out depression and maintain your fight-or-flight system.

One more tip: drink licorice tea. It is excellent for repairing stubborn adrenal glands. Look for it at your local health-food store.

Your doctor may not recognize adrenal fatigue, but you and your body know the truth. Eat healthy, live well – knock out this debilitating condition and get on the path to balance.

How do you recharge your adrenals for lasting energy?  Comment below and inspire someone in need!

 

 

*Courtesy kitchendoctor.com
**Courtesy adrenalfatiguebegone.com

 

Are You FED UP With These Health Problems?

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

There is a movie coming out next month called Fed Up (#FedUpMovie) that will be of interest to all those who read Home Cures That Work.  It’s about how our food has been adulterated with more and more sugar over the past couple hundred years and now culminates in tremendous health problems for the entire population.

  • refined sugar consumption history - 2More than half of our population is overweight.
  • Almost half have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
  • We are seeing these problems in younger people than ever.  Our grade-school children already have “adult-onset diabetes” and obesity.

This is not a new problem.

From 1493 when Queen Isabella told Columbus to take sugar cane to the New World because the climate was favorable to its growth, the sugar industry has had a continuous increase.  The 17th century saw a dramatic increase in sugar consumption, where common people began to eat cakes, jams, and candy.  From that time on, sugar was not an occasional treat, but rather enjoyed increasing consumption.  The following is just refined sugar consumption per person over history:

Year Pounds of refined sugar per person
1700 4
1800 18
1900 90
2000 130
2009 50% eat over 180 lbs/year

By 1792, it was noticed that sugar had begun to affect the population of Europe and the Anti-Saccharite Society was formed to protest the effect of sugar on people’s health. This is when sugar consumption was about a tenth what it is today!  It induces a British sugar boycott through Europe.  However, there was plenty of sugar coming from other sources, including Germany, Denmark, and Holland.  This boycott wasn’t really about health, though, it was really against the monopoly of the British sugar industry.  However, the thought that sugar had a negative effect on health was instituted.

1912 — Dr. Robert Boesler, New Jersey dentist notes that, “Modern manufacturing of sugar has brought about entirely new diseases. Sugar has caused a vast degeneration of the people.”

1924 — Dr. Seale Harris of the University of Alabama discovers that sugar can cause hyperinsulinism and recommends people cut sugar consumption.

1943 — Dr. John Tinterta rediscovers the vital importance of the endocrine system and connects sugar use to production of hypoadrenocortic episodes in humans intolerant to sugar, where adrenal hormones are suppressed, producing inability to think clearly, allergies, inability to handle alcohol, depression, apprehension, craving for sweets and low blood pressure.

We have known about the effect of sugar on the endocrine system for hundreds of years, so none of this information is new.  What has changed is the consumption has increased so much that we are seeing its effects on everyone.

Food Allergies

One of the effects of large amounts of sugar is dysfunction of the immune system, creating food allergies.  We have looked at this in detail in some of the other articles in the May 2014 issue of Home Cures that Work.

Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus is when sugar is increased in the blood and spills into the urine.  The blood sugar gets elevated for two primary reasons:

  1. There isn’t enough insulin to get the sugar into the cells so it stays in the blood.
  2. There is too much sugar in the cells so it spills over into the blood.
  3. The first is called Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, and the second is called Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

Since historically we have only been able to measure or find sugar in the urine, these two diseases were given the same name; however, they are very different. In fact, in many ways they are opposites!

While the cells in Type 1 Diabetes are starving for energy, the cells in Type 2 Diabetes are so full of sugar they are spilling over into the blood.  Thus, though both types of diabetes have high blood sugar, they have very different reasons for it.  This is addressed in more detail with demonstrations in the Diabetes Reversal Talk. 

The sugar-overload, or Type 2, type of diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate.  It is literally epidemic.  Everyone has or knows someone who has diabetes from eating too much sugar.

Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenal glands keep our normal sleep-wake cycles.  In that sense, these hormones are the master regulators of our metabolism.  In the morning, we release cortisol to wake us up and in the evening the cortisol levels are low to allow us to sleep.  These hormones also help us get through stress of any kind – physical, emotional, mental, infections, inflammation and so forth.  We also release adrenalin when we need an extra boost of energy.

sugar can lead toSugar is a stimulant.  It causes the adrenal glands to make more hormonesWhen we eat refined sugar, we get a rapid shift in the blood glucose which causes more adrenal output.  Over time, this can lead to several problems:

  1. Adrenal fatigue
  2. Panic attacks
  3. Insulin resistance
  4. Sleep problems

Since we no longer have a normal “circadian rhythm,” we lose the ability to function on a sleep-wake cycle.  We are half-awake all night and half-asleep all day.  Energy is lacking.  Muscles fatigue easily.  We’re tired, but can’t sleep.  We call this “adrenal fatigue.”

Heart Disease

A recent study indicates that sugar is more tied to heart disease than cholesterol![i]  Multiple studies have shown this correlation.  I have so many people come in to my office worried that their cholesterol is elevated, but don’t even think about how much sugar they consume.

The amount of sugar is tied to inflammation, which allows deposits into the walls of arteries.  Sugar has multiple ways to cause heart disease. Click to Tweet.

Cancer

Cancer is caused by both inflammation and elevation in sugar.  Inflammation, as we have noted, comes from eating sugar, as does obesity, which is directly correlated with cancer.  Several studies have noted that higher blood sugar increases the rate of cancer growth.[ii]

Inflammation

Arthritis, Lupus and other autoimmune diseases are also correlated with sugar intake.

fed up with being sickIf you are FED UP with these illnesses, then consider your own test.  I often ask people to go off the following for 3 weeks:

  1. Gluten
  2. Dairy
  3. Sugar (including all processed forms of sugar)

During this trial you should note a difference in energy, mood, allergies, rashes, joint pain and other symptoms.  One woman who tried it came back and said, “Well, Doc, I guess this is going to be a permanent change!”  She was so happy to be pain-free for the first time in years.

Your health is worth the sacrifice of taste.  You may find your tastes change and you will begin to enjoy things you never did before.  You will also lose the taste for really sweet stuff.  It’s magical!

Personally, I watched the trailer, and I’m looking forward to the #FedUpMovie coming out next month on May 9.  We’ll be posting a review, as well.

How are you FED UP with your health?

 

Dr. Scott SaundersDr. Scott D. Saunders, M.D. (Ask-an-MD) is a practicing physician, specializing in preventative health care, who utilizes eclectic health care for the whole family, including conventional, orthomolecular and natural medicine. He is also the medical director of The Integrative Medical Center of Santa Barbara in Lompoc, CA. He went to UCLA medical school and is board certified in family medicine. View natural remedies with Dr. Saunders at: http://drsaundersmd.com

 


[i] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-too-much-sugar-is-linked-to-fatal-heart-disease/
[ii] Moerman CJ, et al. Dietary sugar intake in the aetiology of biliary tract cancer. Int J Epidemiol 1993 Apr;22(2):207-14.
Seeley S. Diet and breast cancer: the possible connection with sugar consumption. Med Hypotheses 1983 Jul;11(3):319-27.

Hidden Hypothyroidism

by Amanda Box, N.D.

You may have all the classic symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • classic symptoms of hypothyroidism_2Cold hands and feet
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Dry Skin
  • Low body temp

Yet, your doctor has told you your blood work is normal and your thyroid is fine.  End of story, right?  Of course not!  Your symptoms didn’t just disappear with the results!  You still feel miserable and now it’s even worse because you are left without any answers.

Millions in America suffer from some form of thyroid disease.  It’s a bit of an epidemic really.  Synthroid, the synthetic thyroid hormone, is amongst one of the top 10 prescribed drugs.  But, this drug isn’t fixing the problem.  It may mask some of the symptoms, but much of what causes hypothyroidism is never addressed in a doctor’s office.

If hypothyroidism doesn’t have just one cause, then why does it only have one treatment?  Shouldn’t the underlying root issue be corrected?  This approach is much like filling a car with oil to keep it running, yet never fixing the leak!  What a waste of time and money!

Interestingly enough, a defective thyroid isn’t always to blame with hypothyroidism.  You can actually have a completely normal functioning thyroid yet have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism.  This is why it is important that doctors not rely solely on blood but a combination of blood work, signs, and symptoms.  When blood work comes back normal yet you have all the signs and symptoms, it just means it is time to dig a little deeper to find out what the underlying issue truly is.

Before I go into some of the hidden causes of hypothyroidism, I believe it is important that you at least have a foundational understanding of the thyroid’s function in the body.  Understanding how things are supposed to work, give you a better understand of what happens when something goes wrong.

The Workings of the Thyroid

Though the thyroid may be small, its job is quite mighty.  Click to Tweet.

The thyroid is an essential part of your endocrine system. It creates hormones that influence nearly every cell in our body!  Thyroid hormones directly affect our:

  • Metabolism
  • Heat production
  • Balance of sex hormones
  • The use of fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, and water in the body

Thyroid hormones affect our weight, mood, heart rate, mental stamina, and energy levels.  Click to Tweet.

In a healthy person, the course of action for the thyroid and its hormones looks like this:

  1. The pituitary gland releases the hormone TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).
  2. TSH tells the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
  3. T4 circulates the body waiting to be converted to T3 by the liver.
  4. T3 is used as fuel by our cells for metabolism, burning fat, converting protein, and increasing energy throughout the body.

Hypothyroidism results from an issue compromising any of the steps above.  It can originate in the pituitary gland, the thyroid itself, the conversion by the liver, or the cells and their hormone receptors.  Unfortunately, most doctors don’t look much beyond the thyroid itself. They nearly always prescribe the same course of action to everyone, no matter the cause.

Digging Deeper

types of hypothyroidism

Like I had mentioned earlier, hypothyroidism isn’t always caused by a problem with thyroid itself. Your thyroid can be producing all the necessary hormones, but it doesn’t mean that your body is utilizing those hormones, as it should.  Dr. Mark Starr wrote a book titled Hypothyroidism Type 2 in which he addresses a form of hypothyroidism that isn’t yet acknowledged by mainstream medicine.

  • Type 1 hypothyroidism is when the thyroid itself isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone.
  • Type 2 hypothyroidism manifests similar to type 2 diabetes.  In type 2 hypothyroidism, the thyroid is working normally and the hormones are in normal numbers.  However, the cells of the body don’t recognize or utilize the hormones.

Just as type 2 diabetes is often referred to as insulin resistance, type 2 hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone resistance. Dr. Starr believes that thousands of people suffer with Type 2 hypothyroidism and are not diagnosed because it doesn’t show up on the typical blood tests.

Like many other diseases, stress can also be a hidden trigger for hypothyroidism.  Stress can provoke autoimmune and inflammatory responses in the body that can lead to Hashimoto’s disease.  Hashimoto’s disease results from the body’s immune system attacking the thyroid gland.  This causes a drop in its hormone production and therefore hypothyroidism.

Stress can also have a dramatic effect on the conversion of inactive T4 to active T3 in the body.  Chronic stress leads to adrenal fatigue, which causes a prolonged increase in cortisol in the body.  When cortisol levels are high, it shuts down the enzyme in the liver that converts T4 to the active T3 hormone.  Without adequate T3, hypothyroid symptoms are the result.

When the adrenal glands are the underlying problem, not the thyroid, treating only the thyroid will do little to nothing.  Most natural health practitioners won’t recommend thyroid boosting supplements or natural thyroid medication for hypothyroidism until the adrenal glands are restored.  Many times, because the hypothyroidism is secondary, it disappears once stress levels decrease and the adrenal glands are balanced.

The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:

  • Needing at least 10 hours of sleep to function, extreme fatigue in the mornings, exhaustion again around 2pm, and more awake after 6pm with difficulty going to sleep.
  • Sugar, caffeine and salt cravings
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Lowered immunity
  • Blood sugar highs and lows

correct adrenal fatigueCorrecting adrenal fatigue starts with decreasing ALL forms of stress in your life.  This includes both psychological and physical.

  • Find a safe emotional outlet for your stress like journaling, counseling, yoga, prayer, etc.
  • Cut out all stimulants like sugar and caffeine.
  • Adopt a healthier diet by cutting out processed foods, sugar, and refined flours.
  • Take a stress-buffering supplement like Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, or Rhodiola.  (I recommend Gaia’s Adrenal Health as it contains all three herbs)
  • Get your daily dose of B vitamins in a quality multi-vitamin.  B vitamins help you manage your stress levels.

Latent Thyroid Problems

You may have what you believe to be a particular health issue, but the actual underlying cause may be related to the thyroid.  Thyroid problems can masquerade themselves often manifesting as other health issues. Over 20 million Americans today have some form of thyroid disease (1).  Over 60% of these people have absolutely no idea that they have a thyroid problem and instead blame their ailment on other health issues.

Health problems that can originate from thyroid issues include:

  • Depression
  • PMS
  • High cholesterol
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Infertility
  • Unexplained weight gain/loss

So, how do you know if thyroid problems are behind your health problem?  The first thing you’ll want to do is have a full blood workup done including TSH, T3, T4, and a thyroid antibody test.  But remember, even if your results come back in “normal range,” you can still have hypothyroidism.  Before 2003, the range for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was 0.5-5.0.  It was then changed to 0.3 to 3.04. Some doctors believe the normal range in thyroid tests should be revised again. They believe levels of TSH over 1.5 should be considered as possible hypothyroidism.

At-Home Tests

mirror lookHowever, as I keep pointing out, blood work and hormone levels aren’t the sole indicator. One of the easiest tests you can perform at home is the basal body temperature indicator.  Most people with hypothyroidism run a slightly lower temperature, typically below 97.8.

In order to check your basal temperature, you must do it first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.  Women who are still menstruating should ideally do this test the week of their period.  However men, post-menopausal women, and children can perform this test at any time.  Take your temperature upon waking 3 days in a row and write down your results.  Again, if your temperature falls below 97.8, it is likely you have a form of hypothyroidism.

There are other interesting ways to test potential hypothyroidism, as well.

  1. Check for a goiter.  Your doctor will check this as well.  A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland, which is located about midway down your neck.
  2. Look in the mirror with your arms to your side.  If your thumbs face your outer thighs with your palms towards the back, you may have hypothyroidism.  Those with a healthy thyroid tend to have their palms facing their outer thighs.
  3. Take a good look in the mirror.  Look for puffiness, bags under your eyes, hair missing from your outer eyebrows, and a swollen tongue.  These are all signs of hypothyroidism.

And don’t forget the common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, some of which I mentioned in the very beginning.

  • hypothyroidism testWeight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Brittle nails
  • Very dry skin, especially the elbows
  • Coarse hair or hair loss
  • Low heart rate
  • Heavy periods
  • Infertility

Treating Hypothyroidism

Let’s say you now you know you have hypothyroidism.  Maybe blood tests confirmed it or you are sure based on your symptoms and at-home tests.  Although a doctor will likely prescribe Synthroid no matter the cause, different types of hypothyroidism often require different treatments.

However, all forms of hypothyroidism can benefit tremendously from a healthy diet.  Eating health-promoting foods increases nutrients needed by the thyroid and helps to decrease inflammation in the body, which can lead to both adrenal fatigue and Hashimoto’s induced hypothyroidism.  A nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory diet includes:

  • Eliminating sugar and refined flours
  • Increasing your colored vegetable intake
  • Cutting out all artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Avoiding fast foods and processed foods
  • Replacing vegetable oils and trans fats with healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil

Hashimoto’s and Type 2 Hypothyroidism

If you have Hashimoto’s disease, then you must focus on resetting your body’s immune response.  In order to do this, it often takes a complete overall of your body and mind.  Lower your stress levels via stress reduction techniques, drastically change your diet to a healthier one, and begin taking anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant rich supplements like Turmeric and Astaxanthin.  Stay away from iodine and even natural desiccated thyroid as they can actually increase the attack on the thyroid.

Type 2 hypothyroidism can be remedied from this approach, as well.  Your body can only reset and work as it was designed to by changing your lifestyle and diet.

Type 1 Hypothyroidism

Your run-of-the-mill type 1 hypothyroidism is typically caused by a lack of iodine, other nutrients, and/or stress.  Using a thyroid supplement from you local health food store can be helpful.  They contain the most essential nutrients for thyroid health, including iodine.  My favorite is Europharma’s Thyroid Care.

Also, if your doctor wants to write a prescription, request the natural thyroid medication.  The two most common brands are Armour and Nature-throid.  These aren’t synthetic like the typical drugs prescribed.  They are instead made from desiccated porcine thyroid.

Remember, there isn’t just one face to hypothyroidism.  It’s causes can be hidden and much more elusive.  There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating hypothyroidism.  Don’t be discouraged any longer by your “symptoms without a cause.” There is always a cause; it’s just finding the right one.

Finding the root behind your hypothyroid symptoms is key to choosing the right approach. Take note of your symptoms, get the appropriate blood work done, and address any issues like adrenal fatigue.  Resolving hypothyroidism can be done both naturally and efficiently.  It ultimately lies in finding the root, not bandaging the symptoms.

 

Amanda BoxAmanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

1. http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/

 

Taking Back Your Life From Adrenal Fatigue

Sick and Tired by Flickr Khya

Karen is in her forties, very active at work and play.  Over the past several years since her husband died, she has had a lot of stress with the loss of their home and many other problems.  For several months, she has not been able to sleep well and she is tired all day.  She laments, “I feel like I’m half-awake all night and half-asleep all day! I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  What is worse, she is gaining weight and feeling hopeless.

While the complaint of fatigue is among the most common for visiting a doctor, there are many reasons for it.  One of the most common is “adrenal fatigue.”

This term conjures-up images of the adrenal glands working as hard as they can and just getting pooped-out.  However, the glands don’t really get tired. Rather, the cells in the body react to long-term high levels of stress hormones by blocking their effects.

Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, affects every cell in the body.

  • Over time it suppresses the immune system, allowing more infections
  • Changes the neurotransmitters in the brain, causing depression and anxiety
  • Causes insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes
  • Prevents the use of fat for energy leading to easy fatigue and hypoglycemia

With all these effect. it is no wonder people with chronic stress have such a multitude of symptoms!  Often, these symptoms are vague and general, but abnormalities don’t show up in the usual tests done by doctors.  The patient then is told, “There is nothing wrong with you.” and goes home discouraged.  Many people come into my office just hoping to have some terrible abnormality on the test so at least there will be something wrong.

Distinguish the Difference

There are a variety of reasons for being tired.  Some of the more common ones are adrenal fatigue, low thyroid, chronic infections and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.  The difficulty is that these may overlap in any individual.  Some ways to distinguish them are:

ADRENAL FATIGUE Low Thyroid Chronic infections Metabolic disorder
Caffeine causes heart racing Slow, not sleepy Pain Headaches
Feeling overwhelmed Hair falling out Muscle aches Easily fatigued
Anxiety Constipation Poor sleep Better with food
Depression Dry skin Intermittent Worse after eating
Weight gain around the middle Cold hands/feet Weight loss or gain Sleeps well
Hypoglycemia Low body temp. Fevers Weight gain
Not rested with sleep No weight gain Chills
Intermittent infections Sweats

Turn Around Fatigue

It probably took a long time to get to the point of fatigue, so it usually takes a while to overcome it.  First and foremost, it is essential to reduce stress and then general lifestyle changes are necessary. Lastly, supplements and herbs will be very helpful.

Medications

All stimulants affect the adrenal glands.  Medications are especially hard on these glands.  Avoid sleeping pills and medications for ADHD, depression and anxiety.  All of these change the neurotransmitters in the entire body.  Most of them affect the adrenal glands directly through this mechanism.  Pain medications are acceptable, but generally don’t work for the pain associated with adrenal fatigue.

Stress reduction

The most important part about stress reduction is to live in the present.  The large majority of the things we worry about never happen after so much energy and time is wasted on them.  Further, and most important, we too often hold on to things in the past that hurt us.  The ability to forgive everything in the past is essential to be able to live in the present.  This may take some time and counseling, but is well worth the effort.

Another important aspect of stress reduction is to have goals and be working towards them.  You must have several areas of growth in your life: business, spiritual, family, hobbies and so forth.  Recognize your potential as a child of God and all the good you can do in the world.  The only limits are the ones you place on yourself.

Exercise

It cannot be emphasized enough that exercise is important for the treatment of adrenal fatigue.  Many studies have shown that exercise is the only mode of treatment that consistently helps.  Daily exercise in some form is best if the type of exercise is varied.  Mostly, heavy exercise to sweat three times per week is sufficient.

Food

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Fermented foods like cheese, mushrooms, and pickled foods can also cause your adrenal levels to go down. When you need a snack, choose one with protein in it. Kelp, sprouts, green and black olives, peppers, spinach, celery and zucchini are also excellent choices.

The foods that increase insulin production also affect the adrenal hormones.  It is wise to avoid[am4show guest_error=’noaccess’ ] sugars, starches and artificial sweeteners.  Stimulant foods should also be avoided: coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks are counter-productive.

High-fiber foods are helpful for the regulation of blood sugar which helps smooth-out adrenal function.  Burning fat produces “ketones,” which help stabilize the nervous system.  Therefore, a “meat and vegetable” diet with little starch or sugar is best and the more raw vegetables, the better.

Vitamins

The vitamins that help the adrenal glands include:

  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) – this is best taken in a B-complex (B-100)
  • Vitamin C –  500 mg three times per day is best
  • Trace minerals – a good quality mineral supplement will have the right combinations and amounts

Herbs

The herbs that help the adrenal glands are called “adaptagens.”  This means they help the glands and tissues of the body “adapt” to the stress.  There is a normal “circadian rhythm” of the glands that secrete the cortisol on the morning allowing people to wake up with lots of energy. As the hormone declines in the evening, people get tired and go to sleep.  This rhythm is usually lost when people get fatigued.  The following herbs help to restore this rhythm:

  • Ginseng (Korean, American, Siberian)
  • Ashwaganda
  • Licorice Root
  • Eleuthero
  • Rhodiola Rosea

Most herbal adrenal products will contain some combination of these.  Some of these preparations may also contain “adrenal extract” of some sort.  These “glandular” supplements are the actual adrenal hormones from cows or pigs.  Some people find this to be helpful, but others have a bad reaction.  It isn’t dangerous, just be aware that if you don’t seem to respond well, then find an adaptagen without the glandular extract.

Sleep

Adequate rest is essential to repairing the effects of stress and fatigue on the body.  During the times of sleep the brain chemicals are restored and neural pathways are created.  Moreover, the adrenal gland itself has a rest time, which produces the circadian rhythm of the body.  The problem is too much adrenal hormones prevent sleep.  Here are some suggestions that often help my patients to sleep:

Angel Sleeping by Flickr planetchopstick

  • Go to bed earlier
  • Get up earlier, even if you are tired
  • Don’t take naps
  • Exercise every day to sweat
  • Use melatonin, between 1 and 6 mg about 1 hour before bed time
  • Take magnesium, 400 mg before bed
  • L-theanine at night may help
  • Do not watch television  1hour before bed, but reading is OK

Armed with the above tools, you should be able to work out a program to get back to a healthy, vibrant life.  Karen did.  She found that the herbal adaptagens helped her to sleep much better.  With a change in diet and increased exercise, she is now doing well off of all her pain medications and sleeping pills from adrenal fatigue.

Remember, the body is made to heal.

As long as you provide the right environment and resources, the body will always heal.  It may be hard, especially at first, and it may take a long time, but the rewards are definitely worth the effort!

Helping others overcome natural health obstacles is what brings us the most joy!  What obstacles are you facing?  What brings you the most joy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Scott D. Saunders, M.D. (Ask-an-MD) is a practicing physician, specializing in preventative healthcare, who utilizes eclectic health care for the whole family, including conventional, orthomolecular and natural medicine. He is also the medical director of The Integrative Medical Center of Santa Barbara in Lompoc, CA. He went to UCLA medical school and is board certified in family medicine. View natural remedies with Dr. Saunders at http://drsaundersmd.com/

 

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Adrenal Fatigue: Tired All The Time?

“I’m in bed and I can’t get up.”

If this sounds like you, then read further.

  • Are you experiencing stress related adrenal fatigue?
  • Are you tired for no reason?
  • Having trouble getting up in the morning?
  • Need coffee, colas, energy drinks, sodas, salty or sweet snacks to keep going?
  • Feeling run down and stressed?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue occurs when adrenal gland function becomes less than optimal—usually as a result of stress. An estimated 80% of people experience adrenal fatigue and the physical symptoms of stress at some point in their lives, yet it is frequently overlooked and misunderstood by the medical community. It is not the same as Addison’s disease.

In 1998, Dr. James L. Wilson coined the term “adrenal fatigue” to identify a specific kind of chronic tiredness that many people experience. It can affect anyone who undergoes frequent, persistent or severe mental, emotional or physical stress.

Adrenal function can also be an important factor in health issues ranging from allergies to obesity. Since the major job of the adrenal glands is to respond to perceived threats (stress), when it is assaulted with inordinate amounts of stress over a long period of time, it begins to secrete stress hormones, causing suppression of the immune system and a slowing down of metabolism making you more vulnerable to allergic reactions and weight gain.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

The adrenal glands are tiny organs that rest on top of each kidney. Despite their small size, the adrenal glands play an important role in the body, producing numerous hormones that impact our development and growth, affect our ability to deal with stress and help to regulate kidney function.

The adrenal glands are comprised of two parts–the cortex and medulla–that produce hormones (chemicals messengers that regulate body functions). The medulla, or inner part of the adrenal glands, produces the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine, which regulate the “fight or flight” response in the body, the body’s reaction to stressful events. The cortex, the outer portion of the adrenal glands, produces several hormones that affect blood pressure, blood sugar levels, water balance, growth, as well as some sexual characteristics.

With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected as the functions of growth, metabolism, regulating blood pressure, blood sugar, kidney function and hormone production are compromised.

Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.

This syndrome has been known by many other names throughout the past century, such as non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, sub-clinical hypoadrenia, neurasthenia, adrenal neurasthenia, adrenal apathy and adrenal fatigue. Although it affects millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, conventional medicine does not yet recognize it as a distinct syndrome.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is produced when your adrenal glands cannot adequately meet the demands of stress. The adrenal glands mobilize your body’s responses to every kind of stress (whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological) through hormones that regulate energy production and storage, immune function, heart rate, muscle tone and other processes that enable you to cope with the stress.

Whether you have an emotional crisis such as the death of a loved one, a physical crisis such as major surgery, or any type of severe repeated or constant stress in your life, your adrenals have to respond to the stress and maintain homeostasis. If their response is inadequate, you are likely to experience some degree of adrenal fatigue.

During adrenal fatigue your adrenal glands function, but not well enough to maintain optimal homeostasis because their output of regulatory adrenal hormones has been diminished – usually by over-stimulation. Over-stimulation of your adrenals can be caused either by a very intense single stress, or by chronic or repeated stresses that have a cumulative effect.

Who Is Susceptible To Adrenal Fatigue?

Anyone can experience adrenal fatigue at some time in his or her life. An illness, a life crisis, or a continuing difficult situation can drain the adrenal resources of even the healthiest person. However, there are factors that can make you more susceptible to adrenal fatigue. These include:

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Top 4 Reasons Why People Don’t Recover From Adrenal Fatigue

Exhaustion by Flickr iamhenry

Many people drift through life in a tired haze.  After all, who isn’t tired after work or doesn’t go through an exhausted phase of life? Recovery is highly dependent on one’s genetic predisposition, amount of stress, nourishment and power of belief.

It is not normal or healthy to feel so abnormal and unhealthy.  So, why do some people don’t recover from adrenal fatigue?

1. Ignoring the symptoms

It just may be too easy to pick up a cup of coffee or drop some change into a soda pop vending machine then it is to address the cause of the sleepy sound-off the middle of the afternoon.  Or, maybe you are too exhausted to even think about it!

The truth is many have fallen into acceptance that this is the way life is going to be and accepting the tired and exhausted state forever. Maybe you are praying that one day you would regain your health and actually be well again.  Maybe you are journaling through the rough and exhausted spent days, unable to get through your responsibilities.

You don’t have to be trapped in a weak body and under-performing body and mind. Your body is a self-healing organism and your brain can begin to restore itself.  Adrenal fatigue is treatable and you can have energy again.  Your prayers are being answered and God will direct you to the resources that will help you.

2. Taking a cocktail of supplements

I am guilty of this. In effort to restore balance when there are symptoms of an imbalance, I have masked solving my health problems by taking a “shotgun” approach of vitamins and minerals that are chucked down the throat in hopes of improving my symptoms.

This is why Home Cures That Work has been so valuable to me.  The approach to supplementation makes a huge difference in healing when you are provided with thoughtful, but not random, supplementation regimens.  For example,

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Fibromyalgia Syndrome Simplified

Fibromyalgia has been “trash can” labeled, just as another syndrome, simply because no one is sure what causes fibromyalgia.

It’s not any easy task; fibromyalgia represents a whole barrage of symptoms with groups or clusters of symptoms, which makes it hard to properly diagnose, treat or cure.

Fibromyalgia has been generally thought of as a type of “rheumatic” or inflammatory pain disorder, but instead of involving the joints it’s characterized by a painful tenderness around tendons, surrounding tissue and muscles.

Later in this article I will reveal how some leading researchers now suspect fibromyalgia may be more of a neurological disorder than inflammatory.

How Is Fibromyalgia Classified?

First, let’s look at the diagnostic criteria established more than two decades ago by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990.

According to ACR guidelines, fibromyalgia symptoms must represent wide spread chronic pain in at least 11 of 18 defined “tender points” of the body.

Currently, these “tender points” are being reconsidered because after all these years of misdiagnosing people. Doctors have finally accepted the possibility that there is more to fibromyalgia then just inflammatory pain.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleep disorders
  • Mental issues

Fibromyalgia is like electricity: we can say we know a lot about it, but we still can’t explain exactly what it is.

The Adrenal Connection

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Common Adrenal Fatigue symptoms are: *Cravings for sugar, *Cravings for salt on food when you eat, *Feel dehydrated and thirsty and require plenty of water, *Difficulty falling asleep at night, sleep lightly or wake early or often, *Difficulty relaxing, nervous, anxious or hyperactive, *Often spacey, or foggy thinking, even memory loss,* Lack willpower to accomplish, *General exhaustion,*Hormone imbalances, *Low libido,*Weight gain, especially in abdomen and waist area, *Losing muscle tone, *Sagging skin, dry, yellow or pale in color, *Hair starting to gray, thin out and become dry, *Lips losing their color,*Loss of appetite, *Anorexia, *Weight loss,*High blood sugar

Fibromyalgia can also be related to a decreased adrenal function or adrenal fatigue. There are a few other diseases that also have an adrenal system component, such as: chronic fatigue syndrome, alcoholism, ischemic heart disease, hypoglycemia, rheumatoid arthritis and recurrent respiratory infections.

I am mentioning this because it’s important to identify where fibromyalgia and other disease patterns overlap in the hope of finding better solutions than what are typically offered.

It’s also interesting to note that researchers have found circulatory abnormalities in as many as 30% of fibromyalgia patients in preliminary studies (3).

Here’s another interesting piece of research from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):

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