January 22, 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


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


What It Is Like to Live With Anxiety

How to Remain Calm in Life

By Dr. Saunders, M.D.

Sheri can hardly function in life because of a gripping fear of everything.  She lives in an apartment above the businesses in the center of town, but hasn’t left her apartment in over five years.  Everything is brought to her.  She shops online and on the Home Shopping Network.

A trip to her house is a trip indeed!  Boxes she has purchased remain unopened, stacked four feet high around the whole apartment.  There is a trail only six inches wide leading from the front door to the bed and from the bed to the bathroom and kitchen.  She tried to leave her apartment a year ago. But only made it to the front steps before she got a panic attack and had to run back inside.

When anxiety becomes a problemPanic is a type of severe anxiety from a sudden release of adrenal (stress) hormones.  Short or long-term stress produces large amounts of these hormones, causing severe anxiety. When this surge of stress hormones hit the body, people feel like they are going to die.

In a typical hospital emergency department, patients with severe anxiety often display symptoms of: chest pain, palpitations, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and a fear of imminent death.  They get blood tests, EKGs, X-rays, and even cardiac catheters to determine if they are having a heart attack.  The symptoms of anxiety often mimic a heart attack.  But more than 80% of the time there is no sign of heart trouble. Many people are told, “It’s just a panic attack.”

Living with Anxiety

While panic attacks are the extreme, and happen to some people, anxiety is very common. In fact everyone feels anxiety at some point, like fear or trepidation.

  • Needles often provoke anxiety, such as before a vaccination or blood draw.
  • Others feel anxiety before a test, interview, or court case.
  • Most get anxious at the thought of public speaking. They get a dry mouth, sweaty palms, cold hands and feet, and palpitations of the heart.
  • Even professional speakers, businessmen, or giving speeches or presentations experience anxiety.

The worst effect of an anxiety attack is on the brain. It causes disorganized thinking and poor memory, making it harder to present material.  One speaker noted after many years of public speaking that the “butterflies” in his stomach didn’t go away; they just flew in formation.[1]

Anxiety with a threat of loss is normal. Situations that cause anxiety are common to all people.

The purpose of anxiety is to warn us of danger. A message of fear sends a signal to the adrenal glands that there is an emergency. We then release hormones from the adrenal glands such as adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol (cortisone) to help us get out of danger.

These stress hormones:

  • Increase our blood sugar and heart rate for quick energy.
  • Suppress our immune system and other “unnecessary” functions to protect our body.
  • Create a multitude of effects on the brain, including a sense of fear, danger, imminent death or foreboding, as well as loss of memory.

Their overall effect is an increase in circulation and energy to certain body systems and a downshift of less important ones into maintenance mode. In this way, the fight or flight response prepares the body for extreme action.

When there is danger our body doesn’t need to function at capacity. We just need to get out of danger!

However, even when there is no danger present, the adrenal glands release the stress hormones causing all the same symptoms.  This emergency response causes physical symptoms that many people misinterpret as a heart attack or other serious physical conditions. Misinterpreting these symptoms can cause anxiety and the fear response to continue.

Sheri would feel panic just from walking outside her door.  She had no control over the release of hormones or how she felt; it just happened.  She tried taking medications of all kinds, and received counseling, but nothing seemed to help at all.  She was stuck.

The ways we categorize anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is constant worry or fear.
  • Panic Disorder refers to those who get sudden panic attacks, feel out of control, or sense impending doom.
  • Social Phobia feels like continually being embarrassed in public.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is when fearful thoughts take control of one’s actions. People then “have to” do things to relieve the anxiety.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) refers to those who have had major trauma that brings on chronic anxiety.

Anxiety becomes a problem when:

  • You feel anxious most/all of the time for more than 6 months
  • Your level of anxiety is excessive and intense
  • Your anxiety is uncontrollable and disrupts your job, relationships, sleep and social life
  • Your behavior changes due to your level of anxiety – this could be anything from drinking lots of tea, finding it hard to breathe, not being able to leave the house, or performing repetitive rituals, such as counting to 10 before you do something

Generally, anxiety is not considered abnormal unless it affects the normal functioning of the person, such as their ability to work, play, interact with others, or sleep, and has been present more than six months. And, of course, there are levels of anxiety – mild to severe.

Symptoms of anxiety may include one or more of the following:

  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Shortness of breath, or unable to fill the lungs completely
  • Jumpiness and feeling on edge
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swallowing problems, like a lump in the throat
  • Stomach problems and difficulty digesting food
  • Headaches of all types
  • Sleep problems of all types
  • Palpitations of the heart
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Cold sweats
  • Frequent urination
  • Bad moods
  • Eating, drinking or smoking more than usual

Mainstream Medical Treatment for Anxiety

Since the beginning of time people have used alcohol to relieve anxiety.  Doctors call it “the drug of choice” for all types of anxiety and panic because people who have anxiety drink it. And those who have more anxiety, drink more.

  • For some, it works so well they become “addicted” to alcohol. If they stop drinking, then they feel lots of anxiety.
  • Others only use alcohol for occasional anxiety, or in the evening to relax after a stressful day at work.
  • Some try to use it to sleep, but it disturbs sleep.

While it’s effective for anxiety, the side effects of alcohol can be devastating, as most of us know.

Standard medical treatment to relieve anxiety includes medications that stimulate the receptors in the brain that induce calm.

Most anxiety drugs, such as the benzodiazepines, work on the GABA receptors.  Stimulating these receptors in the brain suppresses anxiety. Because GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, it slows down the brain function in certain areas. It works immediately, but for only a few hours. However, tolerance to its effects is easily developed. These medications, like Valium and similar drugs, work in much the same way as alcohol to numb anxiety.

Valium was a godsend for many.  In the 1960s they called it “mother’s little helper.” Valium allowed moms to be calm and relaxed with the children – without alcohol!  Doctors originally believed it was not addictive, and only caused some drowsiness. However, this is not the case.  Over time, people become tolerant to the level of stimulation provided by the drug and needed more.

When benzodiazepine treatment is stopped abruptly, patients may develop withdrawal symptoms.  Some benzodiazepines, like Valium, can even cause seizures from withdrawal.

Now, the benzodiazepines have become standard fare for all types of anxiety. I had a patient who found that a benzodiazepine worked so well she carried one pill around for over a year, “just in case” she got a panic attack. It helped her to relax, knowing that relief was available if she absolutely had to use it. She never did, and now doesn’t need it at all.

Other medical treatments that might help include antidepressants for anxiety. Most of these work on the serotonin receptors, which have a relaxing effect.  This makes sense on a chemical level. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter that has an effect on multiple brain functions, including anxiety.

Others work on dopamine or norepinephrine receptors as well, such as the “major tranquilizers” or antipsychotic drugs.  The use of these for anxiety is becoming much more common.  Some people with anxiety prefer opiates like morphine, codeine, and the like.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to anxiety. People have different reasons for being anxious and display different anxiety symptoms, and therefore need different types of medications to relieve anxiety.

The primary problem with most of the medications used for anxiety is the same as with alcohol – they suppress all feeling and create numbness.  Using drugs to resolve feelings is always a gamble. This is especially true when people have anxiety because they report they “don’t feel anything.”   Some, of course, prefer to live this way. But many would like to try another way.

Determine the Cause of Anxiety

Medications may relieve anxiety symptoms for a short time. But they don’t take care of the problem, or address the cause of anxiety. The key to successfully treating anxiety is to find the cause(s) and remove them. There are many causes of anxiety:

  • many faces of anxietyExcessive stress, or change
  • Adrenal tumors
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Hypothalamic tumors
  • Hormone imbalances (such as low progesterone)
  • Ectopic adrenal production
  • Medication side-effects
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides
  • Nutrient deficiencies like B-vitamins, minerals, or amino acids
  • Thought disorders
  • Loss of foundation, or shock such as a sudden illness, loss of a loved-one, or accident

Once you find the cause of the problem, you can begin to change it at the roots, not just for temporary relief of anxiety symptoms. In looking at the list, it becomes apparent that this is no simple task. Some may require the help of a professional.

To end anxiety, follow the general recommendations and try each of the specific supplement and herb recommendations one at a time. 

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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 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 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]


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.

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.


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.


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.



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.


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


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.


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/



HOLY TOAST – Adrenal Fatigue and the Church

Exhaustion by Flickr Lee J Haywood

As an itinerant minister, I have the opportunity of meeting people of varying color, creed and country.  In the last 10 years, I have found one over arching commonality… exhaustion!  Let’s look at the Oxford dictionary’s definition of exhaustion. It is, well…exhaustive!


  1. Tired out, worn out, weary, dead-tired, dog-tired, bone-tired, ready to drop, drained, fatigued, enervated; (informal) beat, done in, all in, bushed, zonked, bagged, knocked out, wiped out, burned out, pooped, tuckered out, tapped out, fried, whipped.
  2. Exhausted reserves used up, consumed, finished, spent, depleted, empty, drained.

As I was reading this amusing, lengthy definition, it dawned on me that it was merely a list of symptoms, not the root cause. This “old school” term, exhaustion, was missing a prefix that explained everything… adrenal exhaustion!

The adrenal glands are two small glands (about the size of a walnut, weighing less than a grape) that sit atop the kidneys. So, when these tiny glands are depleted by physical or emotional stress, overwork, fear, trauma, etc, the body experiences, chronic fatigue, poor sleep, inability to deal with stress, B vitamin deficiency, difficulty concentrating/brain fog and even food or environmental allergies.

God’s Safety Net


Recall the story of Elijah, after he had successfully defeated the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. There was a huge display of the power of God. But when Jezebel, who was just one person, threatened to kill him, Elijah panicked and ran. He had just had a high stress situation, and he was depleted of all strength. So, even though he had a victory, his body could not handle any more stress. Consider the possibility that he was undergoing temporary adrenal fatigue!  God had to take care of him by a brook and sent birds with food to feed him, until he recovered.  You, too, will recover with God’s help! He knows exactly what you need!

Considering the genius of God, I find it amazing that He has left Man, His “crowning achievement,” totally vulnerable to a pair of tiny glands. As with everything our Heavenly Father does, love is the motivator for this vulnerability.

Let me explain; have you ever looked at the back of your office computer, copy machine, printer or flat screen television? There is a tiny little fuse or circuit breaker that protects the machine from damage due to power surges, lightning strikes or polarity issues.

In the same way, our adrenal glands function as a circuit breaker that when depleted, slows the body down before any permanent damage is done.

Christians find this hard to believe, but there is just as much “burn out” within the four walls of the church as there is without. As I mentioned earlier, it is an over arching commonality, truth be told, that the world is full of “quick fried Cretans” and  “crunchy Christians.”

It is extremely difficult to get a chronically fatigued unbeliever to listen to you, if you are a chronically fatigued believer. People are looking for answers, not more questions. Lets examine some of the reasons why Christians crumble even though Jesus lives in their heart.


With all the need in the world, it is important that we “stay in our own lane” and be faithful to the work God has given us to do. Remember, just because something is “good” doesn’t mean it is God!


When we assume that because we are Christians, our bodies are impervious to overwork, stress, vitamin deficiency and exhaustion.

Remember, our “earth suits” are not glorified bodies, they are simply carriers of His glory.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7


We would do well to remember the prophet Elijah’s trip to Horeb. Elijah did not flee to Horeb because God called him, he ran because he was afraid. Elijah was afraid Jezebel would kill him, he also thought he was the only righteous prophet God had left. When Elijah reached Horeb, God asked him a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah answered,

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” 1 Kings 19:14

When God asks you a question, He expects a truthful answer! If you read the whole story, after a powerful demonstration of power (tornado, earthquake, fire and a still, small voice), God tells Elijah He was only in the still small voice.

Then, God gives Elijah another chance to answer His question; “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Sadly, Elijah gives God the same self-righteous answer as before and it spells the end for Elijah’s earthly ministry. God ends the conversation with this statement,

”Yet, I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18

Remember, self-righteousness and fear can take you on a perilous journey you were never called to, such as adrenal exhaustion.

The Turning Point

Now, lets find a prescription for our disease.

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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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President John F. Kennedy vs. Addison

JFK with Addison's Disease by Flickr Ken's Aviation

The medical term for adrenal insufficiency is Addison’s Disease, which refers to the inadequate production of hormones from the adrenal glands due to an underlying disease.

President John F. Kennedy had Addison’s Disease, but the Annals of Internal Medicine have determined the underlying cause of JFK’s adrenal gland insufficiency as probably a rare autoimmune disease.

At first, abdominal pain was diagnosed in his youth as colitis, then back surgery caused chronic pain. Eventually, after many prescribed pain medications, sleeping pills, steroid and hormone injections, JFK was properly diagnosed with Addison’s Disease.

Addison’s disease is characterized by the withering of the adrenal glands, which make corticosteroids and other hormones that are used for salt metabolism, response to stress and response to inflammation. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, weight loss, difficulty standing up, nausea, sweating and changes in mood and personality.

Kennedy had to receive daily steroid injections to survive, to stimulate muscle growth and stimulate his appetite.  The steroids themselves have side effects, including susceptibility to infection: urinary, skin and respiratory infections came as a result.  Overall, JFK took a host of drugs during his presidency.

Kennedy worried about the effects on his appearance of the steroids he took as treatment for Addison Disease. The steroids made his face look puffy and made him look overweight.

Four days before his inauguration, Kennedy caught sight of himself in a mirror and declared, “My God, look at that fat face, if I don’t lose five pounds this week we might have to call off the Inauguration.”

Though during the JFK campaign in 1960, Kennedy denied he had Addison’s Disease. Classic Addison’s Disease has been caused by tuberculosis. Since John F. Kennedy never suffered from tuberculosis of any kind, he and his spokespersons maintained that he did not have Addison’s Disease, in the classic sense.

There was substantial secrecy surrounding his health during his years as president. Later, John F. Kennedy maintained that his adrenal insufficiency was a side effect of the malaria he contracted after the war. But after his death, those that examined his medical records have concluded that he had a secondary form of the disease, which was slow deterioration of the adrenal glands from the autoimmune disease hypothyroidism, rather than a rapid destruction.  Adrenal insufficiency, no matter how caused, is a serious matter.

Rather than adversely affecting him politically, John F. Kennedy’s physical ailments vitally contributed to the development of his character and to the formation of his political personality. He proved his worth and demonstrated his strength by rising above all others, even with Addison’s Disease.

Is Stress Stealing Your Energy?


stress by flickr bottled_void

Hundreds of medical studies-including research reported by the Mayo Clinic – show that uncontrolled stress is the greatest cause of chronic fatigue – and a leading factor in numerous serious diseases.

How does unchecked stress cause fatigue? The answer lies in two small – but very important – glands, called your adrenals.

Every single time you experience any stress, your adrenal glands release the “energy hormone” known as adrenaline. The more stress you’re under, the more burnt out your adrenals get…leading to chronic fatigue and a host of serious health problems.

Does this sound like you?

  • You can’t seem to get going in the morning without coffee or a strong energy drink.
  • You sputter out mid-morning – yawning, tired, and unable to concentrate.
  • You spend the day guzzling colas … coffee … or more energy drinks.
  • And when you get home, you collapse on the couch exhausted
  • Yet, at night you toss and turn – and simply can’t fall into a deep sleep.

If this does sound like you, keep reading to learn the secret reason you’re so stressed, fatigued, exhausted and a remarkable new way to “recharge” your body.

Learn more about natural ways to recharge your adrenal glands for lasting energy.

Physiological Effects of Stress

These biochemical markers of stress in turn lead to ill health and psychosocial disorders. Consequently, stress plays a major causative role in both physical and mental health.

When undergoing a series of test to evaluate markers of stress, including cortisol and DHEA levels, the results in over thousands of cases are remarkable consistent: only 20-25% have cortisol levels consistent with healthy adrenal function, while 75-80% suffer impaired function.

The effects are profound: fatigue and weakness, hormonal imbalance, skin problems, hair loss, autoimmune disorders, insulin resistance and dozens of other health concerns.

With out adrenal glands consistently on “high alert,” high cortisol levels have a destructive effect.


Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, affecting the body’s metabolism of glucose, proteins and fats. It is normally released by the body in a regular daily pattern of highs and lows. Imbalances gradually tear your body down.

Sustained high cortisol levels:

  • Destroy healthy muscle and bone
  • Slow down healing and normal cell regeneration
  • Co-opt parent molecules needed to make other vital hormones
  • Impair digestion, metabolism and mental function
  • Interfere with healthy endocrine function
  • Weaken your immune system

To restored healthy adrenal function, eat in tune with your natural cortisol curve.  Enrich your nutrition, reduce refined carbohydrates and cut back on stimulants.

DHEA DECREASE: Dehydroepiandrosterone

At the same time that cortisol levels increase, the production of DHEA is decreased. DHEA production already decreases, naturally, as we get older. When heightened levels of cortisol further inhibit DHEA we set ourselves up for physical and mental disaster. We begin to lose our ability to cope with stress, our short-term memory can begin to falter and our health starts to wane. It doesn’t have to be this way.

DHEA is the most abundant steroid in the body. DHEA is a steroid precursor produced by the adrenal gland and converted to testosterone or the estrogens by the body’s tissues. Adequate DHEA levels give the body the building blocks necessary to produce these hormones. Levels of DHEA are inversely associated with coronary artery disease. Taking DHEA may increase IGF-1 levels and increase the sense of well-being. DHEA levels decrease with age.

DHEA is also an important hormone produced in the adrenal glands, the body’s primary source for the production of the sex hormone testosterone. Peak levels of DHEA are reached in an individual’s early to mid-20s. Optimal levels are associated with increased energy, healthy immune and cardiovascular function, improved memory and elevated mood.

Boosting the body’s diminished supply of DHEA can help an individual more effectively combat chronic mental and physical stress. Natural DHEA supplementation counters the negative effects of having too many corticosteroids and bringing the body back into balance. The body regains its ability to fight off sickness and the mind regains its ability.


The adrenal response can be life-saving.  There are many ways to replenish adrenal function and health naturally. When you restore balance to your adrenal glands, you’ll see results on every physical and emotional level, and your whole body will thank you for saving it!


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