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Posts Tagged ‘Adrenal fatigue’

Having researched adrenal fatigue for some time now, there is some evidence that this vitamin plays an important part in restoring adrenal health.  Vitamin E absorbs and neutralizes the damaging free radical molecules inside the adrenal glands and elswhere in the body. Vitamin C enhances Vitamin E’s activity inside the cell by regenerating the capacity of vitamin E to isolate the free radicals. So these two vitamins can work hand-in-hand to keep the adrenal healthy.

It does seem, however, that choosing the right Vitamin E supplement is very important. Vitamin E is a ‘tocopherol’. Most Vitamin E supplements sold in health food shops are in the form of d-alpha-tocopherol. This is only a fraction of the complete Vitamin E complex and the majority of companies promote this type of Vitamin E, making it the most available type of Vitamin E being sold.

The Vitamin E necessary for adrenal regeneration is a mixed tocopherols supplement, specifically one high in beta-tocopherols. Studies have shown that too much d-alpha-tocopherol can actually suppress the beta and other tocopherols necessary for adrenal rejuvenation. So taking a mixed tocopherols Vitamin E supplement is crucial to restoring adrenal health.

For more information on Adrenal Fatigue, I recommend: a wonderfully comprehensive book by Dr James L Wilson – ‘Adrenal Fatigue – The 21st Century Stress Syndrome’.

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All my treatments are personalised and tailored to fit the individual I’m treating. I aim to spend up to an hour with a client, depending on what I find during the treatment – I do not, like many therapists, stick to 30 minute time slots. Having studied nutrition for two years within my Degree in Complementary Medicine, I give advice on nutrition, especially on subjects I spend time researching: amino acids, vitamins and minerals. I have an organic supplier I use in South Africa where I obtain raw vitamins and minerals (not in capsule form which can cost a fortune and don’t give nearly enough of a supply of each vitamin) and blends for Candida, Adrenal Fatigue, Energy Boosts and Detox formulas and so on. A huge area of interest for me is that of hormone balancing.

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The purpose of the adrenal glands is to help the body cope with the stresses of life and to survive. It is the job of the adrenal glands to enable the body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationships. Our resiliency, endurance and energy depend on their proper functioning. The hormones secreted by the adrenal glands influence the major physiological processes in the body. They affect the utilization of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, the distribution of stored fat (especially around the waist), normal blood sugar regulation and proper cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function. Indeed, the protective activity of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant hormones secreted by the adrenals helps to minimise negative and allergic reactions to alcohol, drugs, foods and environmental allergens.

The propensity to develop certain kinds of diseases and the ability to respond to chronic illness is influenced significantly by the adrenal glands. The more chronic the illness, the more critical the adrenal response becomes. We cannot live without our adrenal hormones and how well we live depends a great deal on how well our adrenal glands function. Adrenal fatigue (whether mild or severe) is usually caused by some form of stress. This stress can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental or infectious. Anyone who does not get enough rest and relaxation, who drives themselves constantly, who is a perfectionist, who is under constant pressure, who feels trapped or helpless, who feels overwhelmed by repeated emotional or physical trauma or illness is probably suffering from some degree of adrenal fatigue.

Signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

  • • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • • Continuing fatigue not relieved by sleep
  • • Craving for salt or salty foods
  • • Lethargy – everything seems like a chore (even things you enjoy)
  • • Increased effort to do every day tasks
  • • Decreased sex drive
  • • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • • Increased time to recover from illness, injury or trauma
  • • Light-headed when standing up quickly
  • • Mild depression
  • • Less enjoyment or happiness with life
  • • Increased PMS
  • • Symptoms increase if meals are skipped or inadequate
  • • Thoughts are less focused, more fuzzy
  • • Memory less accurate
  • • Decreased tolerance

It is extremely sad that adrenal fatigue (hypoadrenia) is not taught in medical schools yet it has been recognised, written about, discussed and treated for over one hundred years. Unfortunately, the average doctor is unaware of its presence and so, not surprisingly, seldom looks for it. Even endocrinologists rarely recognise adrenal fatigue as a distinct condition or are prepared to treat it (unless it manifests in its most severe form: Addison’s Disease), that is why it is important that we become informed ourselves and recognise it.

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A short Synacthen test is a blood test performed for the investigation of adrenal insufficiency.

The adrenal glands are small cone shaped glands which sit above each kidney. They rmake and release stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol which are released to enable us to ‘fight or flee’. When the adrenals have been weakened they simply do not function properly – they’re fatigued. The main reason with poorly functioning adrenals is stress: worry, fear, anxiety, panic all the things that we experience almost daily in this 21st century lifestyle we all lead.

How the adrenals are weakened:

Adrenals can also be weakened by the use of stimulants – caffeine being a big culprit. In the short term, coffee makes us feel better from the stimulation it gives. Over time, however, the constant stimulation drains the adrenals which leads to fatigue, irregular blood sugar, anxiety and even sleep disruption. Sugar and refined foods and carbohydrates are other culprits which deplete the body of B vitamins and drain the adrenals.

A short synacthen test is not a readily available routine blood test – but is a good way of investigating the efficiency of the adrenal glands and it’s a test I feel people who suspect they have adrenal fatigue should be aware of.

It’s best performed in the morning as the cortisol responses between the morning and the late afternoon differ (by as much100 nmol/L at 30 min sample post Synacthen).

Blood needs to be taken 3 times during a one hour period to be prepared to spend to spend some time with the phlebotomist! It may be a good idea to have someone with you also as blood sugar levels would be quite depleted post test.

An excellent book on the subject of adrenal fatigue is: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr James L. Wilson who has also formulated a nutritional supplement to help this condition.

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Readers of my blogs will know that I have suffered from adrenal stress and have looked into a number of ‘alternative cures’. I’ve looked into and talked about Macca but I never actually got around to using it because I discovered Ashwagandha first. I’ve been using Ashwagandha for several months and I do believe it’s gone a long way in helping me. I’m starting to feel ‘normal’ again.

What is it?
Ashwagandha (meaning: strength of a horse) is a known herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Found in India, it’s an evergreen shrub the roots of which are used medicinally. It has a reputation for improving strength, energy and stamina.
It’s an adaptogenic herb suitable for long-term use (avoid if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding).

Stress
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen: a class of herbal medicines that improve energy and help the body adapt to stress. It relaxes the nervous system and increases strength and stamina. Excellent for promoting restful sleep; its antioxidant effects help immunity and increase white blood cell count and reduces arthritic pain and inflammation.

Research published in the journal of Phytomedicine (2000) found Ashwagandha was ‘comparable to some orthodox drugs for treating anxiety and depression’.

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After a series of, how shall I put it, life’s ‘hiccups’ I was left feeling ….well…not quite myself. I have always thought of myself as a strong independent person – ‘superwoman’ – doing anything and everything, being everywhere, so when I found myself drained of all my energy, barely managing to get to work each day, sleeping every weekend, tired and emotional, I knew something was wrong; I did not recognise myself ….this was not me! The usual blood tests revealed nothing and I felt frustrated that as a healer and therapist I was able to help others yet unable to heal myself. By a series of events I ‘found’ an amazing nutritionist based in South Africa and through a series of elimination tests and a hair analysis, I discovered I had Candida, low progesterone and severe adrenal fatigue. Ok, it wasn’t a death sentence but I was really upset and angry that I’d allowed myself to get into that state of ill health. To cut a long story short, I firstly tackled the Candida (more about this at a later date) with vitamins, minerals and amino acids, I started to take natural progesterone (which I’ll never be without) and it took an extremely long time but I finally feel I’ve cracked the adrenal fatigue issue (not with Maca, which I mentioned below, but with Ashwaghanda and I’d like to discuss this wonderful herb at a later time).

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Maca is a root-like vegetable shaped much like a radish in appearance. It grows in the mountains of the Andes. Natives use it both as food and medicine.

The Maca plant is packed with natural plant sterols, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Maca does not contain any hormones as such, but its action on the body supports the body’s endocrine system, stimulating the pituitary gland (the body’s master hormone gland) into producing precursor hormones thus helping to balance the adrenals, thyroid and pancreas and so naturally increasing energy and vitality. Having suffered terribly from adrenal exhaustion this interested me and it was for this reason that I first started to look into Maca.
The benefits of Maca are varied:

• Enhances fertility in both men and women
• Improves libido
• Provides an energy boost
• Helps with stress
• Changes hormone levels during menopause
• Help control irregular menstrual bleeding
• Helps with bone regeneration (osteoporosis)
• Increases stamina (so, used by athletes)

I’ll let you do your own research on this amazing plant, but having sourced a raw organic Maca powder, I’ve only just started to use it hoping that it will help with adrenal fatigue. Watch this space and I’ll update readers on any improvements which come my way!

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