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Posts Tagged ‘Adrenals’

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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I’m now studying acupuncture which has really extended my knowledge in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Having tried several acupuncture practitioners in the past, I’m now fortunate enough to have found a wonderful acupuncturist who treats me.

We all suffer from irritability and moodiness from time to time, but if you find that you suffer from a short temper and frustration on a regular basis then acupuncture may be for you. Irritability may often be the consequence of chronic stress in our lives. Over time, these emotions can escalate into more serious emotional conditions such as extreme anxiety and even depression which can then manifest into other health problems like digestive disorders, insomnia, and a low immune function. In TCM emotional disorders can be associated with a number of different patters of disharmony; however, anger, irritability and frustration are all signs that our energy, or life force (referred to as qi (pronounced Chi) inTCM) flow is hindered or not flowing as smoothly as it should. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi throughout the body and for balancing our emotions. When the liver’s function of moving qi is disrupted, qi can become stagnant. This is referred to as ‘liver qi stagnation’. Liver qi stagnation is one of the most common patterns of disharmony seen in today’s patients. In addition to irritability and moodiness, signs and symptoms may include congestion in the chest, sighing, abdominal distension, nausea, sour regurgitation, belching, diarrhea or constipation, feeling a lump in the throat, irregular periods, PMS and breast distension.

Aside from the heart, the liver is closely related to the emotions. A lack of smooth flow of the liver qi will not allow the mind to ease. If liver qi is stagnant it will cause depression, anxiety and sadness. Acupuncture is excellent for relieving liver qi stagnation. Treatment for irritability and moodiness associated with liver qi stagnation focuses on unblocking and moving qi and supporting the liver and spleen organ systems with acupuncture, lifestyle and dietary recommendations along with herbal formulas. I suffer from liver qi stagnation from time to time and a couple of sessions of acupuncture always clears it up for me, (Liver 3, Large Intestine 4, and Four Gates) along with a good exercise regime and deep breathing exercise, eating green leafy vegetables which stimulate the liver and herbs like the Free and Easy Wanderer (Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan).

Please also see my posts and information on Natural Progesterone which  plays a vital role in stabilising moods and helping anxiety whether you are male or female.

Love and peace to you all.

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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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