The power of nutrients!
In functional medicine we prescribe a delicious, nutrient-dense, fat-rich diet, to support healthy adrenal function and restore rejuvenating sleep again.
"Adrenal fatigue" is a state of depletion of the hormonal reserves in the adrenal glands (hypoadrenia or adrenal hypofunction), the glands that are responsible for the production of adrenaline, cortisol, DHEA, all of which support the body's efforts and capacity to deal with the many demands of life.
In adrenal exhaustion, the glands are unable to secrete adequate amounts of adrenocortical hormones and our ability to deal with life dramatically decreases.
Individuals suffering from it are usually "burnt-out", extremely fatigued, they wake up tired instead of waking up refreshed by sleep, and unlike the healthy pattern of energy production, they feel very tired in the morning and until the afternoon, and tend to feel more energized towards the hours of the evening.
There are 3 stages in the progression from feeling tired to being officially burnt-out.
In which one are you now?
STAGE I: "ACUTE OR ALARM STAGE" - normal "fight or flight" response to short term stress. Levels of stress hormones rise but then go back to normal. In this stage the body "reacts" to the stressors.
Some consequences may be:
STAGE II: "RESISTANCE / ADAPTATION STAGE" - state of adrenal stimulation. Cortisol rises. DHEA initially stays stable but then starts to fall. In this stage the body "resists" the stressors as best as it possibly can and the individual becomes "used" to the stressors as they occur over a prolonged period of time.
Some visible consequences can be:
STAGE III: "EXHAUSTION STAGE" - this is the later phase of the compensation response when both DHEA and cortisol levels fall out of normal range, with consequent failure of the "stress response" leading to established adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion.
Some consequences may be:
WHAT CAUSES ADRENAL EXHAUSTION?
Many chronic or long-lived stressful situations can lead to adrenal fatigue. Some examples are:
The effects of stress are cumulative!
SOME SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ADRENAL EXHAUSTION
IMPORTANT NOTE ON CONVENTIONAL LAB TESTS FOR ADRENAL HYPO-FUNCTION
To conventional medicine, "hypoadrenia" means Addison's Disease - not "adrenal exhaustion" . Addison's Disease (also called hypoadrenalism or adrenal insufficiency) is "a rare, potentially fatal condition where the adrenal glands cease to function". People with Addison’s disease require life-long, daily treatment with replacement steroid hormones.
Consequantly, physicians only run tests to detect hypoadrenia as Addison's Disease, which can put in a difficult place a very run down person not suffering from Addison's Disease, as the lab results will come negative. This means that although there is clearly a dysfunction in the hypothalamic- pituitary- adrenal axis which regulates the stress response, the lab tests won't pinpoint markers of any full blown disease and you will be just advised to go back home and rest or will be given a prescription for an anti-depressant.
It is in this case that a holistic health plan to support such fatigue becomes crucial for the patient.
My functional medicine plan for insomnia & adrenal exhaustion
The first step required in order to understand the causes & triggers of your fatigue will be to investigate adrenal function with functional diagnostic evaluations.
The Adrenal Stress Profile is a test which, unlike blood hormone testing assesses the biologically active compounds that are active at the cellular level (and not the inactive ones in other tissues, like blood). This test enables me as a clinician to have a clinically relevant picture of the function of your stress hormones over the course of an entire day (instead of having a lab test that shows hormonal activity during one single isolated short moment of your day).
This functional diagnostic test can detect imbalances in the daily circadian (day/night) secretions of the stress hormones cortisol and DHEA. Imbalances in these hormones can signal an inadequate response that can negatively affect energy levels throughout the day and night, emotions, and many other health issues related to stress & fatigue like anxiety, chronic inflammatory conditions, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, depression, migraines, headaches, recurrent infections, menstrual complaints, and infertility.
Depending on your individual case, additional functional diagnostic tests may be required.
Your health plan to achieve optimum energy levels and support your HPA axis will inclue the following:
NOTES ON INSOMNIA AND SLEEP ISSUES
Insomnia is a multifactorial phenomenon and you may or not be aware of the causes and triggers.
Some factors affecting people’s sleep are:
A) Physical (metabolic, hormonal, physiological, injury, pain, etc.);
B) Emotional trauma or emotional stress (sadness, anger, bitterness, difficulty forgiving others, hopelessness, etc.);
C) Psychological (rumination, doubts, mental repetition of the same ideas or obsessions, fears, unresolved issues, etc.).
D) Environmental (disturbing noise, bad mattress, room temperature, geopathic factors, etc.).
We can discuss all these possible causes during our consultations and I will refer you on to other relevant therapies to complement your health plan with me, like: art therapy, yoga, meditation, massage, hypnotherapy, bioenergy, etc.
Please note that I may require one or more functional diagnostic tests to investigate underlying issues with adrenal function, methylation, neurotransmitter function, gut health, inflammation, toxicity, nutrient status, etc.
"Meta-analyses showed that flavonoids have a promising role in improving visual function in patients with glaucoma and ocular hypertension (OHT), and appear to play a part in both improving and slowing the progression of visual field loss".
-Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2015 Sep 4. Epub 2015 Sep 4. PMID: 26340868
"Animal studies show that holy basil helps the body maintain homeostasis of the stress hormone cortisol.1 It rebalances mood-associated neurotransmitters in the brain—specifically ones that can produce feelings of hopelessness, which is a key component of stress-induced depression."2
1- Phytother Res. 2016;30(5):805-14
2-Indian J Med Res. 2012;135(4):548-54
"Lycopene, the predominant carotenoid in tomatoes and tomato-based foods, is reported to protect against various cancers, especially prostate cancer.
Cell growth was inhibited 20% at 0.2 microM lycopene and 40% at 50 microM lycopene after a 24-hr incubation. In the Comet assay, lycopene-treated cells showed less DNA damage than did placebo-treated cells. The inhibition of Hep3B cell growth in this study demonstrates the antitumor properties of lycopene."
- Biofactors. 2005 ;23(3):129-39. PMID: 16410635
"Accumulating evidence indicates that abdominal adiposity is positively related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and some other diseases independently of overall adiposity. However, the association of premature death resulting from these diseases with abdominal adiposity has not been widely studied, and findings are inconsistent. In a prospective cohort study of 44,636 women in the Nurses' Health Study, associations of abdominal adiposity with all-cause and cause-specific mortality were examined. During 16 years of follow-up, 3507 deaths were identified, including 751 cardiovascular deaths and 1748 cancer deaths. After adjustment for body mass index and potential confounders, the relative risks across the lowest to the highest waist circumference quintiles were 1.00, 1.11, 1.17, 1.31, and 1.79 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.47 to 1.98) for all-cause mortality; 1.00, 1.04, 1.04, 1.28, and 1.99 (95% CI, 1.44 to 2.73) for CVD mortality; and 1.00, 1.18, 1.20, 1.34, and 1.63 (95% CI, 1.32 to 2.01) for cancer mortality (all P<0.001 for trend). Among normal-weight women (body mass index, 18.5 to<25 kg/m(2)), abdominal obesity was significantly associated with elevated CVD mortality: Relative risk associated with waist circumference>or = 88 cm was 3.02 (95% CI, 1.31 to 6.99) and for waist-to-hip ratio>0.88 was 3.45 (95% CI, 2.02 to 6.92). After adjustment for waist circumference, hip circumference was significantly and inversely associated with CVD mortality."
-Circulation. 2008 Apr 1;117(13):1658-67. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.739714. Epub 2008 Mar 24.
"Major changes in self-reported eating behaviors included eating only when experiencing true physiological hunger and stopping when sensing a feeling of fullness. Self-efficacy for these behaviors was reported to be enhanced by observing weight loss for themselves or others. Support from other group members, the simplicity of the program, and spiritual benefits through prayer and scripture reading were also reported to enhance confidence. Women indicated that they relied on an internal locus of control based on a sense of self-discipline.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:
Traditional means to enhance self-efficacy were important for all women; however, for some women, spirituality was also an important aspect of adhering to program principles."
- J Nutr Educ Behav. 2004 Jan-Feb;36(1):13-5.