Have you had prolonged or excessive stress? Do you experience fatigue or exhaustion? Do you have problems sleeping? Chances are your immune system is weaker than it used to be.
Do you have a chronic or auto-immune condition: Rheumatoid Arthritis? Allergies? Asthma? Fibromyalgia? Chronic Fatigue? Epstein Barr? Hashimoto’s? Multiple chemical sensitivities? Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? MS? HIV? Is your immune system weaker? Yes, ALL of these conditions have adrenal fatigue underneath.
Chronic stress can come from many sources: illnesses, deficiencies, toxins, medications, micro-organisms, as well as emotional, financial, media stress, and lifestyle stress. Electro-magnetic pollution is now another major stressor for our cellular structure. It seems almost ALL of us are over-stressed right now!
You may be more prone to respiratory ailments, easily getting coughs or colds that seem stay around for weeks.
The adrenal glands are small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They produce hormones that control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, help regulate blood pressure and react to stressors to protect us by producing stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and aldosterone.
No matter what you try to improve your health, or manage the symptoms, if you don't address the underlying problem, they are not going away. Your allergies may become worse. Your immune system has been compromised. You might get frequent rashes, dermatitis or other skin conditions. Frequent or recurring bronchitis, pneumonia or other respiratory infections may become more of a problem to recover from.
There are a number of symptoms of adrenal fatigue, yet the medical community doesn't usually address the effects of stress on our adrenals until it becomes adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease, which is a serious auto-immune dysfunction of the adrenals.Do you sometimes have muscle weakness? Hands and legs get restless? Unexplained headaches? Has your ability to handle stress and pressure decreased? How's your sex drive?
If you’ve been under excessive or prolonged stress, your health has been affected. There’s a cascading effect that occurs as the body utilizes more metabolic resources and energy to respond to the imposed threat and leaves less resources available for our regular functions to rest, renew, repair, digest, and sleep.
“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” Hans Selye (1907-1982)
Dr. Hans Seyle was an Austrian/Canadian endocrinologist who conducted extensive research on stress and its effect on the body. This quote summarizes his belief on how stress affects the human body by aging and other natural body responses that occur when we encounter various stresses in our daily lives. Stress creates more free-radical damage in the body and speeds up the aging process.
There are several different levels and stages of adrenal stress, adrenal fatigue, and adrenal exhaustion. There is not a one-size fits all formula. (best to work with a natural health care provider who can determine where you are at and what you may need. Our simple and quick Vital Scan HRV test does just that!
But how do you stop the cycle? Supporting your body and reducing stress is essential. Lifestyle changes are usually necessary, such as improving the diet, eliminating processed and GMO foods as well as sugar. Perhaps you need a thorough cleanse to eliminate nasty micro-organisms and toxins. Learn meditation and other stress reducing techniques. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong can be quite helpful, as well as breathe-work. Releasing the pattern of worry and changing how we react to circumstances and situations is always beneficial.
It's important to include good quality, natural vitamins, especially B vitamins, which help us deal with daily stress better. We usually get B vitamins from grains, and B-12 from red meat, but if you are reducing grains or avoiding meat, it is essential to take a good quality high potency B complex. (Many people now need methylated B-vitamins due to the MTHFR factor.) B vitamins are water soluable, so your body does not store them. You need to take a sufficient amount daily!
Magnesium is also essential to support adrenal function. Most people are low in magnesium and don't even realize it. I suggest taking magnesium in the evening before bed, which helps us relax the nervous system, supports our muscles, and calms the mind creating better sleep. It is also a natural stool softener, helping the body drain more efficiently.
There are a few prominent herbs and nutrients that are essential for calming the nervous system and reducing cortisol production. Ashwagandha root is one of the best herbs of all times! It is considered the 'ginseng' of Auyervedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India. One reason for ashwagandha's reputation as a general energy-promoting, disease preventing tonic may be its effect on the immune system. It is considered an 'adaptogenic tonic' which are herbs that improve physical energy and athletic ability, increase immunity to colds and infections and increase sexual capacity and fertility. It also has a mild sedative effect of the nervous system, calming our response to stress. It may also have anti-oxidant qualities, reducing free-radical damage and their role on aging.
Rhodiola rosea is another potent adaptogenic herb that is used to strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, enhance immunity, elevate the capacity for exercise, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase sexual function and improve energy levels. When a stressful situation occurs, these adaptogens allows our physiology to handle the stressful situation in a more resourceful manner. It is believed that adaptogens work by increasing the ability of cells to manufacture and use cell fuel more efficiently. it can help the immune system, help relieve depression by enhance the transport of serotonin precursors, tryptophan, and 5-hydroxytryptophan into the brain.
L-theanine is an amino acid present only in the tea plant and certain mushrooms. Its structure is similar to that of L-tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. It reduces stress and relaxes your brain by increasing alpha wave activity. Alpha waves are those that occur when you are awake, alert and relaxed. They help you to concentrate and promote creativity.
Chaga and Reishi mushrooms are one of the highest, if not the highest, antioxidants in the world and it’s documented extensively for having numerous health benefits, and it’s publicized mostly as an anti-cancer supplement. They are rich in beta glucans, which have immuno-modulating activities. Chaga has demonstrated anti-HIV, antibacterial, anti-malarial, anti-inflammatory and anthelmintic properties. Chaga is also antiviral, anti-fungal, antimicrobial and anti-Candida. Chaga is an immune system modulator as well as an adaptogen and has the highest level of superoxide dismutase (SOD) detected in any food or herb in the world.
So creating lifestyle changes, thorough cleansing, and using some of these nutrients regularly for a few months can really help to support the immune system, relax the nervous system and adrenals, reducing the many health challenges of stress and allowing your body to recover.
Jane Smolnik is a Naturopathic Doctor and Iridologist with a private practice in Asheville, NC. She specializes in adrenal stress and fatigue, as well as auto-immune conditions. You may reach her at 828-777-5263 or visit her websites for more info at www.Ultimatehealing.com.