Feel tired all the time? Your body may have difficulty meeting the demands of everyday stress because of adrenal fatigue, Adrenal fatigue often comes about because of too much stress from a busy lifestyle and too little sleep, but other factors can also be associated.
Do you have these signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
Tired, even when you got a good night sleep
Stress headaches, especially in the afternoon
Frequent colds and flu, catching everything everyone else has
Allergies seasonal or random allergy attacks
Slow to get started in the morning
Craving sweets and coffee, tea or soda especially first thing in the morning or afternoon
Feeling lightheaded, shaky, or irritable between meals
Needing to eat to relieve fatigue
Difficulty sleeping, waking up at 3 or 4 a.m.
Dizziness or lightheadedness when moving from sitting to standing
Low blood pressure
Besides chronic stress and lack of sleep, these factors can lead to adrenal fatigue.
1. Too much sugar and processed carbohydrates. When we eat something sweet or very starchy our blood sugar shoots up, then crashes. The adrenal glands all called on to release stress hormone to raise the blood sugar level. When blood sugar levels swing up and down repeatedly, the adrenals get tired out. People with adrenal fatigue often have low blood sugar, or reactive hypoglycemia. Aim for a whole foods lower glycemic diet that does not spike your blood sugar, and also includes healthy fats, protein, and plenty of fiber.
2. Caffeine and other stimulants. Stimulants such as caffeine, energy drinks, cigarettes, and diet pills cause extra release of stress hormones and can fatigue the adrenal system.
3. Overtraining. Exercise is vital to good health, but over-exercising can cause inflammation and deplete the body, taxing the adrenal glands. If your workout performance is slipping, and you feel tired, you may be overdoing it.
4. Food intolerance. Eating foods that trigger an immune reaction taxes adrenal function. Many people have a food intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and yeast can also cause inflammation and fatigue the adrenal glands. To find out which foods you are sensitive to you can try an elimination/provocation diet or a lab test.
5. Gut infections. Many people have overgrowths of yeast, fungus, and bacteria due to poor diets. These infections lead to chronic inflammation throughout the body and in the gut, which contribute to adrenal fatigue.
6. Unmanaged autoimmune disease. You may be surprised to learn that more people have autoimmune disease than cancer and heart disease combined. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys a part of the body, such as the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism), the pancreas (Type I diabetes), or the nervous system (multiple sclerosis). An autoimmune reaction can also cause symptoms that are not yet identified as a disease because not enough tissue has been destroyed. Unmanaged autoimmunity keeps the immune system on red alert, and over time, this state fatigues the adrenals. Lab testing can screen for autoimmune reactions.
7. Brain inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body from poor diet, chronic stress, autoimmunity, and other problems can inflame the brain. Common symptoms of brain inflammation include brain fog, low brain endurance and slow mental speed. Ask my office about nutritional compounds and strategies that can calm brain inflammation.
As you can see, managing adrenal fatigue is about more than just taking adrenal supplements, although that may be helpful. Adrenal fatigue is always due to something else, and we have to find and address that “something” before adrenal fatigue can be properly addressed. By doing highly sensitive lab work, Bennett Functional Medicine program we can help restore function in many cases. Dr. Bennett along with Kalish Functional Medicine approach can help adrenals work better and turn you feel better.
PMS. Everybody has heard the acronym, and we most likely all know what it means. You may even mark your PMS days on your calendar or warn your partner to prepare for your symptoms. While the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS in the week prior to your menstrual period can be nothing more than an annoyance for some women, PMS can actually disrupt the lives of many others. Natural treatment for PMS can help!
PMS, whether it is minor or involves extreme suffering, is not normal or healthy. In fact, PMS symptoms may be a result of a hormone imbalance that also affects other areas of your health including your weight and energy levels. In many cases, stress is to blame. Undergoing chronic stress can result in low levels of progesterone, which subsequently upsets the ratio of estrogen to progesterone. Let’s take a look at a list of the symptoms that may occur when this female hormone ratio is unbalanced.
• Mood swings
• Changes in weight or appetite
• Easily brought to tears
• Lack of concentration
• Frequent or irregular menstruation
• Low sex drive
Experiencing one—let alone multiple—of these symptoms can be overwhelming for women during this week of their menstrual cycle. Some doctors may recommend an over-the-counter remedy for mild symptoms or a prescription birth control to ease extreme PMS. But these drugs simply mask the symptoms. They do not treat the underlying cause, nor do they prevent PMS from occurring. In other words, while a woman’s symptoms disappear or extreme symptoms are lessened, the cause of PMS is still present. Fortunately, there are natural remedies to not only treat the symptoms of PMS, but to restore hormone levels to optimal levels.
To understand how these remedies work, we must examine the role stress plays in creating a progesterone deficiency in the first place. When you undergo stress, be it emotional or physical, your body responds by signaling your adrenal glands to produce stress hormones called cortisol. When the cortisol levels exist in excess on rare occasion, this does not have long-term effects on the body. But when cortisol levels remain high for extended periods of time, it can wreak havoc in your body.
Notice that I said emotional or physical factor. This is because many people often associate stressors with external issues. Few people are actually aware that stress can come from inside as well. These are known as biochemical or internal stressors, and when left untreated, these stressors can lead to chronic stress. Some of the internal causes of stress are as follows:
• Diet or poor nutrition. It is essential to avoid sugar and sweetners, as well as foods high in starch like rice, pasta, and bread. Caffeine should also be avoided.
• Food intolerances. Learn what foods your body negatively reacts to and remove these foods from your diet. Some foods include gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, and grains.
• Intestinal issues. Problems you experience in relation to digestion can take a huge toll on your body. These include gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain.
• Lack of sleep or inadequate sleep
• Chronic inflammation such as joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes and disorders, brain fog, and fatigue.
• Autoimmune disease such as hypothyroidism or Colitis
• Pushing your body to keep going even when you know it needs a break
Unfortunately, in today’s world, some of these stressors can rarely be avoided, and as long as you are experiencing stress, your body continues to signal your adrenals to produce cortisol. This high demand for cortisol production requires your body to steal resources from the production of other hormones—particularly your reproductive hormones including progesterone. When your adrenals take away necessary materials from reproductive hormone production, this is called “pregnenolene steal.”
With basic knowledge of how stress is related to and leads to progesterone deficiency, we are able to better understand and treat this hormone imbalance and prevent PMS.
A combination of acupuncture and herbs—two main practices in Chinese medicine—are the best tools to treat progesterone deficiencies and cure PMS naturally. Through the use of thin, disposable needles, acupuncture is able to target trigger points to unblock the pathways of energy—or qui—and, as a result, stabilize your oscillation of hormones.- Acupuncturist, Dr. Stefanie Bennett of Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach
Acupuncture also assists your body by promoting deep relaxation that helps to soothe the mind and ultimately relieve stress. To supplement the treatment of PMS through acupuncture, we recommend Chinese herbs to regulate the flow of qi and blood in the body. While both methods can work separately to treat hormonal imbalances, when acupuncture and Chinese herbs are combined in a treatment, they better stimulate the body’s natural functions and promote optimum balance.
It is also important to alter your diet. While acupuncture and Chinese herbs are effective in reversing hormone imbalances, it is also essential to monitor your food consumption to maintain your hormone balances and achieve lasting results. I recommend shifting to an anti-inflammatory diet to eliminate the stress your body experiences from trying to digest hard to break down foods. This diet will also help to restore gut health, heal chronic inflammation, and effectively manage autoimmune diseases—all of which increase internal stress in the body.
When following an anti-inflammatory diet, you should avoid foods full of sugars and highly processed grains. You also want to avoid foods that contain preservatives and GMOs. A rule I like to follow is that if the food does not rot sitting in your pantry, it is not safe for consumption. In other words, if the food cannot break down on its own, your body is going to have an extremely difficult time breaking it down in the digestive system.
Because it is important to consult with a doctor prior to making drastic changes in your diet, we encourage you to call our office and schedule a free consultation with Dr. Bennett. Her expertise will be able to guide you in not only making the appropriate food substitutions, but understand what diet is the best for your individual needs.
The third approach to restoring hormonal balance—and likely the most important—is advanced hormone level testing. This test, which we perform at Bennett Acupuncture and Functional Medicine, can give us insight into the physiological timing, distribution and production of the critical hormones like progesterone. Having this knowledge, we are able to devise a safe and effective treatment plan catered to each individual patient.
As part of your tailored plan, we may recommend nutritional supplements to ease the symptoms of PMS. When you come in for your consultation, we will ask questions about your current diet to determine if you are receiving proper amounts of essential.
Other helpful supplements include certain amino acids and neurotransmitters. But I want to caution you here, these supplements should only be taken when directed by a skilled doctor. I also do not recommend buying off-the-shelf versions of these supplements either, hence why I have not listed specific names here. A licensed health care provider is required to manage your amino acid and neurotransmitter supplements.
In the same regard, other nutrients such as magnesium, B6, and vitamin D3 are great for additional support to reduce the symptoms of PMS. But in order for these nutrients to work effectively, the supplements must be taken in the right amounts and in a certain sequence. It is essential that you get professional advice from a qualified and licensed expert.
If you are interested in reducing your symptoms of PMS or reduce premenstrual syndrome, call my office to schedule your free consultation. We will discuss your options ranging from natural therapies to advanced functional medicine lab testing and get you the best care you need to alleviate PMS and restore a healthy, happy hormone balance.
**Please note: If you are prescribed antidepressants, consult your doctor BEFORE beginning any serotonin support regimen. Especially with dealing PMS and hormone issues always consult your MD. We practice co-management with other types of providers.
About Acupuncturist Dr. Stefanie M. Bennett, LAc, Ph.D. – Holds both a master and one of the few in the area with a doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, plus two diplomats. She has completed additional training in functional medicine, fertility, herbal medicine, and applied clinical nutrition. She has been practicing in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach for over 13 years. Dr. Bennett also serves many people from Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Coast, Tustin and Orange County. She can be reached at 714-962-5031 and new patients are welcome.