Opinion

SPOTLIGHT ON NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE: Many stressors add to adrenal fatigue

By Dr. Andrea Hornyak, Spotlight on Naturopathic Medicine

Stress is the cause of many heath ailments.

Stress is the cause of many heath ailments.

Adrenal fatigue is a term that is used to describe a state of chronic low energy caused by poorly working adrenal glands, as a result of persistent emotional or physical stressors.

The adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney and secrete adrenaline and cortisol when we feel stressed. Stress can manifest very differently in individuals; while one person may get a headache, another may have insomnia, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, etc.

Commonly, people choose to stress themselves out to go on vacation financially, leaving details to the last minute, etc. with the reason that the time away from their normal daily lives will make them better. Unfortunately, the vacation is often stressful itself for various reasons, not to mention toxicity on the body from rich foods, excessive alcohol, and tobacco, resulting in diarrhea, headaches, insomnia, or a cold/flu from the break in the body’s normal routine.

Taking time out for yourself and being happy is vital, but your overall health should be your number one priority, rather than feeling stressed and in debt. Prioritize your health goals and talk to your spouse about taking care of each other.

Stressors that can lead to adrenal fatigue include:

Poor diet (excess sugar, coffee/tea, alcohol)

Overweight

Suppressed emotions (anger, fear, guilt)

Chronic pain

Depression

Exposure to toxins (mercury in dental amalgams, vaccines, fish; aluminum in antiperspirants; cadmium in cigarette smoke)

Tense work environment

Financial worries

Lifestyle changes:

1. Identify what is causing you stress – may be related to physical illness, lifestyle, diet, or emotional (relationship, family, financial) causes.

2. Sleep – go to bed by 10 p.m. each night. Between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. the adrenal glands work the hardest to repair the body. Sleep in a completely dark room to maximize the production of Melatonin (hormone secreted in the brain that regulates the sleep-wake cycle).

3. Decrease caffeine and sugar – coffee, tea and soda are stimulants that interrupt sleep patterns and high cortisol causes unstable blood glucose and induces sugar cravings.

4. Time management – it is important to take time out for yourself. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, tai chi and massage all assist in relieving physical and mental stress symptoms.

5. Exercise – great stress reducer as it increases the flow of oxygen and blood throughout your body. It reduces depression, normalizes levels of cortisol, insulin, glucose, growth hormones and the thyroid gland. Aim for 30 minutes a day. You should incorporate aerobic exercise (walking, stair climbing, swimming), anaerobic exercise (weight lifting, push ups, sit ups) and flexibility exercises (stretching, yoga).

Naturopathic treatments:

Vitamins & Minerals – many are depleted with long-term stress, chronic use of pharmaceutical drugs and different health conditions. I use various blood tests to determine vitamin/mineral deficiencies.

Acupuncture - used in protocols where stress is a root cause to help balance Qi and organ meridians, as in treatment for headaches, IBS, overweight, depression, anxiety, etc.

Homeopathic Constitutional Remedy – single medicine taken at a high potency daily after a detailed analysis of physical and mental/emotional stressors.

Counseling - a large aspect of stress management to help improve coping skills.

For more information on heavy metal toxicity and treatments, check out my blog at www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca

Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a Licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine since 2006. To book an appointment, phone the Norwich Medical Centre at 519-863-2338 or visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca.