Adrenal Fatigue… real or fake?

This week is International Stress Awareness Week. The World Health Organization is calling ‘stress’ the health epidemic of the 21st Century.   And yet, the medical profession is slow to recognize or treat ‘adrenal fatigue’ or ‘burn out’ as a real condition.

Introduction 

Persistent fatigue and tiredness are some of the most common symptoms that drive people to seek the help of a doctor.  Often the doctor finds it hard to come up with a diagnosis.  She may take your medical history, carry out a physical exam and do some blood tests.  Often this yields no explanation.    To complicate things further for the doctor, fatigue may be linked to thyroid dysfunction, anaemia, fibromyalgia, M.E. and various other conditions.  If he is testing solely for adrenal dysfunction, he’ll be looking for the extremely low ‘hypo’ or extremely high ‘hyper’ production of cortisol, for a diagnosis of Addison’s disease or Cushing’s Syndome, but anywhere outside of these ranges will not deliver a diagnosis.  Neither do the Endocrinology Society and other medical specialties recognize this condition.  Your doctor is in a bit of a dilemma.  At best, he may not think you are neurotic and may accept that your symptoms are real.   At worse, the doctor thinks you are depressed or neurotic and if so you may walk away with a prescription for anti-depressants.  This now becomes your dilemma because with no diagnosis there is no treatment.  But what if you do have adrenal fatigue, you are not depressed and there is another way?  We place so much of our trust and hope in our doctors, often they are in a position to help us and just as often they are not.  But here’s the good news, that doctor may not yet be aware that in other streams of medical practice namely ‘functional and complimentary medicine’, adrenal dysfunction is recognized and it can be tested and treated as a real condition.

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Spice Aid Cabinet

Mankind has sought out plants with medicinal properties since time immemorial.  Even today when there have been great developments in the field of chemistry, pharmaceuticals and medicine, these medicinal plants have lost none of their importance.  Botanical drugs are at the birth place of the current pharmaceutical industry, for example, the ancient Egyptians used the bark of the Willow tree for the relief of aches and pains.  The willow tree yields ‘salicylic acid’ which is the active pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory component that is used to make the aspirin of today.  Probably because big pharma don’t really want you to know that some of your inexpensive household herbs and spices could be the answer to your aches, pains and other health conditions, this information has become generally suppressed and instead we are encouraged by media advertising to believe that pharmaceutical drugs are the only solution.  The general public has consequently lost trust in natural remedies while big pharma secretly know their benefits.  Plant based medical practices like traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic and Naturopathic medicine, for example, are often viewed as a last resort when conventional medicine offers us no solution.  Ideally the reverse would be the case, where natural remedies are used first and pharmaceutical drugs, with their known side-effects, are a last resort.  In this blog I am sharing my knowledge of some of the spices that are ‘hot’ in the world of nutrition.  You may already have them in your spice cabinet.  They offer a relatively inexpensive way of stacking some health benefits in your favour with little effort!   Mother Nature’s flavour favours. Many spices have health benefits, too many to cover here, so I have narrowed them down to some of the most popular and widely used today in the prevention and treatment of the chronic diseases.  I have checked each spice for known interactions {A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions}. There are none for those mentioned and so they are completely safe to use.  So, what are these little pots of magic dust??  Read on to find out!

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The Sunshine Vitamin D

As part of my Nutritional Therapy course I had to complete a scientific review of current research on the impact a single nutrient might have on a specific disease.   I chose Vitamin D and Osteoporosis [OP].  I wanted to answer the question ‘does current research show that adequate levels of Vitamin D have a positive impact on OP’?   Turns out that it does!   Not surprising I hear you say!  Most of us already know from TV commercials that Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and to absorb calcium.  But how much is adequate?   I discovered there are many and widely differing opinions on this and just when I thought I had this bit figured out, I learned that no vitamin works in isolation in the body anyway.   Plus, there are so many factors other than nutrients involved in disease progression.   I found out Vitamin D is not even a vitamin really!   It was designated a ‘vitamin’ based on its role as a dietary factor that aided in the cure of rickets.  It is now understood to be more ‘hormone like’ in its action.   Did you know, it is difficult to get adequate Vitamin D through diet alone?  Vitamin D is not even required in the diet if there is sufficient sunlight to allow its production from pro-Vitamin D molecules in the skin.  It is made in the body with its own Vitamin D receptors [VDRs].  For this reason it could be classified as a hormone rather than a vitamin (a vital amine).  Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide epidemic across all ages, genders and geographic locations with multiple implications on human health, due to its role in various bodily systems.   Even if you can avail of adequate year round sun-exposure on bare skin, the time of day, the colour of your skin and your age will also influence how much Vitamin D your body can produce.   A Nutritional Therapist seldom recommends a single vitamin but Vitamin D could be the exception to that rule.  Deficiency has an impact on so many body systems yet symptoms of deficiency are not very obvious.  The only way to really know if you are deficient is to take a 25(OH)D blood test.   Are you getting enough of the ‘Sunshine’ Vitamin?  Let me help you figure it out!

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