Adrenal health: Natural approaches to diagnosis & treatment
Adrenal fatigue is one of the most common health disorders that we see as naturopathic doctors. In today’s world of multi-tasking, multi-media, and multi-roles, poor adrenal health results in fatigue, exhaustion, and anxiety. Not surprisingly, it’s estimated that around 80% of North Americans will suffer from adrenal fatigue at some point in their life.
The adrenals are little glands that sit atop your kidneys, aka the “stress glands”. They help you deal with stress ranging from physical exercise to mental-emotional stress, such as relationships or work. Your adrenal glands produce several different hormones that are necessary for the production and regulation of healthy thyroid function and sex hormones (estrogen/progesterone/DHEA/testosterone). They also produce the hormones that influence your ability to:
- Have energy
- Fall asleep and stay asleep
- Metabolize fat
- Regulate blood sugar
- Support your immune system
Cortisol is one of the major hormones secreted by the adrenals to help your body manage stressful situations. Cortisol ideally follows a circadian rhythm, being high in the early morning and reaching a low point at night. Often times, people with adrenal fatigue are exhausted in the mornings upon waking, crash in the afternoon and/or can’t fall asleep at night because they are “wired and tired.” If this sounds like you, you might consider doing an adrenal saliva hormone test. In some cases, individuals presenting with a “reversed” circadian rhythm, (for example, this commonly afflicts night-shift workers, such as nurses) can often shave a few years off their life expectancy –– if this is not corrected.
Other common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include lethargy, sleep disturbance, being easily startled, feeling dizzy (low blood pressure, low blood sugar), low sex drive, muscle and joint pain, caffeine-dependence, weight gain (especially belly fat), poor immune system and new allergies, poor memory, unexplained fertility problems, food cravings, anxiety, and more.
Adrenal saliva hormone testing is considered an excellent lab test for detecting adrenal fatigue. Now there is a 4-sample urine hormone test as well, if you’d like to include a more detailed hormone (estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin and many metabolites) profile in addition to cortisol. Urine and saliva tests measure the level of cortisol at 4 different times throughout the day, along with several other important hormones. Testing allows for an informed treatment plan to restore health to the adrenal glands, using lifestyle changes, specific high-dose vitamins, minerals and herbal formulations. However, treatments for adrenal health are not one-size-fits-all. Identifying the cause of stress in your life (food sensitivities, hormone imbalance, recent divorce, a dying parent, a demanding career, etc.), and managing this stress is the first step towards healing. Taking care of your adrenal health means taking care of yourself first. Allow me to repeat –– you must learn to take care of yourself first. Restoring adrenal health is essential for healthy thyroid function, allowing for a smooth transition into mid-life, then into menopause and warding off chronic disease for a life of health and vitality.
If you’d like to pursue saliva or urine testing for adrenal fatigue, please contact our office to book an appointment.
Hypothyroid: Natural approaches to diagnosis & treatment
Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ in the front of your neck. The thyroid plays an important role in your body’s metabolism. The thyroid gland takes up trace minerals, such as iodine, selenium and tyrosine, and uses these to make thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which circulate through the liver, brain and several other organs in the body as part of the endocrine system. If the thyroid is not functioning properly, even if tests are normal, the following symptoms can arise:
- Anxiety & panic attacks
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Weight gain
- Asthma and allergies
- Irregular periods
- Decreased memory
- Decreased concentration
- Fluid retention
- Muscle and joint aches
- Hair loss
- Low sex drive
- Dry skin, dry hair
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Unfortunately, what has fallen to the wayside of today’s highly-regarded TSH screening test, is this poignant statement by Dr. Utiger:
“I hope that doctors will still practice medicine and treat the patient not the TSH; still the best test is evaluating body temperature and heart rate and a therapeutic trial of T3.”
We are not dismissing the necessity of laboratory testing. However, this statement is profound in the face of how standard medical practice places so much importance on tests alone. It is imperative to listen to every patient, their constellation of symptoms, and to do an adequate physical exam, especially if blood work is normal but the individual feels unwell.
Only 3% of the population has hypothyroidism and is usually treated for life with T4-containing medicine, such as Synthroid. However, about 30% of the population suffers from symptoms of hypometabolism that can be reversed with short term (months) cyclic T3 Therapy (Wilson’s Syndrome). In addition, adrenal and thyroid supportive herbs and nutrients are prescribed along with dietary recommendations and lifestyle changes when utilizing T3 therapy. Our goal is to treat the underlying cause of any hypometabolic (hypothyroid, hypoadrenal, etc) condition. This takes time and patience, but the process enables your restoration to health.
Dr. Emina Jasarevic has completed advanced training and certification in treating thyroid and related adrenal disorders through the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine. She is particularly experienced and knowledgeable in the treatment of difficult cases, in which thyroid or adrenal symptoms have persisted, in spite of trying conventional drug medication. The Wilson’s Thyroid Temperature Syndrome approach provides a successful alternative treatment for such cases, involving natural remedies and often a sustained-release active thyroid hormone treatment to normalize body temperature and associated thyroid-related symptoms. In addition, Dr. Jasarevic recommends testing other basic building blocks of body chemistry, including nutrient and mineral status, as well as food and environmental allergens, heavy metal toxicity and pathological factors, such as bacteria, yeast and parasites. All these factors place stress on the thyroid and adrenal glands and interfere with normal physiology.
For further information on the Wilson’s Syndrome assessment and methods of treating the thyroid gland, please consult www.wilsonssyndrome.com
We focus on leveraging the healing power of nature to enable patients to restore and maintain optimum health.