Friday, March 18, 2011

The vicious relationship between fatigue and aging.

With the pressures of a modern life: working, being a parent, having a social life, exercising, eating well, further education, traveling to and from - it’s exhausting. We are seeing extreme fatigue in the clinic more frequently as this completely exhausting lifestyle is taking its toll on our society. Clients are presenting with a slew of symptoms that with some juggling are able to be well treated with our form of medicine. In the world of complementary and alternative medicine it is often called Adrenal Fatigue.

But in the world of modern medicine, this condition doesn’t have a real label, sometimes it’s called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome if it’s severe enough, but a lot of the time it’s outside of the reach of standard blood tests and patients are told there’s nothing wrong with them. From 1850s to 1920s medicine talked a lot about Hypoadrenia or Adrenal Fatigue, now the modern diagnosis of Adrenal Insufficiency is reserved for those on the brink of death, or with only a small percentage of functioning adrenal glands remaining.

What is known in the medical world is that poorly functioning adrenal glands land you in a whole heap of trouble, problems ranging from impaired glucose metabolism to increased mortality from heart attack.

The adrenal glands In addition to helping you handle stress, make two primary hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol, which help control body fluid balance, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other central metabolic functions.

When you experience fatigue, it could be a sign of many other symptoms to come if you do not address it. Here is some lifestyle and dietary advice to address adrenal insufficiency naturally.

Lifestyle/Diet Advice
•    Protein snack before bed
•    Get to sleep before 10pm (between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., our adrenals work the hardest to repair the body) , sleep in until 9am if possible
•    Do the things that you like
•    Laugh several times a day
•    Avoid getting over-tired
•    Avoid coffee or other caffeine containing beverages
•    Have a glass of water in the morning with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of good quality sea salt (provided blood pressure is ok)
•    Breakfast: protein breakfast, no carbs and definitely no fruit
•    Fruit is ok from lunchtime onwards, but with a meal not on its own
•    Try to have a small early lunch at 11ish, then another lunch at 2-3pm.
•    Avoid gluten grains (wheat, oats, rye, barley)
•    Avoid starchy foods such as potato, pasta, bread
•    Avoid trans-fat such as French fries
•    Avoid fruits high in potassium such as bananas, figs, melons and grapefruit
•    Never skip breakfast
•    Avoid TV and Computers. Some people may be photosensitive. Watching television or working at the computer may prevent the melatonin level from rising to induce sleep. If you are one of these people, you should turn off your television or computer by around 8 p.m. at night.
•    Replenish you glycogen supply and eat breakfast before 10.00 am
•    Eat frequent small nutritious meals through out the day, to supplement on low energy times.
•    To provide energy over a longer period of time combine good fats with protein and whole grains at every meal and snack.
•    Whole grains are brown rice, wheat grain (cook like rice), buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth
•    Eat raw and fresh nuts (shell them yourself and soak in water) and store in the freezer, as a light quick snack.
•    Good protein includes meat, eggs, dairy and legumes.
•    To aid in breaking down protein and high fiber foods trying taking digestive enzymes and Hydrochloric Acid with meals.
•    Mix 1 – 2 tbsp of essential oils into meals daily (Fish, Flax, Coconut, Hemp)
•    Avoid foods that are high in potassium as they make adrenal fatigue worse – Banana, dried fig, Raisins, Dates, Oranges, Grapefruit, Apricots, Avocado, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Kiwi, Lima beans, Milk, Potatoes, Prunes, Spinach, Tomatoes, Fruit & Vegetable juice, Winter squash
•    Avoid dropping your blood glucose quickly- this leaves you with unhealthy cravings for more energy. Foods that do this are - Refined flour products: pasta, white rice, bread, pastry, baked goods, coffee, tea, black tea, hot chocolate, alcohol, colas, chocolate, honey, sugar, syrups and soft drinks.
•    Avoid dropping Blood sugar levels especially in morning so avoid fruit and fruit & vegetable juice.
•    Avoid Rushed and hectic meals. Take your time, slow down, concentrate on eating and digesting.
•    Avoid transfats – especially deep fried foods.
•    All cooked food and NO raw food, except sprouts.

Low Energy and the Endocrine system.

As the adrenals are part of a whole system of glands that work synergistically together, when the adrenal glands fatigue so do all of the other glands over time. This means that most people, who are suffering long term fatigue, typically have what’s known as Endocrine dysfunction. With time, after we deplete our adrenals from chronic stress, over work, long hours and late nights, the body starts to pull energy from other glands and depletion occurs in all of the Endocrine glands, being the adrenals, ovaries, testes, thyroid, thymus, pituitary and thus a depletion occurs in all of the hormones they produce. In the long run we will not only suffer from signs of fatigue but decreased libido, compromised immunity, depression, weight gain, hot flashes, increased visual and internal signs of aging just to name a few.

Some adrenal hormones assist in the conversion of T-4 to T-3, (Thyroid hormones) and perhaps assist in the final effect of T-3 on the tissues. Some scientists believe that even the entrance of thyroid hormone into our cells is under the influence of adrenal hormones. Thus, if your adrenal level is low enough, you might do well to take both adrenal and thyroid supplements together. New studies are showing that many people go undiagnosed with thyroid insufficiency as blood test for T3- and T4 are not an accurate diagnostic tool, and thus, signs and symptoms are the best way to determine the health of you thyroid. For more information go to - To test you adrenals you may want to do a saliva Cortisol (stress hormones) check.

Long periods of stress creates elevated Cortisol, which then results in "stealing" of the master hormone pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is used to make most of the sex hormones in our body, and when it is used up by just making the “stress hormones” it becomes less available for the production and conversion of the other sex homrmones like progesterone, the sex hormone precursor DHEA and aldosterone in the kidneys, leaving the kidneys and sex hormones depleted.


Overwhelming fatigue is the most common symptom of low Dhea. Other signs are depression, less muscle and bone mass, pain in the joints, decreased libido, dry skin and eyes, poor memory, difficulty in losing weight and a weekend immune system.

As the body manufactures around half of the hormone Dhea as it used to by age 40, we must be cautious to reduce chronic stress, long hours and late nights at this time.  .
To prevent endocrine disorder you must:
•    Reduce stress and Anger
•    Boost your immune system and prevent chronic illness and infection
•    Check to see if you have a Parasitic or  bacterial infection, which includes, candida, homminus Blastisis,  Giardia, round worm,  and H. pylori.
•    Address chronic pain issues
•    Find natural ways to treat depression, ad get pro-active about your lifestyle.
•    Reduce excessive exercise
•    Address feelings of fear and guilt
•    If you suspect you are gluten intolerance, go and check.
•    Prevent Low blood sugar by reducing foods and drinks that spike blood sugar and eat wholefood protein snacks through the day.
•    Treat mal-absorption with bifidous suppliments and herbal remidies.
•    Mal-digestion with digestive enzymes and HCL.
•    Get a blood test to see your levels of toxic exposure, especially if you have mercury fillings in your teeth, or are exposed to chemicals and pesticides in your job.
•    Aim to cut out severe and chronic stress
•    Reduce you “Late hours” and go to bed before 10pm at least 5 nights a week. Sleep deprivation soaks up your hormones, ages you rapidly and drains your adrenals.
•    Excessive Exercise
•    Reduce excessive sugar in your diet. Check everything that you eat to see the sugar content.
•    Treat chronically infected root canals.

Supplementing with Maca Powder may also be helpful as it assist your body by balancing the endocrine system - thyroid, pituitary, pancreas and adrenal glands to function optimally, thus boosting energy and libido. As Maca boost the glands that make hormones some women choose to eat Maca Powder as an alternative to taking artificial hormone. No potential interactions have been reported.

Chinese Medicine can offer a range of Herbal tonics for your specific body requirements. The cause for low energy is not he same in everyone, so visiting a trained Chinese Herbal Specialist may help you build your natural energy levels fast. 

Vitamins that help supplement the Adrenals are
Vitamin C, pantethanic acid (B5), magnesium, and vitamin E

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