Stress in our World and at the Clincal Level
So, there is this pandemic, fires here in California, schooling issues for those of us with kids and social unrest everywhere; it’s kind of a stressful time. How are we all coping? Well in my practice I see muscle tension, sleep issues and lots and lots of people having neck and rib issues due to the fact that they hold their breath. Of course, they aren’t completely holding their breath but they are not taking the deep cleansing breaths needed to relax.
I have found out I am no exception to stress issues, I grind my teeth which I will talk about later and my hormones are out of whack. Of course, when this stress goes on for an extended period of time, we start to deplete our stress hormone (cortisol) and eventually our sex hormones (testosterone, DHEA, Estrogen, Progesterone, etc.). Let’s focus just on my stress hormone that is part of my Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. My test results show a direct problem with my circadian rhythm, cortisol which sets our rhythm in a large part. Mine is too low and can’t get me into the optimal green zone. So, let’s talk about a few things: What the axis does, symptoms I have and what can be done to regulate my body.
The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis is a mouthful and it encompasses the brain, and 2 glands. When we are stressed, our hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone which stimulates our pituitary gland to release andrenocorticotropic hormone that then stimulates the adrenal gland to release Cortisol, DHEA and neurotransmitters (epinephrine and neorepinephrine the fight or flight response.). When stress is prolonged and not just a burst to do that big presentation or get through a hectic day, the cortisol becomes catabolic which means it starts to break down the body and many of its systems.
Chronic stress which I think would describe this year -will cause extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, sleep issues, hormone imbalances and evidentially chronic illness. Some of the other symptoms are more internal and look like; blood sugar irregularities, disrupted sleep cycle, waking in the middle of the night, decrease in thyroid hormone, and a decrease in sex hormone production.
My symptoms were fairly advanced. And yes, doctor’s do make the worst patients that is what took me so long. I noticed a change in my menstrual cycle and was getting headaches almost daily, but most of all I was waking up tired. This is a big deal- because if you know me, I am a life-long morning person; but suddenly I was still waking without an alarm around 5:30am but I was tired and didn’t want to get out of bed. This for me was unheard of!!
I knew my stress had increased since I was starting to grind my teeth some at night but I didn’t fathom I was as low as I my results showed.
Since I treat many patients with adrenal issues, I knew basically what to do, but remember doctors are terrible patients so I got advice from a very trusted source- Naturopathic Family Health (https://naturopathicfamilyhealth.com/) and with our combined knowledge I began treatment. I am now about 1 week into treatment and on the long road to getting re-regulated.
Herbs: Adrenal support: ashwagandha, glandular, and eleuthero. This is also taken at lunch 1-2 capsules since I am trying to get the adrenal hormone to be highest in the morning and lowest in the evening. We never want to take the hormone pills after 3pm since this can keep us awake.
DHEA both are taken in the morning.
So if COVID, Fires, stress or anything else is sabotaging your health, get tested and let a doctor help you get back on track.
The laboratory that was used in this case we order through our office is Labrix by Doctor’s Data. It is done through 4 saliva collections throughout one day and then shipped frozen to the laboratory. I like doing it on a Sunday so I can ship it Monday. Contact us if you have any questions. We can offer test read off’s through a telemedicine visit if you wish and will ship supplements to you to save you time.