By physicians who have been trained in
the most comprehensive medical education on earth,
whose goal is to restore and maintain health,
and whose highest professional allegiance
is to our patients.
© Ann Lovick, NMD
It is imperative to learn new ways to help manage stress. Many people with adrenal dysfunction cannot get out of bed in the morning, but also cannot fall asleep at night no matter how tired they are. They feel “wired but tired.” With naturopathic treatment, as the body reaches its desired level of homeostasis, it will make sure you are prepared for your next encounter with the tiger.
Everyone has been tired at least once in his or her life. In fact, fatigue is one of the most common reasons patients go to see their doctor. Usually a good night’s sleep resolves the issue, but sometimes eight hours of deep sleep is not restorative. This may indicate a problem with your adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are about the size of the tip of your thumb and they are located right above your kidneys. Their job is to produce cortisol in response to stress. Historically we were meant to have an encounter with a tiger, and then lay low for six months until the tiger finds us again. Unfortunately we are having an encounter with the tiger every day and we refer to this as life. Our lives are stressful. This creates problems in the body when too much cortisol, or not enough cortisol, is produced on a daily basis.
Here are just a few of the signs of adrenal dysfunction that you might experience:
Weight gain/trouble losing weight
Lack of motivation
Dependence on coffee or energy drinks
Fatigue after meals
Trouble getting out of bed in the morning
Trouble falling asleep
Sweet or salty food cravings
Although cortisol gets a bad rap as a stress hormone, the truth is every cell in your body needs cortisol. You would die without it. Cortisol gives us energy. Your levels should be high in the morning to get you up and moving and should slowly decline through the day and be low at night to allow you to sleep. Many people with adrenal dysfunction cannot get out of bed in the morning, but also cannot fall asleep at night no matter how tired they are. They feel “wired but tired.”
Cortisol is anti-inflammatory. If you had a rash on your arm, you might put a topical hydrocortisone cream on it to soothe the redness and itching. Hydrocortisone is just a synthetic form of cortisol. When there is inflammation in the body, such as arthritis in the joints or rhinitis from allergies, the adrenals should produce cortisol to soothe swelling and soreness. If the adrenals are not producing enough cortisol to manage inflammation in the body, you may experience pain and your body may have trouble healing itself.
Cortisol helps regulate your blood sugar. When your blood sugar levels dip, cortisol tells the liver to dump glucagon (a storage form of sugar) into the blood for energy. Dieting can be a source of stress on the body if we are restricting calories and lowering blood sugar. Likewise too much exercise can overtax and drain the adrenals. Endurance athletes tend to be susceptible to adrenal fatigue during periods of over training.
The adrenal glands can also affect other hormones. Adrenal dysfunction can impair thyroid function and lead to decreased progesterone and testosterone levels. Your doctor needs to look at the body as a whole and check all of your hormone levels. Nutritional status also plays a key part in balancing the body. An unhealthy diet full of processed foods and excess carbohydrates will weaken the adrenals.
It is imperative to learn new ways to help manage stress. Exercise is a great stress-buster. Meditation can train the brain to shut out stressful thoughts and allow the body to reach a calmer state. Spending time with friends and loved ones helps restore that feeling of balance and reminds us of what is important in life. As the body reaches its desired level of homeostasis, it will make sure you are prepared for your next encounter with the tiger.
Ann Lovick, NMD Dr. Lovick practices in Scottsdale, AZ. DrLovick.com
Dr. Ann Lovick is a naturopathic physician specializing in women’s health care, diabetes, and adrenal health. She graduated from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2007 and completed a two-year family practice residency in Phoenix, Arizona.
Born and raised in Texas, Dr. Lovick originally received a BBA in Finance and an MBA in Information Management from the University of Texas at Austin. Extensive travel as a business consultant for Fortune 500 companies and life on the road took its toll on her health.
After years of living with pain under the care of traditional doctors, Dr. Lovick sought out alternative medical care and found relief. In one visit, she decided she wanted to learn more and wanted to share what she has learned with others.
Dr. Lovick also served as President of the Board of Directors of the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association and was named the AzNMA 2009 Naturopathic Physician of the Year.