Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tips for Happy Adrenals

How well do you cope with stress? Do you startle easily or get angry and irritated with the tiniest things? Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Tend to wake in between 2-4 am? Do you tend to put on weight around your midsection and no matter how hard you exercise and how healthy you eat, you can’t seem to get rid of it? Do you get that afternoon crash, where it is a struggle to keep your eyes open? Does a cup of coffee give you the shakes or make you feel like you just want to go back to bed? Does your regular exercise routine seem harder than usual?

On top of our kidneys sit triangular shaped structures called our adrenal glands. These little glands play a huge role in our bodies. They are known as our “stress glands” because they secrete hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) to help us respond to stress. When we experience constant stress- whether it be physiological or emotional, our adrenal glands have to work harder. Then they start to secrete our stress hormones in overdrive which may contribute to symptoms such as insomnia, weight gain and inability to lose weight, blood sugar and blood pressure disorders as well as some of the symptoms listed above. Once our adrenals have had enough of putting out so much stress hormone, they get tired and tend to slow down. This lack of hormonal secretion can also deeply affect out lives, causing similar symptoms to those above as well as symptoms such as fatigue, depression, salt cravings and headaches.

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms above, your adrenal glands may need a little bit of support. Talk to your Holistic Health Care Provider about ways to test for adrenal hormone imbalances as well as ways to treat them.
Here are a few basic things you can do in your life to help keep those adrenals happy:

1. Stress Management: this is absolutely essential in treating the adrenals, more important than any herb, supplement or medication. Becoming aware of life’s stressors and taking action is one of the best things you can do for yourself. This may mean slowing down, counseling, yoga, meditation, biofeedback, energy work, massage, getting to bed earlier, journaling, tai chi- anything that feels right for you. Start by choosing 1 thing that you know helps with your stress levels and make it your goal to turn into action at least one time per week.

2. Blood Sugar Balance: Blood sugar regulation and adrenal health go hand in hand. This is why it is important to aim to manage your blood sugar through diet and supplementation if warranted. Blood sugar balancing foods include high protein foods and non-starchy vegetables. Aim to have protein with every meal and plenty of vegetables throughout the day. Avoid excess fruit and grains at breakfast to prevent pre-lunch hypoglycemia

3. Avoid Stimulants: Avoid excess caffeine, nicotine and energy drinks that can overwork the adrenals and increase symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Coffee is especially important to go easy on, as it depletes many essential nutrients and minerals which can contribute to adrenal dysfunction

4. Sleep in the Dark!! This sounds simple but it is a key player in adrenal health. Even tiny amounts of light such as from the alarm clock or shining in from the windows, can decrease melatonin production, disrupt our circadian rhythms and throw off other hormone imbalances.

5. Green Power Foods: Green power foods such as spirulina, wheat grass, wakami, nori and other seaweeds help build the blood and increase energy. They are also super rich in vitamins and nutrients especially the B vitamins so not only help prevent deficiencies but also help tonify the adrenal glands

Blog post by: Dr. Sarah Anne Rothman, ND

** The content of this blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with your health care practitioner before taking any supplements or health care advice**

Image courtesy of BingBing

Monday, May 24, 2010

Time to Move?

It’s never easy to answer the question, “is it time for mom or dad to move?”

You've come to the crossroad that many families face, is it time for my family member to move out of home into some type of supportive living arrangement? It's really natural to feel upset and conflicted about this dilemma.

You have probably made many sacrifices to keep your family member with you or in her own home. It's not easy to undo such a big commitment. It can make you feel like a failure even though without your support, your family member couldn’t have carried on at home as long as she has

Sometimes a health crisis brings you to a natural decision making place. Other times, there are changes to your family member’s needs that are hard to face. Families often decide that an elder will move when the person needs 24 hour care, becomes incontinent or wanders away from home. In other cases, the caregiver's health or personal situation changes forcing a change in living arrangements.

What I most often see in my practice is that people wait way too long before they make a change and then it is often done in haste because the caregiver is stressed out or ill.

Take the time now to talk as a family about what you will do when your family member can no longer live at home. Set some criteria about how you will know it’s time to act. Ask your family member about her preferences for living arrangements and make sure to understand your budget.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How stress steals your memory, and what to do about it!

We all know that stress is bad for us - but did you know that chronic stress actually changes the structures in your brain? We have two main types of memory - long term memory, and short term memory. You can think of short term as being your working memory - it concerns what is happening right now. You know if you are having short term memory problems if you can’t remember where you just put that important file down, or that phone number you just looked up. Your short term memory is a function of your hippocampus - if you have a good hippocampus, you have a good working memory - if you have a damaged hippocampus, you can remember the name of your first grade teacher, but not the name of the person you just met. Chronic stress causes release of cortisol - and cortisol is very bad for your hippocampus. CT scans will show visible, even profound, shrinking of the hippocampus - it actually becomes smaller.

So do you need to go live in a cave? Only if you want to - a state of self hypnosis is the physical opposite of stress. If you want a good working memory throughout your life, learning and using self-hypnosis can decrease your physical stress response and spare your brain.

Friday, May 7, 2010


At he most fundamental level our identity is not blood, flesh and bones but a pulsating electromagnetic energy system of extraordinary complexity. Our bodies produce enough electrical energy to continuously power a light bulb every day of our life. Just as we inhale oxygen, use it to feed our physical body and exhale carbon dioxide, our energetic system draws energy from the environment, uses it to fuel the system and returns it back in another form.

Thoughts are energy packets that we transmit each waking moment. Because they are electromagnetic in nature they have the power to draw out of the environment events that match the thought. The more often we think a similar array of thoughts and the more emotion we experience around that array, the greater their drawing power.

Just as a magnet draws to it paperclips, iron filings, nails, etc., our thoughts draw experiences that match them. Have you ever noticed that the more you worry about not having enough money the less you seem to have available: the car breaks down, the plumbing quits working and the dog racks up a huge vet bill. Have you ever worried about being late and tried to get somewhere faster only to find it took you longer than usual? Do you ever notice that the more mistakes you make; the more mistakes you make? This is thought at work.

The good news is that unlike a magnet, we are conscious beings. We have the ability to choose from an infinite number of possible thoughts what we will think about any subject. Thereby, we possess the innate ability to choose what we draw toward us.

Coming in the next blog by Patricia...How do we choose the thoughts that magnetize what we want and avoid the ones that magnetize what we don't want?