Adrenal Health

Within our every day lives we create a routine, or schedule rotating around work or education, social obligations, and basic needs such as food, and shelter. Although we create this monotonous routine we can forget that life is unpredictable and uncontrollable at times. Therefore when an unexpected occurrence pursues we don't know how to approach the stress in a healthy manner.

The stress progression is determined by how we adapt and respond to the daily stress we experience. Adrenal health is vital to the management of stress, and studies show that the leading reasons for 95% of doctor visits are issues such as fatigue, pain, and decreased energy which may be affected by stress. Dr. Ed Wilson, a biologist of Harvard University, stated that we have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and God like technology, yet we don't know how to manage our stress.


There are three phases to adrenal stress; alarm phase, resistance phase, and exhaustion. The alarm phase is managed within the sympathetic nervous system of the body. Within this stage the bodies response to stress is to fight or flight: the body increases adrenaline and cortisol which in turn increases heart rate, blood pressure, and decreases the every day functions of the body like digestion and hormone regulation. The second phase to stress is the resistance phase which is managed within the parasympathetic nervous system. In this phase the adrenaline decreases while the cortisol levels remain elevated, and with cortisol levels still increased the body is not properly managing every day functions. The last stage of stress is exhaustion where the hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis work synergistically or interacting with one another to compensate for increased stress. Cortisol issues and poor stress management can therefore lead to poorly functioning body systems including: gastrointestinal, neurological, musculoskeletal, endocrine, respiratory, and immune. Stress overwhelms the bodies homeostasis, or regulation, and unmanaged stress can lead to permanent deregulation.

Managing and reducing stress is a varying process for every person, but with prolonged increased stress levels we increase cellular aging, and shorten telomere lengths. Telomeres are vital for mitosis, or cellular reproduction, within our body. Telomeres shorten during cell reproduction and eventually become so short that the cell dies. Lifestyle changes like adopting a plant-based diet, moderate exercise and stress reduction techniques can help to increase and retain telomere length.

To help manage stress and slow down cellular aging, there are preventative measures we can take. Along with changing our diets, exercising, and finding ways to reduce our stress we can consume adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogenic herbs have a balancing modulatory effect which helps organisms ability to respond appropriately to stress. Herbs which help regulate the three phases of stress, and prevent deregulation of our hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal system. Telomere's also need vitamin C for repair: vitamin C protects the cells mitochondria, and contain oxidative resistant forms.

With proper adrenal health our stress can be managed which helps prevent deregulation of the bodies major systems and the destruction of telomeres. By helping our telomere's lengthen we in turn help ourselves to aging gracefully into the future. Although our lives may be chaotic and unpredictable no matter how much we try to manage, we can properly deal with the cards we're dealt by using tools we're given, and understanding our bodies.



Menopause and Sleep

Menopause is a huge transition in the life of a woman, but it should be one that occurs with few symptoms outside the cessation of menses. Unfortunately, many women experience a variety of symptoms that can become fairly severe. Sleeplessness is just one of the symptoms that can affect menopausal women, but it can have a very dramatic impact on quality of life.

Sleeplessness in menopause is associated with three separate disorders: insomnia/depression, sleep disordered breathing and fibromyalgia. The ultimate decline of estrogen and the resulting potential imbalance of hormones can be major players in the symptoms affecting sleep quality, one of the most common being hot flashes. It's not hard to see why these three disorders may lead to sleep difficulty, but the question that remains to be answered is how we can help support the body in decreasing the impact of these problems on overall sleep quality.

There are many ways to improve the overall qua lit of sleep. One of the most powerful options is through lifestyle. Regular exercise can help to maintain a healthy body weight and decreased the severity of sleep disordered breathing, as sleep apnea symptoms decrease with weight loss. Exercise has also been shown to improve the quality of life in those suffering from fibromyalgia, and there dis evidence to support the recommendation of moderate physical activity to improve sleep quality in older adults.

Dietary supplement options are also available to support overall quality of sleep. Some of the best recommendations are:

L-Tryptophan: Studies have shown that the use of this serotonin precursor can be taken in amounts of 1-4g about an hour prior to bed. When taking an SSRI medication, you must be careful when combining it with tryptophan as this may increase the potential for serotonin syndrome.

Lavendar Oil: This volatile oil has been shown to be calming and may be beneficial.

Melatonin: Supplementing with melatonin can help to improve sleep quality and can help to reset your body's internal clock. Research supports the use of 0.5 to 3.0mg about one to two hours prior to going to sleep.

Valerian: Taking between 300-600mg of a concentrated root extract about 30 minutes prior to bed has been shown to help you fall asleep faster and can improve sleep quality.

Waking up throughout the night is something that you should only have do when your young children are still learning to sleep through the night. When someone is going through menopause, sleepless nights can have a tremendous effect on their "golden years." Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help to improve your sleep quality and allow you to enjoy this wonderful chapter of life.