Whole Life Magazine

February/March 2014

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Page 26 of 43

when people begin to gain weight, have trouble sleeping and their sex drive takes a dive. " is is when people just know there's some health problem," says Dr. Kalish. In the days of early man our adrenal glands kept us alert to predators about to pounce. Today, while the dangers are less im- mediately life threatening, we're exposed to a nonstop barrage of perceived threats (traffi c, demanding bosses, bills, screaming kids, blaring televisions) that keep our adrenals on alert, whether the threat is real or not. Add to the daily stress any trauma or emotional upheaval, illness, food allergies and sensitivities, environmental tox- ins, fl uctuating blood sugar levels and extreme exercise, and it's no wonder our adrenals are overburdened. ere are three to four phases of adrenal fatigue, Dr. Kalish notes, but mainstream medicine recognizes only the two extremes— Cushings syndrome (high cortisol) and Addison's Disease (low). "In the conventional medical context," he explains, "when they think about the adrenal glands, they really think only about these ex- treme medical conditions that are not going to be what most suff er from. ey do a conventional medical test [to] determine whether you have one of these rare endocrine disorders or not…[but there] are problems that are not going to send people to the hospital, but are more disrupting in your day-to-day life—fatigue, depression, weight gain and problems with sleep." Because permanently elevated cortisol levels are a largely in- visible syndrome (you might look fi ne other than dark bags under your eyes), many people shrug off its symptoms of low-level depres- sion, lack of energy and a waning libido, attributing these not to a medical condition, but to "a busy life everyone deals with." ey might amp up with more coff ee and other stimulants (that overtax the adrenals) just to get going in the morning or to stay alert during the day. While short-term stress can increase sexual response in some women, chronic stress can do just the opposite. e stress response is controlled by the HPA axis and the sexual response is controlled by a related system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, explains Dr. Lise Naugle an associate of Dr. Wilson. " e hy- pothalamus is a part of the brain that controls the "four Fs" of our most basic instincts: fi ghting, fl eeing, feeding and ... mating. e hy- pothalamus directs the pituitary, or "master gland," which is found as a small protrusion off the hypothalamus. e pituitary controls the secretion of hormones throughout the body. Depending on the messages it receives from the hypothalamus, it may signal the adrenals to secrete cortisol, a stress hormone; or the gonads to se- crete sex hormones [or both]. Stress hormones can impact and in- terfere with sexual function at all three levels of the HPG axis: at the brain, pituitary and gonads." e adrenal glands also produce a sex hormone called DHEA, a precursor to testosterone and estrogen, explains Dr. Naugle. While testosterone is higher in males, it's also part of a woman's cascade of hormones and thus has a major eff ect on libido. "A er menopause, the adrenals become critical to a woman's supply of these sex hor- mones," says Dr. Naugle. "If a woman has adrenal fatigue, not only will her production of stress hormones decrease, but her testoster- one [and estrogen] and her libido will too." High levels of stress can decrease overall sexual functioning as well, she continues. In a study, "Women who had higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and lower levels of DHEA (which breaks down into, among other things, the two sex hormones) experienced less physiological arousal a er watching an erotic movie than women with a lower cortisol/DHEA ratio did. Prolonged stress has been shown to decrease sexual response in women, and women with greater levels of chronic daily stress report more sexual complaints." If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue, fi nd a physician fa- miliar with the varying stages of decreased adrenal function. You'll likely be asked to take specifi c saliva and/or blood tests—easy and relatively inexpensive e results will determine what holistic ap- proach—lifestyle, supplements and nutrition—might be eff ective in restoring your adrenals, and may also include medication. Adrenal fatigue is a common undetected thief in the night of restorative sleep and sex drive, but once you recognize the symp- toms, you're on your way to recovery. Be patient, however. In severe cases, full recovery can take months or even years. My own optimis- tic physician told me on my fi rst visit, "Your adrenal glands didn't get this way overnight, so don't expect to restore overnight. But we will, indeed, restore them." With the right health practitioner and a commitment to healing, your slumber and sex drive will sneak back under the covers with you in no time. —Writer Laura Owens specializes in wellness, psychology, human potential and empowered living. A healthcare professional should be consulted for specifi c guidance on adrenal challenges, as optimal remedies will be unique for each person. Specialist Dr. Michael Lam, who publishes an adrenal fatigue newsletter (www.drlam.com), o en recommends: • vitamin C with biofl avonoid and synergistic co-factors • intravenous glutathione (or by liposomal oral delivery) • vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) • vitamin E • vitamin D Additional nutrients to consider: beta carotene, seleni- um, magnesium, lysine, proline, glutamine, DHEA and preg- nenolone, ribose, CoQ10 and collagen. Helpful herbs may include ashwagandha root, licorice root, Korean and Siberian Ginseng, ginger root and gink- go leaf. Caveat: In advanced adrenal fatigue these may act as stimulants. Target Your Adrenals february/march 2014 27 WLT-FEB-MAR-1-30.indd 27 1/30/14 1:10 AM

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