Posts Tagged ‘adrenal exhaustion’

Mindfulness + Kinesiology

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Mindfulness + Kinesi

We’ve talked about mindfulness before. While there’s a lot of information available as to the benefits, how does it fit in with kinesiology? Why do they work so well together?

 

What is Mindfulness? Why is it so good?

Mindfulness (or meditation) is a practice to calm the mind. It has been shown by calming the mind we can calm the nervous system and our stress response to daily stimuli. By calming stress it basically means from a physiological point of view we are reducing the production of hormones and neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, acetylcholine and glutamate. All of these up regulate the nervous system and therefore the body’s performance, increasing the demand on cells and therefore requirements for nutrients as building blocks for all the systems to function efficiently. When all of the systems’ requirements are upregulated it puts more strain on the whole and will impact parts of the system as well. When this continues this is where we often see the link between stress and dis-ease, illness or even injuries. Therefore, to downregulate the stress response is an advantage for the overall system which in turn means any practice that helps to reduce stress is advantageous especially in this modern lifestyle we all lead!

 

By practicing a form of mindfulness or meditation each day it is actually practicing how to focus on a feeling of calm rather than allowing the momentum of an unspecific distraction build which upregulates the stress systems. I believe it is this literal practice of letting go of the unspecific stresses, the busy mind that allows the body to reset to a place of wellbeing. It helps reduce down any fight, flight or freeze tendencies and helps the feel good hormones like serotonin, GABA and dopamine to kick in allowing us to feel good and comfortable. However, what if we are activated into fight or flight and we can’t turn it off? And why can’t we turn it off??

 

What is Kinesiology? Why is it so good?

Kinesiology (Kinesi) is a way of asking the body where stress is being held in the body. There are different types of kinesiology but the purposes of this article we will refer to kinesiology in general. By mapping where the stress is being held in the body and down regulating it (usually via balancing the meridians and brain/emotional triggers) this helps to reduce the physiological strain on the body thus improving the overall performance back to a place of wellbeing. A chance to reset the fight or flight stress, if you will.

 

 

The Fight or Flight response: what is it?

The fight or flight response refers to when our brain determines a perceived threat and switches off the parasympathetic nervous system and switches on the sympathetic nervous. This is to prepare the body to either fight the perceived threat or flight from it. I.e. if there was a sabertooth tiger standing at the front of our cave the brain will perceive it as a threat, switch the sympathetic nervous system on to prepare for the decision whether to stand and fight the tiger off or flight and run away. This in turn does a number of things physiologically.

 

Sympathetic Nervous System functions include:

  • Switches off the enteric system aka the digestion. As we don’t need to digest food if we’re fighting a tiger, right??
  • Upregulates the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline (adrenaline for the brain) and acetylcholine to keep the brain alert and focused on the tiger.
  • Switches the production of serotonin off. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that tells our brain we’re happy. If we have too much of this in our system the brain will not be perceiving the tiger as the danger that it is.
  • By switching the attention of the nervous system away from the digestion all the attention is on the extremities via the influx of adrenaline. Adrenaline in the blood makes our pupils dilate (allowing more light in and better vision), increases the heart rate (pumping more blood and faster to the muscles so they are ready to fight or flight), and dilates our lungs so we can get more air and oxygen in to get to the muscles for fuel.

 

Why do we turn on the Fight or Flight system?

This is a really good system when there is a threat. For example, if we’re crossing a road and we see a big truck hurtling towards us. In that split second of realizing it is there all attention is focused on the truck. The noradrenaline gives us a depth of field allowing us to discern how long we have to make a decision regarding if it is best to stand and fight the truck or whether it is best to flight (i.e. step off the road). The acetylcholine makes our brain very focused on the truck rather than being distracted on the cute puppy playing on the side of the road. This is a very effective system when it is required.

 

Can we switch off the Fight or Flight system?

Animals have a reset to the fight or flight response. But the problem is us humans can’t reset and down regulate it very well…. Or not at all. Furthermore how our brain has evolved along with our modern lifestyles means that many of our fight or flight triggers are not physical threats anymore, they are more mental and/or emotional based. Which means we are much more likely to be triggered into a fight or flight response and unlikely to be able to rest and reset.

 

Mindfulness and meditation helps to train the person how to reset. But it needs to be practiced regularly so when there is a significant stress all the practice comes into play and it is almost habit to turn down the sympathetic nervous system. This is what a lifetime of meditation earns you! Meanwhile for the rest of us who are only halfway through our lives, or  are just starting a meditation practice (say ten years in) or have no meditation practice at all… what do we do to reset? Try to sleep and hope for the best the next day??

 

 

What are the triggers?

Often the triggers are not what we think they are as the brain may perceive something that is happening in real time like something that happened years ago at band camp which wasn’t a pleasant ending and go into protection mode. Protection mode meaning stimulating the sympathetic nervous system and therefore Fight or Flight. It can happen instantly, from what may be an innocent comment (from someone elses point of view) or from something more significant like work, money or home life. And most people don’t even realise it’s happening o how wound up and stressed they are until something relatively small happens and they snap! Or it can be just the result of a really busy life as being busy will also upregulate all the same hormones and neurotransmitters and is translated the same way in the body. So many of us function from a mid to high level physiological stress, thinking and calling this normal. Often it is not until we really unwind that we notice the difference, many people feeling the mind just keep going with circular thoughts. For example, when the mind doesn’t switch off to go to sleep.

 

How do we know if we have Fight or Flight triggers?

Some key indications of Fight or Flight in every day lives are:

  • Constantly need to move and can’t keep still or relax.
  • Feel jumpy, startle at slight noises, touches or unexpected movements.
  • Constantly thinking, overthinking things, circular thoughts, over focused on a particular subject.
  • Can’t switch mind off to go to sleep and lay awake trying to sleep, restless sleep.
  • Faster heart beat, heart palpitations.
  • Extra sweating under arms, hands and feet or just generally.
  • Digestion either speeds up when stressed or slows down. That is faster bowel motions and more frequently or slower and further apart.
  • Butterflies in the stomach.
  • Loss of appetite, not wanting to eat or not needing as much to fill up.
  • Even loss of weight if it is prolonged.

 

 

How can we actually reset the Fight and Flight system??

This is where Kinesi comes in! Because Kinesi is a way of determining how the stress is affecting the body it is also a way of asking the body what it needs to rebalance and down regulate the stress responses like fight or flight. It is fascinating as to how much information can be gain from the body when using the kinetics (muscles). We can ascertain what the triggers are of the Fight or Flight system and how to downregulate it specifically for the individual.

 

How to maintain the resetting of the Fight or Flight system:

By resetting with a Kinesi balance the question is then: how do you maintain this balance?

As a naturopath this is where herbs and nutritionals can really help, depending what systems need support for you the individual. There are many herbs that can help support the nervous system and adrenals to help maintain the calm of the rest and digest phase of the parasympathetic nervous system. That is when the Fight or Flight is switched off!

 

And also adopting some frequent routine of mindfulness or meditation can really help. This might include a form of exercises that helps you get into that zone, some mindfulness moments in the mornings or some yogic breathing exercises. Whatever works for you can definitely assist in maintaining the Kinesi balance J

 

 

 

 

Photo cred: denmeditation.com

 

Adrenal Fatigue, Adrenal Exhaustion, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome… we’ve been treating for over a dozen years or more!!!

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Tired all the time.  Exhaustion by getting home from work – playing havoc with libido, happiness and life in general??

Your adrenal glands are each no bigger than a walnut and weigh less than a grape, yet are responsible for one of the most important functions in your body: managing stress.

“The adrenals are known as ‘the glands of stress,’” writes James Wilson in his book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. “It is their job to enable your body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems. Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your very life all depend on their proper functioning.”[1]

When your adrenal glands are fatigued, a condition known as adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion, your entire body feels it and suffers from extreme exhaustion as well.

It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of adults experience adrenal fatigue during their lifetimes, yet it remains one of the most under-diagnosed illnesses in Australia and the United States.[2]

The Optimal Function of Your Adrenal Glands

Your body has two adrenal glands, located just above each of your kidneys. As part of your endocrine system, your adrenal glands secrete more than 50 hormones, many of which are essential for life and include:

  • Glucocorticoids. These hormones, which include cortisol, help your body convert food into energy, normalize blood sugar, respond to stress and maintain your immune system’s inflammatory response.
  • Mineralocorticoids. These hormones, which include aldosterone, help keep your blood pressure and blood volume normal by maintaining a proper balance of sodium, potassium and water in your body.[3]
  • Adrenaline. This hormone increases your heart rate and controls blood flow to your muscles and brain, along with helping with the conversion of glycogen to glucose in your liver.

Together, these hormones and others produced by your adrenal glands control such body functions as:[4]

  • Maintaining metabolic processes, such as managing blood sugar levels and regulating inflammation
  • Regulating your body’s balance of salt and water
  • Controlling your “fight or flight” response to stress
  • Maintaining pregnancy
  • Initiating and controlling sexual maturation during childhood and puberty
  • Producing sex steroids such as estrogen and testosterone

Ironically, although your adrenal glands are there, in large part, to help you cope with stress, too much of it is actually what causes their function to break down.

In other words, one of your adrenal glands most important tasks is to get your body ready for the “fight or flight” stress response, which means increasing adrenaline and other hormones.

As part of this response, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, your digestion slows, and your body becomes ready to face a potential threat or challenge.

While this response is necessary and good when it’s needed, many of us are constantly faced with stressors (work, environmental toxins, not enough sleep, worry, relationship problems and more) and therefore are in this “fight or flight” mode for far too long — much longer than was ever intended from a biological standpoint.

The result is that your adrenal glands, faced with excessive stress and burden, become overworked and fatigued. Some common factors that put excess stress on your adrenals are:[5]

  • Anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, depression and other negative emotions
  • Overwork, including physical or mental strain
  • Excessive exercise
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Light-cycle disruption (such as working the night shift or often going to sleep late)
  • Surgery, trauma or injury
  • Chronic inflammation, infection, illness or pain
  • Temperature extremes
  • Toxic exposure
  • Nutritional deficiencies and/or severe allergies

Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

When your adrenal glands become depleted, it leads to a decrease in certain hormone levels, particularly cortisol. The deficiencies in certain adrenal hormones will vary with each case, ranging from mild to severe.

In its most extreme form, this is referred to as Addison’s disease, a condition that causes muscle weakness, weight loss, low blood pressure and low blood sugar, and can be life threatening.

Fortunately, only about four persons per 100,000 develop Addison’s disease, which is due to autoimmune disease in most cases but can also develop after very severe stress.[6]

At the other end of the spectrum, as well as in between, lies adrenal fatigue (also known as hypoadrenia). Though the symptoms are less severe than in Addison’s disease, symptoms of adrenal fatigue can be debilitating. As Wilson writes:

“Non-Addison’s hypoadrenia (adrenal fatigue) is not usually severe enough to be featured on TV or to be considered a medical emergency. In fact, modern medicine does not even recognize it as a distinct syndrome. Nevertheless, it can wreak havoc with your life.

In the more serious cases of adrenal fatigue, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that the person may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected.”[7]

Classic signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Fatigue and weakness, especially in the morning and afternoon
  • A suppressed immune system
  • Increased allergies
  • Muscle and bone loss and muscular weakness
  • Depression
  • Cravings for foods high in salt, sugar or fat
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Skin problems
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
  • Low sex drive
  • Lightheadedness when getting up from sitting or lying down
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • Trouble waking up in the morning, despite a full night’s sleep
  • Poor memory

Additionally, people with adrenal fatigue often get a burst of energy around 6 p.m., followed by sleepiness at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., which is often resisted. A “second wind” at 11 p.m. is then common, which often may keep you from falling asleep until 1 a.m.[8]

Further, those with adrenal fatigue often also have abnormal blood sugar levels and mental disturbances, such as increased fears and anxiety, and rely on coffee, soda and other forms of caffeine to keep them going.

As the names implies, the most common symptom of adrenal fatigue is unrelenting fatigue, a feeling of being run down or not able to keep up with your daily demands. And because fatigue is such a common symptom, the syndrome is very often missed or misdiagnosed by physicians.

The Common Medical Test for Adrenal Function Cannot Diagnose Adrenal Fatigue

Adding to the problem of misdiagnosis is the fact that doctors typically use an ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) test to check for problems with your adrenal glands. However, the test only recognizes extreme underproduction or overproduction of hormone levels, as shown by the top and bottom 2 percent of a bell curve.

Symptoms of adrenal malfunction, meanwhile, occur after 15 percent of the mean on both sides of the curve. So your adrenal glands could be functioning 20 percent below the mean, and your body experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, and the standard test won’t recognize it.[9]

The test that will recognize adrenal fatigue, in all of its stages, is a salivary cortisol test. This is an inexpensive test you can purchase online and do at home, as no prescription is needed. However, if you suspect you have adrenal fatigue a knowledgeable natural health care provider can help you with diagnosis and treatment.

Natural, and Simple, Steps to Recover From Adrenal Fatigue

It takes time to burnout your adrenal glands, and as you might suspect it also takes some time to recover. You can expect:

  • Six to nine months of recovery time for minor adrenal fatigue
  • 12 to 18 months for moderate adrenal fatigue
  • Up to 24 months for severe adrenal fatigue[10]

The good news is that natural treatments are very effective for this syndrome, and with time, patience, and the tips that follow it is possible to recover.

  • Probably the single most important area is to have powerful tools and strategies to address the current and past emotional traumas in your life. Prayer, meditation and meridian tapping techniques can be very helpful here. See us at New Leaf Natural Therapies for Kinesiology sessions to help resolve the stressors that have created these health issues and use kinesiology, energy clearing techniques to heal the body long-term.
  • Listen to your body and rest when you feel tired (this includes during the day by taking short naps or just laying down)
  • Sleep in (until 9 a.m. if you feel like it)
  • Exercise regularly using a comprehensive program of strength, aerobic, core, and interval training
  • Eat a healthy nutrient-dense diet like the one described in my nutrition plan, according to your Nutritional Type:  Talk to us at New Leaf for the right food choices for you.
  • Avoid stimulants like coffee and soda, as these can further exhaust your adrenal glands

Further, to maintain proper adrenal function it is imperative to control your blood sugar levels. If you are eating the right foods for your Nutritional Type, your blood sugar levels should balance out, and the following guidelines will also help:

  • Eat a small meal or snack every three to four hours
  • Eat within the first hour upon awakening
  • Eat a small snack near bedtime
  • Eat before becoming hungry. If hungry, you have already allowed yourself to run out of fuel (low blood sugar), which places additional stress on your adrenal glands

You may also want to see a physician well versed in bioidentical hormone replacement, and get tested to see if you could benefit from the use of DHEA. DHEA is a natural steroid and precursor hormone produced by the adrenals, and levels are often very low in people with adrenal fatigue. Keep in mind, of course, that DHEA is not a quick cure, and should not be used as a sole treatment.  We have supplements that help to increase DHEA rather than the hormone if you prefer.

Treating adrenal fatigue requires a whole-body approach, one that addresses the excess stress and unhealthy lifestyle habits that wore out your adrenals in the first place.

Interestingly the very first step in normalizing sex hormones, either male or female, is to first address the adrenal hormone system. For example if you were to only measure female hormones and then replace them with bioidentical hormone therapy, you will virtually be guaranteed to fail because the weakened adrenals will never allow the hormones to equilibrate properly.

Because your adrenal health is so important to your overall health and well-being, I highly recommend you work with a knowledgeable natural health care practitioner to find out if you have adrenal fatigue and then remedy it.

The tips above are an excellent starting point, however, and can be used by nearly everyone to help give your adrenal glands a healthy boost.


[1] Wilson, James. “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.” Smart Publications, p. 3, 2002.

[2] Wilson, James. “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.” Smart Publications, p. 6, 2002.

[3] MayoClinic.com Addison’s Disease http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/addisons-disease/DS00361/DSECTION=causes (Accessed June 11, 2009)

[4] National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “Adrenal Gland Disorders” http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/Adrenal_Gland_Disorders.cfm (Accessed June 11, 2009)

[5] Understanding Adrenal Function August 27, 2000, Mercola.com http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/08/27/adrenals.aspx (Accessed June 11, 2009)

[6] Wilson, James. “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.” Smart Publications, p. 7, 2002.

[7] Wilson, James. “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.” Smart Publications, p. 7, 2002.

[8] Veracity, Dani. “Recovering From Adrenal Fatigue: How Your Body Can Overcome Chronic Stress and Feel Energized Again.” Natural News, April 6, 2006 http://www.naturalnews.com/019339.html (Accessed June 11, 2009)

[9] Veracity, Dani. “Recovering From Adrenal Fatigue: How Your Body Can Overcome Chronic Stress and Feel Energized Again.” Natural News, April 6, 2006 http://www.naturalnews.com/019339.html (Accessed June 11, 2009)

[10] Veracity, Dani. “Recovering From Adrenal Fatigue: How Your Body Can Overcome Chronic Stress and Feel Energized Again.” Natural News, April 6, 2006 http://www.naturalnews.com/019339.html (Accessed June 11, 2009)

Madonna Guy ND
New Leaf Natural Therapies
3348 6098 / 0417 643 849