Adrenal Health

Adrenal Health

What is the biggest stress in your life?!  Stress causes a physiological response in the body that occurs in seconds when a stressful stimulus occurs due to the release of norepinephrine from the adrenal glands causing the body to go into “fight or flight”. After that stress response occurs much more happens in the body like an increase in cortisol. Increased cortisol levels can have beneficial and negative effects on the body especially if it is constantly elevated or flat-lined.

Physiology

  • The adrenal gland is a tiny little organ that sits on top of the kidneys
  • The adrenal gland has 2 major sections called adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla
  • In the adrenal cortex is where steroid hormones are produced such as cortisol, aldosterone, and androgens (DHEA + testosterone)
  • In the adrenal medulla is where catecholamines are produced such as epinephrine and norepinephrine
  • The function of the adrenal glands it to help the body deal with stress 

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Hormone’s Function

Cortisol 

  • “stress hormone”
  • Helps with the production of red blood cells
  • Helps reduce inflammation
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels

Aldosterone 

  • Plays a huge role in controlling blood pressure
  • It controls the balance of sodium and potassium in the body
    • Its ability to hold in sodium allows water to follow, which keeps blood pressure maintained

Androgens

  • Helps with the development of sex organs and 2° sex characteristics
  • Precursor to estrogens

Catecholamines 

  • Put the body into “fight or flight”
  • Increase glucose (sugar) in the blood
  • Increase basal metabolic rate

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Adrenal Conditions

There are several adrenal pathologies including Cushing’s syndrome, hyperaldosteronism, adrenocortical insufficiency, Addison’s disease, and adrenal tumors but what I want to focus on is HPA axis dysregulation more commonly known as ADRENAL FATIGUE!!!!

Do you have a difficult time waking up in the morning and not really “wake up” until 10am!?! Then to get a lull in the afternoon between 2-4pm? But then that energy boost comes at 6pm but then you soon become tired at 9pm but resist sleeping and get a second wind at 11pm and then can’t fall asleep…. does this sound like you? If so you may be suffering from HPA axis dysregulation!

Common symptoms of HPA Axis Dysregulation:

  • Lack of energy
  • Mild depression
  • Low libido
  • Muscular weakness
  • Increased PMS + mood swings
  • Altered blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds
  • Hair loss
  • Sugar + salt cravings
  • Irritable + anxious
  • Weight changes

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Labs to Assess Adrenal Function

  • DHEA-S
  • Cortisol
  • ACTH
  • Good tests to consider for HPA axis dysregulation symptoms:
    • Thyroid function (TSH, free T4, free T3)
    • Ferritin
    • B12
    • CBC + differential
    • Blood sugars

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Nutrition for Adrenals

Foods to LIMIT

  • Sugar (processed + refined)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Pop
  • Processed food, fast food + fried food

Foods to ENJOY 

**A whole food, organic balanced diet

  • Lots of fruits + vegetables
  • Nuts + seeds
  • Healthy fats (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocado, omega 3)
  • Grass-fed lean meats + wild fish
  • Whole grains
  • 2-3L of water a day (keep hydrated!!)

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Lifestyle for Adrenals

  • Deep belly breathing
    • This allows for the massaging of the vagus nerve, which is connected to all your internal organs
    • This will help the body switch to parasympathetic mode “rest + digest”
  • Sleep
    • Try and sleep before 10pm — in TCM every hour of sleep before 12am counts as 2 hours of restorative sleep for the body!
  • Stress management
    • Leaving unhealthy relationships
    • Meditation
    • Vacation
    • Spending time in the forest
  • Exercise
    • Low – medium intensity
    • Include a variety of exercises (yoga, stretching, weights, cardio, swimming)

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Nutrients for Adrenals

  • Vitamin C
    • Most important vitamin for the adrenal gland
    • Helps with the adrenal hormone production
    • Antioxidant to the adrenal gland itself
  • B vitamins
    • Helps with the hormone production
    • Deficiency in B5 can lead to shrinking of the adrenal gland
    • Modulates the stress response
    • Helps to provide energy to the body
  • Magnesium
    • Most important mineral for the adrenal gland
    • Essential for the production of enzymes and energy needed for the production of adrenal hormones
    • “spark plug for adrenal gland”
  • Herbs:
    • Rhodiola rosea (Arctic rose)
    • Withania somnifera (Ashwaghanda)
    • Panax ginseng (Koren ginseng)
    • Glycyrrhiza galabra (Licorice)
    • Eleutherococcus sinticosus (Eleuthro)

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So many of us suffer from HPA axis dysregulation… just know that this is NOT normal and you don’t have to live like that. Be nice to your adrenals and you will have more energy then you could have ever imagined!

XO

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Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is one of the oldest treatments that has been used by ancient Egyptians, Greek, and Romans who used spring water to help heal sickness. It was brought back to modern times by Sebastian Kneipp in the 1900’s… so we can thank him for all the wonderful water spas like the Scandinavian spa in Whistler😉 We learn hydrotherapy in school and I think it is very underused. It is the cheapest treatment you can do for yourself…FREE! This post is here to inspire you to incorporate water into your life in different ways💦
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5 Tips to Improve Sleep

5 Tips to Improve Sleep

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite thing to do… SLEEP! I know one of my favorite things is my bed and I don’t think I’m the only one 😉 For humans sleep is a ritual, it is something we do every day so why not make a bedtime ritual to help you have a wonderful sleep each night. Did you know, more than 25% of Canadians suffer from some sort of insomnia (crazy but true!!!). Putting in place a nightly routine can help to reduce insomnia symptoms and promote a restful sleep. Here I have put together what I do in my nightly ritual to give you some ideas to help craft your own so you can be sleeping like a baby every day of the week!
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Detoxification

Detoxification

Spring has finally sprung in Vancouver!! Sun is shining, birds are singing and I couldn’t be happier! Spring is the perfect time to detoxify the body. According to TCM, the 5 elements theory shows that the liver is related to the wood element, which is associated with spring (you can learn more about TCM here)! The main organ that is focused on when doing a detox is the liver but you don’t want to forget the kidney too!!! The whole purpose of doing a detox is to give the body a break and eliminate toxins allowing you to feel AMAZING!!!!
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PMS!? Not anymore!

PMS!? Not anymore!

Who likes PMS!?! NO ONE! While most people in North America suffer from PMS they really don’t have to as it is not a natural part of womanhood. Although this is thought to be normal it is not!!! Since starting to do clinical rotations I have found that many women don’t understand their cycle. This post is intended to inform women more about their cycle and empower them to understand their bodies so they can feel their very best! ❤️
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Heart Health

Heart Health

Did you know that the leading cause of death in North America is heart disease? The heart is one of your most vital organs with the others being the brain, kidney, liver, and lungs. The heart pumps nearly 6 liters of blood around the body each min and beats over 100,000 per day! That is around 3 billion beats in a lifetime. With the heart being such an important organ in the body I wanted to talk a little bit about how to take care of your heart with nutrition and key nutrients, leaving you happy, healthy, and in charge of your health!
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Thyroid Health

Thyroid Health

January is thyroid disease awareness month! In 2012, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists debuted the blue paisley ribbon to unify thyroid awareness. Fun fact — the paisley pattern was chosen to represent the thyroid because it represents the cross-section of a thyroid follicle… how cool!!! As some of you may know I take a special interest in the thyroid health as I personally suffer from a thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I want to write this post to share some basic information about the thyroid so YOU can be more knowledgeable about thyroid health and take care of your as thyroid conditions are some of the most common conditions in North America!!!!

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Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Since coming to naturopathic medical school my FAVOURITE elective has been Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)!!!! TCM has been practiced for thousands of years and started waaaay back in 3000 BC by several Chinese physicians and emperors. These men discovered the yin + yang theory, acupuncture, and Chinese herbs. Can I just say thank gosh for these dudes who got it all started!! We can now incorporate Chinese medicine into our Western medicine, which gives us another more holistic view of how to treat the body.

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The Toxic Twelve

The Toxic Twelve

Next time you pick up your favorite beauty product take a minute to read all those tiny words on the back of the bottle you never really notice or cared about before. Do you recognize any of those long words?  Heck if you’re anything like me you probably can’t even pronounce any of them either! Well, guess what, those are all the ingredients that are inside that favorite little bottle of yours and chances are if you can’t pronounce it then you shouldn’t be applying it to your body!
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