What is Adrenal insufficiency or Adrenal Imbalance. I was reading about it and It looks like I have many of the common symptoms it describes. How do deal with this?
If you consider yourself suffering from more than half of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from a relatively new and as yet unclassified condition known as adrenal imbalance.
- Weight fluctuations, inability to loose weight, especially central abdominal area.
- Susceptible to many colds and flues and inability to recover quickly
- Reduced libido, impotence or erectile dysfunctions.
- Lightheaded when rising from a laying down position.
- Memory and cognitive impairment.
- Lack of energy in the mornings and afternoons (3 to 5 pm)
- Feel rapid surge of energy after a meal followed by a sudden fatigue and heavy headedness.
- Bowel disorders such as constipation or diarrhea.
- Feeling of cold or hot in the body and extremities.
- Need coffee or stimulants to get going in the morning.
- Crave for salty, fatty, and high protein food such as meats and cheeses.
- Increase symptoms of PMS for women and menstrual irregularities.
- Pain in the upper back or neck with no apparent reasons.
- Feel better when stress is relieved, such as on a vacation.
- Difficulties in getting up in the morning
What is adrenal imbalance? Before we can understand it, we must understand the evolutionary mechanisms of stress management. As a result of evolution and adaptation, the human body has developed remarkable ways of interacting with its environment. One of the most interesting mechanisms is the adrenal stress management mechanism. Originally evolved to protect us from short-term stress situations, such as “being chased by the lion” it is ill equipped to deal with the continual stimulation due to the modern civilizations stressors. Continued stress, anxiety, emotionally charged lives that we lead today, place an enormous burden on the adrenal glands eventually causing an imbalance in the production of key hormones required for the body’s function. There are many terms to describe this modern ailment, adrenal fatigue, adrenal exhaustion are some of the more common terms. Physiologically one of the key hormones responsible for this stress response is cortisol. The hormone is released when the body is perceived to be at jeopardy and it activates the sympathetic nervous functions and slows down the parasympathetic system. What this means is that it increases blood glucose to give your muscles a rapid burst of energy, constricts the blood vessels and increases heart rate, tenses the muscles and adversely shuts down digestion, intestinal peristalsis and urinary functions. This is ideal for a short emergency situation when our ancestors had to elude the predator. But living under this condition for prolonged periods can wreak havoc with the metabolic, hormonal, nervous and musculoskeletal systems of the body. Unfortunately western allopathic medicine has not yet recognized adrenal imbalances because there are no definitive tests to measure and classify the condition.
In the body the adrenal glands are part of the kidney organ system according to Chinese medical theory. It is here that adrenal imbalances can be effectively understood and explained using an ancient medical theory practiced for thousands of years. The kidneys have two key aspects, The Kidney Yang and the kidney Yin energies, both of which act in unison to regulate the body’s metabolic, hormonal and energetic functions. For example cortisol, adrenalin epinephrine represent the kidney Yang functions in that they are responsible for functional aspects of the body, whereas estrogen, for example, represents the kidney Yin energy as it’s responsible for substantive developmental aspects. When the adrenal cortisol production is impaired, it cascades up and down the other organ functions, since the kidney energies are the root energies of the body and all other organs, from digestion to respiratory functions to the liver and heart rely on the kidney yin and yang energies. In order to regulate the kidney functions, my approach is strengthening the kidney functions by tonifying both the yin and yang aspects of the kidneys and by regulating the Qi. One of the most essential benefits I offer to my patients is reduction of stress in their lives. Through life coaching, diet and exercise recommendations and specialized remedies, I can help bring back the harmony in their body and regulate the adrenal functions. I have t say that the most successful cases in my clinic represent those where my patients tool a personal interest and involvement in their well being and participated actively in reducing stress in their lives, regulating their emotions, diet and lifestyles. Here are some recommendations to gets you started.
It is important to maintain a healthy mixed diet incorporating complex carbohydrates in form of fresh organic green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and organic sources of proteins. Low glycemic-index foods are best as they maintain a steady release of glucose and prevent yoyo-affect of blood sugars levels. Proteins should come from organic meats, fish, and eggs. Seeds and nuts contain critical building blocks for adrenal hormones they should be eaten raw. Sea cucumbers, lamb, baked tofu, soybeans, sesame seeds, lentils, black and kidney beans, walnuts, yams, lycium berries, lotus seeds, and cinnamon bark can help strengthen the kidney yang energies. A little wine can help warm the flow of Yang and Qi energies, but should be moderated.
Do not skip breakfast and always eat it before 9 am. Eat four or five smaller meals with the last meal being before 7 PM. drink plenty if clean filtered water, at least 80 oz per day.
Avoid dairy products and simple sugars and sweets. Pasta, bread and starchy foods should be avoided. Sweetened drinks of all kinds including sodas should be eliminated. Salt should come from natural sources such as sea salt and can be helpful if used appropriately as it plays a key role in water metabolism and is linked to the aldosterone levels in the body.
- Roast and grind 2 cups of bitter melon seeds, take 1 teaspoon three times daily with a shot of rice wine.
- Drink Licorice tea by boiling 3-5 grams of the root with ½ cup licum berries in 4 cups of water, drink twice daily for one month.
- Make tea from walnuts, lotus seeds, pearl barley, Chinese black dates and lycium fruits. Drink three times per day for one month
- Make lamb stew as follows. Take 4 chopped lamb shanks, fat removed, place in pan and add 8 cups of water and 1 cup of dark red wine, add 1 cup
- chopped scallions, daikon radish and six black jujube dates. Bring to boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes. Drink broth and eat the stew with brown rice once per week for several months
Potentially Helpful Supplements
- Vitamin C (500- 3,000mg daly) with bioflavonoids, (ascobyl palmitate) is a fat soluable vitamin often used as additional supplementation.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid 900 -1,500 mg daily) is a key building block for most hormones produced in the adrenal glands.
- Vitamin E (400-800 I.U daily) is another important factor involved in adrenal functions.
- Beta-carotene (10,000 to 25,000 I.U daily) and important minerals such as selenium (200 mcg), magnesium (500 mg) as well as amino acids such as lysine (1-2 gm), proline (500mg - 1gm) and glutamine (1-5 gm) are good supplements to support healthy adrenal function.
- DHEA (15-50 mg), pregnenolone (25-50 mg), adrenal glandular extracts can also be helpful.
- L-Tyrosine, Chlorophyll and SAMe are also beneficial supplements for adrenal functions.
Some Herbal Remedies
• Astragalus improves adrenal gland function and reduces stress. Echinacea, milk thistle, kava kava, St. John’s Wort and Valerian can be beneficial herbal supplements to help with symptoms of adrenal imbalance.
• morinda, Corydalis, cordyceps, gecko, walnuts, cistanche, eleuthero, as well as ginseng, lycium berries, rehmannia, cinnamon cortex, schisandra are effective herbs used for adrenal imbalances.
• Ginseng, psoralea fruit, Lycium berries, aconite, cordyceps, eucommia, deer antlers, cinnamon bark, Chinese dodder seeds, and epimedium are some of the herbs used in Chinese herbal prescriptions for treating strengthening the kidney yang energies specifically.
• A sample prescription for Impotence (Kidney Qi pill) may include herbs such as rehmannia, Asiatic cornelian fruit, wild yam, aconite, cinnamon twigs, water plantain, poria, peony root cortex, morinda, cynomorium, lycium berries and broomrape.
Mind Body Exercise
One of the easiest ways to reduce the constant stress on the body is to induce physical stress. When the body undergoes physical stress such as exercise, the normal response is recognized, its as thought you give the body’s build up of stress mechanisms an outlet and once the exercise is completed the body returns to a normal operation. Continued regular exercise can go a long way to helping regulate the adrenal functions. I recommend minimum of 30 minutes of daily brisk walking exercises combined at least one sport activity such as soccer, team or individual competitive sports. Combine these with a moving meditation or Qi Gong Exercise known as the “Eight Treasures Qi Gong”. One particular section of the practice known as “The White Crane twists its body to look up” has been used extensively in my practice for helping my patients strengthen their kidney energies, balance their adrenal function and revitalize their life force. Conduct the exercise twice daily for optimum results. Once in the morning before 9 AM and again between 5 and 6 PM.
1. In a quiet comfortable environment, preferably outdoors, stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, spine erect, tailbone tucked in and head slightly tilted forward. Drape you arms at your sides, shoulders relaxed.
2. Being a preparatory breathing with a rhythmic, slow and relaxed breath. Inhale deeply softly and imagine the breath extending all the way down to the lower abdomen, about two-finger width below the umbilicus. Exhale gently and softly. Stay in this position for seven breath cycles and begin to relax and calm your mind.
3. Begin the exercise.
4. Inhale: widen your stance to two-shoulder width apart. Exhale bend forward and place your palms on your knees with spine at 90 degree bent.
5. Inhale: While in this position, grasp the rear of your left ankle with your right hand while pushing against the left knee with your left hand.
6. Exhale: while holding your stance from previous position, twist your upper torso to the left, twisting your head to look up. This is a stretching exercise and you should feel the stretching of your left leg muscles and back.
7. Inhale: Release and return to the forward bent position. Exhale place your palms on your knees with spine remaining at 90 degree bent.
8. Inhale: While in this position, grasp the rear of your right ankle with your left hand while pushing against the right knee with your right hand.
9. Exhale: while holding your stance from previous position, twist your upper torso to the right, twisting your head to look up. This is a stretching exercise and you should feel the stretching of your left leg muscles and back.
10. Inhale: Release and return to the forward bent position. Exhale place your palms on your knees with spine remaining at 90 degree bent.
11. Repeat the exercise three to seven more times, remembering to alternate from one side to the other. Do not overstretch.
12. Conclude the exercise by returning to the standing posture described in item 1 and conducting a one-minute meditation.