Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist
Greetings Journal Reader! In continuation of my series on conquering fatigue & improving your energy, keep in mind that lower energy is NOT a certainty with advancing age. Often, there are many elusive causes that once addressed, result in maximization of your energy. Whether it’s low thyroid, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, or digestive problems, each can rob slowly you of the energy you need and deserve to enjoy life fully! This month’s Dr. P answers your questions on the adrenal gland and it’s relation to proper energy levels. Enjoy!
Dr. P, I have low energy, and was told that my adrenal gland has failed, and that I should take ginseng. What do you think? Bob
Bob, adrenal failure or Addison’s disease means that you have undergone some very special testing, showing your adrenal gland produces no response to stimulation. Adrenal failure is less common than many holistic doctors believe. To review, the adrenal glands, located just above your kidneys are your “bumpers to stress,” which not only help you deal with stress, but produce many important hormones. These hormones help you maintain healthy mood, energy, sleep, blood sugar stabilization, blood pressure, tissue growth and repair, and production of other hormones. Clearly, the adrenal glands are very important. If you have been under considerable stress, (environment, relationship, meds, diet, etc.,) your adrenal gland may not respond in an ideal fashion. The result is low energy, anxiety, or poor stress tolerance. This is called “failure of adrenal reserve or adrenal hypofunction” often mislabeled as adrenal failure. If you have adrenal hypofunction, ginseng, many other plant medicines or nutrients, even some hormones can help your adrenal gland recover. However, this should not be done without supervision. Taking plant medicines that stimulate the adrenal gland can wreak complete havoc on other hormones, making matters worse. If you suspect that you have failure of adrenal reserve, you really need to have adrenal testing for a proper diagnosis. Then, after treatment, repeat testing assures your treatment course was adequate.
Dr. P, my energy is down, but I think its sleep related. I have trouble falling asleep, or wake up during the middle of the night. Also, I’m anxious. What’s the cause? Thanks, Pam
Pam, if you experience more than the rare night of poor sleep, you must address it. Poor sleep can have many causes, and lead to a multitude of health problems, none of which are apparent short term. Anxiety, fatigue, irritability, depression, and poor stress tolerance are all typical symptoms of inadequate sleep. As always, it is important to address the cause. In your case, it could be an “overactive” adrenal gland, which although can appear normal on basic bloodwork, can show up problematic on more sensitive saliva testing. If such is the case, several methods, like acupuncture or natural medicines, are available to calm your overactive adrenal gland. A food sensitivity or allergy can also be the cause of insomnia. You may recall/know that antihistamine allergy medications cause drowsiness. But did you know that the histamine, released in the body, not only creates allergy symptoms, but also produces mental clarity? This is one reason why we can crave what we are allergic to, and why a food allergy can overstimulate us making it difficult to sleep. It’s also important to remember that the person who has anxiety or depression from poor sleep, food allergy or an overactive adrenal gland, does not necessarily need anxiety or antidepressant drugs, (although they are frequently prescribed,) to cover symptoms. Instead these people need treatment of the cause: the overactive adrenal glands to bring the body back into balance, and restore harmony as nature intended. Have a great month!
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