Occupational exposure to pesticides and other biocides and risk of thyroid cancer
Interview with Joe DiStefano and Dr. Chris Shade
After a run-in with Joe Mercola at PaleoFX, biochemical hacker Dr. Chris Shade started intermittent fasting—and it put him in ketosis almost immediately, to his surprise. As the founder of supplement company Quicksilver Scientific, the leader of the R&D team, and the developer of all products and protocols, Dr. Shade is no stranger to problem-solving. He conducted the research necessary to find the link between AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) and the production of ketones, and used this understanding to inform the development of new Quicksilver Scientific supplements. The resulting products have the power to transform your sleep patterns—and your health.
“There’s a balance between your immune system and your adrenals. When that’s ideal, you don’t get sick. When your adrenals can’t hold it anymore, you get all fogged up.”
In this first video episode of Stacked, we put supplements under the microscope and explore their role in cellular health, from detoxification to ketosis. Dr. Shade explains the interconnectedness of stress, glutathione, and leaky gut; walks us through the best way to prepare for a detox protocol, and shares his experience with NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and travel recovery. He’s on a mission to combat universal toxicity, and this episode is packed full of information that will help you navigate the saturated supplement market and experience optimal health.
“We’ve got tools that let us push different levers and such. But it’s not just the biochemical—it’s our whole application to the world.”
First video episode! (2:00)
The breath, the parasympathetic nervous system, and detoxification (7:00)
How to rebalance neurotransmitters (it’s less complicated than it sounds) (12:30)
Free medicine: supplements can’t save you from an unhealthy lifestyle (15:00)
Preparation for a detox protocol (16:40)
How your cells work (and what happens when they don’t) (21:00)
If our environments aren’t more toxic, why are we more susceptible—and how do we heal ourselves? (25:30)
Visceral fat, glutathione, and leaky gut: every process informs another (28:00)
Why plants don’t kill you (35:00)
What AMPK does in the body, and the effect of intermittent fasting (37:00)
Mitochondria and supplements (46:00)
The science behind the new Quicksilver Scientific supplements (58:00)
NAD and travel recovery (1:05:00)
Supplements and sleep: align more, sleep less (1:10:30)
How to know you’re getting your NAD levels right (1:15:00)
Take a holistic approach: it’s your whole application to the world (1:17:50)
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Let me tell you about a little hack I have been using lately: Before every show, I find a quiet place, grab my noise-canceling headphones and head over to brain.fm. With brain.fm you can decide how you want to spend the next few hours of your day — focus, productivity, relaxation — and brain.fm will play music that has been scientifically engineered to shift your brain in that direction. (See more of the science behind this here).
You can now save 20% on this already inexpensive app when you head over to brain.fm/stacked.
By Kent Holtorf, M.D. on Oct 17, 2019
Originally Posted November 2012
Many people report feeling under constant pressure and stress which causes them to feel sluggish, irritable and fatigued. They are desperately trying to clear up that mental fogginess with coffee or other stimulants, just to crash worse afterwards. Does this sound like you?
Although it’s been widely accepted as the “common way of living in a working, modern society”, it is not normal.
The adrenals are small glands that sit on the kidneys. They regulate many bodily processes through the production of hormones. The hormones produced by the adrenal glands help regulate blood sugar, immune function, and stress response. A disruption in the excretion of these hormones can lead to malfunction in these bodily processes and others.
Adrenal fatigue is a chronic condition wherein the adrenals are incapable of supplying the hormones needed for healthy bodily function. There are a number of potential causes for this dysfunction including physical trauma, a stressful professional or personal life, hormone imbalances, chronic illnesses, chronic infections, and sleep deficits. These and other physiological stressors trigger adrenal activity. If the adrenals continue to experience an increased demand, they will eventually become exhausted and incapable of sustaining healthy function.
Low levels of adrenal hormones, specifically cortisol, can result in symptoms such as:
The most important anti-stress hormone in the body is cortisol. It protects the body from excessive adrenal fatigue by:
Cortisol sustains life via two opposite, but related, kinds of regulatory actions: releasing and activating the existing defense mechanisms of the body, while shutting down and modifying the same mechanisms to prevent them.
In the right situation and using the right dose, hormone replacement can be of great benefit for people with adrenal dysfunction. Medical science is just beginning to find out that a person can feel horrible and function poorly even with a minimal to moderate hormone deficiency that is clinically undetected by routine blood tests. This is evident in the case of adrenal fatigue.
Some physicians, notably Dr. Jefferies in the mid 1980s, have advocated low dose cortisol as safe for long-term use. Dr. Jefferies found that as long as the adrenal hormone level is kept within the normal range, the main toxicity that a patient might experience was a slight upset stomach, due to the body not being used to having the hormone come in through the stomach.
In an article published by Dr. Kent Holtorf in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome about therapeutic doses of cortisol for patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, he states:
“Because treatment with low physiologic doses of cortisol (< 15 mg) has been shown to be safe and effective and routine dynamic ACTH testing does not appear to have significant diagnostic sensitivity, it is reasonable to give a therapeutic trial of physiologic doses of cortisol to the majority of patients with CFS and FM, especially to those who have symptoms that are consistent with adrenal dysfunction, have low blood pressure, or have baseline cortisol levels in the low or low-normal range. (…) Physiologic replacement of cortisol at doses of 5 mg to 15 mg a day are safe, with little or no associated risk. Such physiologic doses don’t carry the risk of adrenal and immune suppression or bone loss, which are well known risks of pharmacological doses of corticosteroids. Cortisol treatment carries significantly less risk and a greater potential for benefit than standard treatments, such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants and narcotics.”
The adrenals are a critical component of healthy bodily function. Adrenal fatigue result in dramatic repercussions on your physical, emotional, and mental health. Treatment of adrenal fatigue should be tailored to you and your specific needs and can include low dose cortisol, adrenal glandulars, vitamin C, Pantothenic acid, licorice, and chromium.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to you. If you are experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, give us a call at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!
1. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis Dysfunction in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM).” https://www.holtorfmed.com/download/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-and-fibromyalgia/Diagnosis_and_Treatment_of_HPA_Axis_Dysfunction.pdf
2. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Adrenal Fatigue Testing.” https://www.holtorfmed.com/download/other/Adrenal-Testing.pdf
3. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Adrenal Fatigue Treatment Options.” https://www.holtorfmed.com/download/other/Adrenal-Treatments.pdf.
4. William McK. Jefferies. “Safe Uses of Cortisol.” Book.
By Holtorf Medical Group on Oct 15, 2019 11:40 am
Hormones are one of the most influential elements of wellness. These chemical structures relay messages throughout the body to regulate numerous functions. There are multiple systems responsible for production and regulation of hormones. Two of the most important being the adrenals and the thyroid. In addition to be essential for healthy bodily function, these two systems have a significant degree of influence on one another. Therefore, to better maintain wellness it is important to understand the role of the adrenals, the thyroid, and their mutual impact over each other.
The adrenals are small but highly influential organs located just above both kidneys. These are the glands responsible for controlling the body’s stress response as well as producing hormones essential for healthy bodily function. Some of the most notable adrenal hormones include pregnenolone, adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol – learn more about the adrenal hormones here. These and other adrenal hormones regulate areas such as metabolism, physical ability, libido, energy level, stress response, and much more.
The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck. Like the adrenals, the thyroid regulates important areas of health including metabolism, mood, weight, neurological function, energy level, and more. The thyroid completes this complex task through the secretion of thyroid hormones. The most well-recognized thyroid hormones are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones help to determine the activity level of virtually every cell and tissue in the body. It is for this reason that some refer to the thyroid as the body’s gas pedal.
Disruption of either the thyroid or the adrenals can result in a cascade of dysfunction throughout the body. There are several ways in which the adrenals and the thyroid may become dysfunctional including physical damage or trauma, chronic mental or physical stress, and chronic illness. These factors can contribute to hormonal imbalances that encourage the development of serious dysfunction such as adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism.
Many symptoms of adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism are shared. Because of this, it is common for patients to be misdiagnosed. Fatigue, poor sleep quality or insomnia, depression, PMS, brain fog, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, forgetfulness, and loss of libido are just some of the shared symptoms of adrenal dysfunction and hypothyroidism. If you experience some, or all, of these symptoms, it is important to assess both adrenal and thyroid function.
Although they are two different systems, the adrenals and the thyroid have a great deal of overlap. Typically, this is beneficial as both systems can support each other. However, because they are so closely related, if one system fails or malfunctions it often leads to disruption of the other.
The adrenal glands are responsible for regulating the body’s stress response. When we experience stress the adrenals release cortisol. The increase in cortisol triggers elevated immune activity, increased inflammatory response, heightened physical ability, and greater alertness. These are all beneficial qualities when handling stress in the short term. However, constant activation of the adrenals encourages further release of cortisol. Excess cortisol can negatively affect thyroid function and contribute to hypothyroidism. In part, this is why many individuals suffering from chronic stress also experience a decline in thyroid function.
For the thyroid to effectively regulate bodily function, T4 must be converted to T3 and interact with tissues throughout the body. Studies show that certain adrenal hormones play an important role in the conversion process of thyroid hormones. Additionally, some experts suggest that adrenal hormones are needed to effectively deliver T3 into cells and tissues. Therefore, poor adrenal function and a lack of adrenal hormones may inhibit thyroid activity resulting in symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Both systems play a significant role in maintaining healthy metabolic activity. If either system faulters, the other must work harder to make up the difference. For example, if metabolic activity is failing due to an underactive thyroid, the adrenals must work harder to maintain proper metabolic function. If thyroid function remains defunct, the adrenals will ultimately become exhausted resulting in adrenal fatigue. With these two systems exhausted, the body is almost certain to experience a significant and long-lasting decline in functionality.
Because hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue both involve hormone deficiency, the conditions are treated in a similar fashion. The most common approach is to administer hormone therapy based on the individual needs of the patient. For example, if thyroid dysfunction is suspected, a patient may be given thyroid hormone supplements to increase their hormone values. Similarly, if adrenal signs point to adrenal fatigue, a doctor may recommend cortisol or other adrenal hormone supplements.
When treating the adrenals or the thyroid it is critical that diagnosis is accurate. For example, in the presence of adrenal malfunction, thyroid hormone therapies may actually cause greater disruption. This is because thyroid medication accelerates metabolic activity, which can place greater stress on the adrenals thereby contributing further to adrenal fatigue . Ideally, if a patient is presenting symptoms of either adrenal dysfunction or thyroid disease, both systems are evaluated, and a full gamut of tests are run to assess relevant hormone values.
The body is composed of an intricate web of interlocking systems, many of which have direct influence on one other. An excellent example of this is the relationship between the adrenals and the thyroid. Both systems are integral to overall bodily function and exert their influence through the production of hormones. Due to their high degree of interconnectivity, dysfunction of one can have a dramatic negative impact on the other. Therefore, if symptoms of either adrenal or thyroid dysfunction develop, it is important to consider and assess both systems. Being aware of the close relationship between the adrenals and the thyroid and their important role in bodily function can help you better preserve their function and maintain greater wellness.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are knowledgeable in both thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, and how the two are connected. Because of this, they are able to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to you. If you are experiencing symptoms of thyroid or adrenal dysfunction, give us a call at 877-508-1177!
1. Victor Parsons, DM and Ian Ramsay, MD. “Thyroid and adrenal relationships.” Postgrad. med. J. (May 1968) 44, 377-384.
2. Seck-Gassama et al. “Serum cortisol level variations in thyroid diseases.” Dakar Med. 2000;45(1):30-3.
3. Amy Myers, MD. “The Adrenal-Thyroid Connection.” Amy Myers.
Imagine having all the symptoms of a major mental illness such as manic depression, paranoid schizophrenia, psychotic depression, or even a bipolar disorder. One day you wake up with overflowing physical energy, even feeling severely anxious, with a rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, trembling hands, and diarrhea, and you can’t stop losing weight. Then soon enough, without warning, your energy plummets. You feel like a slug, are constipated, your hair starts falling out, you gain weight no matter how little you eat, and you are severely depressed. You may have difficulty swallowing, sound hoarse, and feel like you have swallowed something that wont go down. And then, suddenly, your old symptoms return, and you feel anxious, sweaty, trembling, and panicky. This cycle can repeat itself again and again.
While your symptoms resemble a mental health issue, they could be signs of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, one cause of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as autoimmune thyroiditis or simply “Hashimoto’s, is caused by an autoimmune disorder. In this case, the body’s immune system sees the thyroid gland as a foreign body and begins to attack, damaging and killing thyroid cells along the way. As the cells are damaged or destroyed, they release their stored thyroid hormone, causing classic hyperthyroid symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks, shaking hands, sweating, and a racing heart.
Each autoimmune attack causes more and more damage to the thyroid gland until, ultimately, the gland is no longer able to produce adequate thyroid hormones. Every cell in the body needs thyroid hormones, so a deficiency can wreak havoc on the entire system, causing depression, weight gain, severe fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, and even overall body aches.
And it happens much too often. A 1987 study found that as many as 15% of patients admitted to a psychiatric hospital for depression actually were suffering from some level of hypothyroidism.
At first, Hashimoto’s can produce little to no symptoms. But as the disease progresses, the body will cycle between hyperthyroid symptoms and hypothyroid symptoms, until ultimately the patient becomes permanently hypothyroid. Symptoms vary based on whether the thyroid is under attack or at rest, but can include:
Thyroid hormone lab tests such as the TSH, Free T4, Free T3 and Reverse T3 can diagnose hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, but to get a clear picture of a potential autoimmune thyroid disease, you must check for increased antibodies that are specific to thyroid proteins. These include thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and antithyroglobulin; however, it’s important to know that these antibodies can be at normal levels and a patient still have hashimoto’s disease. It can also be useful to check levels of thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI), which can be seen in Graves’ disease, another autoimmune thyroid disorder.
If lab tests or symptoms indicate Hashimoto’s, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible to help avoid further damage to the thyroid gland. In addition to thyroid hormone replacement therapy, the following treatments options should be explored.
The violent swings of Hashimoto’s disease can be very frightening, not only for the patient who has the autoimmune disease, but also for friends and family who watch their loved one struggling, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, the symptoms of Hashimoto’s can be resolved.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to properly diagnose and treat your autoimmune thyroid disease, optimize your health and improve your quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, but aren’t getting the treatment you need or if you have symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction, call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!
1. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Understanding Local Control of Thyroid Hormones: (Deiodinases Function and Activity).” https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/deiodinases/
2. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Thyroid Hormone Transport.” https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/thyroid-hormone-transport/
3. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism: Are we getting what we want from TSH testing?” https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/how-accurate-is-tsh-testing/
4. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Why Doesn’t My Endocrinologist Know All of This?” https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/why-doesnt-my-doctor-know-all-of-this/
5. Dana L. Mincer; Ishwarlal Jialal. “Hashimoto Thyroiditis.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459262/
6. LDN Trust. “Conditions that are helped by Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN).” https://www.ldnresearchtrust.org/conditions
After seeing 3 other doctors (over a 5 year period) for Hashimoto thyroid disease treatment, I finally found Dr. Holtorf (thank God!). I could write paragraphs on what I’d been through but the bottom line is that I finally found a doctor that is not only a good listener, compassionate & kind, but one who actually thinks “outside the box”.
For those of us who don’t respond in a conventional manner to medications, old school “by the book” endocrinologists have repeatedly patted us on the back & said, “Your TSH is fine”, just keep doing what you’re doing. In the meantime, I for one, was sleeping 16 hours a day, spent my life in a mind fog & was fatigued beyond belief (I even slept in my car during my lunchbreaks at work).
Dr.Holtorf immediately asked the right questions, patiently waiting through my confusion & tears, and made changes to my medication regime that truly turned things around for me.
I can’t say enough good things about him as a doctor & a caring person. – Ilene G.
Every Lyme/MSIDS patient I work with has messed up thyroid issues. In fact, one infected patient felt nearly well just by addressing the thyroid.
Notice the article talks about the importance of dealing with bacterial and viral infections. Often, when you deal with the infection(s), your many symptoms can just disappear; however, it’s important you partner with your ILADS-trained doctor to sleuth out your deficiencies and then supplement what your own body isn’t producing.
Most doctors are not privy to appropriate thyroid testing. Within this article there is a printable thyroid panel slip. The link will direct you to a great article explaining all the different elements in the panel as well as a downloadable slip you can take to your doctor. All of the required tests have a black X by them. I highly advise you to take advantage of this if you haven’t addressed your thyroid.
Also, please see another great read by Holtdorf on lies endocrinologists tell patients: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/10/26/5-thyroid-lies-your-endocrinologist-may-try-to-tell-you/ In the comment section I give a trick my doctor uses to determine if you need additional T3 as sometimes our bodies aren’t able to properly convert T4 into T3. Many feel this is a genetic issue. Conventional medicine states our bodies will do this naturally; however, according to this article, 15% of the population can’t convert. I’m one of them: https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/thyroid-patients-and-t3 T3 is important because it delivers oxygen and energy to your cells, tissues, glands, and organs. More than 12 studies have shown the benefit of adding T3 to T4.
Many patients upon adding T3 were able to:
Originally Posted November 2016
Updated October 2019
Knowing the far-reaching effects of stress, not only on our psychological well-being, but also on our entire bodies, can help us remember to prioritize stress management and other self-care practices.
You may have heard these terms used together, but are not sure how they are connected. Stress is any kind of outside factor that our body perceives as a threat to our safety or well-being. Many people think this only refers to emotional stress or trauma, but it also includes physiological stress on the body, such as infection, traumatic injury, or a poor diet. Stress can also include environmental factors like exposure to chemicals and other toxins.
Cortisol is one of the hormones that our body releases in response to stress. It is probably the one most commonly associated with stress, even though there are others involved.
The adrenals are two small glands located just above the kidneys that produce and release cortisol and other hormones into the bloodstream – learn everything you need to know about adrenals here. One of the bodily processes that occurs during acute stress is often referred to as “fight or flight.” It is the defense mechanism that kicks in when we are in danger – or think we are. In addition to the adrenals pumping out more hormones, bodily functions that are unnecessary in the moment (such as digestion), are put on hold to preserve energy for the “fight or flight.”
While this can be a very useful and sometimes life-saving response to a threat, problems can begin to occur if stress becomes frequent or chronic. As the adrenal glands become over-worked, they eventually can’t keep up with the body’s demands for the various hormones they’re responsible for.
Here are a few of the major ways the mind and body are affected by chronic stress.
The adrenal glands produce more than just cortisol. They also produce neurotransmitters such as adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that help regulate things like mood, performance, weight, pain perception, and sleep. Depending on the degree to which the adrenals have been affected, the neurotransmitters become unbalanced in various ways.
Let’s take dopamine, for example. If dopamine is too high, someone may experience anxiety, hyperactivity, or paranoia. If someone has low dopamine, it can lead to addiction, cravings, or depression.
In addition to neurotransmitters and cortisol, the adrenals also produce small amounts of the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone (and their precursors). Along with balancing out hormones based on a person’s gender, sex hormones also help keep the negative effects of too much cortisol in check, acting as an antioxidant. But once the adrenals become chronically over-worked, more and more of the precursor materials (used to make sex hormones) get diverted to make cortisol, resulting in a decrease in sex hormones.
This results in lowered libido and other symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, such as premenstrual syndrome in women or erectile dysfunction in men.
When cortisol is released, the hormone glucagon is signaled and insulin is suppressed. Glucagon controls glucose storage in the liver so that glucose can be released into the blood. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the amount of glucose being taken from the bloodstream into the cells.
During chronic stress, the cells start to become resistant to insulin, leaving blood glucose levels elevated. This is why insulin resistance is the precursor to type II diabetes.
A few symptoms of insulin resistance include inability to lose weight, high cholesterol and triglycerides, cognitive dysfunction, and elevated blood glucose or insulin levels.
The adrenal glands are part of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-thyroid-axis (HPAT), sometimes just referred to as the HPA-axis. Here’s where the thyroid comes into play.
The adrenals are regulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. When cortisol is released under stress, the hypothalamus and pituitary, which work in a feedback loop with cortisol, slow down their production of hormones. Unfortunately, this also slows down thyroid function since the hypothalamus and pituitary regulate thyroid hormones as well.
Stress can also negatively affect the enzyme that converts inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to active thyroid hormone (T3). There are a few other mechanisms involved in the stress/thyroid dysfunction connection as well. Hypothyroid symptoms such as cold extremities, dry skin, depression, and constipation often indicate sub-optimal adrenal function. Most likely, thyroid treatment will be less effective if the adrenals are not addressed as well.
Stress triggers inflammation. Our body knows that chronic inflammation is damaging, so it compensates by slowing down the immune system in order to keep the inflammation in check. The immune system is also directly suppressed during stress since it is one of those “unnecessary” functions when we’re in “fight or flight” mode. This also affects thyroid health since a suppressed immune system can activate viruses capable of attacking and damaging the thyroid.
As you can see, so many functions in the body are interconnected and related back to adrenal function and the stress response.
This is only a brief overview of the effects of stress on the body. Chronic stress has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. It is estimated that as much of 80% of the population has weakened adrenal function.
Since there are different stages of adrenal dysfunction that require different treatments, it is a good idea to seek out a knowledgeable health care provider who can test your adrenal function and related hormones. Since many doctors only recognize adrenal disorders such as Cushing’s and Addison’s disease, you may need to search someone out who takes a more in-depth look at adrenal function using functional tests such as a salivary cortisol test.
There are some things you can do to help reduce stress which include:
Many people have tons of negative thoughts in their head on a daily basis, without even being aware of it. This creates a stressful state and anxiety that keeps fueling your hormonal imbalances. A technique known as “thought‐stopping” can help you halt negative, obsessive thoughts.
The first step is to literally call a halt to this train of thought (like saying the word “Stop!” out loud or to yourself). Next, choose a positive thought on which you’ll focus instead. This way you’re swapping a negative, stress‐inducing thought for a positive one. To increase emotional comfort, it’s imperative to practice reassuring and realistic self‐talk (saying something along the lines of, “I am feeling anxious / irritable now, but I have the power to calm myself down.”).
There are many physiological changes that are triggered, when we are faced with a stressful situation. Our breathing quickens, adrenaline is secreted, and our heart begins to race. This is called the fight or flight response – a natural survival mechanism intended to help us escape danger. However, when the threat is imagined, the fight/flight response is unnecessary and damaging to your health. Many people with chronic stress remain blocked in this state of alert, without being able to snap out of it.
Luckily, there are techniques you can learn to reduce your response to stress, like deep breathing techniques, muscle relaxation exercises and meditation. Deep breathing can help with a rapid heart beat. The most commonly utilized strategy is breathing by contracting the diaphragm, a horizontal muscle in the chest located just above the stomach cavity.
Using muscle relaxation exercises you can induce a relaxed state and physical comfort, by tightening and releasing muscles, beginning with the largest muscle group. Meditation is also a powerful way to bring back a peaceful state to your body and clearing up your mind from erratic and negative thoughts.
What does stress have to do with eating? A whole lot! What we eat and drink largely impacts our emotional state. Stimulating foods and drinks like coffee, sodas, chocolate, and alcohol can cause anxiety, trigger panic attacks, and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability, as well as trembling and shaking. Deciding to go “cold turkey” by abruptly eliminating caffeine is not always recommended since it can lead to withdrawal symptoms. You might experience headaches, restlessness, and irritability. So it’s better to decrease caffeine consumption gradually by replacing it with tea for example.
Regular alcohol consumption can also generate a lot of biochemical imbalances in your body, like blood sugar dysregulation, liver problems and dehydration, which add to the stress burden your body needs to handle.
By choosing your appropriate exercise routine you can reduce stress, improve mood, enhance self-esteem, and increase energy levels. Be careful not to over exercise, which can actually contribute to your stress level.
It’s a known fact that during exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins and norepinephrine, which interact with receptors in the brain. These chemicals determine euphoric feelings, reduction in physical pain and the ability to deal with stress more efficiently.
Losing just a few hours of sleep increases feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and exhaustion. It’s a vicious cycle since because of stress you might not be able to fall and stay asleep, but lack of sleep is also generating stress.
So try to get a solid seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and don’t feel bad about also adding a nap in the afternoon on days when you’re feeling especially drained. Go to sleep before 10 – 11 PM and don’t use the computer or watch TV before it, since these can interfere with your melatonin production and make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
By choosing a type of relaxing music which you prefer, you can help the body and mind dissipate stress. Research has shown that classical music may help you unwind and improve your mood. You can also experience therapeutic CDs of “binaural beats,” which are meant to calm the mind and body and where different frequencies call forth different moods.
In the morning, in order to make intelligent use of your energy for the day, take some time to reflect, meditate, read or better yet take a nature walk, away from computer and TV. You could do the same in the evening, or just simply delight in the rare pleasure of doing nothing. These can ease the stress of too much computer or office time, counteract overstimulation and boost your mood.
Doing something fun always gets postponed due to the avalanche of responsibilities we have during the day. But without a balance in your life, frustration and so stress might arise. It’s been found that creating artwork, crafts or making time for a hobby helps to relax, can be very stress-reducing and takes your focus away from your own thoughts and worries.
Massage is a great way to loosen the muscles that are habitually affected by stress. Think about all the frowning and scrunching of your face muscles and how relaxing it is to work on these! Essential oils can calm, center, and energize you by reducing the effects of stress and mental fatigue. You can give yourself a massage, while taking small breaks from your work, or you could have a professional massage to benefit your whole body.
A class of herbs called adaptogens help your body to cope more effectively with the demands and stress of everyday life. They provide a sustained sense of calm, and while they increase energy, with the exception of Chinese ginseng, they are non-stimulating. Some of the most used adaptogens are: ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, schisandra, shatavari, eleuthero.
Because of the great impact stress can have on overall health and well-being, it’s important to implement stress-reducing habits. Additionally, partnering with a knowledgeable physician to help address any underlying adrenal fatigue can prove very beneficial. Your mood, hormones, thyroid, blood sugar, and immune system (among other things) will be much healthier for it!
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to utilize cutting-edge testing innovative treatments to design a treatment protocol that is personalized to you. If you are experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, give us a call at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!
1. NIH. “5 Things You Should Know About Stress.” National Institute of Mental Health.
2. Mayo Clinic Staff “Chronic stress puts your health at risk.” Mayo Clinic.
3. APA Staff. “Stress effects on the body.” American Psychological Association.
4. Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science. “The Physiology of stress: Cortisol and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.”https://sites.dartmouth.edu/dujs/2011/02/03/the-physiology-of-stress-cortisol-and-the-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis/
5. Harvard Health. “Understanding the stress response.” Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School.
6. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior.” Mayo Clinic.
7. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS. “7 Adaptogenic Herbs or Adaptogens that Help Reduce Stress.” Dr. Axe.
This article is one of the best articles I’ve read on how stress affects the body and what you can do about it.
Lyme/MSIDS patients are in a war of epic proportions where nearly every single thing in their bodies is haywire. We need to do all within out power to reduce that stress.