After a decade in clinical practice (and mothering a ten year old!) I’ve come to acquire resilience when addressing seasonal holiday stress. I’d rather focus my attention and time on joy, love, gratitude and selfless abundance.
This ability arose after diving deep into endocrinology, the study of hormones and how they affect our health, metabolism, mood and behavior. Testing our adrenal glands, which secrete a hormone called cortisol, will shed light on a person’s anticipation of stress and is directly correlated with symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, immunity problems and anxiety.
Case: John, a 38 year old man presented with extreme fatigue, “feeling jittery”, irritability and an inability to handle stress; sometimes taking days to recover from an event. He woke up un-refreshed and used a lot of caffeine to get through the day. I suspected a cortisol problem so we ran a 24 hour adrenal saliva test. His results revealed a mal-adaptive phase where Cortisol was low across the board.
His treatment plan called for a circadian rhythm overhaul and lifestyle modifications to include:
- Cessation of caffeine, a stimulant that was irritating his adrenal glands further
- Strict bedtime: light/screens out, quiet and sleeping by 10 pm. For a few weeks he used a small dose of Trazadone to break the insomnia cycle, then I had him switch to 1 mg of Melatonin with a dose of the Sleepy Nights herbal formula. The optimal sleep-wake cycle for our adrenal glands is going to bed around 10 pm-midnight and waking between 6-8 am. The hardest work your adrenal glands do is from 4-8 am where they make the entire days worth of cortisol in those last 4 hours of sleep, amazing!
- Cortisol supplementation during the day with a glandular formula (Cytozyme AD) and herbal tincture to include Reishi, Ashwaganda, Schisandra, Rhodiola, Turmeric, American Ginseng and Ginger root (Adapt to Life).
- Twice a week B complex injections for a month; essential nutritional factors for healthy adrenal glands.
Last week at our 1 month follow up John had marked improvement by 75% of all his symptoms. He was feeling confident going into the holiday season with tools in place to stay calm and continue to re-balance his hormones. He will continue the above natural medicines until his body resumes producing a natural cortisol rhythm.
If you suspect you are struggling with adrenal hormone dysfunction consider working with our Naturopathic Physician team, experts in function medicine, to create a customized program for optimal energy and resilience.
Dr. Jamie Doughty, ND
Tummy Temple Medical Director