Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Adrenal Fatigue, by James Wilson

I have been really tired lately.  It seems to come and go in intensity and duration. After doing a lot of reading, I have come to the conclusion that I have minor adrenal fatigue and am starting to 'detox' from my 29 years of eating SAD.  It's overwhelming, but exciting also.  I have thought for some time, that my adrenals were on the verge of breaking down.  I don't think they are as bad as some, and I have no intention of doing any testing on them.  But after reading quite a bit, I think I have a decent idea of how to take care of them and nurse them back to health. And that coincides with the gut healing (GAPS) and detox.

I get overwhelmed at times, as it seems everywhere I turn, I realize there is something else that needs fixing in our bodies.  But, it always seems to come down to healing the gut, and essentially, the same diet for everything.

I enjoyed reading specifically about adrenals in this book.

Dr. James Wilson says "I realized adrenal fatigue is a common and growing problem of modern life.  Research and clinical experience lead me to believe that we are dealing with a problem of monstrous proportions that is largely unrecognized by the medical establishment"   He has been treating it for 20+ years and was finally convinced to write a book about it's treatment.

The book is divided into 4 parts:

Part 1: Your adrenal glands and you

Part 2: Do I have adrenal fatigue

Park 3: Helping yourself back to health

Park 4: Functions of adrenal glands

It was very easy to read and follow.  Only part 4 was technical and somewhat harder to get through, but definitely important in learning how to understand the adrenal glands' importance in the body, and therefore how best to deal with it in specific situations.

Part 1 starts out "The purpose of your adrenal glands is to help your body cope with stresses and survive.  It is their job to enable your body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems.  Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your very life all depend on their proper functioning."  Yikes!  They are the size of a walnut and weigh less than a grape. They sit on top of the kidneys and from there 'significantly affect the functioning of every tissue, organ and gland in the body, and they have important effects on the way you think and feel'. "Adrenal fatigue, in all its mild and severe forms, is usually caused by stress.  Stress can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, infectious, or a combination of these.  It is important to know that your adrenals respond to every kind of stress the same, whatever the source."  Note: even perceived stress.  That, I've determined is MY biggest problem. 

He gives some stories (and cartoons that are helpful and amusing) of what AF looks like in different personalities and situations.  It's very eye-opening to realize it can happen to anyone.  He states often that most doctors just don't know how to treat AF and few even acknowledge that it's an issue.

I loved his discussion of why AF is not taught in medical schools, or diagnosed and treated in doctor's offices, hospitals and clinics.  Pages 51 to 55 are a great read, He gives a great description of how money, codes, insurance regulations, big pharm companies and government have all 'conspired' unknowingly to sweep AF under the rug.  It was very eye opening to me.  It kind of took the pressure off of the doctor's shoulders and put it on 'the establishment'.  Doctor's don't mean to be dumbed down, they only know what they are taught in medical school and are not taught to 'think' outside the box. Generally, if they do, they get in trouble, or at least, don't get paid.

Part 2 had some questionarres to fill out to assess whether you have AF and at what level it might be.  He also gives some in-depth questions about your history, medical and personal.  Identifying major traumatic happenings to help figure out when the AF may have begun. He gives some pretty good home tests, and some thorough instructions for testing at a medical establishment if necessary.

Part 3 addresses your lifestyle, food, allergies/sensitivities, supplements and some specific suggestions for implementing and troubleshooting,  So many people live lifestyles that are not conducive to health-mental, physical or spiritual.  Our bodies need to rest and repair themselves regularily, esp with all of the toxins we are surrounded by today.  And that includes rest, maybe even making major life changes to relieve unnecessary stress. And for those stresses that we can't get rid of, he suggests way of coping with them.  Even perceived stress causes a hormonal imbalance and a stress on our adrenals.  He gives a lot of suggestions for dealing with stress.
He suggests lots of sea salt, mixed with kelp when possible.  That is what I have heard over and over for adrenal healing.  Salt to taste, which is generally saying 'listen to your body'.  Lay off the sugar and white flour, processed junk, etc.  He suggests eating high protein meals, and often if hypoglycemia is a problem.  He also highly suggests mixing protein, carbs and fats with every meal and snack.  He does agree more with the USDA food pyramid-small percentage of animal fats, which I disagree with.

He also has a section just for food allergies and how and why to avoid them.  Eating things your body can not process puts stress on the digestive system, which in turns causes your adrenals to work harder then necessary.

Part 4 is technical stuff, but very interesting.  He talked a lot about cortisol and how and why it's produced by the adrenals.  It is the hormone that the adrenals produce to deal with all the stress that comes at us in any given day. The body has the most amazing ability to regulate it's secretion, and it in turn, affects every cell in the body.  If the adrenals have been producing cortisol for too long, it eventually wears out and can no longer produce the cortisol.  That causes fatigue and eventually the cells are no longer able to do their work (and they do a LOT of work!).  So maintaining the adrenals is important to EVERY part of our body!  He discussed the relationship of sodium and potassium (electrolytes) in the body, and how the balance of both is very important (and regulated by... you guess it-cortisol).

I'm challenged, after reading this book, to continue to keep the stress in my life as low as possible, while dealing properly with necessary stress.  Also, to consume as much sea salt daily as possible and to look forward to the return of my energy over time.  It's nice that it doesn't have to be complicated. God is so good to give us complicated bodies that are uncomplicated to take care of. :)

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