You’ve probably heard it over and over: Stress raises the risk of disease. But how do you know if your stress is the disease-causing kind? It’s helpful to know some signs and about the adrenal stress test.
Severe stress can either cause you to be fatigued all the time, wired all the time, or a mix of both. Or maybe stress manifests as sleep issues.
It’s not uncommon for people to become so used to being stressed out they fail to realize it’s an issue. They have forgotten how not to feel stressed out.
Symptoms of fatigue-based stress
- Slow to get going in the morning
- Energy crash in the afternoon
- Craving sweets, caffeine, or nicotine
- Unstable behavior; moodiness
- Shaky, light-headed, or irritable if meals are delayed
- Inability to stay asleep
- Dizziness when moving from sitting to standing
Symptoms of wired stress
- Excess belly fat
- Insulin resistance (high blood sugar)
- Not feeling rested in the morning
- Women grow facial hair; men grow breasts
- PCOS in women (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
How to do a lab test for stress
You can do an adrenal stress test to measure how well your body deals with stress using your saliva; it’s also called an adrenal salivary panel. Your adrenal glands are two small glands that sit atop each kidney that secrete stress hormones.
To get the most from the adrenal stress test, do the test a second time after following a health protocol for four to six weeks. This shows you whether you're on the right track with your healing approach.
This is because stress in the body is always caused by more than just the stress that we perceive, for example low or high blood sugar, an infection, or autoimmune disease.
Adrenal health should improve as you manage these conditions. If things do not improve, it means you must keep searching to find out what is taxing the body.
Measuring your sleep-wake cycle
Another way to gauge stress with the adrenal stress test is to look at your sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.
Are you alert in the morning and sleepy at night? An abnormal circadian rhythm is one symptom of adrenal stress.
Your primary stress hormone, cortisol, should be high in the morning and low at night on an adrenal stress test. Many people have a backwards rhythm causing fatigue in the morning and insomnia at night. Or, instead of a gradual decline of cortisol during the day, it may drop in the afternoon, causing an energy crash.
Where are you on the adrenal stress test scale?
By measuring several markers, the adrenal stress test can tell you whether you are in:
- The “alarm reaction” of high adrenal hormones
- Adrenal exhaustion and chronic tiredness
- Somewhere in between
You do not necessarily have to progress from alarm reaction to adrenal fatigue. It’s possible to jump between phases, or stay in one phase for years.
The adrenal stress test also measures immune cells called total SIgA. This is a measure of how stress has impacted your immune system over time. If SIgA is low, it can mean you are more susceptible to food intolerances, infections, and weakened immunity.
Start with blood sugar stability to manage stress
One of the most common causes of chronic stress is a blood sugar imbalance Addressing high or low blood sugar are vital to addressing chronic stress.
Various herbal and nutritional compounds, such as adrenal adaptogens, can profoundly influence adrenal function. Ask my office about the adrenal stress test and how you can support your adrenal health.
You may have noticed the term “functional medicine” becoming more popular. What is functional medicine and how is it different from regular medicine? Functional medicine addresses health disorders by looking at their root causes rather than masking symptoms with drugs or surgery.
By looking at root causes, you improve your energy, sleep, vitality, and even libido. This is why seeing a functional medicine doctor for a gut problem can also improve your brain function and hormone issues. Everything in the body works together.
Root causes: Address engine, not engine light
If the engine light of your car comes on, do you find a way to turn off the engine light, or do you investigate under the hood?
That analogy works for functional medicine.
Functional medicine is not about giving you a drug for a symptom, but instead investigating why you have that symptom and working on that instead.
For example, suppose 10 different people have the same complaint, whether it is depression, fatigue, digestive problems, or persistent skin rashes.
Each of those 10 people can have the same symptom, but for 10 very different reasons.
An overgrowth of gut bacteria may be causing depression in one person, while it is a gluten intolerance in another.
Fatigue can be the result of low blood sugar in one person, and autoimmune B12 anemia disease in another.
You must know why you have a health problem
Until you understand why you are suffering from a health problem, chasing after drugs or therapies can keep landing you at dead ends.
Functional medicine relies on published, peer-reviewed science to help us understand how the body works and where breakdowns occur.
Lab tests, questionnaires, in-office exams, and a discussion about your case history help the functional medicine practitioner learn where the root cause lies.
Five common functional medicine root causes
Although different people can have the same symptom for different reasons, functional medicine often finds common root causes. Some of them are:
- Food intolerances, especially to gluten and dairy
- Low blood sugar
- High blood sugar (insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes)
- Intestinal bacterial and yeast overgrowths
- Autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue)
Addressing one or all of these factors, depending on the person, can relieve not only the symptom that brought you to the office, but a number of other symptoms as well.
There are no specialties in the human body
The body is a highly complex web in which all systems and parts are related.
The body does not have specialties in the way medicine does. The digestive system — or any other system in the body — does not function independently of the rest of the body.
For instance, if autoimmune disease is destroying the thyroid gland, it’s not just the thyroid you address, but also the immune system. If the gallbladder is acting up, addressing a gluten intolerance and chronic inflammation can sometimes prevent gallbladder surgery.
Functional medicine is about reversing or stopping the progression of disease as much as possible without the use of drugs or surgery (although medication and surgery should not be avoided when needed).
It’s also about feeling as good as you should feel. For more information, please contact my office.
Asthma is a significant issue for many people in Portland and for society as a whole, really, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that this condition currently affects almost 19 million adults and 7 million children in the United States. A full-blown asthma attack likely means a emergency room visit. Fortunately, Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has helped many people in Portland get relief from asthma symptoms.
The scientific research confirms what we see in our office. For instance, a study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy evaluated 31 adult asthma patients after getting four weeks of chiropractic treatments. The researchers found that the individuals who received chiropractic adjustments had a 34% decrease in asthma symptoms.
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics published another asthma-based study, except this one involved children. In this paper, the 36 patients ranged from 6 to 17 years in age and their asthma was considered either mild or moderate in severity.
After 12 weeks of chiropractic care, as a whole, the patients reported a higher quality of life and a lower level of severity. As a bonus, they also reported that they relied less on their bronchodilator and these positive effects lasted one year after chiropractic care was complete.
So, whether you're 6 or 60, if you have symptoms of asthma, be sure to contact Chiropractic Healing Hands For You in Portland and schedule an appointment today. We'll do what we can to help you breathe easier!
- Asthma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Bronfort G et al. (2001, July-August). Chronic pediatric asthma and spinal manipulation: a prospective clinical series and randomized clinical pilot study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics;24(6):369-77
- Nielsen N et al. (1995, January). Chronic asthma and chiropractic spinal manipulation: a randomized clinical trial. Clinical and Experimental Allergy;25(1):80-8
If you are sleepy after eating, always hungry, and can’t lose weight, you may suffer from insulin resistance, which raises your risk for diabetes. The good news is insulin resistance is often reversible through simple dietary changes.
How do you know if you have insulin resistance? See if any of these symptoms apply to you:
⦁ Fatigue after meals
⦁ General fatigue
⦁ Constant hunger
⦁ Craving for sweets not relieved by eating them
⦁ Must have sweets after meals
⦁ Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
⦁ Frequent urination
⦁ Increased appetite and thirst
⦁ Difficulty losing weight
⦁ Migrating aches and pains
⦁ Trouble falling asleep
⦁ Why is insulin resistance dangerous?
Insulin resistance, also known as pre-diabetes, is uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous. It is linked with Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, chronic pain, hormone imbalances, and many other common modern maladies.
But that’s not all. Insulin resistance can also kill your libido and make you chronically tired.
If you’re a woman, insulin resistance causes testosterone to spike so you lose your hair and develop male characteristics. If you’re a man, it raises estrogen levels so you get “moobs” and cry at commercials. These are some pretty undesirable consequences for a sugar habit!
What causes insulin resistance?
The good news and the bad news is insulin resistance is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. This is bad news because it means giving up some comforts, but it’s good news because it means radically changing your health is highly doable!
A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates—sugars, sweets, sodas, pastries, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, grains, beans, and other starchy foods —leads to high blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Because high blood sugar is dangerous to the body, the pancreas secretes insulin to lower it. Insulin escorts sugar out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells. Excess sugar is converted into fat for storage.
When this response happens regularly every day, as it does for millions of Americans, the cells become overwhelmed from the constant bombardment of insulin. In defense, they become resistant to insulin and refuse it entry. Now you have high blood sugar and high insulin in your bloodstream, causing inflammation, throwing off hormone balance, and degenerating the brain.
This is why insulin resistance causes fatigue after meals. The insulin-resistant cells are deprived of glucose for energy, converting all that extra sugar into fat is draining, and the whole process saps brain function.
Many people have both insulin resistance and low blood sugar. This means their energy crashes not only after meals, but between meals too. Either way, stabilizing blood sugar is your key to better health and losing weight.
The most important thing is to ditch the sugar and eat only as many complex carbohydrates as your body needs (it varies from person to person). Eat tons of veggies for fiber and to build good gut bacteria. Start checking your fasting blood sugar in the morning and shoot for a level between 80 and 100. Anything over 100 is too high. Also, exercise daily, with bursts of high intensity and some weight training, to sensitize your cells to insulin.
Various herbs and nutrients can help reverse insulin resistance — ask my office for a recommendation.
Gallbladder surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries today. Did you know simply going gluten-free may lower the risk of needing gallbladder surgery?
For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers a wide range of adverse reactions, from joint pain to poor brain function. In the last several years, research has also linked gluten with gallbladder disease in gluten-sensitive individuals.
Gluten sensitivity largely undiagnosed
An astonishing number of people are gluten intolerant but do not know it. Undiagnosed gluten sensitivity can cause leaky gut, chronic pain, inflammation, neurological damage, and autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue). Gluten sensitivity is estimated to affect between 20 and 40 percent of the general population, and is less frequently identified than celiac disease, though this is changing.
How gluten can raise the risk of gallbladder surgery
So how can gluten raise the risk of requiring gallbladder surgery? The process begins with damage to the small intestine. This damage inhibits its ability to properly secrete a hormone called cholecystokinin. Cholecystokinin is the hormone that signals the gallbladder when it’s time to release bile, which aids in the digestion and absorption of fat. As a result, bile builds up in the gallbladder, causing inflammation and raising the risk of gallbladder disease and subsequent gallbladder surgery.
Approximately 60 percent of people with celiac disease — an autoimmune reaction to gluten — also have gallbladder, liver, or pancreatic conditions, and this is apparently one reason why.
Why you need a gallbladder
Although you can live without your gallbladder, it is essential to overall health. The bile stored and secreted by the gallbladder enables you to digest fats. Without a gallbladder, your liver still produces bile, but the bile just “leaks” continually into the small intestine. This means there are no adequate reserves of bile to break down fats when needed.
These fats then become rancid and inflame the digestive tract while fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids
are not properly absorbed. Ultimately, this compromises the function of your entire digestive tract. In fact, studies have linked gallbladder removal with an elevated risk of colon cancer.
Also, if the gallbladder is not removed but isn’t doing its job well, this can be detrimental to liver function.
It is worth caring for your gallbladder to preserve the health of your digestive system, and hence your immune system. If you are sensitive to gluten, it’s important to go gluten-free to maintain gallbladder health and lower your risk of needing gallbladder surgery.
Additionally, your gallbladder appreciates a diet high in omega 3 essential fatty acids, and free of processed oils and hydrogenated fats. And in general, it is safest to keep starchy carbs (cake, potatoes, white flour, refined sugar, etc.) to a minimum.
Various botanicals and nutrients can support liver and gallbladder health. They include milk thistle seed extract, dandelion root, ginger root, and phosphatidyl choline.
If you have already had your gallbladder removed, don’t despair. Taking ox bile with your meals can help you emulsify and absorb your fats, which are vital for many aspects of health including brain function. For more information, contact my office.
Weathering one of the most acrimonious elections in U.S. history can be hard on health. Fortunately, functional medicine offers some strategies to help take the edge off.
Prolonged heightened stress, fear, anger, and negativity have been shown to harmfully impact the body in the following ways:
Raises inflammation. Heightened stress and negativity can inflame joints, cause skin breakouts, disrupt brain function, upset the stomach, provoke respiratory problems, and trigger headaches.
Triggers anxiety, depression, and/or insomnia. People have lost sleep and become anxious and depressed this election year. Chronic stress keeps the central nervous system in a heightened state, chipping away at your health.
Causes stomach aches and abdominal symptoms. Chronic stress ravages the gut, predisposing one to pain, inflammation, and digestive upsets.
Tightens muscles. Chronic stress keeps the body in fight-or-flight, with the muscles constantly tense.
Imbalances hormones. Stress hormones can devastate the delicate balance of hormones in both women and men. This can impact menstrual cycles, libido, and the brain.
Causes brain fog and memory loss. Because chronic stress and negativity are so inflammatory, the brain may become inflamed as well. Common symptoms of brain inflammation are brain fog, depression, and memory loss.
Weakens or over stimulates immunity. Chronic stress weakens the immune system so that you’re more susceptible to illness. It can also over stimulate it so that autoimmune conditions flare up.
Promotes high blood pressure and respiratory stress. Chronic stress constricts the blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and inflames respiratory conditions.
Encourage addiction and bad habits. Chronic stress makes people more prone to addictive behaviors.
Healthy ways to buffer the effects of election stress
Stress is a normal function that serves a survival purpose. The trick is to rebound from it appropriately.Although it’s tempting to mix a drink or pop a Xanax, aim for functional medicine tips that ease election anxiety and support your health:
Take an adrenal adaptogen supplement. These herbs help buffer the body and brain during stress. Examples include ginseng, ashwagandha, holy basil, rhodiola, eleuthero, and pantethine.
Connect with others. Seek out like-minded friends and do something fun. Positive socialization is a well-documented health booster.
Release feel-good hormones through exercise. Exercise can’t be beat in the face of chronic stress and negativity. It floods your body with feel-good hormones that improve health and brain function. Just be careful not to overdo it, over exercising stresses and inflames the body.
Find unidentified causes of stress. Much of our stress today comes from factors we’re not even aware of. Unstable blood sugar is the most common. Unidentified food sensitivities, such as to gluten or dairy, is also common. Chemical sensitivities, anemia, unmanaged autoimmunity, leaky gut, and infections are examples of health issues that keep one in a state of chronic stress.
Practice positivity. Although it’s important to allow and process any negative emotions, at some point it’s vital to practice positivity, something science shows is vital to good health.
By taking better care of your health and managing how outside events affect you, you have a better chance of having a more positive impact on your own life and the people around you.
Do you keep trying weight loss diets but can’t seem to drop the pounds? Are you instead exhausted and frustrated by an ever growing layer of fat?
Calorie-restricted diets have been popular for decades as a way to lose weight, but clearly more is at play as many people under eat and still can’t lose weight or keep it off.
If you’re doing everything right and the fat isn’t budging, the culprit may lie in underlying health issues slowing metabolism and blocking fat burning.
Feast or famine? Dieting slows metabolism for years
For most of human history, life vacillated between feast or famine, with plenty of bouts of famine. The human body body has smart coping mechanisms to get us through hungry times — lowered metabolism and increased fat-storage hormones.
As far as the body is concerned, a low-calorie diet is a famine and it employs the same measures to save you from starving. As a result, each low-calorie diet can add weight in the end when you resume normal caloric intake.
This dieting-caused metabolic slow-down can last for years. This phenomenon was recently documented in participants from the The Biggest Loser reality TV show. Six years after participating, contestants’ metabolic set point was below what it was when they started. They burn up to 800 fewer calories per day! After all that hard work, most of them returned to their pre-show weight and have to under eat in order to prevent weight gain.
Dieting disrupts key hunger hormones
Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite, satiety — that feeling of being full and satisfied — and whether your body burns or stores fat. When your diet is high in starches and sugars, it causes frequent swings in blood sugar. This leads to chronic insulin surges, which causes constant hunger and cellular resistance to to leptin.
Underlying health issues hinder weight loss
For most people, weight loss is not as simple as “calories in, calories out.” Sometimes inflammation and other metabolic factors can be a driving factor behind the inability to lose weight.
Many people are surprised to find unwanted pounds drop away when they follow an anti-inflammatory diet. These are nutrient-dense diets void of inflammatory triggers and are used to manage pain, digestive problems, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other health issues.
Why do they work? Excess weight can be a symptom of underlying health imbalances that slow metabolism and block weight loss. Systemic inflammation, leptin resistance, hormonal imbalances, stress, leaky gut, blood sugar imbalances, food intolerances, and hypothyroidism are examples of factors that block weight loss.
How do autoimmune protocols and diets fit in?
The autoimmune diet and protocols are effective for people suffering from various chronic illnesses. Anti-inflammatory in nature, special attention is given to gut health and food reactivity.
While highly effective for many in not only managing autoimmunity but also dropping unwanted pounds, sometimes people take these diets to low-calorie extremes. Even if you’re eating healthy foods and avoiding the inflammatory ones, it’s still important not to starve the body and trigger the famine response that holds onto fat.
In fact, increasing healthy fats, protein, and nutrient-dense foods encourage the body to drop the pounds. Meeting your nutritional needs, providing healthy sources of fat to remind the body it’s not a time of famine, and enough protein to keep blood sugar stable are key for helping the body increase metabolic rate and drop extra weight.
If you suffer from unwanted weight, contact my office for an appointment. Functional medicine has effective ways to work with the underlying health issues that hinder weight loss.
Chiropractic is centered on the concept of helping your body to heal naturally through spinal adjustments and lifestyle changes that encourage overall health. For Chiropractic Healing Hands For You, this means working to reestablish your body's natural functioning to avoid the need for medications or surgical treatments. We see that many of our Portland patients are pleased to find a natural approach for their health problems.
One advantage of chiropractic is that it helps people reduce or eliminate the use of drugs. Medications are frequently supplied to patients who have back problems. This is such a serious concern that the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) issued a report stating that opioid (painkiller) dangers overshadow the benefits when administered for back pain.
Some of the most well-known narcotics, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet), morphine, and codeine. Figures supplied by the AAN cite the fact that about 50% of the patients taking these types of substances for a period of three months are still on them five years later. This can further complicate the difficulty of back pain and healing, particularly if an narcotic dependency arises.
Compare that to chiropractic care which features natural healing and the benefits are clear. While a pill might be helpful at temporarily relieving the discomfort of a health issue, it's not a long-term solution to the problem. Drugs can't fix your injured spine; it will only mask the pain.
Chiropractic Healing Hands For You will first examine you to get to the origin of your back pain and then work with you to eliminate the spinal interference -- without the need for risky medications.
If you're ready for relief of your pain, naturally, give our Portland office a call at (503) 771-1974 to make an appointment with Chiropractic Healing Hands For You.
- Risk of opioids outweigh benefits for headache, low back pain, other conditions. American Academy of Neurology;September 29, 2014.
- What are opioids? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/opioids/what-are-opioids
Turns out gluten isn’t the only culprit when it comes to an immune reaction to wheat.
New research suggests non-gluten proteins are also a source of those immune reactions to wheat.
Wheat proteins called ATIs also trigger reactions
The new suspects are a family of proteins called amylase-trypsin inhibitors, or ATIs. While they make up only four percent of the proteins in wheat, ATIs can trigger powerful immune reactions that can spread from the gut to other tissues in the body, such as the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, and even the brain.
ATIs are also shown to inflame pre-existing chronic conditions, including multiple sclerosis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, non-alcohol fatty liver disease, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease.
And, ultimately, ATIs contribute to the development of gluten sensitivity.
At this time, it’s not entirely clear how much of a role ATI proteins play compared to gluten. We know from the work of Aristo Vojdani, PhD that people with symptoms of gluten sensitivity have been shown to react to several different types of gluten, as well as lectins and agglutinin.
The evolution of understanding wheat sensitivity
It used to be celiac disease was the only recognized immune reaction to wheat. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects a small percent of the population and requires medically invasive diagnostic criteria.
Only more recently has mainstream medicine begun to accept non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Newer research, the sheer volume of gluten-sensitive patients, and the explosion of the gluten-free market has made gluten sensitivity impossible to deny.
For decades patients who tested negative for celiac disease or even gluten sensitivity (standard testing is severely limited) have been told “It’s all in your head.” Today, the scientific legitimacy of an immune reaction to wheat is growing.
Likewise, a growing number of doctors are more willing to offer a diagnosis of gluten sensitivity and effective treatment strategies.
Gluten reactions occur in brain and elsewhere
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can include digestive issues such as abdominal pain and symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, common symptoms not related to the gut include headaches, joint pain, eczema, brain fog, and a number of dysfunctions related to the brain and nervous system.
These symptoms improve quickly on a gluten-free diet for many.
Research on wheat immune sensitivity continues
Research continues and in the future, it may be your doctor recommends an “ATI-free” diet instead of a gluten-free diet for wheat sensitivity.
Either way, if you react to gluten, avoiding it is the best choice for your long-term health.
If you have concerns about reactions to gluten, contact my office. Functional medicine has effective protocols to assess, diagnose, and manage gluten sensitivity.
Got gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, IBS…or maybe all of the above? Then you may have SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Doctors have long blamed stubborn gut problems on stress. For the person whose life is dictated by the cruel whims of their digestive system, this can feel like shame and blame. Thanks to new research, these days we know many things cause gut problems. They include food sensitivities (especially to gluten and dairy), leaky gut, gut inflammation, autoimmunity, poor brain function, and SIBO.
SIBO results from too much bacteria that belong in the large intestine migrating into the small intestine. When these bacteria consume sugars and carbohydrates, they produce large amounts of gas that causes not only bloating, belching, and flatulence, but also constipation or diarrhea (depending on the type of gas produced).
These bacteria also inflame and damage the lining of the intestinal tract, causing leaky gut. Leaky gut allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeast, and other antigens into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation, autoimmunity, and chronic disease.
Many different lab tests, stringent dietary strategies (managing SIBO often requires a diet that restricts most everything but meats and a limited variety vegetables), and treatment protocols exist to treat SIBO, and sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error to land on an approach that works.
But if you don’t want a relapse, it’s important to ask why you have SIBO in the first place.
The causes include:
⦁ Food poisoning
⦁ Poor diet and excess sugar
⦁ Low stomach acid
⦁ Repeated antibiotic use
⦁ Chronic stress
⦁ Problems with brain function or health
Brain function is one of the most overlooked and unaddressed causes of SIBO. The digestive system maintains close communication with the brain. Poor brain function leads to poor gut function (this explains why people often suffer from gut problems after a head injury). Digestive juices and hormones are not sufficiently released, motility slows so that food sits longer in the intestines, giving rise to bacterial overgrowth, and the valve between the small and large intestine does not stay shut, allowing bacteria from the colon to escape into the small intestine where it does not belong. All of these are examples of how poor brain function leads to SIBO.
This explains how childhood brain development disorders, brain injuries, brain inflammation, brain degeneration, and brain aging all contribute to SIBO.
The elderly are especially vulnerable to malnutrition caused by SIBO, as are the increasing numbers of children born with autism and other brain development disorders. Fortunately, you can improve gut function through simple exercises that help tone the digestive system and prevent relapses of SIBO.
Managing SIBO does not have a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are various ways to approach it that include both nutraceutical and/or pharmaceutical approaches. Diet is always an important strategy. For more information, contact my office.