Adrenal fatigue is a very common and quickly growing problem of modern life. The stressors we are faced with on a daily basis, such family and financial problems, increased work load, lack of physical exercise, insufficient rest, poor diet, environmental toxins all contribute to more stress on the stress adaptive organs, the adrenal glands. Adrenal stress has left millions of people suffering from a problem that mostly goes unrecognized and untreated. Not only does the undiagnosed condition cause financial losses for individuals and companies through worker absenteeism but also the individual experiencing the problem can no longer experience life to his or her full capacity due to the various symptoms of adrenal fatigue. In addition people suffering from adrenal fatigue are much more likely to develop various other common diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer and heart disease and more which we will cover in this book.
I (Dr Jensen) was first introduced to my adrenal glands over thirty years ago. I was a single mom with three children under three years of age, newborn twin sons and a 3-year-old son. My marriage had recently dissolved and I was working full time as a teacher with learning and behavioral problem adolescents. Well as you can imagine, it didn’t take long for me to hit the wall with such an extreme fatigue that I didn’t know what to do. The medical doctors could find nothing wrong and out of desperation I went to see the local naturopath. He told me that I had adrenal fatigue and put me on a health program to support these stress organs that were no longer doing a good job at adapting to the stressors in my life. I was back to my normal energy quite quickly but I also realized that I would probably need to be on and off of adrenal support throughout my life as the level of stress wasn’t about to change any time soon. At the time I had no idea that in the future I would end up studying to be a naturopathic physician and that learning more about the importance of adrenal health would become one of my life’s passions. Now for over 25 years in clinical practice, I have seen in my patients the incredible results of supporting the adrenal glands and our purpose of this book is to give you, the reader, enough information so that you can take the necessary steps to help you recover from the symptoms or conditions caused by adrenal fatigue.
The first time I (Dr. Schauch) learned about adrenal stress was in naturopathic school: my colleagues and I had no idea that we were on our way to adrenal burn out. When I started my practice, I was amazed at how these two small glands had the ability to control sleep, appetite, inflammation, digestion, anxiety, depression, hormones and much more. I soon realized that these glands were so vitally important to our health. It is now standard in my practice, even if patients reassure me that “they have no stress”, to test the adrenal glands. I have seen year after year, patients improve when adrenal health is restored. Studies have revealed that stress experienced even in your mother’s womb can affect the function of your adrenal glands later on in life. We hope that you find this book helpful in identifying your adrenal stress connection in order to create a superior and healthier you.
“States of health or disease are, at the heart, the organism’s success or failure at adapting to environmental challenges.” ~ René Dubos
One of the characteristic features of all living beings is their ability to maintain the constancy of their internal milieu despite changes in their surroundings. Whenever this self-regulating power fails, disease or even death occurs. Truly, life is largely a process of adaptation to the circumstances in which we live, and the secret of health and happiness lies in our successful adjustment to the ever- changing conditions created by the world around us and by our inner search for truth. The greater our self-knowledge on all levels, and the greater our willingness to take responsibility for our own lives and expressing our truth, the greater will be our ability to adapt to and embrace life.
The great majority of illnesses have a number of causes and one of the main causes of ill health is the effect of stressors on those self-regulating balances. Surveys and research reports indicate that approximately 45% of all adults suffer adverse effects to stress while between 75% to 90% of all visits to physicians are in some way related to the results of psychosocial stress. Stress is a factor in many illnesses – from headaches to heart disease, immune deficiencies, anxiety disorders and digestive problems, just to name a few.
In today’s fast paced society, the vast majority of individuals are under a barrage of constant stressors. While some of the initial fight or flight stress responses may be beneficial to survival (acute stress) there is an increased risk of various physical and psychological health challenges when the stressors are prolonged (chronic stress). Stress is not going away and it is not something new. However, in today’s world of technological advances, we are seldom ‘unplugged’ from the cell phone or laptop. Divorce rates hover near their highest in history, the concept of job security is gone by way of the dinosaur and time to just kick back, unplug and ‘smell the roses’ is a concept that is fading. Stress has become endemic and it penetrates to the core of our being and changes us in the process, altering our bodies and our brains.
Some stress is absolutely normal and necessary in living creatures and everyone has a built-in gauge that helps control our reaction to various stressors. New research is indicating that the body can become ‘sensitized’ to stress and the brain will re-circuit itself in response to stress. When this sensitization happens, the body just does not respond to stress the same way and the brain responds to a normal stress such as being late for an appointment as though it was a life-threatening event. Studies show that the stressful events that occur in childhood such as losing a parent, or being raised by an alcoholic or abusive parent can permanently rewire the brain’s circuitry and result in inappropriate responses to stress.
The stress response is ‘wired’ into our brain and even though we are no longer like the cave man running for our lives from the wild boar, studies have found that – for many – the same ‘fight or flight’ stress circuits are all working overtime from varied stressors such as work deadlines, extreme weather, over-exercise, divorce or death of a loved one. Each of us is wired for stress differently and will have different responses to different stressors depending on our own unique wiring system.
Each of us will benefit from reducing stressors, but the obvious benefits will vary depending on our overall stress resistance capabilities, which are determined by our individual strengths and weaknesses.
Often, the stressors can be non-specific and less obvious and we may not be aware of the effects on our bodies and minds.
All living creatures are subject to stressors of internal and external origin and have the ability to respond to stressors.