June 23, 2012

Adrenal Fatigue: I am now a believer

I have endured a really awful late winter/early spring bout of illness. In the fall, my office moved into a brand new wing of our old building, and soon winter closed in and sealed us up inside all this recent construction. I believe my illnesses were caused by "sick building syndrome."

I got pneumonia, and then a wicked sinus infection. I required three courses of antibiotics back to back. I "got well" without really getting well, because I could not get my energy back.

When every destination is too far
Adrenal fatigue is not an officially recognized medical condition. Yet my doctor checked me for anemia, thyroid, and other common causes of fatigue, without finding any solution.

It made sense to me that this added stress, on top of all my other stresses, could have "exhausted" my adrenals, which was what had made me exhausted too.

Before I asked him for a saliva test as outlined in the link above, I figured I would try to treat it myself with various strategies I had researched.

And... they worked. I am finally feeling my usual cheerful, creative, passionately-enthused self again. Here is what I did:

Dropped coffee. If that wail of "Nooooooooooo" could be heard on Venus; mine could too. I have my coffee fresh-ground and shipped to my door from a local coffee roaster. I use a French Press and heavy cream and I love my giant cup of coffee in the morning.

But that might be the problem. If we have gotten used to goosing our adrenals into action with a dose of caffeine, from whatever source we use, we could be drawing our reserves too far down. Then, when confronted with extra stress, like my illnesses, they don't have any reserves to draw on, either.

When I stopped, at least I didn't get headaches; which is another sign we are relying on caffeine too much. I did get an overwhelming urge to nap more, and these naps were more refreshing than before. This convinced me I needed this healing sleep.

I still drink coffee. But it's not a daily or a constant thing; it's a treat.

Stress reducers. Now I start my mornings with peppermint tea, which has soothing effects on our digestion which can spread to our whole body. Other de-stressing herbal choices are chamomile, lemon balm, ginseng, and even catnip. I've discovered that a spoonful of rosemary in the tea blend acts as an excellent mind energizer and tastes deliciously different.

It's a scientifically supported fact that meditation relieves stress. So why not give it a try? Here's an excellent video which describes the Chakra Balancing method, but there are many to choose from.

I've also discovered Rhodiola rosea, which is also known as arctic root. This is a traditional herbal remedy which helped Scandinavians and other High North dwellers cope with their challenging climate. I really like the effect, which is gentle, but definitely there.

Upgraded my supplements. I had cut back on my D3 because I had improved my blood level of 36; much too low. But it turned out, the constant assault on my system from the chemicals in our new office meant I needed more D3, not less. Upping my dosage made me feel better quickly.

I also increased my chelated magnesium, which not only helps the D3 work better, it's a vital mineral which is depleted in most topsoil. Over 300 bodily processes use magnesium; I would like them all to work properly.

Since the highest concentration of Vitamin C in the body is stored in the adrenal glands, I followed the online advice to take supplemental Vitamin C; and also began feeling better soon after. While I do eat fruit, I obviously wasn't getting enough Vitamin C for my healing needs.

After any antibiotic therapy, it's important to refresh our body's supply of probiotics; which not only help us digest our food, but turn out to be important players in our immune system. My pharmacist told me I need to keep it up for six months, at least. I added a B complex to my daily regimen, too.

Toxin-removal strategies. I was taking kelp a couple of times a week; now I increased it to daily, and added spirulina tablets. These sources of sea minerals have toxin-purging effects. I also got out perhaps the biggest gun of all; I am eating an entire clove of organic garlic every evening after dinner.

Well, I chew it up somewhat and then wash it down. It's too large to swallow like a pill, and while it's a bit "lively" it also is a great way to purge heavy metals and PCB's from our bodies, along with its many other health-supporting effects.

I have also made a point of lowering my exposure by taking my full lunch hour, elsewhere. While we have a lovely new kitchenette for helping us bring lunch from home, and a big empty conference room to eat it in, I can no longer stay in the office all day without a break. This behavior probably contributed to some of us getting sicker than others, whose job duties led to them being out of the office more with meetings and site visits.

Fortunately, the new construction type of "sick building syndrome" gets better with age and airing-out; unlike mold, which gets worse. I am convincing the rest of the office that abundant fresh air in the new place this summer will pay off for us with health benefits next winter.

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June 9, 2012

My life without bread

I had a gluten free triumph recently. One of my favorite restaurants has a "bagel & lox" plate, and as my eyes lingered upon its listing in the menu, I was inspired to ask for the salmon, cream cheese, capers, and onion... as an omelet. It was delicious.

Needs to have vitamins added.
This confirmed the fact that the tasteless "edible plate" part of our meals are not the truly satisfying part. We get a mental zap from wheat. After processing, it has so few nutrients that most of our bread products are fortified. It keeps our fingers from getting sticky.

But the more I ate wheat, the more I wanted. This is the opposite of "satisfying."

It's kind of amazing how much people freak out when they hear I don't eat bread. Nutritionally, culturally, culinarily; those damn grains are seen as absolutely essential.

Yet dropping them was a dramatic boon to my health. My tummy flattened more. I lost about eight pounds without changing anything else. I was less hungry between meals, and could go longer before I got hungry. My arthritis no longer required painkillers so I could sleep, and continues to improve.

What helps greatly is my auto-switch mental system. Instead of "bread," I think "eggs." Whether it's a Oopsie Roll, an omelet, or a deep-dish quiche, from sandwiches to pizza, what I want will usually pair beautifully with eggs.

Once I got this concept embedded, I don't feel deprived at all.

Deprived of convenience? Sometimes. Deprived of cheap & easy access? Definitely. But when it comes to what used to sit on that bread?

I can have whatever I want.