Everyone has stress in their life, but too much of it can cause adrenal fatigue and other hormone imbalances downstream. Stress disrupts the natural balance of adrenal hormone production resulting in a constant state of heightened awareness or alarm, depleting the body’s hormone resources overtime. If this state continues, other hormones such as DHEA, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and thyroid hormone can all be impacted.
Impaired immune system function is also a byproduct of adrenal fatigue. Immune cells don’t respond normally during prolonged stress and diminished adrenal function leaving you vulnerable to chronic illness and autoimmunity.
Adrenal conditions have many different symptoms that can sometimes be confusing. In early stages, people are over stimulated and appear to have excessive energy on 4 hours of sleep. In end stage adrenal fatigue, people struggle to get out of bed and have brain fog and fatigue all day long. At any point on this spectrum, other symptoms and conditions can arise as well, such as PCOS, weight gain, acne, insomnia, inflammatory conditions, and blood sugar, thyroid, and sex hormone imbalances.
The struggle that comes with unbalanced hormones can take a significant toll on all aspects of your life. Using a functional medicine approach allows us to identify all underlying causes of why that adrenal fatigue is occurring. Anything from daily stress, infections, and diet to nutrient imbalances, toxins, and lack of oxygen could be driving your adrenals down. Addressing the causes and bringing the hormones back into balance will let you feel like yourself again.
The collection of conditions and syndromes that are called autoimmune affect at least 50 million Americans, and about 75% are women. Autoimmune conditions are on the rise, especially in men and younger individuals. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Graves’ Disease, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and Type 1 Diabetes are names you hear frequently now. Even heart disease and cancer are now considered a part of this continuum.
If you have achy muscles and joints, brain fog, depression, insomnia, fatigue, acne, rashes, hives, intolerance to cold or heat, hormone imbalances, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation, among many other symptoms, there’s a good chance you have an autoimmune condition. These disorders often appear as a set of seemingly unrelated symptoms that look like many other illnesses, but aren’t clearly defined. This creates a “gray area” that can be very frustrating for people struggling with these conditions.
The good news is that whether you have a diagnosed condition or the vague set of symptoms that look like one, taking a personalized, functional medicine approach can reverse this process. Until recently, it was believed that the autoimmune process couldn’t be reversed, but now we know differently. They can be put into remission by identifying ALL root causes that drive immune system attack, inflammatory processes and leaky gut, which are at the core of reversing the autoimmune progression in the body. By addressing these areas and making some lifestyle changes, the body can heal by improving physiology and achieving balance.
Brain and Mood Balance
Conditions that affect the brain and mood are vast, and at some point in everyone’s life they will experience at least one. Anxiety, depression/postpartum depression, irritability, brain fog, chronic fatigue, memory loss, insomnia, and sleep disorders are some of the more common symptoms associated with brain imbalances and chronic stress. Those suffering from these effects often feel frustration and isolation with their situation.
Brain and mood disorders are often associated with an imbalance somewhere else in the body which has a downstream effect on the brain. Leaky gut, infections, chronic stress, hormone imbalances, nutrient depletion, and exposures to toxins can all produce symptoms that affect the delicate balance of brain chemistry.
Restoring health and balance to the brain responds well to a functional medicine approach. Finding and addressing the underlying causes often corrects the condition without other interventions. Optimizing diet and nutrient levels, eliminating the sources of imbalance, and modifying key lifestyle factors are the key to brain health and happiness.
A healthy gut is regarded as central to the overall health and balance of the body in many medical traditions, including naturopathic, Ayurvedic, Chinese, and functional medicine. The GI tract is responsible not only for digestion and absorption of nutrients, but functions in protection from infection, immunity, neurotransmitter production, detoxification and elimination of waste, hormone balance, maintaining a healthy weight, and more. Pregnant women pass their flora onto their new babies at birth, so having a healthy microbiome is essential to laying a healthy foundation.
According to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans suffers with a diagnosed digestive disorder, and millions more suffer with the symptoms daily. Diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, reflux, and cramping can make your life very uncomfortable, but the other symptoms of gut imbalances compound the struggle. These symptoms include acne, rashes, hives, eczema, depression, anxiety, headache, brain fog, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, poor detoxification, hormone imbalances, asthma, allergies, frequent infection, autoimmunity, food intolerances, and many more. The impact of gut imbalance and infection can be felt throughout your entire body. If not addressed early enough, these symptoms can progress to Crohn’s, Celiac, Ulcerative Colitis, chronic Candida or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), as well as many other autoimmune conditions.
The functional medicine model allows us to identify the causes, triggers, and mediating factors that allow gut dysfunction to occur. The most significant sources are often stress, infections, diet and nutrient imbalances, but all possibilities need to be investigated. Addressing these will removes the insults, restores physiology and balance, not only to the gut, but the entire body, allowing you to feel your best again.
Weight gain, hair loss, exhaustion, constipation, cold intolerance, and depression from an under-active thyroid can leave you upset and discouraged, especially when you’re told your labs are “normal”. Similarly, the weight loss, anxiety, intolerance to heat, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and tremors associated with an overactive thyroid are equally distressing. What if you suffer from symptoms of both, which is sometimes the case with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis? Addressing the symptoms even when the labs say otherwise is essential to addressing thyroid dysfunction.
The thyroid is the master regulator of metabolism in the body, but it’s influenced by the stress, gonadal, and blood sugar regulating hormones. Additionally, leaky gut, infection, food allergies and sensitivities, and exposures to certain toxic chemicals or metals also impact thyroid function and health.
If you are on thyroid medication and still suffer from symptoms or have symptoms with normal lab values, then one or more causes isn’t being addressed. Taking a comprehensive approach to assess and treat all potential causes is central to restoring and maintaining thyroid health.