The cortisol levels continue to drop, flatlining throughout the day, This is a sign that the body is in real trouble. Your body can no longer manufacture stress hormones- all the symptoms of pre-burnout occur but they’re magnified. In some patients it gets so bad they can’t even get out of bed or do the things they love. At this point, they often visit their doctor and are prescribed antidepressants, which don’t treat the cause at all. If you stay in this burnout phase for more than a year, I’ve found it can take years to restore optimal adrenal function. It’s really important to seek help before this point.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Both cortisol and DHEA levels have now plunged because the body is using up the DHEA levels to deal with the ongoing stress and the adrenals can no longer secrete high levels of cortisol to compensate. Normally cortisol must be high in the morning to wake us; the fact that it’s not means that at this stage most of my patients really have a hard time getting out of bed and continually reset the alarm to snooze. Your enthusiasm for life and your libido might fall. Your immunity is also likely to suffer, so you could find that you’re picking up more minor bugs. Insomnia is likely as are other mental symptoms, such as anxiety and even depression. This can go on for a long period- and many of us still just think we’re living a normal busy life and power through with the help of coffee, sugar and, probably, by now, the odd energy drink. But remember: every time you feel anxious or tired, this is a cry for help from the adrenal glands. They don’t want more coffee or something sweet in a can; they need TLC. Otherwise you will progress to stage 4.
Monday, April 10, 2017
If stress continues in this state, your endocrine system starts to tire. It diverts energy into making cortisol and, as such, your production of DHEA can drop. This is the point when I most commonly see patients. They know something is not right because that combination of high cortisol but low DHEA makes them feel anxious, and some even develop panic attacks. Libido can also lower. If you’re affected you’ll find it difficult to wake up in the morning, and have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep at night, even though you’re tired because your mind is whirring. You may also wake up hungry at about 3-5am, as your blood-sugar level drops. You’re probably easily irritated, feeling more cold as the thyroid gland becomes affected and possibly gaining weight around the middle, despite exercising. Oh, and the local barista knows you by name as you need so many cups of coffee to get through the entire day.
Monday, March 27, 2017
I call this the “compensation phase” because when you are at the beginning of adrenal fatigue, your cortisol rises in an attempt to compensate for the stressor that affects you. At this point, our mother hormone DHEA also endures the stressors well. Signs that you’re in the “compensation phase” include mild tiredness when you wake up (even after a good night’s sleep). Patients I see at this stage quite often say, “I need a coffee to start my day, otherwise I can’t get going.” Tiredness can also hit mid-afternoon, where again you start to crave sugar or need a coffee to keep you going. These quick fixes help you compensate for the fact that your adrenals are not working optimally. Reversing stress at this stage will reverse symptoms, but many people think this is ‘normal’ and just keep going.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
From Peru, this is one of the adaptogen family of herbs, which work to balance your body. This makes it particularly good in conjunction with the reproductive hormones as it won’t raise levels that don’t need alteration. It’s also anti-inflammatory. In studies, maca has been linked with favorable estrogen and testosterone levels, thus preserving your youthful hormones, and is shown to help tackle symptoms of menopause caused by hormonal fluctuation. There’s not a set dose for maca- how much you use depends on your weight, age and how your body reacts to it. Start with 3g daily of powder, adding a little more if you don’t get effects. The maximum dose consumed should be 9g daily. #AskDrNigma
Friday, March 10, 2017
Most of us just think about milk, but it’s also yogurt, hard cheese, soft cheese, cottage cheese, crème fraîche, butter, ice cream and Quark. Plus a myriad of processed food items contain dairy products- anything with a creamy taste will have some level of dairy within it, but surprisingly so can foods such as bread, cereal and processed meats. Protein shakes also commonly include whey or casein.
Friday, March 3, 2017
This is one of the primary ways to trigger premature aging in skin. In fact, it’s my experience that the average smoker can look up to 10 years older than a non-smoker, and studies have shown that if one twin smokes and the other doesn’t, the damage is so obvious that 57 percent of plastic surgeons can spot a smoking twin from a picture of their face. I can do exactly the same thing- smokers have more bags under their eyes, more wrinkles, particularly around their lips, and less firm skin, particularly around the jawline, than non-smokers. Smoking also causes free radical damage and triggers the release of a protein called MMP-1, both of which directly attack collagen and elastin levels- and it also directly triggers inflammation. Every time smoke enters your lungs, it irritates the delicate cells within them; those cells see this irritation as an attack and, as with so many other factors that I’ve talked about here, that irritation triggers an inflammatory response. If you do smoke, quitting is one of the most important things you can do for your health and looks.