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STRESS, MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS AND YOUR ADRENAL GLANDS

By: Dr. Marianne Beck, DC

Your kids need you to take them to football practice, piano lesson and the school science fair. Your boss needs that project done "yesterday". Your spouse complains that the two of you don't spend quality time together anymore. You don't remember the last time you made a "home-cooked" meal. There is too much to do and not enough time to do it. You are tired all the time and feel as if your life is not your own. You can't remember the last time you just relaxed. Does this sound familiar?

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We live in a "stressed out" and hectic world. Whether you have experienced a major trauma or you just experience the chronic stress of day to day life, you are vulnerable to the very damaging effects of stress.

Your adrenal glands are walnut size glands that sit on top of each kidney. The purpose of your adrenal glands is to help your body cope with stress and to survive. It is their job to enable your body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems. Your resiliency, energy endurance and your very life all depend on the proper functioning of your adrenal glands. The basic function of the adrenal glands is to rush all your body's resources into "fight or flight". When healthy, your adrenal can instantly increase your heart rate and blood pressure, release your energy stores for immediate use, slow your digestion and sharpen your senses. This was O.K. for our cave dwelling ancestors who needed to flee when a saber tooth tiger was after them. However, in that instance, the stress response was over quickly when the tiger walked away without eating them!

Unlike our ancestors, we live in a world of constant stress. We are constantly overworked, undernourished and exposed to environmental toxins. We have a demanding boss, financial pressures, personality conflicts, lack of adequate sleep, relationship problems, death or illness of a loved one, etc. We constantly rely on stimulants like caffeine, doughnuts, candy and starchy carbohydrates and "comfort foods" to lift us up and alcohol and sleep aids to relax us.

When we experience any type of stress, our adrenal glands produce cortisol. Normally, cortisol helps us meet the challenges of living by converting protein into energy, releasing glycogen and counteracting inflammation. This is fine for a short period of time.

However, sustained high levels of cortisol wear down the body. High cortisol destroys healthy muscle and bone, slows down healing, impairs digestion, impairs mental ability and weakens our immune system. This high production of cortisol is known as "hyperadrenia" or adrenal stress. If your adrenal glands keep up this hectic pace and produce high amounts of cortisol for prolonged periods of time, they eventually stop working properly and do not produce adequate amounts of cortisol. This is known as "hypoadrenia" or adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal dysfunction is a factor in chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, increased arthritis, depression, auto immune disorders, pre-mature menopause and hormone imbalances.

Menopausal women most often complain of hot flashes, fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, osteoporosis, mood swings, forgetfulness and depression. If this sounds like you, perhaps your underlying problem may be adrenal dysfunction. And, if adrenal dysfunction is your main problem, hormone replacement therapy, herbal formulas and even bioidentical hormone therapy will not work optimally for you. Adrenal problems should always be addressed first.

Adrenal stress and adrenal fatigue can be easily measured with a saliva test in the privacy of your own home! Saliva tests measure both cortisol and DHEA (another adrenal hormone) production throughout the day. Since saliva must be taken at least four times during the day, it is not practical to do four blood draws at your physician's office. In fact, saliva testing has proven to be more accurate that blood testing because in saliva you get the "active" and usable hormone values in your test results. Blood is less accurate because it measures the total hormone value which is the active plus the inactive or already used hormone. The best clinical results are obtained from only testing for the active hormone fractions via saliva. In order to properly measure adrenal function, you need to have hormone samples taken at 8am/12 noon/4pm/midnight-which for blood, is not practical.

Do you remember how you deserve to feel? In general, if you feel happy and well, have steady energy and emotions, sleep soundly 7-8 hours a night, wake up feeling refreshed and rested, recover well from stress and maintain a healthy weight without dieting, your adrenal glands are most likely healthy.

However, if you feel emotionally drained, have no energy during the day, have increased menopausal symptoms, have insomnia or sleep less than 7 hours a night, have frequent colds or you seem to get "everything that is going around", use stimulants to "get going" such as caffeine or sugary foods or you can't lose weight (especially around your waist) with diet and exercise, you are most likely suffering from adrenal dysfunction. The good news is that adrenal dysfunction can be identified and treated with specific vitamin and mineral supplements, adaptogenic herbs, transdermal creams containing adrenal hormone precursors, dietary and lifestyle changes and specific stress reduction techniques. A good "rule of thumb" for women suffering from perimenopause symptoms, PMS and menopause symptoms is to fix the adrenal glands first, then address sex hormone levels. In our ever-increasing stressful lives, everyone should consider having their adrenal hormones evaluated.

If you are finally tired of being "sick and tired", contact Dr. Marianne Beck at Women's BestHealth today. Call 954-782-4855 to to set up an appointment.

Dr. Marianne Beck, DC is the owner of BestHealth which is located at:

Sample Medical Promenade, 601 E. Sample Road, Suite 104, Pompano Beach, Fl.

954-782-4855. www.womensbesthealth.com Dr. Beck has been in active practice for 30 years and is a clinical nutrition and functional medicine practitioner.

Call her Menopause and Stress Hotline at 1-888-855-6761 for free recorded messages

Women's BestHealth is a functional medicine and nutritional health center specializing in women's health issues and wellness. Dr. Marianne Beck, founder and director, provides natural treatment for menopause, perimenopause, adrenal fatigue/stress, thyroid problems, Hashimoto's, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal problems and autoimmune disease. We offer our services locally in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

Serving: South Florida (South Fl), Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Oakland park, Pompano Beach, Deerfield, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Miramar, Coral Springs, Cooper City, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, Coconut Creek, Weston, Hollywood, Plantation, Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens. Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

Marianne Beck, D.C., Functional Medicine Practitioner and Director, Women's BestHealth