Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements-ADRENAL FATIGUE

Adrenal fatigue is a syndrome (a collection of signs and symptoms) that point to overburdened adrenal glands that can't do what they are suppose to do...efficiently produce HORMONES. There are generally 3 stages of fatigued adrenals:
  • Stage 1: The adrenals begin by responding to stress by increasing the secretion of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol;
  • Stage 2: When stress is chronic or persistent (driving in traffic, kids being bratty, being sick or ill, not eating properly, exercising, your significant other and you fighting) it causes excessive production of certain hormones, especially cortisol, in an attempt to minimize the damage to the body, caused by the stress;
  • Stage 3: When the glands can't make enough cortisol to keep up to Western societies major stresses, they become fatigued and cortisol levels drop excessively low.
Many symptoms and signs can arise during this time, that can range from mild to severe.

Cortisol's most important function is to HELP THE BODY RESPOND TO STRESS! Any kind of stress, be it physical (surgery, illness), emotional and/or environmental, by converting proteins into energy, fighting inflammation and releasing glycogen for energy (which in turn your muscles aren't getting). It also helps fight infection, maintain blood pressure (boss yelling at you, driving in traffic, not making enough money), and REGULATE METABOLISM of fats, proteins and carbohydrates (this is why I am so PICKY about your meal plan and proper eating). When your body works away at these stresses for a short time, that's fine, the body will respond well BUT if there is CHRONIC stress, your cortisol levels will remain high, then the cortisol attacks the body and weakens the immune system. The result ADRENAL FATIGUE! Statistics show that approximately 80% of people in North America experience adrenal fatigue at least once during their lifetime. It can last anywhere from a few days, to a week and for others it can linger for months or years. You can ask your doctor to perform a simple test, the ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) challenge test. When this hormone, which is made by the pituitary gland is injected into the body, an increase in adrenal hormone should occur. If it does not, adrenal fatigue is probable.

Causes/Risk Factors:
As discussed, stressors such as nutritional deficiencies, chronic physical and/or emotional stress, exposure to environmental toxins (e.g. secondhand smoke, household solvents, pesticides, food preservatives), use of stimulants (e.g. caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sugar, cocaine), chronic infections, especially respiratory (e.g. bronchitis, pneumonia) and genetics, can all play a roll in adrenal fatigue.

Fatigue can leave you tired, muscle weakness, swollen fingers and/or toes, low blood pressure, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, intolerance to cold, sleep disturbances, depression, and allergies, among other symptoms. The good news; it can be prevented and treated successfully using a natural approach!

Prevention and Treatment:
As hockey coaches say your best defense is your offense. With that said, your best offense is nutritious diet, adequate sleep, conscientious stress reduction and management and avoidance of toxins (alcohol, smoking, drugs). Temporary adrenal stress can easily be address with lifestyle changes and  supplementation. In permanent causes, removal of the pituitary or adrenal glands, congenital adrenal hyperplasia or Addison's disease, require hormone replacement but can also benefit from nutritional supplements. The biggest prevention is learning to manage, control and minimize your stress.

Must haves:
  • Vitamin C.  Recommended 3,000 mg daily can help reduce elevated cortisol levels, psychological stress, and blood pressure.
  • DHEA.  As mention earlier, stressed adrenals lose their ability to produce adequate DHEA. Supplementation with DHEA may also help protect against overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands. Have your levels tested before beginning supplementation. The typical recommended dose is 20-50mg per day.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Plays a key role in adrenal health and is necessary for the production of cortisol. The recommended dose is 1,500mg daily.
  • Magnesium. This mineral plays a major role in adrenal function and you should supplement with magnesium aspartate. Recommended dosage 100 to 300mg daily.
Other Options:
  •  L-theanine, Asian Ginseng and Melatonin. Please contact me for further information if the above treatments show no significant improvement after 6-8 weeks. I can also provide recipes and more information.
Shannon Jonas
*Food and Healing by AnneMarie Colbin

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements-ACNE

As promised, this is the start to your health and wellness. This week we'll address ACNE.

Pimples, bumps, cysts, redness and inflammation...fun! Every day people wake up to acne, also known as acne vulgaris. It even sounds vulgar! It is a chronic skin condition that affects approximately 85% of Canadian teenagers and up to 12% women and 3% men will continue to have acne until their mid 40's. Acne can range from mild to severe, it all begins the same way: oil glands (sebaceous glands) in the skin secrete an oily substance (sebum) into the hair follicles. The sebum lubricates the hair and skin, but if too much sebum is produced, it can block the skin pores and trap dead skin cells. A plug then forms and develops into a closed dome (whitehead) or open dome (blackhead). If bacteria gets into the dome, the skin becomes inflamed and pimples form. Sometimes pimples fill with pus and invade deep into the skin, forming the painful scars known as cysts. When pustules and cysts form scar tissue when they heal, they can leave pits in the skin.


Acne usually appears during adolescence and is largely caused by hormonal changes. The hormone change stimulates the sebaceous glands to increase sebum production, a process that usually subsides by the age of 20. It is not uncommon for acne to appear for the first time in adults though and in this case it may be a genetic disposition, hormonal changes (related to menstruation or high testosterone levels), reaction to certain cosmetics and from use of certain medications, such as, lithium, corticosteroids, oral contraceptives and phenytoin. Poor diets, nutrient depleated food, fat, protein and sugar excess, mineral-water excess and organ malfunction (usually kidney or liver).

Prevention and Treatments:

You can reduce the severity of acne and take steps to decreasing the impact it has if you:
  • Avoid picking, popping or irritating the pimples.
  • Eat a whole-foods diet that includes for to five servings of green vegetables daily as chlorophyll is good for the skin and also eat lots of fiber. This is extremely important as our organs of elimination are NOT in fine working order. The fact that these and many other conditions clear up after the removal of dairy products, indicates that cow's milk and its derivatives because of their high content of buildup elements or protein and calcium, may be closely associated with them.*
  • Use mild soap when washing your face and avoid harsh cleaners or scrubs.
  • Avoid use of cosmetics that contain oil, which can clog your pores, or those that contain lanolin, isopropyl myristate, laureth-4, D&C red dyes and sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Wash hair frequently.
All natural supplements and treatments can take a longer time to move with your body, so be patient and give 6-8weeks to see results.

Must haves:

  • Tea tree oil is a must! When it is applied to acne, it may reduce bacteria and improve inflammatory symptoms. Tea tree oil has fewer side effects, compared with benzoyl peroxide. Apply a drop or two to each lesions three times daily or use 5% gel twice daily. Personal note: For myself I use Tea Tree Oil Facial Moisturizer by @mosphere and I LOVE IT! Also, I take Progesterone because my levels were slightly low and I find that has helped balance my hormones too.
  • Vitamin A or beta-carotene. Suggested amount would be "up to 25,000 IU daily of vitamin A is considered safe for postmenopausal women; a comparable dose of beta-carotene is 30,000mcg. For women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant, take no more than 10,000 IU daily of vitamin A or 6,000 mcg or beta-carotene."
  • Vitamin B complex. Two to three times daily, take 25 to 50 mg. "Also include extra vitamin B6 and take 25 mg twice daily for severe acne, once daily for mild to moderate acne." If you find that acne flairs up only happen during your menstrual cycles, take 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily.
Other Options:

Copper, Zinc and Aloe Vera are also other options. Please contact me for further information if the above treatments show no significant improvement after 6-8 weeks. I can also provide recipes and more information.

Shannon Jonas
*Food and Healing by AnneMarie Colbin