By Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
Female Hormone Specialist
Hormones produced by the adrenal glands can commonly become imbalanced and create anxiety, depression, burnout and imbalances in other hormone pathways. Hormones from the adrenal glands actually turn off the production of female hormones and impact thyroid hormones. The adrenals are the “foundation for the thyroid” and often the ignored reasons behind why my thyroid and Hashimoto's patients are still exhausted with chronic fatigue and symptomatic despite “Normal Thyroid levels.” When patients work with a standard endocrinologist for their thyroid or an OBgyn for their menopause they often feel persistently imbalanced until the adrenal glands are addressed by a Holistic Hormone Doctor.
Battling chronic stress and anxiety can feel like constantly running from a bear. The adrenal glands are designed to help us in emergency situations so we can run as fast as possible for survival. When we feel under attack our adrenal glands secrete cortisol and adrenaline which shunts blood flow to our muscles and lungs so we can run as fast as possible from the bear. Our body does not care about digestion, immunity, repair, or reproduction when it thinks we are running from a bear for survival.
My adrenal hormone patients are struggling with stomach issues, digestive problems, psychiatry issues such as depression anxiety and ADHD, joint aches and pain and of course imbalanced female hormones. such as PMS and Menopause.
Eventually with chronic stress the body exhibits somewhat of an “Existential Crisis” and begins to question if we are actually running from a bear. Just like in the “Little Boy Who Cried Wolf” our adrenals question if this is a real emergency and begin to fail to continue to make the same amount of hormones properly. Our adrenals doubt we have yet another emergency; they just don’t respond and don’t make the hormones that make us feel GOOD and help us run from the bear.
Rarely patients come to see me when they are running high on stress hormones because they are basically on "Nature's Cocaine," it is when their adrenal glands as little hormone factories cease to make these adrenal gland hormones anymore that they feel burnt out, tired, achy and blah. Many have insomnia at night with daytime fatigue because their adrenals have gone on a backwards rhythm and instead of being active with high levels of cortisol their cortisol levels are low in the morning and they can barely get out of bed. They wake up un-refreshed tired, achy blah, unmotivated and stiff and it takes a while to get going.
My hormone patients with this backwards hormone rhythm often are “Night Owls” that activate in the evening and/or have panic attacks in the middle of the night as their adrenals finally make more hormones while they are no longer under the stress from their day and resting. The adrenal patient either can't sleep at all or falls asleep and then wakes up with a sudden panic attack or surge of energy in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep.
With initial chronic stress, cortisol levels are high, and patients feel invincible. As chronic stress persists such as with this Pandemic many of us are starting to feel “Burnt Out’ and sick of it. We are exhausted and tired. Fatigue is high and motivation and appetite are low. Because we are constantly under stress our digestion is not good, our mood is not good and our immune system is not good.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include fatigue, lethargy, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, blood sugar imbalance, immune dysfunction, arthritis, hypothyroidism, joint aches and changes to skin pigment. Joints that constantly crack and pop are a hallmark signature symptom of adrenal imbalance especially when coupled with fatigue.
The picture I most commonly see in patients is that they are feeling very blah and lifeless. Many patients struggling with burn out are lacking motivation, depressed and constantly fatigued. Their previous doctor or psychiatrist has “Given me everything for my depression and anxiety” but to no avail. The reason those medications do not help is because we are barking up the wrong tree of low neurotransmitters when the true issue is low adrenal hormones.
The good news is that with modern stress we now have modern adrenal labs to check your adrenal metrics via a simple blood test covered by your insurance plan. We can then identify which stage of adrenal fatigue you are in as there are different adrenal herbs for each of the three stages of adrenal fatigue or “Maladaptive Stress Syndrome.”
The other good news is that adrenal labs and hormone testing are generally covered per the patient’s insurance plan as long as they are at the correct lab that is contracted with their insurance (Naturopathic Doctors cannot order labs for AHCCSS patients in Arizona, but my Medicare patients are covered.) With a comprehensive set of hormone labs I can look at the patient’s adrenal glands and prescribe the proper supportive herbs and natural treatments that help fortify this very important hormone pathway. I refer to the adrenals as the “Mother of the Endocrine System,” because we all know that:
“When Mommy is not happy…. then ain’t nobody is happy!”
Please schedule a visit with me if this sounds like you and you need help with your adrenals. Simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page and treat yourself to a hormone consultation. I am available via telemedicine for those that are not in Arizona and for those that also prefer to stay at home.
I am always happy to help you reach optimal health and hormone balance!
Dr. Nicole Sundene
Female Hormone Specialist
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!