Are Your Suffering From Adrenal Exhaustion?
Dr. Mary Riggin, LAc, FitFM – Family Wellness
Emotional abuse was nothing new to Katie. Her parents were always fighting when she was a child, and she never felt safe in her own home. As a result of her childhood, she made bad decisions as a young adult. Her first husband left her soon after she became pregnant with her daughter. He just couldn’t handle her “smart mouth.” It was the same issues she had as a child her father said she was too smart for her own good. She never fit in, anywhere. As a teen, she thought that food was the enemy. If she just ate enough to get by, she wouldn’t get fat like her mother. This caused her to yo-yo with her weight. By the time she married her second husband, she was suffering from a full-blown eating disorder. She desperately wanted to get help; but her husband liked her thin and controlled. By the time she had her second child, her emotional state, and subsequent eating disorder was out of control. Much to her dismay, her husband was vehemently against her getting any help. He was convinced he’d lose the woman he married if she had the eating disorder treated. He liked her just the way she was. She felt more and more trapped by her body, and another poor choice in men. Now she had 2 children, was feeling worse and worse and had no support from her husband or her family. Her parents told her it was her fault she wasn’t happy. She needed to just take care of her husband and his needs; stop being selfish. She fell deeper and deeper into a depression. By the time she was forty, she had 3 children and was in her third dysfunctional marriage. Nothing new. Her body was in a state of crisis; she now needed a hysterectomy great, something else was going wrong.
By the time she was 45, her body was her enemy. Her eating habits were out of control and were her only refuge. After her hysterectomy she gained weight; lots of weight. Her fears were coming true; she was turning into her mother and she was horrified. She tried everything to lose those pounds. She felt like she was in a distorted body her legs were skinny and her waist line felt like she was carrying around a tire-tube as a belt. Having babies never did this to her and later found out that this is a typical result of the hysterectomy procedure. She tried everything to feel better and lose weight. Starvation, working out like a mad woman, all the different “fad” diets out there and nothing worked. She even tried HCG shots and that made her hair fall out! With every diet she tried, she either lost a little and then gained back allot; or lost nothing and just got bigger around her waist-line. She fell deeper and deeper into a depression. Not only was she stuck in another failing relationship; she looked and felt the worst of her life. Her energy was low, her body was stiff and achy, she was irritable, moody, couldn’t sleep at night, and felt like her mind was constantly racing even though she was tired all the time. Her doctor said her lab work was normal and that she was just getting older and recommended anti-depressants. Her family thought she was just being a baby. Could things get any worse?
Emotional stress compounded over many years can lead to a complex condition known as adrenal fatigue. This is what happened to Katie. Most of her issues were rooted in her adrenal glands and there isn’t a blood test to indentify this condition, nor are there any drug therapies that can be used for treatment.
The adrenal glands are your stress glands. They are small glands that sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for that “fight or flight” response in the body. They are also responsible for managing stress; whether it’s from emotional factors, physical trauma or chemical exposure. The adrenals do the work to help us manage the stress of life. This explains why, after the surgery, Katie gained all the weight around her mid-section. The stress of the surgery caused her adrenal glands to secrete cortisol. The cortisol release, regardless of what you eat, will cause the muscles in your legs to break down and the result is increased blood sugar levels (even without eating any type of sugar.) This mechanism will cause you to store that sugar as belly fat around the mid-section. The more stress on the body, like a surgical procedure, low caloric intake, or even excessive exercise, will actually cause the belly fat to increase which is what happened to Katie. The more she starved herself; the more she gained. This is simply due to the added stress that was created by the lack of food. This increased her weight even though she was eating less. The more she exercised, the more she gained. Again, high impact exercise stressed her body and the stress caused a cortisol release which increased belly fat. After her surgery, more stress, more belly fat and more adrenal fatigue symptoms such as weight gain, low energy, sleep problems, moodiness and irritability. Her body was digesting her own muscle mass and storing it as fat around her waist. This specific phenomenon is a direct result of adrenal stress that has gone on for too long and has developed into adrenal fatigue.
Katie finally did find an answer to her problems. Once the correct problem was identified, an appropriate course of action was outlined. Treating her adrenal fatigue was not easy. She needed to slow down her exercise to just walking. She needed to follow very specific dietary guidelines to nourish her adrenal glands. She also found a natural healthcare doctor who understood the mechanisms of adrenal fatigue and used various methods such as acupuncture and acupressure techniques to specifically treat the adrenal glands so they could recuperate and heal.
After months of treatment she finally did lose the excessive weight, but more importantly she was able to regain her health. Her emotions stabilized, her energy improved, her pain disappeared, and her sleep quality returned to normal she never realized not sleeping through the night without waking up was a problem! Today, Katie still follows the guidelines she learned to maintain good adrenal health. Since her condition was a result of years of stress that started as a child, regular maintenance is required for her to feel her best; but that’s okay, because she’s never felt better in her entire life!
Executive Director, Acupuncture Physician
Dr. Riggin is FitFM - Family Wellness , is the Founder and Director of Healing Touch Oriental Medicine. As an inspiring health educator, in-demand speaker and doctor of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Dr. Mary has helped thousands of people completely turn their health around. Dr. Mary co-hosts and produces the wildly popular radio show "Food is the First Medicine" and her presentations and viewpoints on natural healthcarehave made her an in-demand and innovative expert in the natural health world.
Dr. Mary Riggin, produces and hosts Food is the First Medicine Talk Radio Show, and is a popular speaker. Since 1996 she has practiced natural medicine in the Tampa Bay area; her passion and purpose is to help as many people as possible. Listen to her weekly on TanTalk 1340AM in Tampa Bay, or online anytime, anywhere at www.foodismedicine.org.
She is former Vice Chair of the Florida State Board of Acupuncture and was appointed to this gubernatorial position by Governor Lawton Chiles and Governor Jeb Bush. She has been featured on various TV and radio shows and frequently teaches free classes at community and recreation centers throughout Pinellas County.
She is a published author and was featured in the book A Woman's Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Alternative Healing, writes and publishes educational newsletters and brochures, and was elected to serve two consecutive terms as President of the Florida State Oriental Medical Association.