How Well Do You Handle Stress?

In today’s hectic lifestyle we are exposed to many forms of stress such as: shuttling our children all over town, divorce, or losing a job. The stress that follows can be short lived or can become chronic. About three years ago I met a young lady who complained of a combination of symptoms including mental fogginess, end of the day fatigue, food cravings, weight gain, and an occasional metallic taste in her mouth. I used saliva testing on her and was able to determine that her cortisol levels were low throughout the day. Within one week, the patient responded to an adrenal complex supplement and reported having more energy throughout the day.

At this point NAET and natural hormone replacement therapy was added to her treatment plan. Her energy continued to increase, food cravings gradually decreased, and the mental fog disappeared over a six month period. Adrenal Fatigue is a set of symptoms that arise from long term exposure to stress. Chronic stress can cause many problems including frequent headaches, fatigue, and the lack of motivation to complete routine every day tasks. These symptoms are usually not relieved by sleep or medication. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on our adrenal glands and their ability to properly produce hormones that affect our health. Cortisol, adrenaline, and DHEA are hormones secreted by your adrenal glands. They play a role in the utilization of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, the distribution of stored fat, regulation of blood sugar, and proper cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function. This tiny 5 gram organ is critical in maintaining a state of overall health and well being.

Many people view stress as something going on outside of the body, however stress applies to conditions inside the body as well. Outside stressors can be mental, physical, chemical, emotional, or environmental. When stressed, the body evokes a chemical assault to combat stress via hormones, neurotransmitters and cytokines (cell communicators). When you experience any form of stress the adrenal glands produce a hormone called cortisol to try to bring the body back into balance.

There is a circadian rhythm of activity that occurs when the adrenal glands are functioning properly. The highest cortisol levels are produced in the morning, shortly after awakening, and progressively falls to the lowest level during the first hours of sleeping. Chronic stress overburdens the adrenals and upsets natural balances and rhythms. The end result is unhealthy symptoms that can become chronic if left untreated.

Signs & Symptoms of Chronic Stress

  • 1. Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
  • 2. Craving salt or salty foods
  • 3. Ongoing fatigue not relieved by sleep
  • 4. Diminished sex drive
  • 5. Increased time to recover from illness
  • 6. Feeling light headed when standing up too quickly
  • 7. Thoughts are less focused, more fuzzy
  • 8. Irritability and increased anxiousness
  • 9. Intense allergies and chemical sensitivities
  • 10. Diminished ability to handle stressful events
These are just a few indications that your adrenal glands are struggling to function properly. These symptoms however can be triggered by one of several medical conditions, therefore I use saliva and urine testing to determine whether or not your adrenal glands need support.

Not everyone requires extensive treatment plans to feel better.

The following are recommendations to get you started on a road to improved health:

1. Diet: Yes, I know, improving your nutritional diet is on my frequent playlist. Simply put, diet is a powerful master key that we can use to change our state of health . Reduce refined sugars, caffeine, and alcohol. Include several small meals containing protein (i.e. broccoli, nuts, beans, etc.).

2. Determine allergic foods and avoid them. In my office I have two tools to help me determine your specific allergies, these include NAET and Food Allergy testing. You can also determine food sensitivities by food journaling.

3. Adequate vitamin C is important.

4. Use stress-management techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, Yoga, etc. Techniques should be based on your specific preferences and should be utilized frequently.

5. Engage in light exercise several times a week.

6. Get daily exposure to sun light.

7. See a physician regarding your health concerns to help you figure out root causes.

8. Consider using natural supplements to control pain and inflammation in place of over-the counter medication.

9. Understand that it will take time for your body to heal. Do not let yourself get anxious and do not lose hope.

10. Go to bed by 9 or 10 p.m. and do not engage in stressful TV shows, books, arguments, etc. an hour before bedtime.

Once I have received your test results, I can determine if I need to add other items to your health plan. For example, I may need to add a supplement if your cortisol level is too high at night. Keep in mind, the healing process is different for everyone. By the time you notice symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, your cortisol levels, as well as other key hormones may have been imbalanced for many months. It takes time to allow your adrenal glands and the rest of your body to heal, and for you to feel good again.

About Varsha Rathod: Dr. Varsha Rathod is a Board Certified Rheumatologist and Internist. Preventive Medicine has focused on a combination of traditional and holistic medicine since 1967. For more information about alternative solutions, visit

Photo: m_bartosch /

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