In July I attended an industry seminar called the Adrenal Epidemic and got the download on the latest research about adrenal fatigue which is otherwise known as allostatic resistance.
I’ve summarized what I believe you need to know, especially if you are:
- someone who suffers from fatigue, burnout, thyroid or hormonal issues
- are entering their late 30’s, living in the inner city with a really full and busy life, burning the candle at both ends and wants to age (in the words of the naturopath leading the seminar) disgracefully well
- wanting to stay fertile & juicy and have an easy menopause.
If this is you, then please, get to know allostatis and cortisol.
Allostasis can be described as our adaptive plasticity. Say what? What this is describing is our allostatic resilience, a measure of our bodies ability to cope with stressors.
It comes down to basic law of survival in the jungle, which is adapt or die . This law *newsflash* governs our body. Yet, what our body has been asked to adapt to in the last 100 years has been really unusual compared to pre-industrial revolution. We have minimal hard labor, better working conditions and a huge array of technology to ‘help’ us, yet we have generally not used this increase in leisure time as down time, to nourish ourselves. Our bodies work less and our minds way more. Our senses are full with stimulations not previously known to humankind.
This inability to biologically adapt as rapidly as civilization, human behavior and technology is asking of us , is one of the major drivers of an epidemic of chronic ‘stress’ and fatigue.
Other major culprits contributing to lack of adaptability are:
- major shit going down in your life
- lack of convalescence/down time/recovery
- repeated hits of life events with out time to heal between (death of friends and family, job loses, illness, hard core work stress, major changes etc)
When you begin to lose your ability to recover and roll with life’s punches you become- ( my new fav word)
Ya no cope no more, meltdown moments, overwhelment, outbursts, stressface, breakdown, manic behaviour.
So you made to Acopic, this usually means you’ve entered into lack of adaptability. Now, back to allostatic resistance, when you lose your allostatic resistance, you lose your ability to adapt. This is where disease processes start. Got it?
This is where cortisol comes into the picture.
This is the important info you got to know.
In the beginning, cortisol levels generally go high. When that is sustained, the switch that turns it off ( the hypothalamus) becomes less responsive.
Your feedback loop is now not regulating properly. If this keeps on going, your reserves of materials that make these key hormones and process them, become depleted.
Cortisol Nerd Facts
- Cortisol keeps us alert, not alarmed but alert. This is why people initially often like running off it. It can lead to high performance.
- It releases in brief spurts throught the day about 7-15 spurts thru day. It is the highest between 7-8 in the morning, and wanes untill it’s our lowest around 11pm.
- There is a burst a 3am to prompt our liver to generate some sugar to keep us going through the night until breakfast.
- We have a cortisol burst after everytime we eat something. So fasting between meals maybe more appropriate than snacking for some cortisol resistant people.
- It prompts the liver to break down sugar, this causes sugar to be released into the blood stream. This is how stress can increase your fat stores, no matter what you eat or how you exercise.
- Cortisol will weaken connective tissue leaving the body susceptible to musculoskeletal dysfunction
- The pill increases cortisol load
- It has a half life in the body of 100 minutes
- It reduces inflammation, the most potent anti-inflammatory agent we have. Decreased levels = unchecked inflammation
- Body preferences cortisol over other key hormones. This leads to endocrine disruptions and hormonal imbalance
- It suppresses the immune system.
- Delays wound healing
- Increased levels decrease sensitivity of the tissues and cells this is what leads to cortisol resistance.
So in summary, if our cortisol levels are consistently high, and our feedback loop to switch it off, is skewed, we can expect our tissues to not be as responsive to the amount that is there.
This messes with our blood sugar, depositing fat into our middle and surrounding our organs. This is the really dangerous highly metabolically active type of fat. The kind of fat that becomes a factory for estrogens and can generate conditions such as PCOS and endometrios, high blood pressure and anxiety.
On top of this our immune system stops working well and our skin suffers as healing is de-prioritised.
The liver starts feeling the pump at this point and consumes key minerals in all it’s hard work. Other relationships that can breakdown can be the adrenals, thyroid and our endocrine system. Muscles aren’t recovering from exertion or being held well by the connective tissue and we are starting to get chronic pain from our stress and posture.
I see this all the time. I have been this.
Sounds lovely doesn’t it. ACOPIC. And baby it gets worse if we don’t seek intervention and break the cycle.
Adrenal reserve will affect your ovarian reserve & menopause.
Your ovaries are not just only home to all your eggs, the most potent life force cells in your whole system. They are your back up back up battery pack. They support the adrenals in cortisol production and the adrenals contribute to up to 35% of premenopausal hormones. Depleting these powerhouses in your 30’s and you are not setting yourself to have a easy transition at menopause.
So now, these potentialities are in your awareness, what to do about it?
Chinese Medicine is ALL about preventative care. We want you to age disgracefully well free from pain, stress and fatigue. Its so possible. If you know your losing your adaptability , your stress and fatigue is out of control, this is the time most people need a circuit breaker, a re-calibration, some facilitation.
Of course its do-able to stop, take stock and make the changes that you need to make on your own, ideally you have the tools and practices to do that. If that is just too hard to fathom or the tools you have previously used aren’t working for you anymore then please get on board with your practitioner and seek assistance to change direction. It can be done. We’re happy to do it. Its an honor to be part of your process and trusted to hold space and provide guidance.