Acupuncture in a bottle? How adaptogenic herbs calm the stress happening in your body right now!

adaptogenic herbs for stress management

Acupuncture in a bottle? Too busy to see your acupuncturist weekly but love the way you feel when you can? You can help your body adapt to stressors in your life by using adaptogenic herbs.  These ancient plants have been around for thousands of years and you can find them prepared in capsule-form to help your body adapt to stress.

Stress? What stress?
I don’t care who you are, if you are a women in the 21st century, you have stress!

It could be stress from working full-time and raising a family, it could be stress from a bad relationship, it could be biochemical stressors from an unknown food allergy, gut infection, environmental toxin or inflammation somewhere in your body. Or, it may even be self-induced stress from your own stories you tell yourself.

Wherever your stress is coming from, adaptogenic herbs can help to calm the stress response in your body and help you feel like yourself again!

Acupuncture in a Bottle

As an acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine herbalist, I have often referred to adaptogenic herbs as “acupuncture in a bottle”. These herbs have specific qualities that modulate the effects of cortisol and adrenaline – our str
Adaptogenic herbs compared to acupunctureess hormones. Cortisol rises in response to any stress, real or imagined, and sets off a cascade of events in our bodies. Adaptogenic herbs parallel the response of the body to acupuncture – a reboot of your overwhelmed operating system.

Effects of the stress hormone, Cortisol

Symptoms of high cortisol can be irritability, insomnia, abdominal weight gain, difficulty losing weight and high testosterone. After being chronically stressed for years, a single traumatic event or the death of a loved one, cortisol tends to decrease and your body cannot seem to squeeze anymore out. This is the point many women feel exhausted, depressed, can’t stay asleep, have achy muscles and joints, as well as blood sugar instability and sex hormone imbalances.

Adaptogenic Herbs for daily mind-body balancing

Mind-body activities like acupuncture, meditation, yoga and Tai Chi can help to
balance cortisol to more healthy levels. But for immediate, daily balancing- I often recommend adaptogenic herbs.

The definition of an adaptogen is a “nontoxic plant extract that can increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning”.

Some of these herbs are specifically used for low cortisol or high cortisol but all of them work to balance stress hormones to help you feel more grounded, have good energy and respond to stress better.

Here are some of my favorite Adaptogenic Herbs:

Ashwaganda: One of the most popular and well-researched herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, it is most well-known for its restorative benefits.

helps combat the effects of stress
improves learning and memory
calms anxiety and depression
stabilizes blood sugar
improves Libido

Holy Basil (Tulsi plant): an Ayurvedic herb used for thousands of years in India, has antioxidant properties that help reduce the effects of stress, and most known and powerful against colds/flu and bacterial infections as well as protective against radiation and chemotherapy.

good for the lungs & asthma
headache
anti-Inflammatory
fights against colds & flu

* not for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant

Rhodiola Rosea: A Russian and Scandinavian traditional tonic, it’s of the most reliable herbs for reducing fatigue (next to ginseng) and improving symptoms of stress.
gives energy
improves brain function
protective against toxins
increases serotonin in depression

*avoid taking at night as it may interfere with your sleep

Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng): Thought of as the most superior adaptogenic herb in Chinese Medicine, this herb has been studied more than any other herb.
dampens stress response
strengthens memory
sustains energy throughout day
boosts immune system

 

Panax Ginseng ( Asian Ginseng): As the most well-known herb world-wide and over 5,000 years old, this Chinese Medicine herb is often used for stress reduction and and it’s anti-aging affects, .

combats fatigue
lowers blood sugar
lowers cholesterol levels
boosts immune system
good for asthma
boosts memory
boosts libido

 

Maca root: This Peruvian plant helps to relieve tension, anxiety and boost energy, mood and libido. Research has shown its ability to balance hormones.
boosts libido
helps calm hot flashes
balances hormones
increase stamina
combat fatigue

 

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): Discovered 2,000 years ago, this herb is part of the mint family and native to the Mediterranean, it is calming and used most frequently for anxiety, sleep disturbances and digestion  When used in aromatherapy, it is specifically helpful for bronchitis, insomnia and anxiety.
heals cold sores
helps with sleep disturbances
antioxidant activity
reduces anxiety
can be helpful in hyperthyroid
assists chronic fatigue
helps gas and bloating

If you want to experience “acupuncture in a bottle”, I will help you find the best adaptogenic herbs for you! Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with ReNee Greenberg,RN, MS, LAc

Is Adrenal fatigue and stress affecting your hormone balance?

adrenal fatigue and insomnia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever been so tired that you just can’t wait to get into your bed? But there you are, all comfy in your bed… you find yourself too wired to get to sleep. Or even worse, you are laying there with your eyes open, struggling to sleep AND the hot flashes kick in! As the clock ticks, you start to worry about your sleep and how tired you will be tomorrow, and the cycle will start all over again.  These are all signs of adrenal fatigue and/or adrenal stress.

The source of this “wired and tired” insomnia starts with your adrenal glands- where your stress hormones are made.  Chronically high levels of stress hormones not only affect your sleep, it will affect how you transition through peri-menopause and menopause.

Your adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and secrete important hormones: cortisol, adrenaline, aldosterone, progesterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). These hormones help you to buffer stress response and adapt to the everyday demands and stressors of life- real or imagined!

Under normal stress, healthy adrenals increase their output of cortisol and DHEA to enable you to stay emotionally stable,  sleep well, keep your hormones and immune system balanced.

If stress becomes chronic, the adrenals can no longer keep up with the demand for more cortisol and other stress hormones. Chronic high cortisol causes DHEA levels to fall- which is the start of adrenal disregulation.  This sets in motion a cascade of events that affect the production of our sex hormones and, of course, cause disruption in other body systems as well!

Many chronically stressed women complain of insomnia, fatigue, depression, irritability, weight gain, night sweats, hot flashes and digestive difficulties.  

Around the age of 35-40, the ovaries start gradually decreasing the amount of progesterone they produce.  At midlife, with the innate wisdom of your body,  the adrenal gland takes over as an important source of progesterone during peri-menopause and beyond.  If the adrenals are too busy producing cortisol, adequate amounts of progesterone and DHEA cannot be made. Basically, your hormonal transition, peri-menopause,  will not be as smooth as it would be for a women who has a healthier adrenal system.

High levels of cortisol can cause:adrenal fatigue

  • Depression
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Low production of progesterone
    • PMS/PMDD
    • PCOS
    • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Night sweats/hot flashes
  • High blood pressure
  • Low energy
  • Brain fog
  • Sugar cravings
  • Elevated cholesterol/triglycerides

As stress becomes a way of life for some women, high cortisol levels from prolonged stress then become depleted and can drop to very low levels.

Low Cortisol Levels can cause:

  • Allergies or decreased immune system&copy; Bidouze Stéphane | Dreamstime.com - <a href="https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-asleep-technology-image6412309#res14486881">Asleep on technology</a>
  • Fatigue
  • Panic attacks/anxiety/depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Low or unstable blood sugar
  • Restless sleep
  • Low DHEA
  • Low libido
  • Achy joints and muscles
  • Water retention
  • Low blood pressure/dizzy
  • Crave salty foods

How do you test for high or low cortisol levels?
It’s important to test for adrenal fatigue, or dysregulation, by looking at the circadian rhythm of cortisol throughout the day.  We can then assess the stage of progression in order to know what treatment plan is best.

Testing is best done by a Adrenal Stress Profile, a saliva test done at home with 4   samples of the patient’s saliva collected at intervals throughout the day for example: 8am, noon, 4pm and 10pm. The patient sends the home test kit to the lab and the results and treatment plan will be discussed by her functional medicine practitioner. The test will show what pattern is occurring – high cortisol, low cortisol, combination pattern or backwards pattern.

Saliva testing is best because you can see the unique rhythm throughout the day as opposed to a blood test that is only a morning snapshot. It will also tell us how stress is affecting the DHEA levels so we know how the body is adapting to stress- and how our hormones are being affected in relation to cortisol levels.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.04.35 PM

 

 

This is an abnormal cortisol rhythm that is very low in the morning and has no elevation.  This pattern is usually seen with the patient suffering from low cortisol levels (adrenal fatigue) from chronic stress or traumatic event.

 

 

 

This is an abnormal cortisol rhythScreen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.18.33 PMm that is normal during the day but spikes up at night, causing difficulties getting to sleep. This pattern is commonly seen with irregular eating habits and poor blood sugar balance.

 

 

 

 

How can we restore our adrenal glands for better hormone balance?

  • Diet: no refined sugars, caffeine, moderate alcohol and should include several small, low glycemic (low sugar) meals containing protein, healthy fats and fresh fruits/vegetables
  • Eliminate allergic foods – elimination diet or food allergy testing
  • Eliminate Toxins– use natural personal products, filter water, organic produce and eliminate toxic relationships as well!
  • Support adrenal glands with Licorice and Chinese herbal formulas
  • Adaptagenic herbs to balance stress response: Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, Panax Ginseng, Eleuthro
  • Vitamin C – 1,000-2,000mg a day
  • Get enough sleep – start by turning off all screens an hour or two before bed, have a small snack of nuts/or a protien to help keep blood sugar stable & stay asleep
  • Use stress-management techniques– consistent acupuncture, meditation,prayer, Tai Chi, yoga, walking in nature, enjoying the company of a good friend or family member/pet
  • Deal with deep-seated emotions as needed with laughter, breathing, and/or maybe professional help.
  • Engage in low to moderate exercise and listen to your body– yoga, walking, Tai Chi
  • Get daily outdoor sunshine in the morning- stimulates melatonin for better sleep cycles.
  • Find meaningful connections to your friends and family as well as your work.

Our bodies are an intricate web of feedback loops that communicate between the brain and the endocrine system -Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis. When healthy, The HPA axis is the source of hormonal health and balance in fertility, perimenopause and menopause.  If our adrenal glands are out of whack with either adrenal fatigue or stress, it throws off this communication.  In addition, if you have thyroid disease or digestive problems, all the symptoms we call “menopause”, are more intense.

I want all women to enter into menopause with healthy adrenals to ensure a smooth transition. Menopause is not a disease to be treated, rather, I see it as a time of transition into the second half our lives as women.  Which is going to be amazing with renewed energy and vitality!

 Support your adrenal health first by finding the stressors in your life.  Then, find ways to either eliminate them or find healthier ways to respond to any ongoing stress- emotional or physical.
Does this sound like you or someone you care about?  Adrenal fatigue, or disregulation, can cause many hormone imbalances that can be corrected by diet, lifestyle/emotional shifts and key nutrients. Don’t wait any longer to feel better and live a fuller life – Click to set up a free 15 minute consultation to see if my program is right for you.

The only thing you have to lose is sleep!

Sweet dreams,
ReNee Greenberg, RN,MS,LAc

 

7 Ways to Stop negative chatter Inside Your Head!

young woman in panic

We all have that inner-voice inside our heads trying to stop us or sabotage our health and lifestyle changes. We hear things like “you are not smart enough” “you are not pretty or thin enough” and it tempts us go down that spiral of low-self esteem. Often we want to throw our hands up in defeat- reaching for that cookie or glass of wine.

How can we make a shift in that negative chatter? How can we begin to change the course of our health, future and successes?

Research has proven that meditation and counteracting the negative self-talk can make a big difference. Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to yourself, studied women who listened to self- compassion meditations for 3 weeks improved their body image and sense of self- worth. More impressive is that these women were tested 3 months later and these positive feelings toward themselves were still intact.

By silencing your inner critic, you will be able to have a more positive outlook on your body image and be happier overall. Self-compassion is rooted in Buddhist principles and teaches us to love and treat ourselves like we would treat a good friend or loved one.

When our inner dialogue is accepting and positive, we tend to take more time for good nutrition, exercise and treat ourselves with respect. Self criticism holds us back from living the lives that we were meant to live, from achieving our goals and being truly happy and fulfilled.

Begin with writing a letter to yourself from the perspective of an imaginary friend – filled with understanding, love and acceptance. Treat yourself as you would treat an innocent child that requires a nurturing parent. Each time you find yourself in negative self-talk, gently reassure yourself in a non-judgmental way that nobody is perfect and you love yourself without conditions. Meditations daily, self-care and taking time for yourself can all be ways toward your own road to self-compassion.

You can only be you, so be your best self today!

  • Nourish your body with healthy foods; nourish your soul with a spiritual practice
  • Counteract negative thoughts about yourself with something positive
  • Read, watch, talk about and do things that fill your soul…and do it daily
  • Pamper your body with baths, massage, body scrub, pedicure – love yourself!
  • Stop comparing yourself to other people
  • Surround yourself with people who love you for you and help you to be your best self
  • Acknowledge your special gifts and share them with the world! A smile, a song, words of comfort…

Holistic Health: Is it the answer to our healthcare crisis?

holistic medicineI am a Chinese medicine herbalist, acupuncturist, Registered Nurse, and Functional medicine practitioner – but most importantly, a health coach and cheerleader for you! I wear all of these hats at the same time to find the most holistic, effective treatment plan for you and your unique needs.

I like to call my practice “Functional Chinese Medicine” – using a 3,000 year old, ancient, mind-body medicine synergistically with a patient-centered, evidence-based practice for a truly effective holistic health model for chronic disease and prevention.

As with all forms of holistic treatment, Functional Chinese medicine begins with the theory that every human being has an innate resource of wisdom, strength, and health that can be tapped into at any moment. Acupuncture and meditation are ways of making contact with this incredible resource.

Holistic healthcare is one that focuses on:

  • The effects of the mind (beliefs, perceptions, attitudes) on the human body
  • The role that genetics and environment plays in health and disease
  • The relationship between emotional and physical health
  • The energetic processes that underlie physical and emotional imbalances

Have life circumstances caused you to feel alienated from this inner wisdom?

Mind-body medicine is a way to reconnect with ourselves and awaken to our full potential- acupuncture, meditation, yoga are all part of my personal journey to health. I like to empower my patients to take responsibility for their symptoms or imbalances as a way to find their road to optimal health and well-being.

Are you tired of going to your doctor and being offered a pill to suppress or alleviate your symptoms- often with unwanted side effects?

While mainstream healthcare is certainly warranted for acute and life-threatening conditions, it fails at truly offering a deep level of support to the millions of patients with chronic, stress-related issues like anxiety, insomnia, pain, hormone imbalances and digestive disorders.

By putting the responsibility and power in your hands through effective education, compassion and treatment- Functional Chinese medicine treats the root cause of your health conditions.

When we normally think of holistic medicine, we think of the connection between body, mind, and spirit.  I take into consideration the following in my clinic to see the whole picture:

  • The relationship between your beliefs and emotions
  • Physical imbalances, lab work, functional lab testing
  • Dietary habits/supplements/medications
  • Exercise & sleep habits
  • The degree to which you are engaged with and loving your work
  • Social support systems
  • Spiritual awareness

The beauty of holistic medicine is that it truly does account for your individual and unique makeup. Make an appointment for a free consultation and you will see how this holistic approach can help you!

Namaste,

ReNee Greenberg,RN,MTOM, LAc