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Giving women the ability to cope with stress and chronic fatigue

Lately I have been seeing more and more women in the 30-50 year old range who present with  chronic fatigue like symptoms and no stamina to handle stress.

They complain of anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings and depression but they want to avoid prescription medications that have either not been effective or have too many side effects.

Jane, 42, was an example. She was irrationally very irritable with her children and felt she wasn’t coping well with the stresses of her full-time job and her responsibilities in the home. Her MD (doctor of medicine) had prescribed Celexa, but she didn’t like the side effects. A girlfriend had had success with a naturopathic physician for a similar complaint so she was in my office to learn how naturopathic medicine could help her.

During the hour long intake on her first visit I learned that she did take the occasional sleeping pill and Advil for her frequent headaches. Her period was increasingly becoming more irregular and heavier. Her libido was nil and she found herself crying at the drop of a hat. I explained to Jane that not only did she have common nutrient deficiencies but that she was peri-menopausal. Peri-menopause is the period of 10 years or so before the period stops in women and the definition of menopause is the lack of a period for one year. During this time not only do the ovaries forget to ovulate but other organ weaknesses can contribute to peri-menopausal symptoms such as the liver, the adrenal glands and the thyroid. If these organs are balanced then women have much less trouble going through this natural phase of her life.

Jane’s adrenal glands were in the second stage of exhaustion according to her salivary hormone testing. This means that her adrenal glands had been secreting cortisol in higher amounts over the years in response to stress but that as she got older her adrenal glands did not respond as well, becoming depleted. I liken these small glands that sit on top of the kidneys, to a battery. Once the battery is run down it can take many months to recharge it.

I encouraged the following regime to help “recharge her adrenal glands”.

  • Improve the quality and length of her sleep. Because she had frequent headaches I started with magnesium glycinate at bedtime as a simple sleep aid. I also reviewed with her my “Sleep Hygiene” protocols.
  • I prescribed for her my female adrenal formula which contains ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, astragalus and other herbs that regulate not only the adrenal glands but also the thyroid and the ovaries.
  • I evaluated her blood work and found her to be anemic and slightly low thyroid for which I treated her.
  • I evaluated her hormone status and found not only her adrenal function to be poor, but she had very low progesterone as well.
  • The homeopathic evaluation of Rubimeds found her first remedies to be supportive of the adrenal glands and her inability to say no.
  • I reviewed with her my “52 Stress Reducers” handout and counseled her on some initial changes to consider.

Jane was very motivated to follow my program and felt better and better each month she was on the program. After one of my coaching sessions with her where I encouraged her to take better care of herself, she was able to incorporate some of Steven Covey’s approach from his book “First Things First”. Here are some of the changes she was able to make.

  • She planned a long weekend every month to give her more time for self care.
  • Her and her husband had a weekend to themselves giving them the time to plan their family holidays and activities for the coming year.
  • Jane realized that she also needed to do a retreat on her own every year for regrouping. Just planning for this made her feel better!
  • She hired a house cleaner to give her more down time on the weekends.
  • She embraced some of the things she loved to do that had fallen by the wayside as she raised her young family.
  • Jane is still healing. Just when she thinks she is doing better, she overdoes it and then crashes a bit. I have encouraged her to maintain on her remedies long term as it can take many months to heal.
  • Jane is very happy to avoid the prescription medications and is feeling so much more in control of her life.

Dr. Ingrid Pincott, Naturopathic Physician, has been practicing since 1985 and can be reached at 250-286-3655 or www.DrPincott.com

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