How One Nutritionist Uses a Cortisol-Optimising Botanical Blend to Treat Fatigue

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Focus Summer - Fall 2017BIOGRAPHY   Laurie Hammer, NTP, received her degree in nutrition from the Nutritional Therapy Association in Tumwater, Washington, which is approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP).  She practices at Walker Chiropractic & Wellness in Algona, Iowa.

My practice largely centres around women aged  35–60, and for about 80% of them, I recommend an botanicalformula that contains lingzi (Ganoderma lucidum, commonly known as reishi), gancao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis, commonly known as Chinese licorice), ku shen (Sophora flavescens, commonly known as shrubby sophora), and Morinda citrifolia (commonly known as noni fruit).  I have found that this formula helps relieve adrenal “fatigue” (better understood as a dysfunctional hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) and naturally optimizes cortisol. I have also found it to enhance my clients’ mood.

Cortisol has many functions. It helps the body make sugar (glucose) and fat for energy (metabolism), but also makes fat and muscle cells resistant to insulin when elevated for too long in response to stress. Cortisol levels can be affected by many things, such as physical or emotional stress, strenuous activity, infection, injury, or when given synthetically.

My typical client is a woman in her mid-40s to early 50s, who presents with a lot of food cravings and persistent exhaustion. She might get out of bed in the morning with zero energy, and on a scale of one to ten (with ten being optimal), her energy will rarely rise over a four during the course of the day.

I had one such client in her mid-40s whose husband wouldn’t let her drive the car in the afternoon because she was so tired, she was falling asleep at the wheel! We initiated dietary changes, but she still had zero energy and fell asleep every afternoon. I tested her adrenal function via saliva testing and it turned out she was hardly producing cortisol.

She began to take the herbal blend I recommend.  She took four capsules in the morning when she woke, four at midday, and four in the mid-afternoon. Within two weeks, her energy had increased. She told me she didn’t ever remember being that energetic. Soon she was able to drive from Iowa to Indiana by herself.

I had another client with intense food cravings and a lot of fatigue. She was 57 years old. Her cortisol tested very low in the mornings and spiked in the early evening. For that reason, she was not sleeping well. There are many reasons this pattern can occur—from raising kids, psychological stress, or simply staying up too late every night. In her case, she had all four of her children very close together, and her diet was poor, focusing mainly on starches, breads, and pasta. She began to take four capsules of the herbal blend in the morning, four in the midmorning, and then two in the afternoon. She didn’t need as much in the afternoon, as her own cortisol would start rising. Within six weeks, she was sleeping through the night.

To test adrenal function, I have used both saliva testing (where the individual collects their saliva into a vial four times a day) and urine testing (where the patient urinates on tiny strips four or five times a day). I use the urine tests more commonly these days, because they provide indications of metabolic pathways and metabolites as well as cortisone and cortisol amounts.

I find that this herbal blend, along with dietary change and the addition of amino acids as building blocks, is a lovely combination that works very well in adrenal “fatigue” clients.

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