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    How Gluten Sensitivity Affects the "Stress Gland"

    Dr. Vikki Petersen D.C, C.C.N
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.   eNewsletter: Get our eNewsletter

    This article originally appeared in the Summer 2009 edition of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

    Celiac.com 08/03/2009 - We have a set of glands in our body that are specifically designed to help us adapt successfully to life’s stressors.



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    Need to move quickly? This gland will increase your heart rate and bring more blood to your muscles, making you faster and stronger.

    Stressed?  This gland will produce hormones to help you deal with that stress so seems less overwhelming.

    Immune system under attack? This gland will increase immunity, and hence, your potential to better “fight off” the infectious agent.

    In menopause, but still want to produce hormones to keep your heart healthy, your mind sharp. and your bones strong?  This gland does the job.

    Tired?  This gland will produce extra adrenaline to give you a boost.

    Want to burn the calories you eat?  This gland will do that too.

    Sound too good to be true?  Not at all – Let me introduce you to your adrenal glands.  They’re not very big, they sit on top of your kidneys, and they are VERY busy performing many vital functions for you.

    Would you like to know if yours are functioning optimally?  Take the self-test below:

    Symptoms of Adrenal Gland Malfunction

    If you have 3 or more of these symptoms, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue.

    • Fatigue
    • Interruption in sleep
    • Difficulty waking in morning
    • Joint and muscle aches
    • Weight gain that is resistant to diet or exercise
    • Frequent infections
    • Fertility problems
    • PMS
    • Poor concentration/memory
    • Migraines Depression/mood swings
    • Low blood sugar
    • Allergies
    • Light headedness/ fainting
    • Asthma
    • Skin conditions
    • Thyroid imbalances

    What does adrenal fatigue have to do with gluten sensitivity?  The adrenal glands are very sensitive to blood sugar levels.  When blood sugar is unstable it puts a lot of stress on the adrenal glands and they’re unable to do their many jobs effectively.

    When individuals suffer from gluten sensitivity they concurrently malabsorb some critical nutrients, thereby causing blood sugar instability.  Such instability can result in cravings for sugar, salt, or simple carbohydrates. It can also cause symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, headaches, irritability, light-headedness, etc.

    With stressed adrenal glands the body has to make a decision.  It’s the same decision you make when you have too many things to do but not enough energy to do them all.  How do you prioritize?  You undertake the most critical tasks and leave the others undone.

    Similarly the adrenal glands, when overstressed, are unable to complete all the vital activities for which they are designed.  Think about it: the adrenal glands make adrenaline to provide good energy; they support your immune system to successfully fight off infections; they work in tandem with the thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus glands to keep the endocrine system stable and functioning; they dictate your metabolic rate so you maintain an ideal weight; they make precursor sex hormones so you have a stable mood and hormonal balance; they make natural anti-inflammatories and natural antihistamines – and that’s not even a complete list!

    Where does this leave us?  With a host of possible symptoms and one key root cause!  This is significant because many people are suffering from adrenal fatigue due to blood sugar instability secondary to gluten sensitivity.

    When a person discovers their gluten sensitivity and removes it from their diet one of two things may happen.  They feel fantastic and all their symptoms are resolved or they feel much better but are still suffering from some problems.  It’s to this latter group that I am speaking. Sometimes when patients’ symptoms are not completely resolved, they are convinced that they have more food sensitivities or they are somehow stumbling onto some hidden gluten in their diet.  While it’s important to be diligent in this regard, more often than not in my clinic we discover adrenal fatigue to be the culprit behind these lingering symptoms.

    The good news?  Adrenal fatigue is not difficult to handle.  It is a drug-free, surgery-free program that is entirely natural.

    One does need to find a clinician who is familiar with diagnosing and treating this condition.  Lab tests exist to assess the functional status of the adrenals. With some nutritional and lifestyle changes, you’ll be on your way to healthy adrenal glands.  

    By the way, did I mention that one of the adrenal glands’ jobs is anti-aging?  They are well worth taking care of for that reason alone.

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    I thought the article was very interesting and very beneifcial. I do wish however it would have been longer. Adrenal fatigue vs. Addison's disease.

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    I am so glad to have read this because it might just be a condition that I might have. I spoke to my doctor and I will get the test done.

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    Interesting article, but I'm a little concerned about the fact that it presents Adrenal fatigue as a known medical condition rather than as a hypothesized condition primarily promoted by alternative medicine practitioners. This is not to down-play it in any way - I believe there are many conditions identified by alternative medicine that conventional medicine hasn't yet accepted, but it should have been presented in its proper context.

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    Interesting article, but I'm a little concerned about the fact that it presents Adrenal fatigue as a known medical condition rather than as a hypothesized condition primarily promoted by alternative medicine practitioners. This is not to down-play it in any way - I believe there are many conditions identified by alternative medicine that conventional medicine hasn't yet accepted, but it should have been presented in its proper context.

    I'm sorry- but "presented as a known medical condition rather than a hypothesized condition primarily promoted by alternative medical practitioners"?? Are you serious?? You need to get informed, as this is an actual medical condition which can be diagnosed by a simple saliva cortisol level test. My regular family doctor, who is NOT an alternative medical practitioner, diagnosed me just over a year ago. My cortisol levels were almost nonexistent, which means my adrenal glands were not functioning and I was close to going into organ failure.This is known as adrenal fatigue or adrenal failure. It can be life threatening, and should you be experiencing any of these "hypothesized" symptoms, please see your doctor. This condition is a real and treatable medical condition.

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  • About Me

    Dr. Vikki Petersen, a Chiropractor and Certified Clinical Nutritionist is co-founder and co-director, of the renowned HealthNow Medical Center in Sunnyvale, California. Acclaimed author of a new book, "The Gluten Effect" - celebrated by leading experts as an epic leap forward in gluten sensitivity diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Vikki is acknowledged as a pioneer in advances to identify and treat gluten sensitivity. The HealthNOW Medical Center uses a multi-disciplined approach to addressing complex health problems. It combines the best of internal medicine, clinical nutrition, chiropractic and physical therapy to identify the root cause of a patient's health condition and provide patient-specific wellness solutions. Her Web site is:
    www.healthnowmedical.com


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