Monday, February 23, 2015

Tired? Stressed? Trouble Sleeping? Is It Adrenal Exhaustion?

Are You Tired of Feeling Tired? You're Not Alone! 

To say the symptoms such as fatigue, exhaustion, stress and sleep trouble are common would be a grave understatement. Closer to the truth is that such symptoms are bordering on epidemic and we certainly see that in our medical and nutritional patients. 

Living in a medical, drug-based society, such symptoms are often “treated” with advice to take it easy, receive a prescription for a sleeping pill and an antidepressant, along with a hefty dose of self prescribed caffeine and sugar to try to lift the fog of low energy.

What’s wrong with such advice? 

It doesn’t get to the root cause of why the body is feeling poorly. If a drug addressed the true root cause, you wouldn’t have to keep taking it, and for it to be beneficial for you, it certainly wouldn’t have dangerous side effects. And that’s a claim no drug can make, let alone antidepressants with the known side effect of suicidal tendencies.

You Need to Know WHY You Don't Feel Well 

I'm not trying to be negative, but let’s really get a grasp of what it means when your body gives you a symptom. Does your body make you have little to no energy because it’s mad at you? Is your body vindictive in some fashion? The good news is “no”. 
The body gives you a symptom as a simple means of communicating that it is having difficulty adapting to some stress that’s coming its way. And when I say “stress” I don’t just mean mental stress. A stressor could be anything from a poor diet or eating foods you are reacting to, to poor digestion and hormonal imbalance. It could be the reaction to a drug or it could be an infection of a chronic nature.
The point is that once the true stressor(s) are identified and removed, the body can revert to the healthy state its designed to have.

How Does Root Cause Medicine Work? 


Getting back to masking symptoms with drugs – taking a drug that makes you “not feel” a certain symptom (but does nothing to address the real root cause) is akin to taking a pain reliever because there’s a rock in your shoe causing you pain. Wouldn’t it make more sense to remove the rock?
The example is simple and you may think the human body is complex, but surprisingly, identifying the root cause of a problem is fairly easy when you’ve been trained where to look.
Let’s look at sleep problems as an example. A person complains of poor restless sleep. They may take a long time to fall asleep or have trouble staying asleep. They may be tired all day and get a second wind at night, making it difficult to “turn off”. A sleeping pill might knock them out for a while, but in my experience with patients, the sleeping pills rarely work for long before the patient is looking for a new pill.
What should be known is that the same system of the body involved in making healthy energy during the day is involved in creating deep, restorative sleep at night. Further, what allows that healthy energy to be produced is a good diet and digestive tract that turns good fuel into utilizable fuel from which to make energy.
It’s not complicated. It’s almost like wondering why your car doesn’t move when there’s no gas. The energy that creates motion in your car requires fuel. Your body is very much the same.

Look at Digestion First and Move on to Adrenals Nest 

It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the first system we begin with is the digestive tract and the patient’s diet. If the food being eaten is of low quality, it won’t turn into good fuel. If the food is good, but the digestive tract isn’t working properly, again we have a fuel delivery problem. And of course if you're eating a food you're sensitive to such as gluten, again we won't have good fuel.
Once that is addressed, which isn’t at all difficult, we move on to the system that makes that energy, theadrenal glands. You may not have heard of them--but you likely know the word adrenaline, something the adrenal glands produce.
While the adrenal glands are responsible for making effortless levels of energy during the day, they also tie into creating the balance with the sleep hormone at night. In other words the adrenal glands insure great energy when you are awake, but they also feed into the creation of deep, restorative sleep at night--sleep that would be uninterrupted and allow you to bounce out of bed in the morning ready to greet your day.

Why have most people never heard of their adrenal glands? 

Why do doctors never mention them to their patients who are complaining of such symptoms as fatigue, brain fog, stress and poor sleep (to name a few)?
The answer lies in our medical model that asks a doctor to take a symptom, discover if there is a disease process and then treat that disease with a pharmaceutical drug.
The adrenal glands, fortunately, do not fit into this model. The reason is that they disease rarely. There is a disease they can manifest, but it’s thankfully rare, though serious. The downside of this rarity is that doctors are disease-oriented and because adrenal disease is rare, they assume their patients won’t often have a problem that is adrenal related.
And they’re not wrong – they don’t see many patients with adrenal disease, but what they do see is a multitude of patients with adrenal fatigue. Their training doesn’t look for it or even provide a treatment protocol. Remember, it’s not a disease state. What we are describing is a malfunction of the adrenal glands.

What Do the Adrenal Glands Do? 


The malfunction of the adrenals can create the following symptoms:
Weakened immune system
Trouble sleeping
Weight gain
Thyroid problems
Hormonal imbalance
Anxiety, depression, mood swings
Hormonal imbalance such as PMS, menstrual cramps, infertility, etc.
Brain fog
Joint pain and muscle aches
Light-headedness - some people call this a "head rush"
Inflammation –the cause of most degenerative diseases including heart disease, cancer and diabetes
Premature aging
Sensitivity to bright light

That’s quite a list. And for two glands the size of walnuts, it’s a pretty impressive job description that they control all those aspects of your health.

Do you see the problem of missing the adrenal glands as the root cause of your symptoms when they are responsible for so many important jobs?

Imagine you’re tired and have muscle and joint pain and you’re prescribed a pain reliever. The pain reliever seems to do the job somewhat, although it’s temporary. Drinking several cups of coffee or soda gives some relief to the fatigue. But is either "treatment" making the adrenal glands healthier? Absolutely not. So while you may have started with two symptoms on the list above, ignoring the adrenal glands as the underlying root cause will find you in the future suffering from more symptoms or a worsening of the original symptoms… or both.

Would it be worthwhile to find out how to keep one’s adrenal glands happy and optimally functioning? Remember then adrenals also impact aging and inflammation, which is another way of saying that theyextend your life expectancy and fight against degenerative disease.

As an aside, when we wrote our book “The Gluten Effect”, the chapter on adrenal fatigue was the largest chapter in the book, now perhaps you see why that would be.
The exciting news is that the adrenal glands dislike drugs. They thrive on a natural program that is not difficult to implement.

Part 2 Will Tell You What to do Next

In Part 2 of this article, I will review what you need to do and what your doctor needs to do in order to revitalize and rebalance your adrenal glands.
It’s not difficult.

Need Help? We're Here for You! 

If you felt as if I was describing you above, you are not alone. As I mentioned earlier, adrenal fatigue/exhaustion is almost epidemic. If you would like assistance and don’t have a clinician whom you feel can assist you, consider contacting us for a FREE Health AnalysisWe are a Destination Clinic and treat patients from across the country and internationally. We would be delighted to help you as we have been doing so for over two decades.
Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

Does Gluten Sensitivity Really Exist? Learn the Truth!

If you follow a gluten-free diet, or know someone who does, you likely heard all the “hoopla” a few months ago when most media outlets picked up an article by a blogger who used a 2013 research study to claim that there was "no such thing as gluten sensitivity".

I know that I personally was deluged by questions from patients and certain YouTube audiences took me to task for talking about gluten sensitivity when it was now “proven” not to exist.
I'll be honest. I ignored the whole thing because I knew it wasn’t true. There is such a wealth of research and evidence to support the existence of gluten sensitivity, not to mention all my personal experience with my patients, that I didn’t feel the need to substantiate its existence.

Have Well Meaning "Friends" Been Causing You to Question Your Gluten-Free Diet?  

Time has passed and, frankly, with the upcoming holiday season when cheating tends to increase—and the presence of family members or “friends” who like to give gluten-free individuals a hard time about their choice to eschew gluten similarly increases, I decided that it was time to discuss the specifics behind this blogger’s claims. The last thing I want is for this  partial information to destabilize a person whom we know to be gluten sensitive. If such an individual starts to cheat with gluten because they begin to question whether their gluten sensitivity diagnosis is accurate or meaningful, they will be damaging their health to a dangerous degree.

The study the blogger promoted and that went positively “viral’ in the media was entitled “No Effects of Gluten in Patients With Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity After Dietary Reduction of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates” – don’t worry we will define these terms in the next paragraph! It was a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial and the blogger made a big deal about that. There’s certainly much good to be said about such studies as they do tend to be the hallmark of well executed research. What the blogger didn’t do however was READ the entire study. Instead it seems that the title and perhaps the outline was as far as was gotten in doing due diligence.

What's a FODMAP?  

Of course, the title would lead one to believe the authors are stating they found people who themselves believe they have gluten sensitivity (GS) to not be affected when they consumed gluten, as long as they were restricting fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs). 

Before you go unconscious after that last sentence, let me define our terms:

Carbohydrates are sugar and starch molecules strung together. Going in order from largest to smallest, oligosaccharides are short-chain carbohydrates, while disaccharides are carbohydrates made up of a pair of sugar molecules and a monosaccharide is a carbohydrate made up of a single sugar molecule. Lastly, polyols are sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol and maltitol. All but the oligosaccharides are considered sugars.
The fermentable description points out that these particular carbohydrates are not being properly broken down and digested by enzymes as should occur normally, but instead are acting as food for pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria in the gut. If someone is sensitive to these foods and reacts in this fashion, they can expect to have digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea, etc. Those not reacting negatively to these foods would gain a positive effect from their nutritional content plus any aspect not completely digested would act as prebiotics or food for the good bacteria of the gut. All good things.

Below is a partial list of FODMAP foods. These foods are typically found to be a problem only in some individuals suffering from IBS and other digestive issues. This is not a diet to be recommended lightly as there are many healthy fruits and vegetables included within the list of foods to be avoided. Here at HealthNOW we use it occasionally on particular patients who seem to fall within this restricted category. Also keep in mind that, unlike with gluten sensitivity (where patients must consume zero gluten), FODMAPs have a dose response relationship, meaning that eating less of these certain foods can help the condition.
MangoWatermelonFruit Juice


BroccoliBrussels SproutsButternut Squash
OnionShallotsSweet Potatoes

Dairy products - Some butter, cream and hard cheese is allowed

Grains – Wheat, barley and rye 

Protein - All legumes such as kidney beans, soybeans. etc. A small amount of chickpeas and lentils are allowed. 

Nuts:  Pistachios, cashews

As you can see, there are a great many foods that are considered FODMAPs, the majority of which do not contain gluten. So to assume that someone who eliminates gluten and feels better is really someone sensitive to FODMAPs really doesn't take into account the true depth and breadth of the variety of foods that fall within this description.

What was This Study Trying to Prove? 

When reviewing a study it's important to look at the purpose of it. What were the researchers trying to prove or disprove? In this particular study the authors were looking specifically at patients with IBS and self-reported gluten sensitivity (also called non-celiac gluten sensitivity or NCGS) and wondering if ingesting gluten would really make a big difference in their symptoms or was it potentially more a problem with the digestion of FODMAPs, described above.

There are many points to be aware of when reviewing this study and knowing them will prove the recent media comments claiming the "non existence" of GS to be well off the mark.

(1) There were only 37 people who participated - certainly not a robust number.

(2) Participants were not formally diagnosed with GS. They were “self-reported” to have the condition. Not that there’s anything wrong with someone realizing for themselves that gluten bothers them, but there was no clinical testing involved with these participants. When you add into the equation that no human properly digests wheat,, there could certainly be a number of people within this study that fell within the wheat sensitive category, while not necessarily suffering from GS.

(3) In the authors' efforts to eliminate anyone with celiac disease (CD) they chose to eliminate from the study anyone with the HLA-DQ2 or DQ8 genes. These genes are associated with celiac disease, true, but 30-40% of gluten sensitivity sufferers also have these genes. Therefore in eliminating people with this genetic profile, they could have easily eliminated the very individuals they were trying to evaluate, those with GS.

(4) The authors discounted some individuals who reacted to the placebo when the placebo in this study was whey protein. Certainly not placebo-worthy in my book. A vast majority of the population, and certainly many people sensitive to gluten, react negatively to dairy. Almost 20% of the participants fell within this category. “Reacting” to the placebo excluded any other negative response the individual had because it was thought that their reaction weren’t valid since they also reacted to the placebo. We know better when it comes to dairy products – they are anything but a “neutral” food.

(5) Sixteen percent of the participants reacted to the high gluten diet, but that number was cut in half upon reporting the study results because half of them had the gene as mentioned above in point #3. Therefore it was stated that only 8% of the patients had a reaction and the conclusion was then made that eating gluten didn’t seem to both a significant number of these individuals – not accurate.

(6) The authors, in their effort to focus on IBS, only evaluated digestive symptoms (abdominal pain, bloating, stool consistency, gas) along with fatigue when deciding if a participant “reacted” to the gluten they were exposed to. It is well known that gluten sensitivity more frequently results in neurological problems, but no symptoms beyond those mentioned above were evaluated when these individuals were fed gluten. Additionally, other common symptoms, beyond those of the nervous system, known to be caused by gluten sensitivity such as joint pain and skin issues, too were not evaluated. In other words a participant could have ingested gluten and gotten a headache, brain fog or felt depressed, but those symptoms were not included in the study as a “reaction”. Are you starting to see the problem? The authors realized this oversight as well. In fact they mention it in the discussion part of the study. Apparently the reporting blogger and other media outlets who claimed the study "proved" that gluten sensitivity doesn't exist never got that far when reporting the facts of the study.

(7) The authors further noted in the “discussion” part of the study that those sensitive to FODMAPs are triggered to have digestive symptoms, while those sensitive to gluten can be triggered to have an overall lack of wellness. This is clear evidence that the researchers had no intention of negating that gluten sensitivity exists.

(8) The authors do state that gluten “might not be” a specific trigger of functional gut symptoms once FODMAPs are removed from the diet, but that isn’t stating that gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist. It’s simply emphasizing one point we always talk about with the secondary effects of gluten. And that is that someone with a truly healthy gut (truly healthy!) would potentially have a strong enough immune system to not demonstrably react to gluten. The problem is finding a truly healthy gut in today’s society. Not an easy proposition, I assure you. And, of course, I'm not stating that an issue with FODMAPs doesn't exist, it does. But I am trying to clarify what these authors were trying to prove and it wasn't the non-existence of GS.

(9) Last but not least, it’s very important to know that these same authors published an earlier study entitled “Gluten causes gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without celiac disease”. Their intention with that study was to prove that there WAS such a thing as gluten sensitivity and prove it they did. 

The Truth? Gluten Sensitivity does exist. 

Do you feel a bit better about this now? I hope so. I’m sure these researchers who themselves know of the existence of gluten sensitivity, having successfully proven it to themselves in 2011, were a bit surprised to find their study in the maelstrom of controversy that ensued after a non-medical blogger took off with erroneous conclusions and got a tremendous amount of press as a result.

So, if you find yourself being assaulted by someone who thinks they “know” that gluten sensitivity has been disproven as a condition, you now have the ammunition you need to prove to them that it “just ain’t so”!

Seriously though, don’t let the media dissuade you from what you already know or strongly suspect. Years and years of research is rarely thrown out the window with one study. And remember, this study didn’t even set out to prove what others are claiming of it. Sadly, it was really just a misunderstanding. 

We are here to help!

If you are wondering if gluten is playing an adverse role in your health, consider contacting us for a FREE health analysis – call 408-733-0400. We are a destination clinic and treat patients from across the country and internationally. We would be delighted to help you or a member of your family.
Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

1. Gastroenterology Volume 145, Issue 2, Pages 320–328.e3, August 2013, Jessica R. Biesiekierski
No Effects of Gluten in Patients With Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity After Dietary Reduction of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates
2. American Journal of Gastroenterology 2011; 106:508-514, Jessica R. Biesiekierski
Gluten Causes Gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without Celiac Disease