Archive for the 'Chronic Stress/Adrenal Fatigue' Category

Map of the Spirit: Assessing and Addressing Spiritual Stress As a Component of Healing

Map-of-the-Spirit-Cover-smallDo you experience spiritual stress? Could this be a contributing factor to a health condition you are facing, and therefore an important area to address as a part of your healing process?

Dr. Michael Cantwell, an integrative physician who practices in San Francisco, sets out to answer these questions in his recently published book, Map of the Spirit. Dr. Cantwell gave a presentation this January at the Commonwealth Club, explaining this unique approach of looking at spirituality as one aspect of health and healing. He realized that the paradigm he had learned in his own medical training of looking at the role the mind and body can play in illness was  missing a crucial piece for some of his patients: taking into account one’s experiences with spirituality.

Dr. Cantwell defines spirituality very broadly – as a way people find meaning in their lives, or what they believe exists or doesn’t exist beyond human experience. This looks different for each individual – dualist theology (a belief in God such as in Christianity, Judaism, or Islam) might speak to some; non-dualism (a belief in the oneness of all, such as in Taoism or Buddhism) might speak to others; atheism (the belief that God does not exist) also represents an important belief system in this definition of a person’s spirituality.

What everyone has in common, Dr. Cantwell argues, no matter what form their spirituality takes, is that their health can potentially benefit from 1) determining their beliefs and 2) living out of those beliefs in their day-to-day lives. Dr. Cantwell proposes that people can experience spiritual stress, just as they can experience physical and mental stress. Because stress has a known negative impact on our health, and, it can even be argued, leads to the majority of diseases from which Americans actually die, it is important to take into account and attempt to remedy one’s level of spiritual stress if it proves to be high.

How does one assess spiritual stress? Dr. Cantwell provides a simple formula in his book: rank on a scale from one to ten how important spirituality is to you in your life. Next, measure on a scale of one to 10 how satisfied you feel spiritually. Then, subtract your satisfaction from your interest. If the resulting number is low, you are experiencing a low level of spiritual stress; if it is high, you might want to consider taking spirituality into account when making a plan for your path to wellness.

This is only the beginning of Dr. Cantwell’s theory he presents with both practical tools (such as a the measurement of spiritual stress) as well as real patient examples (patients form diverse spiritual backgrounds). For those interested to learn more, you will find in his book four different stages of spiritual development; examples of resistance that a person may experience moving from one stage to another; strategies for removing those blockages and increasing attention to spiritual development – all within the framework of thought that one stage is not inherently better than another. Rather, he suggests that the most important time for intervention in spiritual health is when, or if, spiritual stress is high.

What if, Dr. Cantwell asks, we put spirituality onto the map of what we look at when assessing overall health? Map of the Spirit provides a practical and thought-provoking approach for patients and doctors to consider when addressing health challenges.

For more information about Map of the Spirit, see Dr. Cantwell’s website

~Krista Shaffer, Outreach Director at Koshland Pharm


Cold or flu? Helpful health resources

As the fall approaches, do you find yourself with symptoms that you can’t recognize as signs of a cold or the flu?   Check out Dr. John Selle’s “Patient Education” page on his website, which includes helpful links such as:  “Cold or Flu? Symptom Self-Assessment” and a reference page for understanding lab test results.

Dr. Selle’s website is listed on Koshland Pharm’s practitioner referral page.  This referral list includes the names and contact information for California practitioners in the fields of general medicine, gynecology, integrative medicine, lyme disease treatment, naturopathic medicine, oncology, urology, and veterinary medicine.  These practitioners are ones that we have worked closely with at the pharmacy over the last several years and that we have found to be committed to excellent patient care.  If you are looking for websites with helpful health and wellness information, or if you are looking for a health practitioner in California, you can check out Koshland Pharm’s referral page here.  We welcome feedback about the links you find the most helpful.


Online Women’s Health Support Group, September 10-October 20

One of our favorite practitioners, Naturopathic Doctor Amy Day, is about to start a 6 week online wellness support group for busy moms.  This is a great resource for any mom out there who wants or needs to reduce stress, increase energy, or lose weight naturally.

In her introduction, Dr. Day addresses prospective group members:

“Dear Fellow Mom,

I know how stress and fatigue can get in the way of being the healthy mom that you want to be.

You feel so exhausted that it’s hard to even do the basics, let alone take care of your own health! You get behind at work because it’s so hard to focus. You are frustrated about the belly fat that just won’t go away. It seems like you spend half of your time with your kids yelling at them because you are so impatient and irritable. Your relationships suffer from lack of attention, and your friends wonder if you’ve fallen off the face of the earth.

If you want to restore your balance and rejuvenate your body, then keep reading…”

I highly recommend taking time to take care of yourself by using resources such as Dr. Day’s online wellness support group.  Be well!


Helpful Health Blog Written by Bay Area MD

Here is the link to an interesting blog by a Bay Area medical doctor, Shiroko Sokitch, who integrates Chinese and Western medicine in her practice.  Dr. Sokitch has a unique approach to healing that she calls the 20/30/50 healing path, suggesting that 20% of a health issue can be attributed to a physical problem, 30% can be related to lifestyle issues, and 50% can be connected to spiritual and emotional concerns.   Dr. Sokitch’s latest two blogposts address the issues of depression and allergies from a holistic point of view.  Her blog is a great resource!

Healthy Digestion

Healthy digestion is a key component to our overall well-being.  Several common illnesses and conditions, such as food allergies, eczema and psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Chron’s disease, can actually be attributed to gastrointestinal dysfunction.   Taking specific supplements can be an effective way to address the root cause of some of these health challenges.  Click here to read more about seven supplements that can heal the GI tract by targeting multiple areas where the system might have broken down.

Of course, it is always important to talk with a knowledgeable practitioner when deciding if a particular healing protocol is right for you.  To see a list of Bay Area doctors who specialize in a holistic, integrative approach to health, see Koshland Pharm’s referral page.  Here’s to healthy eating, healthy digesting, and healthy living!  ~Peter

Treating adrenal fatigue

This is the fourth installment in a series of posts that I’ve written on adrenal fatigue and chronic stress (click here for the previous posts Chronic Stress – The 300 Pound Gorilla in the Room, More on Chronic Stress, and Do you have adrenal fatigue?).  This post will focus on treatment of adrenal fatigue. 

First, here are a few important points:

  • It takes months to years of chronic exposure to stress for the adrenal glands to become fatigued, so it can take months for them to return to health.  In other words, be patient.  Reversing symptoms of adrenal fatigue is not instantaneous.
  • Once the adrenal glands are compromised in their ability to produce hormones (especially cortisol), they will not naturally return to healthy functioning without treatment.
  • Each person presents with a different profile of adrenal fatigue, so each person will have a unique treatment regimen.
  • Saliva or blood spot testing of cortisol levels (4 tests over 24 hours) is very important to identify the adrenal output of cortisol and to help formulate an individualized treatment regimen.

With all that said, all treatment regimens share some similar attributes. 

First is to implement a stress reduction regimen into one’s daily activities.  This can include meditation, yoga, a relaxing walk, or a quiet breathing exercise.  I recommend at least 10-20 minutes of such an activity on a daily basis. 

Second, eat a healthy diet.  This includes eating enough protein (15-25 grams three times daily) and limiting intake of refined sugars (less than 40 grams a day). 

Third, limit caffeine (no more than 2 servings daily, none if possible). 

Fourth, take vitamins and supplements to support adrenal health (including adequate amounts of vitamin C).

For anyone interested in getting treatment, I recommend seeing an experienced practitioner to help customize a treatment plan and to help give encouragement throughout the process of healing the adrenal glands.  Also, a great resource is James Wilson’s book Adrenal Fatigue (which can be purchased at Koshland Pharm’s Website among various other places).

Please post your experiences and thoughts.

Live well!

Do you have adrenal fatigue?

adrenal_fatigue_bookI’ve been talking a lot about chronic stress and adrenal fatigue (see my earlier posts Chronic Stress – The 300 Pound Gorilla in the Room and More on Chronic Stress).  I have good reason to be bringing it up – it seems like everywhere I go I find people who suffer from it.  In fact, adrenal fatigue is rampant, maybe even epidemic.  The surprising thing is that, for the most part, the medical community doesn’t see it (good thing we have compounding pharmacists around to help rectify that).

So this begs the question: How do I know if I have adrenal fatigue?  Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • difficulty getting up in the morning, feel terrible in the morning
  • needing coffee to get going or keep going during the day
  • mid-morning energy low
  • afternoon energy low between 2-5pm
  • second burst of energy at around 11pm lasting until 1-2am
  • best sleep comes between 7-9pm
  • craving salt and foods high in salt (potato chips, pretzels, etc.)
  • low blood sugar under stress
  • low blood pressure
  • craving sweets
  • intolerance to foods high in potassium (i.e. bananas)
  • generally don’t feel well throughout the day

If this sounds like you, you most definitely have adrenal fatigue and need treatment.  In a future post, I’ll talk about the basic principles in treating adrenal fatigue.

By the way, this information was taken from a lecture by James Wilson, ND who wrote the excellent book, “Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome”.  I highly recommend this book if you are interested in this subject.

In the mean time, live well!

Peter Koshland, Pharm.D

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