Another member recommended I post a separate thread for more visibility to share a conversation that came up in a journal this week. It was a discussion about chronic stress an how that negatively impacts weight loss, other hormonal and adrenal functions, and daily life. I now recognize I have been suffering from what is clinically called chronic stress this past 6 years, where the body's natural production of cortisol, to help you cope with "fight or flight" type emergencies, never subsides after the stressful event. I've been dealing with this pretty much ever since my father's death in 2004.
My father had been suffering from gradual renal failure and was at a mere 15% function shortly before his death. So the family knew he would not live much longer, even if they put him on dialysis (military hospitals don't do that until you're down to 10% renal function). But no matter how you try to prepare yourself, you're never really ready when the death of a parent comes. As we were extremely close, his loss was very difficult for me. My brother and my Dad were not so close for too many reasons to go into here. My Mother and I had always
been almost like "best friends". We agreed on almost everything and always had a good, fun relationship!
Shortly after Dad died, Mom began to exhibit memory loss and confusion. It progressed over two years and it took me another two to convince my brother something was wrong with her. Finally we took her to a specialist who diagnosed her 2 years ago with Mild Cognitive Impairment, and this year, with dementia (either of which usually transition to to Alzheimers in 57-85% of the cases). Dealing with the 180 changes in her personality, her lack of cooperation, contentious nature and downright meanness to us and the CNA we hired to help her a couple hours a day have been extremely difficult for me to understand. This was not the mother I knew and loved. I can now accept them as part of her illness. Having to micro-manage her doctor appts. and medicines as well as oversee her daily life from another city 3 hours away hasn't helped matters for me either. My brother does what he can, but he lives near Seattle and only flies to Texas a couple times a year.
I won't dwell on any more background particulars, but suffice it to say the stress, I'm certain now, was the major factor in my 17 month stall. A saliva hormone test done 6 months ago showed my cortisol levels off the charts at 14.5 (morning normal for my age group is 3.7-9.5) and not dropping off much throughout the day. No surprise to me, but it took me 3 visits to get my doc to finally include a cortisol test in his routine lab work on me so he could see it in black and white.
I suspect my adrenals have taken a severe hit from all this stress as well, but many physicians still don't think Adrenal Fatigue is a real disorder and don't want to go there when you bring up the symptoms I brought up to my doc: very low body temps (94-97 all the time, never reaching 98.0 EVER); hair loss on scalp; hair loss on front,lower legs; unable to cope with the slightest stresses any longer. Yet, as with often missed thyroid dysfunction, all my doctor could see was that my very low TSH (low usually indicates thyroid is working OK on its own), my fairly normal T3 and T4 thyroid tests he did subsequently. All he recommended for my complaints was connecting with the Alzheimer Disease support organizations, yoga and any personal relaxation techniques I could do. None of which really helped my stress get better.
My immune system was weakened by the stress and constant driving back and forth to San Antonio to help Mom over the 5 year period was getting to be so draining physically and emotionally that I developed Shingles last year on my torso (folks over 50 who had chicken pox as children are vulnerable to the dormant CP virus becoming active again when the immune system is weakened for any reason). To treat the Shingles, my doc shot me up with prednisone, put me on the usual antivirals and 5,000 mg of Vitamin D3 a day, 2000 mg Vitamin C a day (which I was already taking). The Shingles went away but it took 12 weeks. Very painful, shingles, and hope they never flare up again. This is when I started reading up on adrenal fatigue, high cortisol, leptin resistance, and such. I'm also on BHRT implants now and that is balancing hormones enough that body temps are more in the 97-98.2 range. Still no regrowth of scalp/leg hair, however.
The point of my post is that the Atkins nutritionist, Colette Heimowitz recommended further things people could do to lower cortisol and those really caught my eye. Among them 400-500 mgs a day of magnesium from Powder City, found here:http://www.powdercity.com/products/magnesium-citrate-powder
. Man, I went out and got some and I'm here to tell ya I felt less stressed in less than 30 days!! DH noticed I was calmer and coping with my mother and life in general much better now. The next blood test 3 months later showed my cortisol back down to the normal range!! My doctor was astounded, and asked "What are you doing to lower it?" I told him things had not really improved dealing with my Mom, she's still uncooperative and enough worse her gerontologist just put her on Aricept to slow it down. I told him I just had to put my health first as the cortisol was doing a number on my life. So we talk about my puppies, what fun things we have done or cooked lately and the weather. You just can't talk about anything serious with her anymore and I've finally quit trying to convince her there is a better way or that she just might not be right. I'm at peace with my new relationship with this person that now seems like a perfect stranger. I finally understand this not the person that raised me.
I thought I'd share about how wonderful the magnesium has been to help me. I've just recently broken a 17 month stall (lost 10# since June 19) and I attribute that greatly to eliminating the excess cortisol. I am not edgy and anxious everyday, feel at peace, Mom's calls no longer upset me, my tummy is getting flatter, and the chronic metatarsalgia in my right foot is getting better this month, too!
Oh, and BTW, one ancilliary coritsol factoid: excess cortisol also is known to skew blood glucose test results (high) and it was doing that to me!! My Doc was about to put me on glucophage!! I told him I have NEVER had glucose issues and was sure that the next test would come down. The elevated one was taken the day after my Mom had been visiting for 10 straight days. And sure enough, my very next glucose test was normal. Doc was very pleased. He said "Whatever you're doing to lower your stress and cortisol, keep it up, because it's helping keep your glucose level as well".
The nutritionist also recommended for stress reduction, calcium 800mgs (was already taking 1200mg myself), Vitamin B6 (was already taking super B-complex) Valerian Root at bedtime to help sleep (I wasn't having sleep issues), and some other things: Inositol 100 mgs., tryptophane, 100mgs. and Phosphatidyl Serine (none of which did I take).
I just added the Vitamin C, super Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin D3 and magnesium. I also take 2T. coconut oil like Jimmy, because I hear it's good to ward off cognitive disorders like dementia and AD as well as benefit those who already have been diagnosed with it (I may carry the gene as well, though I'm 62 and don't exhibit signs YET, LOL). These few added supplements did wonders for my cortisol, immune health and general temperament these days. And my DH will sure vouch for that!
If my cortisol story and success with magnesium helps anyone else, there it is folks.