Natural Therapies by Regina Lasaitis

Natural Therapies

to nurture your body, mind and soul

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Energy boosting strategies to combat feeling tired, fatigued, exhausted, flat or wiped out

Posted on Sunday, May 29, 2016 by Regina Lasaitis

Tired, fatigued, exhausted, flat, wiped out? …..Is this how you’re feeling and it’s not even the end of the day? We can all feel this way to varying degrees and for some it can be intermittent during increasing workloads and obligations, while for others it can be a real struggle to perform relatively easy day-to-day tasks like getting out of bed.  In many cases it’s a symptom of what I call “the plague of the modern world: the compulsion to be busy” or for others it can be a result of serious health issues.

Before we talk about energy boosting strategies we need to consider possible reasons for this lack of the usual get-up-and-go.  In clinic, I recommend my clients have investigations to rule out the medical causes of fatigue which can include thyroid problems, anaemia, diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnoea.  Other causes can be chronic fatigue syndrome, post-viral syndrome, depression, hormonal imbalances and sleep problems.   These all require specific treatments and in some cases medical as well as complimentary therapies.

Is Stress Zapping your Energy?

Adrenal exhaustion or fatigue, although not a recognised medical condition, describes a state that is an ever-increasing picture and a major culprit for lack of energy.  Previous articles of mine demonstrate my sympathy for our adrenal glands and the effects that living under constant stress is having on them.

How are your adrenals doing? …. Waking up unrefreshed, can’t start your day without help from your stimulant of choice (coffee, other caffeinated beverage, sugar hit, cigarette) and at about 3pm need said stimulant to keep going but then you’re too wired at night to switch off and sleep? Your adrenals are out of balance and possibly heading towards exhaustion.   The good news is a few simple changes can restore your adrenals to being those energy generators they are meant to be.

Think of your body’s energy as being contained in a “jar”.  Optimum health and vitality means our jar has sufficient supplies to meet daily demands and when energy is taken from this jar the levels are easily restored.  Reliance on stimulants suggests an empty energy jar and a hint that our bodies are unable to meet the demands.  So strategies to aid the body naturally refill the jar are needed.

Let Food be Your Medicine

Eat regular meals of nutrient-rich food.  You don’t expect your car to run without petrol or on “dirty” petrol so you need to feed your body the best quality food possible. Buy whole, unprocessed, additive-free foods not those that come in a box with “numbers” as ingredients.

Keeping Blood Sugar Balanced

Include protein foods with every meal and snack.  This is important in treating another major cause of low energy – blood sugar instability.  Adequate protein is needed to keep the blood sugar levels and the body’s energy stable.  That 3pm dip in energy and craving for a sugar treat can be a sign you’re not having enough protein at lunch.  Try a salmon or chicken salad for lunch and reach for nuts and seeds instead of chocolate before the 3pm dip strikes.

Expend Energy to Build Energy Stores

Exercise –initially gentle, it doesn’t need to be strenuous marathon training (although the feel good endorphins may lead to that eventually).  To restore adrenal balance exercise is best in the morning and outside.  Cortisol, the adrenal hormone needs to be high in the morning and low at night and a simple way to help this balance is exposure to morning light.  “I’m too tired to exercise!” A gentle walk – even 20mins every second day is a good start to help fill your energy jar.  It seems a contradiction but gently expending energy will cause an increase in your body’s energy jar!

Get Adequate Sleep

An hour before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight.  It’s true and because of our body’s biochemistry.  “But I’m too awake to sleep at 10pm!” If you’re used to going to bed at midnight try an unwinding process that will get you to bed at 11:30 and then gradually move sleep time earlier.  Preparing for restorative sleep involves restricting technology for an hour before bedtime – switch off that iPad, turn that mobile to airplane mode, read a book with paper pages or take a bath with lavender essential oil drops and dim the lights – basically let your body know it’s night time, relaxation time, sleep time.

Herbal Therapy

Have herbal medicines prescribed that help to restore your adrenals and increase your energy.  Herbalists have adaptogenic herbs – that not only help adapt to stress but build your energy reserves.  Some examples are Rehmannia, Licorice (not the confectionary kind), Rhodiola, Withania, Siberian ginseng to name a few. And in the evening taking relaxing herbs can help you sleep better – Passionflower, Magnolia, Zizyphus are some of my favourites.

Life Balance

Often low energy is a reaction to overload, so prioritise your obligations and assess your work/ life balance. To be healthy we need a balance of work and relaxation but this is not the norm in our world where being “busy” is glorified. Slowing down, seeking stillness and breathing (10 minutes of focusing on your breath counts as a meditation) will naturally restore your energy levels, lead to a sense of vitality and ultimately better health.

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Why minimising stress will keep hormones in check

Posted on Thursday, March 03, 2016 by Regina Lasaitis

Emotions and hormones are very closely linked. When you’re feeling stressed, upset, down, anxious or overwhelmed to the point where your emotions are taxing your body, hormones can go haywire and periods might become irregular or even stop.

This is because stress affects our biochemistry with the release of a whole cascade of hormones that are part of the “fight or flight” response.  Our body activates these hormones when we are in a stressed state as it can’t detect the difference between when we are confronting an actual life or death situation or when we are worrying over our finances, anticipating an upcoming confrontation with someone or we’re stressing about a work deadline.

Stress for a lot of us has become routine. Some days it feels manageable, and other days it feels like it has a life of its own and this is considered “normal”. The end result is being in a constant, physically stressed out state. This is a problem because the body’s stress response isn’t designed to continuously cope with the levels of stress and it impacts on other hormonal systems.  For females it can negatively influence our reproductive hormones at whichever stage of life you’re in.  

Sure, PMS can affect our emotions.  We can blame being a victim of our hormones for snapping at people and our “Jekyll and Hyde” personality change at “that time of the month” but if the stress system wasn’t overtaxed that monthly cyclical transition could be smoother. 

This can often be the case in fertility problems - why are so many needing IVF these days? My suspicion is that our stressed out systems are a factor.  I treat women experiencing fertility issues.  Often they’ve had medical testing and there is nothing mechanically wrong but when we look at their life there’s stress overload.  Making changes to lifestyle as well as treatment with my favourite tonic herbs to balance the hormones and support the body’s stress response can lead to shopping for a pram.   Most of us know of a couple that when they stopped trying, and focused on other aspects of their life or even adopted, they conceived.  This is evidence of the link between stress and hormones.

This interplay with stress hormones and female hormones is paramount in menopause.  Our adrenals play a crucial role in the stress response and all our life they are pumping out stress hormones, often without a break.  Then during menopause they are expected to be taking over some of the duties of the ovaries that are heading for retirement. These stressed out adrenals say “sorry, I’m busy dealing with the stress response, can’t help you” so the woman has a harder time with low energy, low libido and any of the other (not fun) menopausal symptoms.  A trigger for a hot flush can be a stressful situation so there’s this emotions and hormonal link again.

So what can be done?  Minimising stress is the key and preventing the effects of stress is how to keep those hormones balanced.  In an ideal world this would mean having an equal balance between work and relaxation.  Keeping completely chilled, not overworking,  eating well,  doing exercise you enjoy and choosing activities that bring you joy.  In reality, for most of us it’s a struggle to not take on too much, say no to extra commitments and not feel guilty when we do something for ourselves.  

A wise friend once said to me “we are human beings not human doings” and I’ve often used this phrase when counseling people about achieving balance and allowing time to just “be”.  I always ask  “what do you do for relaxation” and I often get puzzled expressions and it seems we are very good at being busy but not so good at not being busy.  The opposite to busy is what will give that stress response a break, let those hormones settle and ultimately lead to better health.  

Life is short. Live in the present. “At this moment I’m ok” is a mantra for when you are anticipating events that haven’t happened yet.  We never have full control of the future, that’s the nature of this life.  If you let go of the drive to do everything, be everyone for everybody and allow time out that’s when the fight or flight emergency system can stop pumping out those stress hormones, female hormones will equalise, you’ll regain balance and feel better.

If you are experiencing any of these problems contact me.

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