A Holiday Gift for Everyone


Welcome to this beautiful holiday season filled with twinkling lights, candles, music, and festive foods – a time of joy and celebration with family and friends! It’s a very special time no matter what one’s religious affiliation or background. But instead of being able to appreciate the magic of the season, some people become overwhelmed and stressed to the point of exhaustion. Oftentimes, they become so caught up in trying to meet their own unrealistic expectations as well as the expectations of others that they forget the reason for the season.

The problem is that when people perceive the holidays as being stressful, they go into an alarm reaction, a condition that‘s been referred to as “fight or flight.” Enabling the body to respond to either real or perceived emergencies with super human strength, a cascade of physical and biochemical changes occur. The hypothalamus secretes a hormone known as ACTH which instructs the adrenals to secrete adrenalin, noradrenalin, cortisol and other stress related hormones. With the increase in adrenalin, there is an increase in heart rate, oxygen intake and blood flow. This is called “fight or flight,” because the body is preparing itself to either fight the tiger or run from it, based on what’s best for survival.

In addition to helping you cope with stress, the adrenal glands influence all of the major physiological processes in your body. Your energy, stamina, and ability to stay healthy are all dependent upon the proper functioning of your adrenal glands. They affect the utilization of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, blood sugar regulation, cardiovascular function, gastrointestinal function, and even the distribution of stored fat in your body in order to maintain your health. The adrenal glands secrete anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant hormones as well as gradually becoming the major source of the sex hormones for both men and women.

According to Dr. James L. Wilson (Adrenal Fatigue, 2001), weak adrenal gland function may be one of the most undiagnosed, yet prevalent conditions affecting the population. Fatigue is a universal symptom of low adrenal function; the addition of other signs and symptoms leads to a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. Some of the more vague symptoms include feeling tired for no reason, trouble bouncing back from stress or illness, craving sweet or salty snacks, difficulty getting up in the morning, decreased ability to handle stress, confusion, depression, difficulty concentrating, decreased productivity, less enjoyment with life, and cravings for caffeine or snacks to get through the day. Other related symptoms include hypoglycemia, decreased immune response, respiratory problems, allergies, infections, frequent colds, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, adult onset diabetes, and auto-immune disorders. According to conventional laboratory tests, the function of the adrenal glands in adrenal fatigue would fall somewhere between Addison’s disease (extremely low adrenal function) and Cushing’s disease (excess function).

Several ways to determine whether or not you have adrenal fatigue include filling out a symptom checklist, an iris contraction test, or the postural hypotension blood pressure test. There is also a lab test which can detect adrenal fatigue using saliva to measure and graph fluctuations in hormones. If you go this route, be sure to find a reputable lab like the one I use in my office.

The most famous researcher on the effects of stress on the human body, Dr. Hans Selye, wrote three volumes of books about adrenal stress and its impact on the body. He explains that when you experience emotional or physical stress, your body responds with a predictable pattern of physical responses which has become known as Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). Four phases include the alarm reaction, resistance, exhaustion, and beyond.

Our bodies are designed to handle major life threatening situations up to 3 times a day and be quite healthy. Healthy adrenals make it possible to eat up problems with a smile on your face. The body only begins to break down when stress becomes prolonged or overwhelming.

In today’s complicated world, there are things we must do in order to keep our adrenal glands healthy. First, we must feed and nourish them with viable nutrition. This includes a proper balance of high quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The vast majority of people need adrenal support in the form of supplementation. If you have a thyroid condition along with an adrenal condition, your thyroid problem will not clear until your adrenal condition has been handled.

Other positive changes in your lifestyle include getting enough sleep, exercise, fresh air, and relaxation, replacing negative thoughts with healthy thoughts, identifying food allergies and addictions and avoiding unhealthy foods, drinks, energy robbing people, situations, and environments.

Healthy adrenal glands are not only a wonderful gift for you but also for everyone around you. Have a wonderful holiday!

Dr. William Karl, D.C.

Dr. William H. Karl, D.C., is a Brimhall Certified Wellness Doctor with over 30 years experience helping people experience optimal health! On behalf of the Foundation for Wellness Professionals, he will speak at the Livonia Civic Center Library on December 8th at 7pm on “Holiday Stress & You.” For more information, visit: www.karlwellnesscenter.com or call 734-425-8220.


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