Adrenal Fatigue – A Middle Age Nightmare

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PCEC Members and guests take advantage of the free blood pressure checks being given by nurses from Bangkok Hospital Pattaya.
PCEC Members and guests take advantage of the free blood pressure checks being given by nurses from Bangkok Hospital Pattaya.

The Pattaya City Expats Club, at their meeting on Sunday 26th November 2017 at the Holiday Inn, gave a very warm welcome to Dr. Pantalee Chuensampan MD who is the Attending Anti-Aging Physician at the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya. As a Metabolic and Nutritional Anti-Aging Specialist, she was able to provide the expatriates with a range of information and advice on how to stay healthy, and ‘fighting fit’ for longer.

Dr. Pantalee received her Doctor of Medicine degree from Mahidol University Bang­kok in 2008. Followed by: Board Certification of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine in 2014 and continuing studies whilst in the USA.

The endocrine glands – the system that produces hormones – are a little bossy; they tell your cells what to do! But that’s actually a good thing. Without your endocrine glands – and the hormones they release – your cells wouldn’t know when to do important things.

Dr. Pantalee Chuensampan from Bangkok Hospital Pattaya explains to her PCEC audience about adrenal fatigue, what it is and how to avoid it through diet and other means.
Dr. Pantalee Chuensampan from Bangkok Hospital Pattaya explains to her PCEC audience about adrenal fatigue, what it is and how to avoid it through diet and other means.

You have a variety of endocrine glands in different sizes and shapes located in different parts of the body. For years the adrenal gland remained a behind-the-scenes player in the development of several chronic conditions. Many doctors still do not focus attention on it during the process of treating chronic illness. The health of the adrenal gland is of primary importance to help prevent and treat chronic disease.

Dr. Pantalee explained that the adrenal gland is a small organ that comes in pairs. There is one on top of each kidney and they produce hormones, encompassing a vast array of functions – all crucial for life. She said that the adrenal gland is the most important organ in the body and plays a big part in controlling everything within it.

Amongst other things they help to control stress levels and we all know that stress can be a killer! The adrenal glands are also involved in the production of natural steroid hormones. Among these hormones are Cortisol and Adrenaline.

Dr. Pantalee said that within the next ten years, we could expect the term ‘middle aged’ to refer to people in their 70’s. She then asked the crowded room of expats, how many of them had awoken fresh that morning. She explained that if you were tired or exhausted after sleep, without a good reason, you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue.

PCEC Member Ren Lexander interviews Dr. Pantalee Chuensampan after her presentation on Adrenal Fatigue. The video can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5gRkxl-3Qk
PCEC Member Ren Lexander interviews Dr. Pantalee Chuensampan after her presentation on Adrenal Fatigue. The video can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5gRkxl-3Qk

She went on to say that 50-60% of the current middle-aged population suffered from Adrenal fatigue, which is an under diagnosed problem throughout the world. Even if diagnosed correctly, it is seldom properly treated. Dr. Pantalee said that unfortunately, 60% of patients with adrenal fatigue are referred to a psychiatrist by mistake by their physicians, because it can cause depression.

She explained that adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal gland cannot keep up with the stresses and strains associated with everyday living – work, exercise, living away from home, emotional stress, excess of food and/or drink etc. – all can be a burden on the glands. Doctors are now seeing that the adrenal gland is neither on nor completely off, but that there is a spectrum of how well it functions.

How would you know if you are suffering? Waking up tired or exhausted, where energy levels increase in the afternoon and by late evening you feel much better leading sometimes to insomnia. Adrenal hormones are natural steroids. Dr. Pantalee stressed that artificial steroids are bad for the adrenal glands.

It is a term applied to a collection of non-specific symptoms. Key signs and symptoms include: a craving for salt or for sugar – the adrenal gland is responsible for sugar control, craving chocolate or candy fruits, panic attacks, cold hands or feet, inability to cope with stress, muscle weakness – the adrenal gland is responsible for muscle mass, inflammation, apathy, chronic fatigue, chronic fatigue following a large meal, brown spots on the skin and under the arms, dark boarders around the cuticles, dermatitis on body and on souls of feet.

Dr. Pantalee said there are simple tests you can do to see if your adrenals are functioning properly: 1) The iris test where you shine a light into your eye and the iris should contract and keep the constriction for about one minute which indicates that your adrenals are working well; and 2) The breath test where you can hold your breath for one minute or longer which again indicates your adrenals are probably working well.

The adrenal fatigue ‘vicious cycle’ can be broken. The best way to improve adrenal function is to remove stress, for which she said there is no need for medication. Take natural organic substances such as Thai basil or black ginger – make it into a tea. Eat several small meals – little and often- as this will help you avoid adrenal stress. Carbohydrates in the evening should be avoided, as they may cause insomnia. The key is better sleep quality.

Membership Secretary Judith Edmonds (left) assisted by Governing Board Member Anne Smith (center) explains to a visitor the advantages of being a member of the PCEC.
Membership Secretary Judith Edmonds (left) assisted by Governing Board Member Anne Smith (center) explains to a visitor the advantages of being a member of the PCEC.

Salt and sugar burden the glands, which in turn leads to more fatigue. Therefore, she encourages us to eat complex carbohydrates – green vegetables such as broccoli, whole grains and foods made from them, such as oatmeal, pasta, and whole-grain breads, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin, beans, lentils, and peas. Avoid sweet fruits such as pineapple, orange juice, etc. Eat sour fruits – she suggested we all try ‘emblic fruit’ (Indian Gooseberry). Eat organically produced foods to avoid pesticides. Avoid processed food. Avoid steroids, whether in cream or tablet form.

At the end of the Dr. Pantalee’s presentation, MC Roy Albiston brought everyone up to date on upcoming events. This was followed by the “Open Forum” portion of the meeting, where questions are asked and answered and comments made about expat living in Thailand. For more information on the Club and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.