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Three natural tips to overcome insomnia

This is a Type-A Parent paid post to discuss sleep issues, and to share a new insomnia resource from the National Sleep Foundation.

dealing with insomnia

There’s no sugar-coating it, insomnia stinks.

Through my life I’ve had plenty of nights here and there where I didn’t sleep well. Usually it had to do with something I ate or drank, sometimes due a stressful situation, and other times due to taking a nap during the day. So when I dealt with chronic insomnia I didn’t really know what to do.

Of course the worst part was that I was completely fatigued and had major brain fog during the day so I had a hard time following through on any treatment protocol I thought of.

It began with my miscarriage almost three years ago. At first I couldn’t fall asleep (which is very common due to emotional and physical stress as well as the hormonal changes) and within a month or so I was also waking up each night only a couple of hours after I had fallen asleep. This went on for a year and a half, five hours of sleep was a good night. I was a walking zombie during the day and it was affecting just about every part of my life! I was grumpy to those I loved, scatterbrained and forgetful, and so consumed and overwhelmed with my own life I was a horrible friend.

Over the course of about two months, following the tips below, I was finally able to sleep again, getting 8-9 hours of sleep each night.

1. Get tested

I always knew that some nutrients are associated with a good nights sleep, but I figured that wasn’t my problem as I ate quite a healthy diet. But in my quest to figure out why I always felt so horrible my doctor ran a myriad of tests. Come to find out, I was deficient in both Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D and began supplementing right away.

It wasn’t a quick fix, but within the first week I began to remember my dreams again, something I hadn’t done since my miscarriage. I also felt like the sleep I was getting was a better quality, deeper sleep. So if you’re dealing with insomnia, make sure to check with your doctor and get tested for common nutrient deficiencies.

We also found through testing that my thyroid was running on the slow side and my adrenals weren’t functioning very well at all.

If you have chronic stress in your life, it’s probable that you might be dealing with adrenal fatigue, with insomnia being one of the major symptoms.

2. Go to sleep earlier

Going to bed early has been a difficult thing to do in many seasons of my life, whether it’s dealing with a baby/young child or staying up late to work and write. I was really good at trying to squeeze in a few extra hours to my day and after bedtime seemed like a great way to do it. Especially when I was most likely dealing with minor adrenal fatigue in the beginning and my second wind (boost of cortisol) hit me around 11pm. All of a sudden I had plenty of energy, a clear mind, and a quiet house.

I knew that going to bed earlier was probably going to be helpful, but I began to experience that 11pm wakeup, even when I went to bed 30-60 minutes earlier. What I found was that I needed to be in a deep sleep by that time for my adrenals to chill out and rest as well. So we began going to bed by 9:30pm most nights and that seemed to take care of my inability to fall asleep as well as waking up soon after I fell asleep.

3. Cutting back on night snacks

I don’t know if this is the same for everyone, but I began to sleep so much better after giving up my nighttime snacks! Granted, I still snack at night sometimes, but when I was still dealing with middle of the night waking (I woke around 2am and couldn’t sleep again until 4am) it was immensely helpful to not snack at all, especially anything heavy or in mass quantities.

I do know that the body works to repair and detoxify at night and when it’s busy digesting it may not function as well as it needs to in other areas. My body may have needed that time of rest so that it could fully heal. So for a couple of months I made sure I ate dinner before 5:30 to make sure digestion was well on its way before I fell asleep.

 

Of course, there were other things I did as well, like:

  • cut out caffeine
  • light exercise in the morning when possible
  • no napping after 11am
  • no sweets after lunch
  • limited my schedule to allow for extra rest for my adrenals

I still have nights of insomnia, but instead of every night, it’s only once or twice a month. I finally feel good and can think a lot more clearly!

How have you dealt with insomnia?

natural tips for insomnia
Be sure to check out a new resource from the National Sleep Foundation at sleepfoundation.org/insomnia – a good place to start if you think you have insomnia or aren’t sleeping. The National Sleep Foundation is your trusted resource for everything sleep – understanding how sleep works & why it’s important, learning healthy habits, creating a relaxing bedroom & bedtime routine, & finding solutions to your sleep issues.

Naturally Healing the Thyroid, part four: the adrenals

Originally published March. 2014

We’ve already talked about how blood sugar balance, digestion, the liver and detoxification can affect the thyroid, but there is one glaring fact that I’ve meant to get to. Except that the last couple of weeks have been a bit more stressful than normal and I’ve been dealing with some crashes myself due to…..

Adrenal Fatigue.

If you’ve been a reader here for a couple of years, you may remember when I was actively trying to heal my adrenals. For six months I worked with my chiropractor and supplementation as well as dietary and lifestyle changes.

I saw great results and within about 6 months I was feeling a million times better, had plenty of energy, and all around felt good. That all ended a few months later as I dealt with the physical and emotional stress of a miscarriage and has carried on for over a year.

I tried my darndest to get my health back, but I just couldn’t fix myself this time. I tried everything I had tried before; desiccated adrenal supplements, vitamin C, no caffeine or sugar, lots of rest, reducing stress. Last fall I kept trying to make it in to my doctor’s office, and in November and December I took most of that time and stayed away from my computer, focusing on my health and my family, but something was still not right. I just couldn’t get over my fatigue.

And while my original lab tests (for vitamin D and B12 and a full thyroid panel) were back at an earlier date, I was just able to meet with my new holistic doctor and go over my lab results for the 24 hour adrenal saliva test. The appointment in which she told me that my adrenals suck.

 adrenals


Ok, so maybe those words are mine.

But my cortisol levels are extremely low throughout the entire day, which is the reason that some mornings take what seems to immense strength just to get out of bed. Or you know….deal with people.

So, soon we’ll be getting into a bit more about recovering from adrenal fatigue and I’ll share a bit more about what I’m doing, but today let’s just chat a bit about why the adrenals affect the thyroid.

Because sometimes the thyroid is low, or not functioning properly, and it can instead be traced to the adrenals. And most medical doctors don’t test the adrenal hormones.

In fact, mine thought it was silly that my new doctor requested the lab test and said it wouldn’t really help, so there wasn’t a lot of reasons to spend the money to get it done. (at $175.00 I was actually going to skip it, but for some reason decided on day 20 that I would. It’s a test you do on day 21 of your cycle if you want a bit more accurate results for progesterone/estrogen, etc) This is probably because adrenal fatigue is not a recognized medical term, with medical doctors only looking for true adrenal shutdown, known as Addison’s. So adrenal fatigue is often called a “theory” that mostly alternative health practitioners “diagnose”.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

The adrenals are two small glands, one on top of each kidney, and they help our bodies react and deal with stress through the production of adrenaline and cortisol. They also produce other hormones that are precursors to reproductive hormones.

Dr. James L. Wilson coined the term ‘adrenal fatigue’ back in the 90’s and it is basically an issue with the adrenals, whether they produce too much cortisol or too little, and the major symptom is fatigue. The direct cause is different for everyone, but it’s brought on by frequent stress, either physical, emotional, or mental.

It’s our bodies fight or flight reactions gone awry.

On Dr. Wilson’s website AdrenalFatigue.org (a wealth of info) he states that:

“With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.”

Some of the basic symptoms listed on the AdrenalFatigue.org website:

  1. You feel tired for no reason.
  2. You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  3. You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
  4. You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
  5. You crave salty and sweet snacks.
  6. You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.

Other symptoms that could point to adrenal fatigue:

  • weakness
  • low libido
  • everyday tasks take a lot of strength and effort
  • little annoyances can drive you bonkers
  • mild depression or anxiety
  • PMS
  • thoughts are fuzzy/hard to put them together
  • decreased memory
  • allergies
  • decreased immune response
  • insomnia

Adrenal fatigue usually begins with frequent stress and ramps up the cortisol production. “As the adrenal glands become increasingly compromised, it’s harder for them to make cortisol. Instead, extra adrenalin is produced to compensate, which can make us irritable and shaky.” (source)

Adrenal and Thyroid function begin in the brain.

These glands are being told what to produce and how much of it to produce by a gland in our brain called the hypothalamus. I love how WomantoWoman.com describes this action:

“Hormones are molecules released by one area of the body to carry messages to another area in the body. The thyroid’s main job is to produce the right amount of thyroid hormone to “tell” your cells how fast to burn energy and produce proteins. The adrenal glands’ primary job is to produce the right amount of stress hormones that allow you to respond to stress of a zillion kinds.”

You can also check out their info picture and description to get a better idea of how this all works.

When the body is exposed to stress of any kind, the hypothalamus sends out a signal (the corticotrophin-releasing hormone) to the pituitary for the adrenals to increase cortisol. Both the signal hormone and the cortisol can then inhibit TSH as well as block the conversion from T4 to T3, causing symptoms of low thyroid.

In some women, they may also have decreased progesterone levels due to adrenal fatigue as some sources mention that the precurser to progesterone, DHEA (dehydioepiandrosterone). DHEA is used to metabolize cholesterol and make the conversion to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, so poor adrenal function can directly affect the reproductive system.

If you have thyroid problems, most alternative practitioners recommend testing the adrenals and if they are not functioning properly, that the adrenals be properly treated before the thyroid. (of course, thyroid support is essential depending on its function – always work with a doctor or health care professional.) Because the thyroid wont’ function properly no matter the treatment if the adrenals aren’t functioning well.

The issue of adrenal fatigue is one that is, thankfully, getting more and more attention over the last few years. Here are some other resources to help you learn more:

  1. AdrenalFatigue.org
  2. Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st century stress syndrome a book by Dr. James L. Wilson
  3. How adrenals can wreak havoc – Stop the Thyroid Madness
  4. Eating to support adrenals
  5. Low metabolic energy therapies – an in-depth look at the adrenals and thyroid, the differences in symptoms, and the treatments.
  6. Adrenal Fatigue Signs and Symptoms – a metabolic chart
  7. The truth about adrenal fatigue – a look at the connection to the brain (it’s a great article, but please be aware of the scantily clad woman on the screen about halfway down…..wouldn’t want y’all to be shocked!)

I know many of you have dealt with adrenal fatigue, so I’d love it if you could share your story here in the comments of your symptoms and maybe how you began to heal! Patient wisdom is a helpful thing for everyone when we share and get new ideas to research for ourselves.

 
If YOU think you might be experiencing health problems due to your thyroid not functioning properly, or if you’re unhappy with your current treatment plan, I highly suggest signing up for the FREE Thyroid Sessions*. Hosted by Sean of Underground Wellness, this team of experts is covering everything you need to know about thyroid disorders and treatments.

Can’t take the time when it’s available for free? Until May 3, 2014 you can order the digital version of the entire online conference for only $49.00*! That’s a steal of a deal compared to the multiple doctor visits it normally takes to diagnose thyroid disorders!

6 tips to balance adrenal fatigue naturally

(by contributing writer Nichi)

Notice how you feel when you read through this list:

  • Long hours at work
  • Exhaustion of parenting wee ones
  • Living with teenagers
  • Relationships
  • Your annoying co-worker
  • Emotional stress
  • Bad food choices: coffee, sugar and highly processed foods
  • Traffic
  • Lack of sleep
  • Illness and disease

Are you stressed out yet?

What about when your alarm goes off in the morning and you either jolt upright out of bed or do the hand-scramble as you flop it around feeling for the OFF button?  No matter which way you respond to that morning alarm clock, your heart is now in your throat and we start out day exhausted and with an adrenaline rush all at the same time.

How to balance adrenal fatigue naturally   www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com

Working with clients on adrenal fatigue is a multi-faceted approach, AND, balancing it naturally via managing your lifestyle goes a long way.

Now, I can’t do without my Drenamin a lot of days, which is a raw organic supplement that contains whole food ingredients that support my whole body in dealing with adrenal fatigue.  That being said, a specifically clinically designed nutrition protocol is what I am in and it’s the whole versus the part that supports me.

The adrenal glands produce hormones in our body that help us respond to stress.  I personally notice a link with my blood sugar metabolism and immune response when my adrenals are suffering.

When you don’t have supplementation available to you, you can seek out the support of a Nutrition Response Testing practitioner, Naturopath or Acupuncturist and they will create a protocol just for you.

In the ‘meantime’, you know, that space between when you decide to take a step toward seeking support and when you actually do, there are a few lifestyle management tips you can implement to soften the sharp rise and fall.  I always say it can make the difference between feeling like you’re on the G-force roller coaster and the old wooden roller!

6 Tips to Naturally Balance Adrenal Fatigue

  1. Implement a healthy sleep rhythm-settling into bed at the same time every night and rising at the same time every morning quickly establish a cadence your body will soon drum to.
  2. Drop the refined and processed food and opt for whole foods.  At least commit to this for one meal/day.  Perhaps begin with lunch-opt for the salad bar, add a boiled egg and grilled chicken instead of the drive through McSandwich.
  3. Cut sugar.  I know, you’re so sick of hearing about sugar as begin a culprit.  Don’t even get me going.  Just. Cut. It. Out.  It’s in your soda, in your bread, your cereal, your candy, your juice, your granola bars and cookies and fat-free this and low-fat that.  In just about everything that says “no sugar added”, they are just substituting it with an ingredient you can’t pronounce and thus don’t know it’s sugar.
  4. Drink water.  Replenish your cells, please.  They are so thirsty and they try to tell you, but when you listen, you’re actually hearing that you’re hungry.  You’re not.  Often when we are thirsty we are already dehydrated and we opt for food instead.  Drink half your weight in ounces per day.
  5. Turn off the screen.  I get you’re reading this on a screen, AND, I urge you to turn them off at least 30 minutes prior to sleep at night and read a book or take a bath instead!
  6. Practice relaxation.  Whether it be sitting on a bench at the park, taking a restorative yoga class or participating in a meditation course, you need to implement relaxation into your life.

Combat adrenal fatigue naturally
Now, I can relate to all of this.  In the past year I have struggled with adrenal fatigue and candida.  I did a candida cleanse during the summer, which took away the fog and the need for adrenal support.  My acupuncturist requested I turn my brain off at 6pm every night.  I agreed upon 8, then after seeing how much better I felt, I quickly took on the 6pm cut off.

It feels awesome.

I am very ready for bed by 9:30/10 and am very ready to jump out of bed by 5:30 the next morning.  I feel rested and peaceful and my skin glows.
Relaxation to me sounds like this: “I’ll just go for a 4 mile walk today instead of 5.”  That exercise is great and all but is not a practice in relaxation.  What I do is put myself into a book that has exercises for me to follow, or listen to meditation cd’s that require me to practice a visualization for even just a few minutes per day.  My weekly Higher Brain Living session does wonders as well.

Now that you know how to balance adrenal fatigue naturally while on your way to the support of a practitioner, which step will you implement today?

Photo credit

Supporting your Adrenals and Thyroid during the Holiday Season

Let’s be honest, while the holidays can be a joyful time, they can also be stressful. Shopping, crowds, not so healthy cookies and potluck dinners, lack of sleep trying to get it all done, yikes! That is enough for anyone to want to go hide under their bed and not come out until January 2nd, but for someone with adrenal fatigue or thyroid issues, it can be downright debilitating.

P1020475

It is important to support your adrenals and thyroid BEFORE all the holiday madness begins. When we start to have little flares and symptoms you are already starting down the slippery slope of a crash. Who wants a health crash at one of the busiest times of the year?

1.) Keep up with your supplements and add some extras.

Be strict with your vitamin routine. This may mean taking the time to organize your vitamins and supplements and have them in easy to go containers. While you are on the go you can grab them before you leave the house so you don’t miss a dose. Also, think ahead if you are going to be away for a few days and have enough of your supplements with you to last the entire time.

This is a good time of the year to be boosting your immune system. Adding some vitamin D3 (available on Amazon) and vitamin C will not only help your adrenals and thyroid but it will also boost your immune system to keep those nasty bugs away. Cell salts (available on Amazon*) are also something easy to add to the routine. Cell salts help the body use the minerals that are already present in your system.

If you are not already taking one, a good multi vitamin goes a long way at this time of the year. Your thyroid and adrenals will be happy with the added nutrition.

2.) Eat your fruit and vegetables.

Getting your greens in can be tough when there seems to be a surplus of cookies and sweets around. Starting the day with a green smoothie is a great way to get your greens in and know that your body has had some nourishing food for the day.

Bring a salad, fruit or veggie tray to family gatherings. I know it sounds boring but I often bring a nice lettuce salad to gatherings and I never bring any home.  A fruit tray also goes over well with kids and people with food allergies that can’t partake in the cookies, cakes and pies. I always feel better when I know I’ve had a good helping of raw veggies even if I indulge in foods I don’t normally eat.

3.) Get to bed on time.

With all the hustle and bustle, it is good to get your sleep in when you can. With family and church happenings and travel, take the time to get to bed at a reasonable hour so that your adrenals and thyroid get the rest they need for those long days.

Don’t feel guilty about saying ‘no’ to less important things so that you can get the rest your body needs to stay healthy and happy during the holidays.

4.) Keep Hydrated.

Fill up some water bottles, add a slice of lemon and keep them stocked in your frig so you have a bottle ready to go. Shopping and running around are fast ways to get thirsty and who wants to pay and arm and a leg for a bottle of water while you are out? The lemon will also be a bit of a gentle liver support as well, which we all need.

You can also add a dash of sea salt to your water, this is great for supporting your adrenals!

5.) Relax!

Take a few moments each day to sit with your feet up, pray, read, take a bath, mediate, or close your eyes, even if you don’t nap. It is amazing what 15 minutes of relaxing time a day can do to keep your adrenals happy.


It is sometimes hard to stop and take care of yourself during this season, but it is so important. You can’t enjoy the holidays when your body isn’t working properly. Do these few things to support your thyroid and adrenal systems to avoid crashing. Don’t wait until the New Year to take care of YOU!

 

What are your favorite tips for supporting your thyroid and adrenals during times of stress?

On health and healing. Adrenal fatigue, MTHFR, and an update on me

Soooo, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update on what’s going on with me and I’ve learned so much this year about the body, and more importantly, my body. After all my testing last December that showed I was deficient in vitamins D and B12 along with a slower than “normal” thyroid and major adrenal fatigue I think I’ve finally begun to get a handle on it this fall.

I know so many of you have the same symptoms I do, and while our causes may or may not be the same, I thought I’d finally share a few things I’ve figured out in hopes that it might lead to some inspiration for you as well.

Let’s recap real quick where I’ve been, as I know a lot of you are new.

I was diagnosed (based on symptoms) with PCOS when I was about 23, ovulating only once or twice a year if I was lucky. It took a year to get pregnant with our first and we almost lost him due to low progesterone. And no, I was never given any supplementation, yet only found out about it last year when I asked for my medical records.

Side note – it is REALLY important to have a copy of your medical records or to get specific numbers from your doctors when you have any testing done.

After he was born I began to do a lot more reading and researching and found information about increasing fertility with a whole foods diet. I began transitioning to eating 90-95% whole foods and every symptom of PCOS that I had began to disappear, I lost weight, and the most important for me was that my ovaries began working regularly for the first time ever! And this led to our second baby.

After her birth I came under some personal and business related stress that lasted for over a year and began to deal with mild adrenal fatigue and I had to work hard with diet, supplements, and chiropractic care after she weaned to get back on track.

With my body healthy and strong again we soon found that we were expecting our third baby, a baby we had to say goodbye to when I was 11 weeks pregnant. And the physical, hormonal, and emotional stress I went through for a few months sent me right back in to adrenal fatigue again, this time even worse. So I spent a good six months resting, de-stressing, and did a cleanse to help facilitate healing. I was eating well and taking my supplements and yet I was still dealing with insomnia and major fatigue. Eight months after my miscarriage I put a call in to my OB, hoping to get some thyroid testing done.

And I had to end up canceling the appointment and she couldn’t see me for another 10 weeks. So I made an appointment with my family doctor six weeks later.

He got sick that day.

So I counted my pennies, sucked it up, and called a holistic DO in town (not covered by my insurance) and was able to see her the following week. I’m really glad my other appointments had failed because she was the one that ordered the tests I really needed and wouldn’t have thought of asking for. (and the other two wouldn’t have ordered)

I was put on a methyl B12 and folate supplement which is taken sublingually (under the tongue – absorbs better) and I began to sleep well for the first time in over a year. The really cool thing was that I began to dream again as I had noticed that I never remembered my dreams anymore after a lifetime of crazy dreams every night. I had no idea that B vitamins could be associated with dreaming! I also felt my hormones shifting and that was also a good sign.

(The sublingual supplement I use I purchased from my DO’s office, but you can also find it on Amazon – Douglas Laboratories B12 Plus*)

Finally the healing began as the sleep was much-needed. It had been over a year at that point where I had gotten over 5 hours of sleep at night as I had only been sleeping from about 2am to 6 or 7 am, not helpful in healing at all. I began to have a bit more energy and things were looking up. I did the Thyroid Detox in January and my own cleanse later that spring.

We also tested my adrenals with a 24 hour saliva test and found that my cortisol levels were drastically low all day long, never rising enough to have energy at all. So I also purchased the book Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. James Wilson (available on Amazon) and began focusing on adrenal health.

 

My adrenal protocol:

  • Slept as much at night as I could, meaning I’d go to bed an hour earlier, take a nap mid-day when I could, and sleep in whenever possible, especially until nine AM if I could convince Todd to get up earlier with the kids.
  • If I couldn’t nap, I took at least 15 minutes each day to lay down with my feet up while I read a book (or played on my phone….)
  • Worked a LOT less, cutting my writing/blogging time easily in half.
  • Weekends and Wednesdays were no work days and very little social media.
  • I took Dr. Wilson’s supplements religiously, even buying one of those pills boxes and scheduling reminders on my phone
  • I also drank salt water everyday, especially in the morning, about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon per 12-16 ounces of water
  • Giving up coffee was not my idea of fun since I used it each day as a mood booster, but it had to go in order to give my adrenals a break.
  • Good food was pivotal, but so was not stressing about food. So I ate as well as I could manage (hard to do when you’re constantly exhausted and overwhelmed) yet allowed myself plenty of grace when we ate something that wasn’t “real food approved”.

And then it stopped getting better. No worse per se, but I knew I wasn’t feeling as good as I should and my hormones were still not behaving correctly. I also noticed that I was not dreaming as much as I had in previous months. We experimented with progesterone supplementation which wasn’t helpful. i tried adding more supplements to no avail. I tried reducing my supplements which REALLY wasn’t helpful! I was finding that even after five or six months of major supplementation that the supplements were just keeping me going each day, and I had to keep taking them or be exhausted.

Over the summer I also mentioned that I began to see a massage therapist who worked with Mayan Abdominal Massage as well as Medical Massage and Manual Therapy with Mind-Body Integration. I went about 6 times over the course of a few months and found the changes in my body fabulous. There were things that were tight and misplaced that I never knew were tight or misplaced! I also learned about the many parts of the body that were associated with different organs and even different emotions, which was quite interesting and eye-opening. Christine also works with herbs and I began taking one of her tinctures, which was horribly gross as many tinctures are! My body felt good, but my hormones were still not playing along.

Enter MTHFR.

(No, that’s not an acronym for a swear word like I originally thought. I first found out about MTHFR on infertility forums years ago and I thought the ladies were just really mad at this specific gene mutation!)

Since last fall I’ve wanted to get tested for the MTHFR gene mutation, but the costs of working with my holistic DO had put that one test on the back burner until July when I finally sent in my saliva test. (I ordered it from 23andme.com* for $99.00.)

While I was waiting for the results (they take about a month) I began to do a bit more reading on the subject and found out an important little piece of information about the sublingual vitamin B supplement I was taking. Many people with certain versions of the MTHFR mutation don’t absorb or use B vitamins well, women are often times given large doses of folic acid to help sustain a pregnancy as these mutations are common in miscarriage/multiple miscarriage, so there is a lot of information out there about Vitamin B and MTHFR. But the important little part I learned while researching was that when you take sublingual vitamins you’re supposed to let it sit for at least 30 minutes under the tongue!

I had started out with maybe 10 minutes and slowly began to let it sit under my tongue less and less, down to only a minute or two.

The next day I put it under my tongue the moment the alarm went off for Todd and I went back to sleep and let it dissolve on its own. Within a week I could feel my hormones shifting. I obviously really needed this! So each morning. without fail, I made sure to take my sublingual methyl B’s* for 30-60 mintutes each time. And then I got my genetic test results from 23andme.com* and ran them through Genetic Genie to get my results in a “common person can understand this” way.

Turns out I have 1 heterozygous mutation on the MTHFR C677T gene.

This means that while it’s not the “bad” variation since only one part of the gene is mutated (genes come in pairs)(some doctors don’t even consider this one an issue which is really unfortunate), that it could reduce the way my body uses B vitamins (as well as other nutrients) by 10-40 percent depending on how the rest of my genes are functioning. I also have other genetic mutations (Which is one reason I liked the 23andme.com test – it tells you all sorts of stuff!) but at this point I don’t think they are causing me problems, I’m just glad I know so I can look into it if need be.

For those that have never heard of it, here’s the basics:

MTHFR is a genetic mutation that causes the enzyme that drives a process called methylation to be reduced. This can impair the methylation cycle by approximately 15 to 80%, depending on the type and severity of the mutation.

What the methylation process does:

  • Turns on and off genes (gene regulation)
  • Processes chemicals and toxins (detoxification)
  • Builds neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, etc.)
  • Processes hormones (estrogen)
  • Builds immune cells (T cells, NK cells) -DNA and RNA syntheses
  • Produces energy (by producing CoQ10, carnitine, ATP)
  • Produces/repairs protective coating on nerves (myelin)

MTHFR associated conditions:

  • repeated miscarriage
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • anemia
  • autism/sensory disfunction
  • high blood pressure
  • delayed speech
  • muscle pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • tremor
  • memory loss
  • brain fog
  • tingling or numbness in extremeties (neuropathy)
  • migraines (especially with aura)
  • Parkinson’s
  • Raynaud’s
  • autoimmune disorders
  • heavy metal accumulation
  • insomnia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • tumors/cancers
  • chronic infections
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • embolism
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • digestive disorders
  • having a MTHFR gene mutation also means that the body cannot properly absorb and utilize B vitamins.

Within a month or so after taking my methyl Bs “properly” I finally felt great and was able to reduce and then stop taking all of my adrenal supplements within about six weeks. I began sleeping really well almost every night (with dreams again!) and began to not only have more energy (enough to finally start working out again!) but I began remembering things that I had previously forgotten to do, like pay people the money I owed them….

I don’t know exactly when my MTHFR gene became “expressed” or if it’s always been an issue for me (just because you have a gene mutation doesn’t mean it’s causing you problems), but I do know that I have a variation of it and the methyl B12 and folate* is working well for me.

So far my update ends with really great news as well.  (Please stop here if you’re in a tough spot due to infertility and/or loss and need to stay away from announcements)

 

I’m really beyond excited to say that we’re expecting a baby come May. I’ve shed a lot of happy tears over the last few month and everything has been going well up to this point and we have our 20 week ultrasound next week already. It’s still kind of surreal at this point.

This baby is due exactly two years after our miscarried baby was due, so it’s also been extra anxiety inducing to be experiencing all of the same fall activities during the same exact weeks as last time. I was sicker than normal this time around due to bioidentical progesterone supplementation and it also caused once, if not twice weekly migraines which put me out of commission for at least six weeks this fall. (Thank goodness for contributors or the blog may have very well gone silent during that time.) But it’s also been a joyous time as well, we feel very blessed to be used yet again to facilitate the creation of a new life.

pregnancy

It’s really hard to know when to say something or mention this at all. Many times over the last eight or nine years, I’ve struggled with pregnancy announcements. Especially over the last two years, many times it throwing me into full-blown panic attacks and increased anxiety, and I so want to shield people from that type of pain. And yet I also want to share my story with others so that maybe it can provide hope that while healing may take a long time, that it can be possible to overcome health and hormone issues.

My story hasn’t ended yet and I’m sure at some point I might be “back to the drawing board” with one health issue or another as I move through different stages and circumstances of life, but I’m so pleased that I’ve found a way to feel like myself again.

 

 *linked to Wellness Wednesday

 

 

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