The Dr. Lam Show

Case Study on How Stress Affects the Body

October 17, 2021 Dr. Lam
The Dr. Lam Show
Case Study on How Stress Affects the Body
Show Notes Transcript

Stress doesn't just affect the adrenals, but the whole body. We've seen thousands of cases and helped people recover from their stress. Today we'll be going through a case study on how stress affects the body through a continuum of the NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress Response.

1:40 - How stress affects the body and adrenals
4:55 - Hormone Circuit Imbalance - Adrenals, Thyroid, Reproductive organs
8:15 - Typical Presentation of Neuroendometabolic Dysfunction - Jane's Case
12:10 - Overdrive Phase
13:30 - Exhaustion Phase

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Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

We all encounter stress every day in our lives. Our bodies can handle stress in acute situations. However, in today's modern world with chronic stress, it can be very tiresome and can wreak havoc in our body. We will be discussing today how stress affects the body, and how the body is trying to tell us that something is wrong. So, how do we address the underlying root problem of why you're feeling that way. This is The Dr. Lam Show, and we're here to talk about integrative medicine and also empower you to take control of your health. If you enjoy this show and find it useful, please hit the like button to subscribe to The Dr. Lam Show as well as the YouTube channel and podcast. This is the best way to make the show more visible. Then other people can use this information. I'm Dr. Jeremy Lam. I'm an internal medicine physician and board certified in anti aging and regenerative medicine. I spent my medical career working on chronic disease treatment, as well as helping people through stress and adrenal fatigue recovery.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

I'm Dr. Carrie Lam, family medicine physician, board certified in functional and metabolic medicine, and I'm passionate about natural and lifestyle medicine. Today, we're going to discuss a typical case study of how stress can affect someone through all the stages not only through adrenal fatigue, but our neural endo metabolic stress response. So first, let's talk about what is stress. Our traditional understanding of stress has evolved over so much research and changed over time. We used to think that stress is something that comes from nowhere and makes it undefinable. But we know that stress enters our body, just like you're entering a house, through the five senses, like your nose, or eyes, what you smell or see. These signals through the five senses are then converted into chemical signals which go from the brain all the way down to the rest of the body. It is primarily what we call the neuroendocrine metabolic pathway, that our body responds to, like an orchestra, to the stress. This neuro endo metabolic stress response is critical, because it's a built in mechanism that we all have. When it works, you can deal with stress, whether it's a long day at work, argument with the boss, financial pressures, that can otherwise cause your body to fall apart. However, if you're unable to perform those neuro endo metabolic stress response functions the way that it's supposed to be, with excess stress, or your body can't handle this over a period of time, then the built in mechanisms start to malfunction. Dr. Jeremy, tell us what that means.

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

Severe stress causes breakdown of some of the circuits, for example, your hormone circuits. If you encounter emotional stress, the estrogen progesterone, testosterone help regulate anxiousness and irritable moods. However, metabolic stress can cause your thyroid and adrenals to become dysregulated. And you could have decreased hormone production. That in turn, can affect your metabolism, blood sugar, and your way of fighting off stress with the hormone cortisol. The adrenal glands releases anti stress hormone cortisol to fight off stressors. It doesn't matter where stress is coming from because we all have certain amounts of stress, which is constructive. The key is to understand that your body's stress response is strong. It is healthy, and helps you risk respond and grow. However, if you have imbalances in your NEM circuit, where let's say you have hormonal circuit imbalance or if you have a detoxification circuit imbalance, then that's when you start to get symptoms. One of the initial circuits to really get affected is the hormone circuit. The body shows subtle signs and symptoms, when the body whispers to you that the body is dysfunctioning. And so Dr. Carrie, what is kind of symptoms show up in hormone circuit imbalance?

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

The hormone circuit has three systems, the adrenals, the thyroid, and the gonads, which in females are ovaries and in males, testes. They work in unison, but some may be dominant or weak compared to the others. So when one problematic thing shows up, whether it's ovaries or adrenal, then your thyroid might actually become imbalanced over time. For example, those people who are mostly thyroid dominant in terms of weakness, could experience fatigue, low body temperature, dry skin, inability, lose weight, or hair loss. And it's very classic for people who are hypothyroid. But on the other hand, if you have a dominant weakness in the ovaries, then you might have emotional swings and mood irritability, or PMS symptoms. Your symptoms will reveal there is an issue, which is not about deciding which symptom makes sense or not. You have to look at each symptom and see the physiology of each hormone. For example the adrenal regulates many hormones and each has a different pathway. So you want to make sure that all pathways, involving ovaries, adrenals, and thyroid, in the hormone circuit, are working well together. What are some symptoms that people with adrenal dysfunction might feel Dr. Jeremy?

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

Well, those with adrenal dominance, might be feeling a bit more irritable, feel more fragile emotion wise, feel more anxious, and get easily triggered by anger. And then those with our reproductive system, their dominance might cause brain fog, some estrogen dominance symptoms, like breast tenderness, irritability, and water retention. Again, those with thyroid dominant dysfunction might have inability to lose weight, dry skin, nail issues, and constipation. Therefore, different dominant organs can present differently and so it's so important to listen to what your body's telling, look at the history to figure out the circuit that's dominant and dysfunctioning. You can tell, it cannot be fixed by just relaxing and going on with your life. Every circuit and organ in your body is affected. Any major change or dysfunction, can lead to many detrimental effects. So if you're struggling with trying to understand the whispers of your body, then contact our team at 714-709-8000 for a free initial phone call. So let's go deeper into those changes and look at the health problems that are associated with stress and how it affects your body.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

We talked about the neuro endo metabolic stress response, and what the symptoms really mean. Let's go through a typical presentation of someone who has neuro endo metabolic malfunction. For example, Jane, a 52 year old female, presents with fatigue and that's her main complaint. For past few years, she's been needing a cup of coffee every morning, and she adds two tablespoons of sugar. She loves sweets, and gets hungry really quickly and eats high carb meals. And then she starts noticing that she has some weight gain around the belly. Now she craves salty foods, which might not agree with her GI system, but she still continues to eat. Does this sound like someone normal to you? On the surface, it might not sound like much, but if you really understand the physiology that we described earlier and tie it together, this is the early stage of the neuro endo metabolic stress response that can be happening as the signs of increased metabolic demand are plentiful. If you look at what's being described, the sugar craving, what does this sugar craving mean Dr Jeremy?

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

That means the body needs more energy to overcome stress. So that's the symptom, the sugar craving. Now if you look at the weight gain, especially the muffin top is because the adrenals want to conserve energy and slow down and most of it goes to the central portion because thats where the cortisol is made. And so these are metabolically driven events, and they're subtle at first. Don't just write them off because the body's already telling you that something is wrong inside, which often goes unnoticed. The metabolic circuit is already being activated and next, the bioenergetic circuit will be activated, but to a lesser degree. Some of those symptoms include low blood pressure, instability or getting that lightheadedness when you stand, craving salt or mild electrolyte imbalances. But again, they're pretty mild, because it's just in the beginning phases of when your body's getting dysregulated. So Dr. Carrie, tell us more about what Jane is going through.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

Right, as Jane continues her job, and she gets more stressed at work, she gets a little more nervous. Especially when she goes to bed at night, she feels her heart pounding loudly. Despite being very tired, she can't fall asleep and sometimes she wakes up multiple times at night, despite being tired. So she takes more sleepy time teas or melatonin to help her sleep. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. As she goes through menopause, it's actually pretty rough on her as she starts getting hot flashes, dry skin, vaginal dryness, and trying to exercise tires her out quickly. Even though she sees the doctors and asks if there's anything wrong, because of her fatigue. But everything comes back normal. So this is not only about Jane, a lot of males can also have the same problems. As they feel their libido going down, their ability to exercise actually also reduces and they feel drained at the end of the day. These are really subtle signs. So what is going on with this neural endo metabolic stress response, you're stepping into the second phase of what is called overdrive. Dr. Jeremy tell us a little more.

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

As the stress continues, remember that those six system components, gets activated and they become more in demand. And now the neuroendocrine component is going to start being dysregulated. The cardionomic circuit could lead to nervousness, occasional palpitations, skip beats here and there. Your neuroaffective circuit becomes more involved due to the trouble sleeping, with the body being more wired. Even though you're tired, you can fall asleep after a little while. But then you wake up you're like routine clockwork every two or three hours. The hormone circuit also becomes more of a problem and females OAT axis or the ovarian adrenal thyroid axis and balance, as well as menopause can cause fatigue and in males, reduced libido and exercise tolerance. So that's phase two, where there's a prominent and the neuroendocrine component starts to surface more. So most of these symptoms where people complain of overdrive phase consists of neuroendocrine symptoms, just mentioned. Now let's see how Jane keeps dealing with what's going on.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

So you go into the exhaustion phase, as Jane tries to take herbs, glandulars and vitamins, she might feel better for a while. Then her symptoms worsens again, multiple fatigue crashes, especially after big events or family events. And now she has constant heart pounding, the sleep is not getting better with sleep aids, her brain fog starts to settle in, she has a very hard time concentrating, and even becomes more and more sensitive to supplements. And sometimes even they have the opposite reaction of what it's supposed to be. For example, when she takes vitamin C, instead of making her feel better, actually crashed her and she was on the couch for a week. She's unable to smell certain perfumes and get headaches from that, or when she's filling up gas at a gas station. So she tries changing her diet to become gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, but doesn't really last long term. This is very debilitating when she's going through this exhaustion phase. If you're not controlling the stress well, it will continue to attack you and it becomes an overdrive. The exhaustion phase is probably the most alarming because the velocity of declining health enters its maximum speed. As you get more frequent crashes and you might have to call off work as even just walking around the block can be problematic. Most people decide to go see their doctor. But like I said, the health professionals might just focus on just a few symptoms rather than the whole picture of the metabolic, neuroendocrine and the hormone side. And so crashes can become worse if they continue to self navigate or give the wrong items, medications or supplements to them. The symptoms can become very convoluted, you see different specialists and they all don't talk to each other. And so it's a big challenge on how to sort it out. But we have seen many cases like Jane who cannot sleep, feel tired and wired and lightheaded. And even though your doctor tells you everything is fine, you don't un erstand what's happening. Th s is where your body is be ond the HPA axis, the hy othalamic pituitary adrenal ax s. This is where your whole ne ro endo metabolic stress re ponse is responsible for due to stress. So you've experienced th same things as Jane has been ex eriencing with stress, and un ble to get better going to se a doctor and not knowing wh re to go. Just know that yo 're not alone as these issues co e and go. We are here to help yo at Lam Clinic. Our team is al ays available, call us at 71 -709-8000 so we can help you ou . Stress can cause adrenal fa igue or worse than neuro endo me abolic stress response. We wa t you to make sure that you do 't get worse by self na igating, there is hope for yo . If you like this video, on a ypical case of how stress can af ect someone, and that these ca es that we see so many times, We ask that you like and share an subscribe to our future vi eos on The Dr. Lam Show so th t we can get more and more pe ple help just like you. Call us if you have any questions, an we're here to empower you to ta e control of your health.

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