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Are Body Burdens Keeping You from Feeling Your Best?


March 13, 2014 | Published by

So, what exactly is a body burden? I’m not talking about a monkey on the back (at least not in this blog). A body burden is any problem that negatively affects your body and continues to drain your overall health. Body burdens originate from many different internal or external sources ranging from a chronic, untreated sub-acute infection, to a poorly ventilated work place. Below are some examples of body burdens.

Recurrent respiratory infections – Recurrent respiratory infections are one of the most significant body burdens hampering recovery. It is often necessary to treat the respiratory infection as well as support the adrenal glands. For more on the link between immunity and adrenal function, go here. Once the adrenals are functioning optimally, immune resistance may be able to increase enough to decrease or eliminate the recurrent respiratory infections.

Dental problems – Another common source of body burdens is the mouth. This includes tooth abscesses, cracked or decayed teeth, root canals with sub-acute infections, periodontitis, gingivitis and other gum infections, improperly extracted teeth with smoldering infections, mercury fillings leaking into the body (mercury directly suppresses cortisol levels), dental materials that provoke sensitivities, and poor dental work that irritates the teeth, gums or inside of the cheek. Unresolved dental problems are common but often unrecognized sources of stress and adrenal fatigue.

Intestinal Dysbiosis – Intestinal dysbiosis refers to an imbalance in the “good” and “bad” bacteria of the intestines. This balance can become disturbed and produce symptoms ranging from vague and mild intestinal upsets to debilitating fatigue and intolerance to food and/or environmental substances.

Friendly bacteria are necessary and responsible for breaking down bile from the gall bladder, metabolizing some food stuffs, and manufacturing certain vitamins like vitamin K and some of the B vitamins (especially vitamin B12). They also help keep the pH of the bowel at the right level for continued growth of friendly bacteria.

Lack of Fresh, Good Quality Food – The lack of good quality food in your diet is most definitely a major body burden. There is no vitamin pill that is an adequate substitute to provide all the building blocks from which your cells are made. Food is the beginning and the sustaining element of recovery. Without proper nourishment and nutrition, your recovery will be slower or in complete, no matter what else you do.

Food Allergies and Sensitivities – One reason so much space in this book was devoted to food allergies and sensitivities is because they represent such a common, but unrecognized, body burden. I have seen people lose jobs, destroy relationships or sink into chronic poor health because of food sensitivities. Food allergies and sensitivities are easily treated, and their remedy can result in dramatic improvement in adrenal function.

Lack of Sleep – Lack of sleep is a common sign of both low and high cortisol levels and can be a significant body burden. In fact, lack of sleep ranks with diet and regular exercise as an essential component of a healthy life. Chronic lack of sleep is now regarded as a health hazard and has been associated with several health conditions, including decreased immune function, impaired glucose tolerance, and decreased cognitive function. Lack of sleep can also increase circulating estrogen levels, upsetting the hormonal balance.

Living or Working in Toxic Fumes – If you are living or working in an area where you are breathing toxic fumes, this can be more than an unpleasant inconvenience. Buildings with poorly ventilated gas furnaces or stoves, paint or chemical fumes, carbon monoxide from auto exhaust, industrial pollution, petroleum plants, or pesticide and herbicide sprays are examples of toxic environments.

Identifying Body Burdens

Finding body burdens requires you to become like a private detective looking for clues. Creating a “Health History Time Line” can be a useful way to track down potential leads. (Click here to download a template). Fill out the form, then go through and number the events in chronological order (using 1 for the oldest).

Then go back and circle any events that stick out in your mind. These would be events after which you seemed to feel particularly tired or required an extended period of time to recuperate. The event(s) that produced the symptoms and signs most similar to those you are currently suffering from is the likeliest source of the body burden(s), especially if you did not fully recover from that event.

dr wilson a5m australia 2012 FB coverAbout the Author: With a researcher’s grasp of science and a clinician’s understanding of its human impact, Dr. Wilson has helped many physicians understand the physiology behind and treatment of various health conditions. He is acknowledged as an expert on alternative medicine, especially in the area of stress and adrenal function. Dr. Wilson is a respected and sought after lecturer and consultant in the medical and alternative healthcare communities in the United States and abroad. His popular book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome has been received enthusiastically by physicians and the public alike, and has sold over 400,000 copies. Dr. Wilson resides in sunny Tucson, Arizona.

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  • Jones says:

    This is the chicken or the egg situation to me. To my knowledge before I had adrenal fatigue I was not sensitive to gluten, but tests show that I now am. Will fixing the adrenals fix this sensitivity or will I need to be gluten free while trying to heal adrenals? Also, on a different subject: how do ssri’s play into adrenal fatigue? I was diagnosed with panic disorder at age 13 (knowing what I know now I probably just had a weak stress response). When I got off meds cold turkey due to being pregnant (after being on them for 13 years) I went into horrible adrenal fatigue. I am now back on them and am somewhat functional. Will supporting adrenals potentially lead to being able to get off ssri’s eventually or could they both be needed?

    • Hi Jones,

      The chicken or the egg comparison is pretty spot-on in this situation. If you are sensitive to gluten, it’s in your best interest to avoid it whenever possible. Heightened allergies, sensitivities and intolerances can be brought on by sub-optimal adrenal function, so it is possible that supporting the adrenals may help. Another possible culprit is a digestive issue. It gets a little trickier with the SSRIs. Adrenal fatigue in itself can bring on feelings of anxiety and/or depression, or possibly exacerbate existing conditions. Other than supplements there are things you can do to support both, including exercise, meditation/relaxation, and being mindful of how you manage the stress that you can’t eliminate. Please let us know if you’d like more specific information on any of these tips, or if you have any further questions. Thanks for writing!

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