The Rest of the Stress Story
Holey Moley, Chester, be careful out there!
As you know, stress is the big kahuna of problems nowadays. And maybe stress-R-you. But just because somebody says something’s good for stress doesn’t mean you should take it. You need to know the rest of the story.
An example: Holy Basil, a herb ballyhooed as a stress reliever. Well, maybe yes, maybe no.
Let’s talk about this.
Your adrenal glands are stress central. When all’s going well, you can ignore them. But if you have any kind of an endocrine problem, but especially a thyroid problem-as half of us do even though doctors can’t seem to figure that out-it means your adrenals are almost surely in trouble.
Our adrenals produce cortisol to handle stress. Cortisol has the dismaying habit of making a mess of things. If it gets too high, you are one wired puppy. After a while, you run out of cortisol, so your hair doesn’t stand on end any more, but you’re still stressed-and now also exhausted. And brain dead. And so on.
But since sudden noises startle the socks off you, and falling out of chairs quickly gets old, you decide something has to be done about all this stress.
Enter holy basil. One tiny little detail you probably want to know. Holy basil works by lowering cortisol levels. If you’re absolutely, positively sure your cortisol levels are high, it might be worth a try.
But if your stress comes from adrenal glands that can’t keep up, holy basil is a good way to make things worse. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a body that ignores the stuff, so then all you’re out is the money it cost.
So, how do you know if your cortisol levels are high or low? Well, not by the blood test doctors insist on. Unless you’re at the extreme ends of the scale, adrenal blood tests mean exactly squat. Results pronounce you to be ‘just fine’ 95% of the time.
An adrenal saliva test is the ticket you need, but chances are your doctor won’t see it that way. In 1996, Congress gave the insurance companies the power to decide which medical tests doctors are allowed to order, and they have decreed the adrenal saliva test to be off limits. Penalties for ordering it can be severe.
Before the axe came down on the saliva adrenal test, my primary care doctor ordered one-a couple of weeks after my endocrinologist ordered the blood test. The blood test said I was fine, while the saliva test said I was in adrenal failure. Since I was scraping bottom day after day, and some days had to reach up to even touch bottom, I figured the saliva test got it right.
As it turned out, test or no test, I still had to figure out for myself how to get my adrenal glands back into the land of the living. And I did-a long story that’s part of my how-all-the-pieces-fit Moving to Health program.
Fortunately, by the time I heard about holy basil, though, digging for the rest of the story was my normal response to new information. I recommend that approach.
God is good,
Copyright by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved
P.S. Bette Dowdell is not a doctor, nor does she purport to be She’s a patient who’s been studying and successfully handling her own endocrine problems for more than 30 years. She offers introductory teleseminars and an in-depth 12-month subscription program, “Moving to Health” about living well with endocrine issues. She explains how things work-or don’t, discusses what things to avoid as well as the things that help, and she provides a lot of well-researched nutritional information. Subscribe to her free e-zine at Information is power.
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