Understanding Drug Dependence
Radio Medicine and The Adrenal Glands, Part One
This week's newsletter addresses Radio Medicine and the adrenal glands and the role that both play with our health. First, a brief summary of the problems we have seen caused by Radio Medicine and our suggested way of handling these problems.
RADIO MEDICINE MAY BE YOUR PROBLEM
In last week's newsletter, Novus Psychoactive Drug Health Package, we announced a program to help people who have been given drugs to handle symptoms (Radio Medicine victims). Under this new program, a person can come to Novus and stay in the area and receive a diagnosis and treatment that will allow them not only to withdraw from the psychoactive drug (which includes narcotics like OxyContin) but also work with doctors who are trained at locating the actual physical problem and treating that.
You see, far too many people in our country are given a psychoactive drug not to actually address and treat the cause of a problem but to simply “turn up the volume” to mask the symptoms. This happens all the time with “pain management.” Instead of seeking to handle the cause of the pain, all too often the treatment is to give a narcotic drug to block out the pain signals being generated from the cause of the pain which are going to the brain. If the cause of the pain is handled, then the pain goes away and there is no need to take the narcotic drugs.
Maybe the prescribing doctor listened to the paid drug company doctors who recommended the drug. Maybe they listened to the drug company representatives. Maybe they actually didn't know the cause but hoped that this would somehow alleviate the symptoms until the body healed itself. Predictably, in most cases, the actual physiological problem just gets worse.
At some point, the person realizes that the symptoms are not being masked, and taking enough of the psychoactive drug to mask the symptoms creates many other unwanted problems.
They then decide to withdraw from the drug and find Novus Medical Detox Center. Normally we can help them safely and more comfortably withdraw from the psychoactive drug, but this is rarely enough. Sometimes, in the case of narcotics like OxyContin, the unpleasant symptoms were actually largely caused by the drug and just withdrawing from the drug results in relief. Sometimes, a person no longer feels pain but has become dependent on the drug (has very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop), and withdrawing from the narcotic is all that is required.
More often with other psychoactive benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax or Adderall, antidepressants like Zoloft or Paxil, or antipsychotics like Seroquel or Zyprexa, the person who withdraws from these psychoactive drugs finds that it unmasks the untreated physiological condition that was creating the symptoms, and they have never really handled that problem.
A person still must handle the actual physiological problem. The majority of our patients, no longer taking narcotic drugs like OxyContin, who have located the cause of the underlying physiological problem, found that it involved a problem with their endocrine system.
The endocrine system is composed of glands throughout the body. These glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream or the fluid surrounding cells. These hormones interact with receptors in our cells in various ways. They activate these receptors and either alter the cell's existing proteins or instruct the cell in the building of new proteins. Both of these actions create reactions throughout the body.
The endocrine system regulates all biological processes in the body from conception through adulthood and into old age, including the development of the brain and nervous system, the growth and function of the reproductive system, as well as the body’s metabolism and blood sugar levels. The female ovaries, male testes, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands are major constituents of the endocrine system.
We did a three part series on the thyroid. They can be found at the following links: http://media.novusdetox.com/dependence.php?include=138887; http://media.novusdetox.com/dependence.php?include=138951;
ADRENAL GLANDS AND THE HPA AXIS
There are two adrenal glands. One is located on top of each kidney. Here is an illustration showing the location of each of these parts of the endocrine system.
The adrenal glands are controlled by the same two glands--the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland (the HPA axis as it is called) that control the thyroid. The hypothalamus senses that the body is deficient in hormones (mainly cortisol) that are produced by the adrenal glands. The hypothalamus secretes what are called releasing hormones. The primary releasing hormone is corticotrophin releasing factor (“CRF”). The CRF stimulates the pituitary gland to release an amount of adrenocorticotropic hormone (“ACTH”). ACTH stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol, which induces metabolic effects. The hypothalamus is located in the brain just above the pituitary gland.
Each adrenal gland has two parts. The first of these is the adrenal cortex. The adrenal cortex is the outer layer of tissue around each adrenal gland.
The adrenal cortex:
* Affects the body's metabolism;
* Affects the body's use of carbohydrates, proteins and fats;
* Affects the amount of the hydrocortisone hormone (cortisol) that is released;
* Affects how the body releases inflammation suppressing hydrocortisone hormones;
* Affects the body's immune systems;
* Affects the release of the aldosterone hormone which:
Maintains the level of sodium in the body;
Maintains blood volume;
Maintains blood pressure.
* Affects the development of certain male characteristics like facial hair.
The adrenal medulla is the inner part of the adrenal gland. The adrenal medulla:
* Releases the epinephrine hormone (adrenaline) which can trigger the “fight or flight” reaction in the body;
* If the “fight or flight” reaction is triggered:
The heart rate is increased;
The force of heart contractions is increased;
More blood is diverted to the muscles and brain;
The body is directed to convert glycogen to glucose in the liver;
The amount of oxygen exchange is increased in the lungs;
Digestion and other non-essential body functions are inhibited.
* Releases the norepinephrine hormone (noradrenaline) can increase blood pressure.
Dr. John Tintera, an endocrinologist who spent most of his life studying adrenal problems, said in 1969 during a presentation to the American Society of Ophthalmologic and Otolaryngologic Allergy, “For the sake of credibility, we have previously stated that about 16% of the population has some moderate-to-severe degree of hypoadrenocorticism (adrenal fatigue) with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) but in actuality, the figure should read 67% if all the arthritics, asthmatics and hay fever sufferers, alcoholics and all other related groups are included.”
Many alternative medicine and functional medicine doctors don't believe that adrenal problems are as prevalent as Dr. Tintera, but they do believe that adrenal problems greatly contribute to the unpleasant symptoms suffered by many people.
In his book, Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. John Wilson set forth some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue that he has observed. Here they are:
* Difficulty getting up in the morning
* Don't really wake up until 10:00 AM
* Afternoon low between 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM
* After dinner start feeling good again
* Fatigue that is unrelieved by a good night's sleep
* Craving for salt or salty foods
* Lack of energy
* Feeling that things you do take much more effort and you are less productive
* Decreased sex drive
* Constant anxiety
* Compulsive eating
* Slower than normal (for you) recovery from illness
* Mild depression
* Less satisfaction with life
* Less interest in things that used to interest you
* Increased bloating, cramping and craving chocolate during menstruation
* Necessity to have snacks, colas or coffee to have enough energy to get through the day
* Difficulty focusing on things
* Memory problems
* Decreased tolerance of people and things
Dr. Wilson believes that if you have three or more of these symptoms, then you should be tested for adrenal fatigue.
The National Institute of Health sets forth these symptoms of adrenal problems:
* Abdominal pain
* High fever
* Low blood pressure (hypotension), which may cause light-headedness or fainting when you stand after sitting or lying down
* Rapid heart beat
* Joint pains
* Muscle pains (myalgias)
* Nausea and vomiting
* Chronic diarrhea
* Darkening of the skin
* Loss of appetite
* Salt craving
* Slow, sluggish movement
* Unintentional weight loss
* Shaking chills
* Unusual and excessive sweating on face or palms
As we learned when studying the thyroid, many symptoms could apply to the thyroid, adrenal glands and other endocrine system glands and sometimes to other organs in the body. This is why you must find a doctor who will find the cause of the physiological problem and not just treat the symptoms.
Next week, we will discuss how problems in the adrenal glands actually create health problems in our bodies. We will also look at some tests for adrenal problems and possible treatments.
At Novus Medical Detox Center we continue to help people become free of the trap created by drugs. We help people who have become addicted to OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, methadone, Xanax and other psychoactive drugs like Zoloft, Paxil and Seroquel. If you know of someone who we can help, please contact us.
NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.
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