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Adrenal Exhaustion and the Nervous System


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Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

Hello and welcome. My name is Tsao-Lin Moy, and I’m the founder of Integrative Healing Arts in Union square in New York city. And I would like to thank the American Acupuncture Council for putting these lives on for your entertainment and also for educating you about acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Please and comment for today we’re going to be talking about adrenal exhaustion and burnout and the amygdala hijacking, which has a slightly different and okay. So let’s go to the slides.

Okay. There we go. All right. So today we’re going to be talking about adrenal exhaustion, burnout, and the amygdala hijacking and what strategies that we can be using with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. So here we go.

All right. So what we’ve got here is what adrenal exhaustion. And in Chinese medicine, we call that the kidney yin and yang deficiency, where the beginning young is out of balance. And what we see is elevated cortisol. We’ve got low melatonin, a lot more physical conditions, such as fatigue irritability problems with sleeping.

So we start to see the day and night shifting. It’s very common that your patients may be on some kind of prescription medication. There is a lot of tiredness and Schedule is irregular, right? So they may be taking anti-anxiety medication sleep aids, antidepressants. All right. So this we see is very common.

Most of our patients that come in have something going on with their kidney energy and given the situation that we’re in right now with the news and everything happening around the world that for sure. This is going to be coming into your practice. And we’ll go to the next slide and look at what are going to be strategies for this level.

And we’re looking at so strategy here is really regulating the yin and the Yom the nervous system, because this is where we’re starting to see that it’s out of balance. A big component is going to be sleep right for regulating the circadian rhythm. We can address it with diet, right? Making sure that our patients are drinking enough water staying away from alcohol getting some exercise.

Very important is going to be detoxing from social media because that actually gets people really upset. And to clear those cookies as I call them that type that tend to follow another what we’re looking at for your patients is acupuncture for sure, because we know that it’s. The brain chemistry and the neuropeptides that actually allow the body to go into that deep, relaxed state herbal medicine.

Some of it, yes. Definitely supplements. If you. The basic we call the formulas such as the shadow side, the free and easy wander or something like way P tongue, where there’s going to be a lot more worry. So this is going to be, for someone who is relatively healthy that they’re just going, that they’re out of balance, right?

So we’re like, Like the exhaustion, it’s a little bit different from the Western, what we call exhaustion, where they may be given anti some kind of steroids. But here we have an opportunity for the person to shift back into balance and go into some more state of relative balance. We call it and as a practitioner, We also do social support therapy.

We talk with our patients about how to balance their life really important. A lot of times when people are very stressed out, it’s very difficult for them to do something like meditation. And what I have found in my practice is really offering them breath work. And that could be the 4, 7, 8 breath work.

There is also Wim Hoff, which is has been. Become very popular. There are lots of videos of how to do it, and if somebody is feeling stressed out, all they need to do is to shift their breathing. The other thing too is to really look at taking time in nature. And at this moment when you’re working with your patients that are in this particular kind of imbalance, they actually are pretty open to listening to suggestions.

The time in order to stabilize, I would give it three to five months really consistently coming in for treatment and then also to create and cultivate different habits where they can manage their stress and become aware of it and actually be much more proactive in it. So the next slide.

Now burnout is what we look at is a whole other level of kidney depletion, right? Compared to adrenal exhaustion, which is a little bit more of the physical is such, we’re looking at more of the emotional, and here we’re seeing that this is this more inward and racing thoughts, but also the trouble of blue sleeping.

So I’ve underlined sleeping because that is a huge problem. And this is going to be really a key for addressing something with your patients, like where can you start? So when someone comes in with so many symptoms, it’s very important to keep your treatments. Another thing that we see with burnout is that there’s more depression going inward.

Even self-medicating the people may be on a lot of medication. The essence is being drained. And then we also see with the physical manifestations, we start to see things like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia auto-immune really like depletion, and really. Feeling defeated. And so here is we’ll go to the next slide, like how we’re gonna let’s change to this next.

Okay. So as I mentioned, oh, we want to go back one, let’s go back one. We can very similar to adrenal exhaustion. The idea is you want to. Rescue them in a way, strengthen the mind body connection and their ability to really connect with their body. So this is a place where, we would use acupuncture and for all of you that are live.

I would be very interested to find out like, what acupuncture points would you choose? Because right now this person is really so depleted. What kind of points would you use? And the thing with the more exhausted that a patient is, and this can also happen from a recovery, from an illness that, you know, they.

You might want to do a lot for them, but in fact, the less is more. And the areas to really focus on are going to be the really deep and restorative sleep, because that is where their nervous system is going to be able to do a reset. If they can do a practice like meditation or yoga just to get their chair moving and to build up their energy formulas would be for someone.

Adrenal exhaustion. You want to support the kidneys and also the stomach and spleen, a very classic, maybe the blue Jong ichi Tong, really to help them to nourish. And again my recommendation is. To for them to add in something like breath, work and breath work is we can see it. If you’re exercising that you actually do get really good oxygen saturation, which will help with deeper sleep.

But for someone who’s really exhausted, you really don’t want them to. To, I wanna say encourage them to go back to a, in a adrenal field way of living where they’re running marathons all the time, or getting up and trying to do too much. And in fact, the more serious let’s say or the condition, what we’re looking at with the adrenals, you really want to offer them something very simple because they can’t really take any, anything more.

Okay, so we’ll go to the next slide. My little clicker is not working here. So here is an example of breathwork. So breathing, we’re doing more than just regulating the nervous system. You’re also reducing the cortisol levels. And this is really important when we’ve got something going on with our adrenals and our kidney energy.

And again, when we breathe in, we’re actually looking at that lung and kidney relation. And here studies have shown that this higher level of oxygen actually encourages deeper and restorative sleep, which is known as a slow wave sleep. And why is that important? Because people with extreme adrenal exhaustion and burnout have, will tend to maybe sleep a lot, but not get the restoration there.

So all right, we’ll go to the next.

So here is a don’t know what happened to the top of it, but here’s, I wanted to show a picture of what somebody looks like when they’re really terrified. And this is actually a kid who is on a rollercoaster. And what is happening is the wa eyes are wide open. The heart rate is increasing.

They start to breathe, very shallowly, dry mouth sweating. And then what we look at is the tightening of the extensors. And this is really the do check. So in all that stress you see with animals when they get stressed out that the back of their neck tenses up. And so we see a lot of our patients come in with neck and shoulder, tight neck and shoulder TMJ.

And that is, innervated by the cranial nerves. So we’re looking at this connection with stress levels and then how it manifests in the body. So we’ll go to the next slide. So what are we looking at? We’re looking at the kidney and heart being out of balance. We’re also looking at the liver and spleen out of balance. And so this is this water, fire relationship. The water really would, your kidney energy really helps with your heart energy, that connection. And when you’re, it’s out of balance, we’re looking at too much fire, right?

Not enough of the balance of water for two cool things. We’re also looking at the wood and earth relationship out of harmony. So what happens is we end up with things like emotional turmoil the worry of the spleen, the fear of the kidney actually cause the heart and the psyche to like escape.

And then we have the. The liver, which is the wood and responsible for the smooth flow starts to control. Everything goes out of balance. And we realized like, Hey, what’s happening? The liver energy is trying to control everything. And so what we see is a lot more of that literary and. And at this point, I invite a lot of comments.

What do you think, what kind of points might you use when you see this? What’s, what is when you start to see this happening and I’m sure it is in your practice what point prescriptions might you use? So I’m very interested for your opinion, please come right. Or we’ll go to the next slide.

All right. So here the five elements chart, or we see the liver’s role is the smooth flow of cheap emotions and blood and interesting studies recently show that the liver does have a regulatory function with the central nervous system. And there are fibers, both sympathetic and parasympathetic fibers.

That are linking to from the liver, going to the brain. Very interesting that right now we’re looking at, Hey, the liver does have access to, the brain chemistry. One of the things in Chinese medicine, as we know that the liver stores the blood while we’re at rest. And what that actually means is it actually helps to filter it.

And then when needed the blood the clean blood actually goes out to the. When that’s not happening, such as when stress hormones are increased they actually increase enzymes in the liver and cause inflammation and toxicity. And so we see this with women that are, pre-menstrual a lot of that those emote, the strong emotions come from inflammation of the cytokines, which is like right before the bleed aspect of the cycle.

We’ll go to the new.

So what happens when we’re under prolonged stress and I’m putting in fear what happens is that the brain starts to remodel and we get a lot more systemic change. And this is as we’re going to be moving into, what is the definition of an amygdala hijacking or a takeover? The amygdala is a almond shaped a part of your Olympic system or your reptilian brain.

It’s about emotional survival. It filters all of your senses. And the more that it’s triggered, it actually grows larger. And then what we see is an underactive hippocampus, which has to do with a lot of memory starts to shrink. And so what this does is that it. Causes the individual to not be able to regulate themselves, it interferes with self-regulation and we see things like a systemic decline. So some of the symptoms are also the memory problems, a lot of distortions of paranoia, things like conspiracy, more angry and manic behavior. And this is, these are. Behaviors. We also see with patients that have early onset with dementia and something like Parkinson’s right.

And also we look at there’s an increase in this amygdala activity in patients that have bipolar, especially during their manic episodes. So we’re looking at here’s this connection, the more exciting. A person gets and more this fear, the swinging, the extremes that we’re looking at, the amygdala is involved in it and causes can cause a lot of turmoil.

So we’ll go to the next.

So the amygdala is this almond shaped structure in the brain, and it’s involved with processing the emotions. So going back to where the five elements are. When the amygdala is triggered and hijacks the person we call the, or the brain that those emotions are distorted. And so there are the two structures that are, there are part of each one of the brain, and they’re located near the base. And what we see is when the. Amygdala hijack brain parts, brain, no longer function. It actually just shuts it down, but without the ability or the use, and this is in the frontal lobe, which is like decision-making a person is unable to think clearly and they have confusion.

And they’re not in control of their responses and we actually need, we see a lot of it. We see a lot of it that’s been happening in the news where people are having outbursts and screaming, and everyone says this person was like a really nice person. I don’t understand. But what happens is they got triggered.

We’ll go to the next.

So the amygdala engagement, the more that it’s engaged, the more difficult it is for someone to think clearly. And self-regulate so when you get the amygdala hijacks, a control of a person’s ability to respond Nat rationally. It’s tapping into fear oriented perceptions and views, most things as a threat.

So this is where we’re looking at. It’s a real serious Shen disturbance because the liver is out of control, right? So the more things are out of control seem out of control. The more that the liver energy starts flaring up and Causes the the mind or the shin of the heart to leave in the, and that’s like a disturbance.

The response usually tends to be aggressive and can be very violent. So we look at episodes where someone may have anger management issues or sudden outbursts and blow ups. So what’s the next.

So here is a picture of someone who is like the earlier picture that I had there, where there was a little boy who was actually showing fear where you could actually, that was that momentary fear where what happens is the eyes are opening up and the heart is racing and here is actually a picture of somebody.

Who is actually in this state where they’re acting extremely irrational. So when some parts of the brain are revved up, others are shutting down and this, like the fear can actually cause the areas of the brain to the. Have judgment to just not be there. And so it’s very difficult for the make a good decision.

So here is actually a picture of what has been known to be as a Karen. She is this woman who just lost it and then it is actually terrifying some people in their own car. And I’m sure she’s a very nice lady. However, she went off and this is when you actually see this irrational behavior.

So we’ll go to the next excellent.

So how can we rescue this? I checked the medulla. Technically when the amygdala is engaged, it takes about six seconds or like the chemicals to recede. So this is, so that we don’t live in this state for a long period of time, whatever the problem is, if it’s triggered over and over, we start to see that it grows up there.

And then what happens? We get this perpetual behavior that continues to be reinforced. So if you have a patient that’s coming in, because they’re, they, they’re having a lot of problems that what’s important is to help them become aware of what’s happening in their body so they can take steps to prevent it.

And really important is going to be. Addressing the liver. And even though this is what we considered a Shen disturbance we may want to give all kinds of calming Formulas, but the problem is that the liver is gone wild. And until that can actually be stabilized, that we start with the end of just treating some of the symptoms.

So it has to be at least two or three pronged where Getting rid of the inflammation that is literally in the liver and we’re coming up upon spring. So this is a really, we may start to see more of this energy coming up because of the season. And what you can do is have your patients start drinking things like nettle tea, dandelion, and burdock, really to help clear that out.

The other is to do some breathing and breath. So this is going to help to reduce the cortisol levels. It’s going to also help address their. Acupuncture. Definitely. The thing is if they are really in a heightened state that actually you could trigger something with them, with acupuncture very interested in, which possible treatment strategies.

Could be aggressive energy treatments might be the thing is if you start needling on the back surface, that’s the sympathetic area. So you actually might have. Actually stimulate something more with the do channel being in excess, you might want to think about treating Ren the fund, the front more funds to bring energy more towards the part of the body.

With herbal formulas again probably less is more definitely there issues when people have. These outbursts that are related to low things like low vitamin D vitamin C. So you might recommend some of the supplements if you are unaware of what supplements there are a suggest or how they work to do a little bit of research on it.

Sunshine, we need a lot of sunlight that actually is going to help also with the liver, right? The liver process is D No processed foods. We know that causes a lot of inflammation. We want to avoid alcohol and a lot of other stimulants. So let’s go to the next slide. Comments. All right, here we go.

Stress negatively impacts our body, mind, and spirit, and really long-term stress affects the body’s ability to regulate itself and actually makes changes to the brain and these negatively affect cognition and are also connected with mental disorders. And including dementia and previously I talked about PTSD.

So in the case, Also in the case of something like PTSD, we really look at how the brain chemistry is altered. We see this, this is one of the challenges is that it’s not as easy as when someone just has an adrenal exhaustion to actually go back. And balance themselves that we are actually dealing with someone who their brain is functioning a little bit differently.

However it is possible to help them to to heal right. To heal. Just as a quick, PTSD is more of a site that is considered a psychiatric disorder. And it’s related to someone having an experience or a trauma that then they will relive over and over again. So they have that flashback and that becomes a barrier for them to use.

I would love to hear some comments. I’m sorry if my the presentation got off to a Rocky start we had a little bit of an adrenal surge when we didn’t know whether the The computer was going to work or the mic. And I’d like to thank the American Acupuncture Council. And for next week we have Lorne Brown that is going to be joining the American Acupuncture Council.

So hopefully you can join us next week.