2012 was the first time I had heard the word ‘adrenals’ apply to me. With nearly ten years experience as a therapist, I thought I knew quite a lot about the affects of stress on the mind & body. It wasn’t until I started to hit my point of overwhelm and burn-out that adrenals started to mean something to me in a very meaningful way. In the Blog Babysitter Series, it’s my goal to bring to your inbox the best of the best when it comes to knowledgable experts. I’ve met a lot of docs but rarely have I met someone with the depth and breath of knowledge (and passion) as today’s guest blogger: Dr. Nicole Rivera from Integrative Wellness Group to fill us in on what are adrenals and why you should care…

Nicole Rivera2


10 Things Thrashing your Adrenals
  1. Watching TV before bed
  2. Eating crap to fuel your lack of energy:  caffeine, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol
  3. Overuse of iPhone-ing, Tweeting, Instagraming, Facebooking
  4. Not enough time off
  5. Doing things that you don’t like
  6. Worrying
  7. Burning the candle at both ends
  8. Living in a rat race:  Get up, take care of the kids, don’t eat, go to work, make dinner, watch tv, have wine or junk food to unwind, and do it all over.
  9. Rewarding yourself in unhealthy ways:  dinner, drinks, dessert, new fancy “things”
  10. Never having enough time to:
    1. Do self-care: go to the gym, go to the spa, meditate
    2. Pat yourself on the back
    3. Make a nutritious meal
    4. Say thanks
    5. Acknowledge your awesome
    6. Breathe
    7. Read a book
    8. Better yourself
    9. Do a good deed
    10. Say I love you


So does any of that sound like you?  If so, it’s okay!  We have all been there.  The more important question is…

“What can we do to fix it?”

We all go through periods of time that we experience stress.  There are other times we are just so go-go-go that we don’t even realize how stressed we really are until we can’t get out of bed.  I always tell my clients that you have to find what works for you to decrease some of that stress.  That is usually by doing something that you enjoy and feel fulfilled by.  For some people that might be yoga.  For others it might be meditation, running, dancing, listening to music, being in nature, or just straight up screaming and punching pillows.  Whatever floats your boat, start putting it on the calendar so that you can incorporate a physical activity to help you decrease stress.

Then there are the people that are so stuck in the rat race or have so much stress, anger, and resentment that they don’t even know where to begin.  So if that is you… you need a coach!!  And that is not a bad thing.  The best quote I ever heard was, “any person who is highly successful and happy, has a coach” It’s okay to not know how to create your roadmap, someone can guide you to do that.  That someone just needs to be congruent with what your values and goals are.  Ahh hem, Bailey Frumen.

As for my specialty, I hone in on what is going on biochemically with your body during those times that you are under stress and not making time for self-care.  When we experience the feelings of stress we chemically release stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.  When you over produce any or all three of these stress hormones, you push your body into what you call ‘fight or flight.’  Think about it this way, you are in the woods and you either fight the tiger or you run.  Your body thinks you are in survival mode.  There are many essential functions of the body that go on the back burner when you are in “survival” mode. [TWEET IT!] Those functions include:  proper digestion, sex drive, production of sex hormones, proper sleep, proper circulation, and production of feel good hormones.   The down-regulation of these vital functions result in conditions like:

  • GI Issues
  • IBS
  • Crohns
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Infertility
  • Hormonal Issues
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Weight gain in the mid-section (especially for females)
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Thyroid Conditions
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Salt Cravings
  • Sugar Cravings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cardiovascular Disease/Heart Disease
  • Insomnia or Trouble Falling Asleep or Staying Asleep

All of these stress hormones are released by your adrenal glands.  Your adrenal glands also produce your sex hormones and controls elements of digestion which is why you will see dysfunction in those organ systems under stress.  When your body over produces stress hormones this is what we call the dreaded “Adrenal Fatigue”.  You might be thinking, “Sooo Can we fix it?  And the answer is YES!!


To be honest, most people have some level of adrenal fatigue.  The appropriate testing, saliva and urine testing, will tell you which phase of adrenal fatigue you are in.  This is what some of the phases look like:

Phase 1:  Not waking up refreshed, needing coffee in the morning, and another pick me up around 3 or 4pm. This can occur for 1-5 years, I have even seen up to 10.

Phase 2:  Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, hormonal troubles, impossible to function without caffeinated beverages.  This can kick in after being in adrenal fatigue for 6-20 years.

Phase 3:  Almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning, quality of life is minimal, extreme brain fog.  This is adrenal fatigue for longer than 20 years.

Once you establish your phase of adrenal fatigue you can get on a plan to fix it.  The plan is typically a combination of food and supplements.  The length of the plan is dependent on the phase and length of time you have been dealing with the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.  Some of you might be thinking, I used to be super stressed and I am not anymore so this probably doesn’t apply to me.  That is not true.  There are many people that “burned that candle at both ends” for years and then retired or took time off but according to their testing their body was not able to fully recover.   It’s always best to have a baseline of where your body is at so that you can feel the best you possibly can.

So what’s next?

If you resonated with feeling overwhelmed with incorporating ways to decrease stress and start making some changes… Check out Bailey Frumen to layout your roadmap to happy healthier you.

If you feel that you are currently dealing with Adrenal Fatigue check out www.iheartIWG.com for more information about functional medicine based nutrition and how it can help you!

Much Love,

Dr. Nicole Rivera


Dr. Nicole Rivera, of Integrative Wellness GroupDoctor of Chiropractic specializing in Neurology and Sports Rehabilitation, Functional Medicine Nutritionist specializing in Chronic Illness, Wellness Coach. Dr. Rivera graduated cum laude from Life Chiropractic College West after completing an undergraduate degree from Widener University in Psychology Pre-Med. While attending Chiropractic College, Dr. Rivera developed her expertise in chiropractic neurology, sports chiropractic, and nutrition.  The doctor takes a whole body approach to pain and injury with a major emphasis on neurological firing and brain-body communication.  Dr. Rivera worked for one year in clinical practice when she realized the decline of health and frequency of pain in our society was not just about physical ailments.  She worked in a corporate town where her patients were high stress, low activity, and starved of nutrients from their high demand corporate jobs.  At that point, Dr. Rivera furthered her education from nutrition to functional medicine based nutrition which utilizes medical analysis to diagnosis and treat chronic illness naturally.  Dr. Rivera evaluates your chemical, physical, and emotional stress to provide you with a solution to get well and stay well.

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