Episode #01 – THE STRESS BIBLE & WHY YOU’RE EXHAUSTED – optimizing sleep, melatonin, brain detox, and your adrenals
- Published on: 08 January, 2020
- Last update: 03 November, 2020
Hello and welcome to the first official episode of What’s The Juice.
While the pilot was a candid conversation about our mission and who we are, class is finally in session with Episode #01 where you’ll learn the foundation of everything else we talk about on this show. Grab a pen and paper and get ready for jam-packed info with everything you need to know about STRESS and your adrenals. We take a root-cause approach to illness and symptoms on this show, and when you dig deep enough… it always comes back to stress.
We always hear that “stress” and “inflammation” are the puzzle pieces to every illness, and that’s why we believe there’s power in learning the actual mechanisms by which they affect us. When we know what “stress” is and how to recognize it in the body, only then can we understand the steps needed to flip the script (and why genuine lifestyle changes are more valuable than any pill). Wellness doesn’t need to be expensive, and more than anything we need to change the way we treat ourselves.
This episode is my love letter to sleep and adaptogens… and how these two things can simplify and take the pressure off of *everything* else you’re working so hard on for your health.
I recorded this episode in Venice, CA with my producer, Jess, and my creative director, Nasya. You’ll hear them pop in with a couple of questions throughout the show. In my day to day world, whenever I learn something life-changing in school or make a breakthrough connection, I talk their ears off about it and they come back to me with so many inspired thoughts that add to my philosophy. That’s one of the benefits of surrounding myself with like-minded women, and a major goal with this podcast is to share my community with you. I figured it was only fitting that you get a live taste of genuine back and forth on my show from the people who are my real life sounding board.
We cover sleep, what to look for on your thyroid labs, what the heck your “HPA axis” is as a negative feedback loop, and why stress in the brain (the H part) can affect everything from metabolism to sex hormone imbalances. We also talk about how to optimize your melatonin production, teeth grinding and jaw clenching, how to encourage brain detox via the glymphatic system, inflammation, and a lot more.
Lastly, in this episode I highlight the four (4) triggers that can chronically overactive your adrenals and HPA axis:
- 1. perceived (!) stress – this is key and you have the power to flip the script in your mind…
- 2. circadian rhythm disruption – WHY would you want to go to bed early?
- 3. blood sugar highs and lows – the importance of balanced fat/carbs/protein at meals and snacks
- 4. inflammation – the ever-so-elusive umbrella
So, What’s the Juice?
- Your HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) is your stress response system. It’s a glandular communication network—a feedback loop where every piece is constantly speaking to each other and adjusting. When it’s over-stimulated (or stimulated at the wrong time i.e. insomnia), it can throw off other systems which is why stress plays a role in everything from obesity to Alzheimer’s. HPA(OT) goes one step further = Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal, Ovary, Thyroid.
- Let’s talk about your hypothalamus (the H in HPA). Each night, there’s a cascade involving the hypothalamus that helps you to release something called growth hormone. Release of growth hormone prompts autophagy, which is a process where the body cleans up cancer cells and waste while we sleep. 70% of your daily pulses of growth hormone happen during slow-wave, deep sleep. That’s when your melatonin is pumping strongggg. It’s important to facilitate deep sleep for yourself every night, because if your melatonin production isn’t optimized, obviously autophagy isn’t optimized.
- We spend way too much time being stressed and stimulated. Wired, sympathetic dominant and on the go. Addicted to adrenaline. And I mean it— stress is like an addiction… there can even be a withdrawal period before you feel comfortable being in a more consistent state of parasympathetic “rest and digest” mode. This is why our generation has so much trouble sitting still without a phone, not feeling “productive,” and why we don’t allow ourselves to feel bored anymore.
- Chronic HPA activation aka sympathetic dominance = always in fight or flight = leads to a state where your body cannot properly secrete. “Secrete” refers to everything from digestive juices like hydrochloric acid, bile acids, digestive enzymes, sexual fluids, melatonin, and even saliva. A huge part of our health puzzle is knowing what to do when the stress switch gets stuck on the “on mode.” We need to switch it back down to parasympathetic mode so that we can get our juices flowing and digest, love, and sleep again!
- How do the adrenals (the A in HPA) show up in this system? Your adrenals are the cornerstones. What we’re referring to when we talk about “fight or flight” mode is the stress hormone cortisol. Other “alarm chemicals” include epinephrine and norepinephrine.
- How does self-care impact stress? Sometimes self-care needs to be a little spicier than a face mask…it means knowing what’s good for you, and being disciplined enough to stay committed even when it’s hard. Sometimes it means being silent and listening to the voice in our head that we’re trying to avoid by falling asleep with the TV on. Sometimes it means doing chores, or something else you’re procrastinating because you know it’s the right thing to do, not because you necessarily want to do it.
More Quick Bites:
– Inflammation is just another form of stress on the body (this can be metabolic inflammation that comes from eating too much sugar or having too much adipose tissue vs muscle tissue… or it can be gut inflammation that comes from eating foods that we’re sensitive or allergic to).
– Vitex used to be used in low doses to suppress sex drive in monks. In higher, more therapeutic doses, it’s a powerful herb that works on regulating the hypothalamus and therefore balancing your hormones.
– Think you’re a night owl? This is more often than not a dysregulation in our circadian clock, and when we peel back the layers we can see parallels between extremely empathic people, the love of quiet nights, and a disturbance in the Lung Qi (what we hold onto vs let go of) … when our Spleen Qi (digestive fire) is also imbalanced, we start to see a perfect storm that can even affect the immune system. Nourishing the Lung and Spleen Qi with key adaptogenic herbs that are specific to your pattern of imbalance can actually help us to become morning people again.
– Remember that a caffeine-based stimulant is different from an adaptogenic tonic stimulant like Panax Ginseng
– Overnight fasting/detoxing will help you take advantage of the autophagy process. It’s important to go at least 13 hours between your final bite of dinner and your first bite of breakfast in the AM. Having your last meal/snack @ 7pm and your first meal @ 8am is easy for most people to stick to. Overnight fasting is more aligned with our circadian rhythm than fasting throughout the day. Keep in mind that blood sugar highs and lows are another form of stress on the body, so not having that dessert too close to bedtime is protecting us from inflammatory stress, too!
– BDNF, a protein we make in the brain, is basically like miracle grow for your neurons.
– Melatonin will strengthen the blood-brain barrier (super important in this age of heavy metals and glyphosate).
– Try to break-up w/ your sunglasses and expose your eyes to early morning sunlight as often as you can. Early morning sun exposure *could* be linked to a lower BMI.
Herbs that Help:
We also learned that adaptogens could also be referred to as “HPA axis regulators” and that’s what I use them for most often. Here are some herbs we covered that can help, but please — don’t just rely on these alone! Herbs are only a drop in the bucket without the lifestyle changes to accompany them.
- Astragalus for people who are empathic and get sick often (and for those who have a lot of sweet cravings)
- Panax Ginseng (work with an herbalist) for those who cannot get out of bed in the morning; this is an herb for deep chronic fatigue
- Ashwagandha for thyroid-based fatigue and hypothyroid patterns that worsen with stress
- Vitex for hormone imbalance (in flow balance designed for PMS support)
AND FINALLY… in this episode, we touched on the glymphatic system: a brain detox network that clears waste away while we sleep. We only just discovered this in 2015 (anatomy textbooks had to be updated!) and I for one am fascinated with how we can support and work with it to keep our brains healthier for longer. I’m not an expert on this topic by any means, so later in the season, we’re going to pull in a couple of incredible guests who specialize in sleep and the beautiful “glymph.” Consider this episode the intro and appetizer, and I will definitely let you know as soon as that episode is live.
This type of information is what personally motivates me to get better sleep/practice sleep hygiene, and I feel like it’s most important for me to share because people will never change their habits until they understand WHY they’re working so hard to rewire their lives. It’s my mission to keep people motivated with the power of knowledge and it’s an honor to be able to do that through this podcast.
- The Brain That Changes Itself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brain_that_Changes_Itself
- My Flow Balance formula: https://www.organicolivia.com/product/flow-balance/
- My teacher, the incredible Claudia Keel: http://www.earthflower.org/
- My articles about the brain’s growth hormone and how to support brain health:
- 9 Ways To Naturally Increase Your Brain’s Growth Hormone
- How Leg Muscle Protects Your Brain via BDNF
- My Brain Juice formula for brain health and BDNF support: Brain Juice
- Brain detox & jaw clenching connection: DR. SARAH CARNES on Brain Detox via Melatonin
- My favorite blue-light-blocking glasses: Swanwick Sleep
- Blue Light Blocking Phone Screen
- Flux Software for your computer to protect your eyes from blue light