Monthly Archives: July 2015

Negativity and Fear = Stress

FearFrequently I receive letters about fears and stress due to recent events and what to do about them mentally and physically. Trying not to engage our minds in negativity is important. It is about healing ourselves during these trying times by thinking positive thoughts or at least happy ones. Yeah, easier said then done! Some people have written to me of their fears about Ebola, terrorism and especially about so many health hazard caused by our modern life styles (pharmaceuticals, our adulterated foods, pesticides, etc.  The media enhances all of  these fears. For Ebola, some healers keep producing articles on what you should take to prohibit Ebola. Good! But the main thing is not to lower your immune system by fear and stress. Stress lowers your immunity! Losing sleep because of the fear also minimizes the immune system. All this may sound to some like spiritual voodoo but more and more evidence based science exists as to the brain-adrenal – immune – gut system having a direct relationship to our immune system and therefore disease and even the common illnesses like colds. For example, when I was in medical school (50 years ago) we did not realize that the gut was a huge part of our immune system creating what is called secretory immune globulins (sIgA): or that the gut produced hormones such as serotonin (a happy) hormone that we believed only the brain produced. There are many examples of the latter two that all seem to be down modulated by fear and stress. It is no wonder when a person says “It is just a gut feeling, or “I feel it in my gut.”

We have all experienced the flight or fight situation when it is chronic and not just  acute stress that causes fatigue &/or illnesses. In my 45 years of being an MD I also find people that are overly concerned about their physical and/or mental health. They spend a lot of money, time and effort jumping from one supplement & healer to the newest acclaimed healer or supplement. This overly concern about health stresses them with the fear that they could be healthier & negates their health efforts. The economics of the latter is often a source of stress, that is buying many supplements advertised (many without quality control) and jumping from one healer to another. This can also lead to a stress response that affects the adrenals and the immune system. I use many solutions. The easiest one for me is when fears and stress are interfering with me I picture a happy situation to replace the negative. For example: my granddaughter when she was about 3 walking with me she would hold her whole fist around one of my fingers. It was joyous.

Another caution I stress (no pun intended) is to stay away from negative people and make sure that you do not use negative language about situations and yourself. Being with positive and fun people really helps. I used to give my clients a list of funny films to watch like the Pink Panther. I have a lot of options in my book’s final chapter called How to kill a vampire.

It is not always the stress but the way we respond to the stress that causes our illnesses.

Alan Sault MD,ABHM : Emotional Vampires and your Hormones: an holistic physician’s view of how stress affects your well-being and what you can do about it.





  1. Blood sugar levels: this relates back to the mists of time when cave man was faced with fight or flight dangers (for example a saber tooth tiger). The adrenal cortisol reaction stimulated the liver to pour out more sugar for fuel to accomplish the fight or flight; The latter is known as the Acute Stress Reaction (ASR). Unfortunately our modern life  turned this ASR into a Continuous Stress Reaction (CSR) but the adrenal – cortisol – sugar reaction is exactly the same. The problem is that the ASR ended and all went back to normal and the sugar was used. (Unless he did not get away, but then it ended his stress forever). With the CSR it never ends and the body does not return to its normal functioning and the sugar is not used. The evolution of ASR to CSR is in my book which is written for the layperson.

  2. The metabolism of fats and protein are converted to sugar in order to maintain blood sugar levels at physiological levels (what nature intended). This is called gluconeogenesis, which is converting protein & fats into glucose when necessary.

  3. Immune response of moderating the inflammation reactions. This includes the anti-inflammatory responses. For example, that is why they use cortisol medications to control so many medical conditions such as transplants, allergies and dermatitis of different types etc.

  4. Blood pressure moderator-a lot of this is due to the metabolic effect and the weight response by creating too much blood sugar under stress which will be stored as fat in organs and the blood vessels. The latter leading to hardening of the arteries. Again cortisol is responding to stress and therefore I suggest some of my blogs on stress. I have also written about aldosterone which is put out by the adrenals and affects the BP. It is inhibited when stress causes a surge of cortisol.

  5. Central nervous system activation

                                          II-Elevated Cortisol level

  1. Impaired cognitive performance: one reason for this is at first the stress reaction which includes adrenal-cortisol -liver-sugar-insulin response can lead to hypoglycemia. The brain needs the physiological quantity of blood sugar to function. Hypoglycemia can be a precursor of diabetes which causes so many pathologies one of them being hardening of the arteries which certainly affects blood flow to the brain. Because of the sugar surge stimulating an insulin surge the blood sugar can fall below the necessary homeostasis for a person. This is called a reactive hypoglycemia. Symptoms can be anger, hunger, fatigue, aggressiveness and depression.

  2. low thyroid output (hypothyroidism) an explanation is in my book: Emotional Vampires….but briefly cortisol is the fight-flight response hormone and stops digestions (which is not needed in fight – flight situation) and without gastric juices the breakdown of protein is  inhibited. Without protein breakdown amino acids cannot be produced.  Tyrosine, one of the amino acids is necessary for the thyroid hormones production. Cortisol in the exact physiological amount is needed to change the inactive T4 to the active T3.  Then exact physiological dose of cortisol is necessary to activate the cell receptors to allow T3 into the cells to metabolize for energy production.

  3. Decreased bone density-That is one of the reasons why there is warnings on taking cortisol  for too long. Cortisol inhibits the sex hormones which are the bone builders.  When cortisol is used for a long time it can lead to osteopenia – osteoporosis.

  4. May cause G.I. ulcers and shutting down ones own adrenal functioning. Again there is a black box warning from the FDA about the latter two side affects. Aspirin, NSAIDS (Non-Steroid Anti-inflammatory Drugs) and cortisol are the leading causes for bleeding ulcer hospital admission of the digestive system

  5. Insomnia: but also remember the person under stress does not get adequate sleep  and a vicious cycle is created leading to adrenal fatigue.

  6. Decreased muscle mass

  7. Increase blood pressure: again due to increase of sugar which causes Insulin Resistance thereby eventually converting the sugar to fat (triglycerides) which under certain conditions causes hardening of  the arteries and high BP.

  8. Slow wound healing

  9. An increase of fat deposition and therefore cardiovascular problems, due to stress and the continuous out put of sugar for flight or fight reaction. Being stressed and the adrenal cortisol response can sabotage any diet.

                                   III-Decreased cortisol levels

  1. Brain fog which is part of the Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Emotional Vampires…… In the book there is a lot about the antidepressants.  All the book is  evidence based medicine with a biography for  reference.  More and more evidence based science is coming out that it may be the high serotonin levels that the anti-depressants are causing that may be responsible for anxiety.

  2. Depression: of course with all these functions  of the body not functioning (sex hormones and digestion for example) plus insomnia.

  3. Blood sugar: low  hypoglycemia episodes or chronic hypoglycemia due to the eventual adrenal fatigue and the eventual pancreatic collapse

  4. Fatigue

  5. Insomnia

  6. Low blood pressure

  7. Low immune function with adrenal fatigue

  8. Increase of inflammation because of the inability to moderate the chemical blood cell reactions that cause inflammation.


It is also necessary to realize that at first stress causes high adrenal output of cortisol. When the stress (s) continue eventually the adrenal gland runs down and puts out little or no cortisol = Adrenal Fatigue.  The same is true for the pancreas. At first the pancreas releases a lot of insulin to keep up with the liver’s output of sugar. Eventually the cell receptors get fatigued and insulin resistance  begins. The pancreas once again trys to overcome this problem and puts out more and more insulin until like any engine just quits and we have diabetes.

This is all explained in understandable English with diagrams in my book: Emotional Vampires and Your Hormones: an holistic physician’s view of how stress affects your well-being and what you can do about it.

Author: Alan J. Sault MD, ABHM – Diplomat



SUPERWOMANThe song I Am Woman says a lot about the strength of this gender. But what emotional and physical price do many women pay to do all the wonderful things that the song acknowledges and which very often men depend?

Client X has symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, weight gain , headaches and a series of minor illnesses. She denies being under stress and requests an antidepressant. A traditional allopathic physician would probably prescribe one. After all, she exhibits the classic symptoms of depression.

An holistic physician would not take, “No I’m not under stress,” at face value. We can better evaluate the cause of her symptoms when we take the time to listen to a client and learn something about how they live, and the challenges they face. Does she have all the above symptoms because of years of taking care of children, a husband, a job, and not getting much recognition? Is this an all-too-common “Superwoman” putting in 25-hour days and trying to lighten the load for everyone else? We may find she is dealing with the threat of unemployment, or a recalcitrant teenage child on drugs, or a parent with Alzheimer’ disease. The patient may have been living with all or some of these for some time and may not consider them particularly stressful – “It is my job.” But whether or not they are “normal,” these kinds of stresses do have an effect on the body’s system. The body reacts with the Acute Stress Response (ASR) but now it has become the Continuous Stress Response (CSR). Both put out the same adrenal hormones and cancel the non-essential functions for flight or fight. (see book: Emotional Vampires and Your Hormones……) The CSR causes many diseases due to the hormonal imbalance.

The most frequently prescribed anti-depressants are the SSRI’s, (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors), which have the effect of increasing the blood levels of Serotonin, a hormone that creates a feeling of well-being. This latest generation of anti-depressants (for example Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, to name only a few) at first appeared to be wonder drugs, without the nasty side effects of the previous generation of anti-depressants, the MAO inhibitors and tricyclics. But after many years of their use we are seeing that these drugs too can have side effects, such as weight gain, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and with some younger people suicide and/or aggressiveness. So patient X, after a few months on conventional anti-depressant treatment, may not feel much better, or may even feel worse due to the drug’s side effects which cause more anxieties. Realize also, that taking drugs only may alleviate the symptoms and signs and negate the cause: Putting a band-aid on a large laceration

All of our endocrine (hormone) system is interconnected. If one of our hormones, for example serotonin, is “out of whack,” then probably other hormones- in trying to compensate so that the body will be in homeostasis – have also reached compensatory dysfunction. For example, Patient X may do well on restoring her serotonin levels (preferably naturally), but because of the long-term stress and lack of sleep she may also have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. The adrenals put out many of our hormones, especially in stressful situations. Cortisol, for example, is produced in higher levels during periods of stress to help the situation (reacting as if in fight or fight) but eventually can be depleted (Emotional Vampires and Your Hormones: an holistic physician’s view of how stress affects your well-being and what you can do about it. Then, because more glucose is needed to provide more energy to the cells to support the increased metabolic rate during continuous stressful situations, we get the involvement that an holistic physician would consider and discuss with the patient.

If a diagnosis of depression is made there are many options. It may be appropriate to refer this client to counseling. If she is the caregiver and problem solver and general fix-everything person in the family, she may benefit from having someone simply listen to her and give her their full attention. Perhaps she has a problem saying “no” and could benefit from some assertiveness training: or perhaps she has never considered that self nurture, can be nurturing everybody; it is not selfish but necessary. Counseling has been shown to be as effective as the SSRIs for mild to moderate depression and anxiety. So has exercise, which also has many other obvious benefits. Part of the benefit is that taking the time to exercise means taking the time for self-care. It also provides an outlet to be in a different social environment and interfacing with other people.

An holistic physician would consider hypothyroidism, alone or in conjunction with perimenopause or menopause. If there is some hormonal imbalance there is a range of clinically-proven botanicals to be considered that can have the same affect as expensive patented drugs without the side effects. Also appropriate human bio-identical hormone replacement often is the answer. But also consider stress interferes with estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, aldosterone, digestion and thyroid. (Emotional Vampires and Your Hormones….)

Patient X can learn to take care of herself by learning how to better cope with stress, or by working through emotional challenges, and by taking the time for self nurture. In so doing, she has a good chance of not having to take medicines, whether they are prescription or botanicals. Either of the latter are reality only alleviating the depression and not curing the source. Until a person comes to a conclusion of how to deal with stress and also that they deserve to have self-nurture they will not be able to create the vibrant health that they deserve. When a client says to me that they do not have time for self-nurture I make them listen to what they just told me and explaining that they are sending a subconscious message that the kids, husband, boss,etc are worth her time but she is not worth at least 30 minutes per day.

Take time to nurture all aspects of your being: physical, Emotional, mental and spiritual. A joy-filled life is Your birthright : CLAIM IT!!!

Emotional Vampires and Your Hormones: an holistic physician’s view of how stress affects your well-being and what you can do about it.”

Author: Alan J. Sault MD, ABHM