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Q/ What is adrenal fa­tigue and how com­mon is it? A/

Adrenal fa­tigue is a con­tro­ver­sial syn­drome that in­volves the re­duced func­tion­ing of the adrenal glands, a pair of small glands lo­cated on the kid­neys that pro­duce hor­mones that reg­u­late im­mune func­tion, blood pres­sure, me­tab­o­lism and other im­por­tant phys­i­o­log­i­cal func­tions. There is dis­agree­ment among some sci­en­tists and med­i­cal ex­perts about whether adrenal fa­tigue ex­ists as a di­ag­nos­able con­di­tion – some say it is a real syn­drome, while oth­ers say there is a lack of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to sup­port clas­si­fy­ing it as a med­i­cal dis­or­der. With adrenal fa­tigue, it is thought that the adrenal glands are no longer able to pro­duce ad­e­quate lev­els of hor­mones, in­clud­ing adren­a­line and cor­ti­sol, to sup­port healthy func­tion­ing. The most com­mon cause of adrenal fa­tigue is chronic stress. Com­mon symp­toms of adrenal fa­tigue in­clude per­sis­tent, of­ten in­tense day­time fa­tigue, lack of en­ergy and stamina, trou­ble with fo­cus and con­cen­tra­tion and low re­silience to ill­ness and stress. If you sus­pect you may have adrenal fa­tigue or want to find out more, con­sult with your fam­ily health­care pro­fes­sional or natur­o­pathic doc­tor. Q/ What are soil-based

or­gan­isms and are they safe? A/

Soil-based or­gan­isms (SBOs) are a rel­a­tively new type of pro­bi­otic that con­tain dif­fer­ent strains of bac­te­ria than are found in the hu­man di­ges­tive tract. SBOs are es­sen­tially spores that are made to mimic the ones that come from the ground. They are bet­ter able to with­stand the acidic en­vi­ron­ment of the stom­ach to ar­rive in the in­testines in­tact. Be­sides con­tribut­ing to a healthy gut flora, stud­ies show that SBOs are cor­re­lated with a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS) symp­toms and an in­crease in the pro­duc­tion of sero­tonin (the feel­good neu­ro­trans­mit­ter). How­ever, there is some ev­i­dence to show that some strains can com­pete with gut flora rather than com­ple­ment them. Other ev­i­dence shows that SBOs may in­ter­fere with he­mo­glo­bin pro­duc­tion (which can im­pact the body’s abil­ity to carry oxy­gen). They can also in­duce di­ar­rhea and gas­troen­teri­tis in some peo­ple. Be­cause there are very few hu­man stud­ies us­ing SBOs, the jury is still out. If you do want to try one, make sure you try one from a man­u­fac­turer that pro­duces its soil-based strains in safe, con­trolled en­vi­ron­ments. If you have any spe­cific med­i­cal con­di­tions, speak to your fam­ily health-care pro­fes­sional first about whether an SBO is right for you.

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