Monthly Archives: July 2009

Adrenal Fatigue: High Sugar Intake Stresses the Adrenal Glands

~ written by Sharon Green, RHN (registered holistic nutritionist) in private practice at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver.

The adrenal glands; two small triangular glands that are located on top of the kidneys, are part of our endocrine system. The endocrine system regulates hormones, body temperature and balances our bodys chemistry.

A diet compromised by high sugar intake stresses the adrenal glands because the human biochemical system is not adapted to handle large amounts of concentrated sugar. London Universities, John Yudkin in his book “Sweet and Dangerous” warns against the ill effects refined sugar can have on our hormones. A high sugar diet, he reports, can cause a striking increase in the level of adrenal cortical hormone. It can slow the rate of transport of hormonal chemicals by as much as 2/3 even in one week.

When the adrenal glands fail to function properly, the blood sugar response tends to become sensitive and thyroid-hormone out-put tends to decline. Sometimes just regulating sugar intake may be enough to control cortisol levels and over the long term a high sugar intake may cumulatively weaken the adrenal glands so that hormones are not converted efficiently.

Exhaustion of the adrenal glands may be managed by the consumption of a wholesome diet of natural foods, many B-rich foods and the avoidance of sugars and sweets. Probably the richest source of B complex is the germ and bran of seeds such as cereal, nuts, beans and legumes. Other B-rich foods include; leafy greens such as kale, collards, spinach, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, avocado, eggs, peanuts, almonds, kidney beans, millet, cracked wheat, wheat germ, brown rice, lentils, asparagus, bananas & dates, to name a few.

Incorporating a ‘whole foods’ eating style that emphasizes a greater use of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds and the inclusion of un-refined cereal, beans and other complex carbohydrates will assist in nourishing the adrenal glands. Regular moderate exercise also stimulates the adrenal glands and helps to relieve stress.

The constant fluctuation of adrenal hormones from stress will result in the exhaustion of the adrenal glands and increase symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, irritability and depression. In order to preserve health; supporting, restoring and enhancing the function of these two important glands is paramount.

** Reference: John Yudkin, “Sweet and Dangerous” excerpt from Menopause without Medicine by Linda Ojeda PhD

Sharon Green, RHN is in private practice at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver, contact us at 604-683-2298 to book an appointment.

Heart Without Borders

Written by Alycia Hall ~ I am working as a Life Coach at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver and have been able to use my intuitive and empathic abilities in a wonderful new way. During my time with clients I began to notice that much of our behaviour is very fear driven. Many intuitive clients have asked me how they can protect themselves from negative energy or other peoples “stuff”. For quite a while I too believed that I had to protect my sensitive self from the heavy and dense world but my perspective on that has since changed.

It is common to feel overwhelmed with the new awareness that comes from being so sensitive and empathic and quite often people want to protect themselves from ‘negative’ energy. Being empathic means having an opening heart and when the heart opens more fully ‘boundary’ issues can be felt. It is because our ‘sense of self’, where we begin and end, becomes less distinct and we become oversensitive and raw to any energies around us. That can make it challenging to be in crowds because one feels everything so deeply. This happens until we get used to having a more expanded heart, full of love.

At some point though, the need to distinguish other peoples stuff from our own stuff becomes irrelevant. Why? Well, because there is no separation between any of us. We are all one. Sound too simple? Thats because it is.

Besides, if the emotion is in our own energy field then it is our own emotion as well. It may have been triggered by a situation or someone else, but it only awakened the pain that was already within us. So rather than trying to allocate whose is whose, we simply feel it. The emotion itself is not the problem, it is the story we attach to it that creates the drama. Emotion is just neutral energy – think of the word EMOTION (E- MOTION) = energy in motion. The quote from Shakespeare expresses that beautifully, “Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so”. If‚ one can allow the neutral energy of any emotion to flow through our being freely then we are experiencing true freedom and allowing Mother Nature to carry out her healing work.

Learning not to identify with our thoughts or emotions is the task here. Why would we do that? Simply because those emotions or feelings are not us, we are much more than that. It is like being an ocean and realizing that we are more than just the waves. When we feel a heavy or uncomfortable energy in ourselves we just feel it and it eventually passes. This is sometimes called witness consciousness, which is the art of learning how to observe life without judgment. As we develop witness consciousness we discover something much deeper in ourselves that is unaffected by emotions or thoughts. A daily meditation practice works well, AND being mindful through out the day is even better. Mindfulness can be practiced by being aware of breath, noticing what kind of thoughts are present in the mind or feeling the different sensations in the body…-all without judgement. There is a lot of great literature out there about mindfulness practice and how to cultivate it. By practicing mindfulness our hearts continue to open and expand along with our consciousness.

According to the Law of Attraction everything that has come into our awareness we are responsible for attracting. That includes the friend that calls all the time to talk about his or her problems, the issue with the co-worker or the neighbor that seems to know how to push our buttons. There is something in us that is attracting and creating those situations and more importantly- creating our reaction to them. What is the point of the Law of Attraction? I like to think that life is trying to help us out by bringing situations that challenge our victim mentality. The hope is that we choose ownership and responsibility rather than blaming, complaining and victimhood.

We are responsible for everything that happens in our life.

I know this is a radical statement but rather than blaming others for our drama and emotional reactions we can choose to look within and take responsibility for ourselves. Remember that focusing on our reaction is much more enlightening than only focusing the situation itself. Focusing here does not mean judging or analyzing, it simply means observing and witnessing. After a while we end up looking forward to emotional reactions since they provide us with opportunities for self discovery and realization.

Imagine how much better one feels when one doesn’t worry about how situations or other peoples energy affects us. It is as if we can then live fearlessly and are okay with whatever happens. Ahhhhhh…. finally we can let go and relax. My meditation teacher Kim Eng once told me an experience she had that has still stayed with me. She was in a restaurant and had overheard a couple having a disagreement; the woman was very emotional and reactive. Kim had started to feel the energy coming from this woman and noticed it was very heavy and intense. Kim explained that she felt the energy move through her and continued to breathe through it. After some time had passed all at once the heaviness lifted and she felt lighter and only moments later the women at the other table let out a big laugh and seemed completely free of negativity. Kim said, “As soon as I stopped trying to distinguish my stuff from other peoples stuff is when my growth really expanded”. I’ve never forgotten that.

A heart without borders… we are all one.

Alycia is a Life Coach practicing at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group… visit her website at: or call our office to book an office appointment with her at 604-683-2298.

Alfalfa Leaves ~ Medicago sativa

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Alfalfa leaves, the latin name being Medicago sativa, is a plant origionally native to asia, but now is found growing abundantly throughout the world. Alfalfa is rich in isoflavone properties, coumarins, sterols, rich in enzymes including amylase, lipase and protase, containing Vitamin A, C, D, B6, and vitamin K and is said to contain 10 times more mineral value than the average grain.

Used traditionally as a tonic herb, meaning an herb which can be used long term to help build and strengthen the whole body and has often been used for conditions of wasting (anorexia)and a lack of vitality. Known as a support for both mental and physical wellbeing.

Traditionally used as a tea to promote strong bones and help rebuild decaying teeth. Rich in chlorophyll, alfalfa can be combined with the herbs: horsetail, nettle leaf and red clover for connective tissue support and is often used in conditions of arthritis.

Traditionally known as a galactagogue, Alfalfa was often drunk as a tea to help increase the flow of breast milk in new mothers.

The dried herb, or leaves of alfalfa can be prepared as a tea through making an infusion and ingested, or used topically as a poultice or skin wash externally for the healing of wounds and abscesses.

Therapeutically, a study was conducted on 15  humans for 8 weeks using alfalfa seeds in their diet to help normalise serum cholesterol.  Animal studies have also confirmed that alfalfa aerial parts and tops can reduce serum cholesterol without signs of recorded toxicity. Reference: Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Carol Newall, Linda Anderson, David Phillipson, 1996.

Alfalfa, like many herbs, contain a chemical called coumarin. This chemical constituent has been the subject to many debates and confusing conversations – and on first glance is often and mistakenly associated with Warfarin, a coumadin compound linked with blood thinning properties (notice the difference subtle spelling difference of this chemical?).

The debate continues – older research states that excessive dosing  may interfere with anticoagulant therapy. While current research confirms that coumarin contains no blood thinning activity in humans, it is important to understand that some plant chemicals transform when they dry or if they go moldy. There have been reported risks of cattle consuming moldy hay and developing health issues. Alfalfa – needs to be used fresh or very carefully dried prior to use to ensure no moisture or mold on the final product. This is to prevent the chemical conversion of coumarin into a more active chemical dicoumarol. Reference: Herbal Constituents: Foundations of Phytochemistry 2009 by Lisa Ganora.

In the book, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy (First Edition), 2000 by Simon Mills and Kerry Bone,  page 51 mentions “all of the common plant coumarins are not substituted at this position (being hydroxylated in position 4 such as in dicoumarol) and therefore lack significant clinical anticoagulant activity, although may do possess measurable activity when given to animals in high dosages.” David Hoffman in his book, Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine also states that “Coumarin is devoid of anticoagulant effects in humans because  of a structurally essential characteristic for the anticoagulant potential of coumarin derivatives is absent.”

When we think about alfalfa, we may also associate it with alfalfa sprouts. While sprouting seeds are a fabulous way of increasing their nutrition. It is important to rinse and wash the sprouts well and frequently to prevent the very rare  risk of a bacterial contamination when sprouting alfalfa seeds.    “Alfalfa seeds and fresh sprouts can be contaminated with bacteria such as S. enterica and E. coli.”  Reference sourced online:

When not to Use

Animal studies are showing a correlation to  monkeys who ingest alfalfa seeds containing a particular amino acid called canavanine, and the development of lupus like symptoms. Reference: Petri M. Diet and systemic lupus erythematosus: from mouse and monkey to woman? November 1, 2001  There have also been other  reports linking large doses of alfalfa seeds, when used for extended periods of time, to pancytopenia and systemic lupus. Alfalfa seeds contain canavanine, which is known to be toxic, in large amounts, to many animal species due to its structural similarity to arginine. The alfalfa herb however, tops and leaves are reported to contain very low levels of canavanine and free from any lupus inducing substances. Reference: Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Carol Newall, Linda Anderson, David Phillipson, 1996.

Thus until we understand more about this possible link and its mechanisms – it it advisable to avoid ingestion of large amounts of alfalfa seeds and herb in individuals who are dealing with Lupus. Alfalfa herb is however an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and an ideal addition to an herbal vinegar. If preparing the sprouted seeds for a tasty snack – always take extra time to rinse the seeds well during their sprouting and prior to ingestion.