How Google Exercises Your Brain Wednesday, Feb 24 2010 

by Gary Small, MD

Can you use the Internet to better your brain? Yes, say researchers at University of California at Los Angeles who conducted a study called “Your Brain on Google.” The research team, led by Gary Small, MD, of UCLA’s Center on Aging, explored whether searching the Internet stimulates areas of the brain that control decision making, complex reasoning and vision. It does indeed, but only for those who use Google or other search engines in a certain way.


The study included 24 people aged 55 to 76. Half the subjects (the “Net Naïve” group) had little or no experience in searching the Internet, while the other half (the “Net Savvy” group) were skilled computer users who regularly use the Internet. This age group was chosen because researchers postulated that age-related brain changes are associated with declines in cognitive abilities, such as processing speed and working memory, and that routine computer use might have an impact — negative or positive. Both groups were asked to perform two tasks — first, to read text on a computer screen, and second to use Google to search the Web. The reading material and research topics were interesting and similar in content (for instance, the benefits of drinking coffee, planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands, how to choose a car, etc.).

Meanwhile, as the subjects worked on their computers, researchers scanned their brains with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) device to ascertain which parts were active. During the text-reading phase, these fMRI scans revealed similar activity for both groups in the regions that control language, reading, memory and vision. But there were very dissimilar results when the two groups performed Web searches. When the Net Naïve group searched the Internet, their brain activity was similar to what they had experienced while reading… in contrast, the Net Savvy group produced activity in areas of the brain that control decision making and complex reasoning. Previous studies have shown that this type of brain activity is important for everyday cognitive tasks.

Engaging Content

This result shows that the Internet is itself “brain stimulation,” said Dr. Small. He explained that this may be especially helpful as people age because, compared with reading, Web searches require many more decisions to be made. For instance, searchers must decide which information to pursue and which to ignore. When I asked Dr. Small why the Net Naïve group showed less brain stimulation than the Net Savvy group, he said it may be that they lacked direction due to their lack of experience with the Internet. When this group was given some training for later experiences, their brains showed similar patterns of activity to those who were adept at Internet use, he told me.

So, if you’ve been feeling guilty about how much time you spend online — don’t. And if you haven’t been very involved with using your computer to search topics of interest, give it a try — it’s great exercise.


Gary Small, MD, director of the Memory and Aging Center at the Jane & Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles. He is also coauthor of many books, including iBrain (Collins Living).


Acing the Job Interview Tuesday, Feb 23 2010 

by Marc Cendella

The job interview is an unusual situation: You’re put in a room you’ve never been in, with a person you’ve never met, to talk about a company you don’t work at, in order to persuade somebody that you’ll be excellent at a job you don’t have.

No wonder it feels awkward, artificial and anxious.

But a lot of the “mystery” around great job interviewing comes from the fact that we don’t do it that often. Every few years, we’re supposed to magically dust off our interview skills and go out there and shine.

Well, I talk to a lot of job-seekers, hiring managers, and recruiters, and the “secrets” behind great interviews aren’t really that mysterious after all.

So here’s what you need to know for making your job interviews a lot less nerve-wracking and a lot more effective.

Pick three points and stick to them.

Ever watched the politicians on TV? When the host asks them a real zinger of a question, you’ll notice they rarely get flustered. Instead, they reply right off the top of their heads with an answer that seems to be completely coherent and well-crafted.

No matter what the question is, and no matter how impertinently put, the politician has an answer and doesn’t get distracted by the host’s badgering. I can’t say whether that’s good for us voters, but I can tell you it’s deadly effective for giving a great interview.

It’s called “staying on message” and the politicians don’t do it by accident.

Before they go on TV, they write down (or have written down for them) “talking points” that make the key arguments they want to make. And whatever else happens, they make sure to get their talking points across.

So in order to ace your interviews, you’ll want to have your own talking points.

And here’s the truly amazing thing — you don’t even need to come up with them on your own. Unlike the fickle electorate, your target audience will tell you exactly what you need to say! All you have to do is ask them.

When you are setting up the interview, ask the recruiter or HR person: What are the three key things you’re looking for in this position? And why are they important to the company? (If you’re not able to get this question in beforehand, you can still ask it right at the start of the interview.)

They might say this position is for a new initiative, or this role is critical for the implementation of the strategy, or the boss needs an expert to help assist them in this area.

Whatever the three key needs for the role are, write down beforehand how you can accomplish those needs. Don’t over-practice, just make sure that you know their three needs by heart, and you’ve got a reasonable argument for why you can help them.

Then during the interview, if conversation gets steered away to upcoming spring training or the snow this winter, or Tiger’s apology on Friday, you just make sure that you steer it back to how you can contribute on the three key needs.

Stay on message and when you walk out, your message with stay behind with your future boss.

It’s not about you

If you think about the interview from your future boss’ point of view, the interview is not about you. It’s about how well you fit into his or her needs. If you stick to your talking points above, you’ll avoid one of the most common errors people make in job interviews: talking about themselves without a real purpose.

Yes, you need to discuss your career goals, but only in the context of how they match up with what your boss is looking for.

And, yes, you need to discuss your prior performance and successes, but only to the extent that it supports how you match the three key needs the company has for the open position.

A job interview is a sales call — it’s about selling you and your experiences and skills and talent for the role.

It’s not an A&E Biography about you, it’s a discussion about the company, their needs, the role, and how well you do, or don’t, fit into the plans.

And it is most especially not a chance for you to get distracted on extraneous topics that may be very important to you, but have absolutely nothing to do with how well you can do the job. Because these topics are very important to you and you’ve been thinking about them a lot, you’ll need to make an extra-special effort to avoid dwelling on them in the interview:

  • How difficult the job search is (ok, yes it is, how is talking about this going to help you shorten your job search?)
  • What your perfect career would be (we’re not here to talk about your perfect career, we’re here to talk about this job and who we should hire for it)
  • The wrong decisions made by your previous boss / company / colleagues (how is this helping you get your next job? It’s not. Avoid.)

If I can be slightly tongue-in-cheek, the rule for job interviews is: “He who talks the least, wins.” If you can get your interviewer talking about their needs, their hopes, and their viewpoints, you’ll be collecting a lot more information about what it takes to get the job. Making your key points can take as little as 10 minutes if you’re strictly on message. Use the rest of your time to find out what else you need to know to make your case.

Have good questions

Even though I’m usually the final person to meet a candidate here at TheLadders, I’m always surprised when people I’m interviewing say they don’t have any questions for me. Sure, you’ve already met four of my colleagues and they’ve answered a lot of the open questions you had about TheLadders, but, really? You have absolutely no good questions for me?

And that’s because asking questions is only 50% about addressing your needs, explaining the role to you, and satisfying your curiosity. The other 50% of asking questions is showing your capability to think critically about the company, the industry, and the role. Use that time to show off your good noodle by asking (brief) insightful questions.

And because I like you, here are ten questions that are good for almost any interview, plus a bonus question that will really make you stand out:

  1. What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year?
  2. One year from now, if I get the job, what will earn me a “gold star”? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?
  3. What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style?
  4. About which competitor are you most worried?
  5. How do your sales / marketing / technology / operations work here?
  6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?
  7. What’s one thing that’s key to your success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?
  8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?
  9. What are your best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company?
  10. What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry?

And here’s the bonus, my favorite, and the best way to really demonstrate how much value you’re going to add to your boss’ career:

How do you (Mr. or Ms. Future Boss) get a gold star / big bonus / your boss’ recognition & thanks at the end of the year? How can I best help you do that?

Why is this question so good? It shows you’re thinking about others, not just yourself. It shows that you want to be helpful and help the boss and the team achieve. And it gets your future boss thinking about how beneficial it is going to be to have somebody like you on the team helping them achieve their goals.

Eye Fatigue — Is It Your Computer or Something More Serious? Tuesday, Feb 23 2010 

by Kent M. Daum, OD, MS, PhD

By the end of each day, my vision tends to get a little fuzzy, and sometimes my eyes actually ache. I’ve assumed that this is due to the many hours I spend staring at my computer screen each day — but based on what I’ve learned from this afternoon’s conversation with an eye specialist, I’ll be scheduling an appointment with my own doctor just to be sure that’s the cause.

I’d been reading research that found that you can get what’s known as computer vision syndrome (CVS), which produces symptoms like tired eyes, headaches, an uncomfortable burning sensation and blurry vision, after as few as four hours a day in front of the screen. So I placed a call to Kent M. Daum, OD, MS, PhD, a professor of optometry and vice president and dean for academic affairs at Illinois College of Optometry. He said yes, this is true — but before we discussed how to solve it, he wanted to stress the importance of being sure the problem is fatigue, not something else. Other possible causes include problems with the body’s system for moving the eyes and changing or coordinating focus… inappropriate prescription eyewear… uncorrected astigmatism… or, said Dr. Daum, “it might mean that the patient is asking the eyes to do something that they shouldn’t — like the classic example of a law student who spends 15 hours a day studying.” There are many things that can cause eye fatigue, so it is very important to get your eyes checked and have a trained clinician tell you what is really the problem.

One Glaringly Obvious Cause

After you’ve confirmed that CVS is the likely culprit, the first corrective step you can take is to evaluate the lighting in the area where you do your computer work. “You should not see any glare off your computer screen,” Dr. Daum said. Being able to see any reflection — of a window, a desk lamp or overhead lighting — means your eyes have to work harder to bring the resulting blurred image into focus, which can lead to eye strain.

Try this: To make sure your computer screen is free of glare, hold a folder or magazine above and then on each side of your monitor so that it sticks out four to five inches. The screen should look exactly the same with or without the magazine. If the screen darkens or shows a shadow or a reflection, there is glare. Fixes can include moving the light source… moving and/or re-angling the monitor to block the light (you might have to move your work station to another part of the room to accomplish this)… closing your blinds… or turning off any lights that reflect on your screen. The American Optometric Association cautions against facing an unshaded window or having one at your back while working on a computer due to the impact of glare. Along the same lines, Dr. Daum advises against using a laptop computer outdoors, as the light against the screen will strain your vision.

Keep Your Distance

I asked Dr. Daum if there is an ideal distance to sit from the computer screen. Noting that few people realize how important this is, he said the best distance typically falls somewhere between 20 and 28 inches but that a variety of factors, including height, age and vision issues, need to be considered in determining what’s most comfortable for your eyes. “People put their computers in all sorts of odd places, like on a counter or side table, where there’s not enough room to get close enough or far enough away from the screen to be comfortable,” he commented. Another helpful measure is to enlarge the text on your computer screen to a size that you don’t have to squint to see. Eyes that have to work extra hard tire more easily.

Personal Training for Your Eyes

Dr. Daum told me that you can use exercises to strengthen your eye muscles. If you have specific problems including focusing or eye movement problems, it is important to get specific advice from your doctor as to what’s best for you as exercises should be tailored to your specific problem.  When it comes to soothing and restoring tired eyes or relieving strain from the workday, however, he told me about some things that may help you feel better…

  • Look away. Lift your eyes from the computer screen at least once an hour, but preferably more often, to give them a break. Try gazing into the distance for a few minutes to reduce your focusing effort — looking outdoors can be refreshing, too, if you have a window nearby.
  • Compresses. If your eyes feel tired at the end of the day, a cold compress is wonderfully soothing. Soak a washcloth in cool water, wring it out a bit and then fold it and use it to cover your eyes while you lie down or rest your head against the back of a chair — do this for a couple of minutes and you will find it quite refreshing. Some people like to use tea bags that have been soaked (and allowed to cool to a comfortable temperature if you made tea!), then squeezed to eliminate excess liquid so none can run into your eyes. Caffeine in the tea may help shrink puffiness, and antioxidants can soothe redness… cucumber or raw potato slices work well too.


Kent M. Daum, OD, MS, PhD, is professor of optometry and vice president and dean for academic affairs at the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago. Dr. Daum is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.

Do CT Scans Cause Cancer? Monday, Feb 22 2010 

by E. Stephen Amis, Jr., MD

The last several months have presented one worrisome story after another regarding the dangers of CT scans… including more than 200 patients receiving radiation overdoses while undergoing brain scans at a California hospital… unpredictable and widespread variation in radiation dosing for cardiac scans from one hospital to the next… and a new research report revealing that the cancer risk from radiation in a CT scan may be far higher than was thought. Two studies on this topic were published in the December 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. One of the studies reports that just one scan can deliver enough radiation to cause cancer and predicts that 29,000 new cancers will develop that can be linked to CT scans received in just the year 2007. Making matters much worse is the fact that the use of CT scans in medicine has grown explosively — more than tripling in the US since the 1990s, with more than 70 million given each year.

Where it was previously thought that only those who underwent numerous scans were in danger, the second of the published studies shows that having had even one can boost cancer risk notably — for example, a heart scan at age 40 would later result in cancer in one in 270 women and one in 600 men. Abdominal and pelvic CT scans raise the risk for cancer more than brain scans, and the risk is far greater in younger patients, especially children.

The same researchers also noted huge variability in how much radiation patients get, with some patients getting 10 or more times as much radiation as others. There are a variety of reasons for this, including equipment settings that aren’t standardized and the radiologist’s decision about how much is necessary to capture a high-quality image of a particular part of the body. Also, methods for reducing radiation, such as adjusting for the size of the patient, are underutilized. Yet another danger — when equipment is new and unfamiliar (as was the case with the California patients who received overdoses) and technicians aren’t properly trained, the patient may receive unintended excess radiation.

This is frightening stuff — but let’s put it in context. I called E. Stephen Amis, Jr., MD, chair of radiology at both the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, to get his thoughts on the risk versus reward and what people should do to protect themselves from the risks of radiation exposure in imaging procedures. He said it is important to realize that in many cases CT scan technology is truly “lifesaving” and that, when used properly, the benefits obtained by getting the comprehensive information on what’s currently wrong outweigh the future risks presented by the radiation. For instance, if you have suspected acute appendicitis or head trauma as a result of a car accident, your doctor needs to know that — fast. Dr. Amis also pointed out that no direct evidence shows particular cancers are related to CT scans — rather the relationship is “inferred, based on increased cancers in survivors of the atomic bombing of Japan and in those exposed to the fallout from Chernobyl (among others).”

What you need to know

The radiology community is working to get these problems under control. Meanwhile, however, it is not safe for each of us as patients to pretend these problems don’t exist while the system sorts itself out — at best, that will take years. It is important to take steps now to minimize your risk. Here is what you can do…

  • Keep notes on all the scans you’ve had that you can remember (ask family members if you are unsure), including the body area and type of scan (x-ray or CT). If you have a chronic condition, such as colitis or chronic lung disease, that necessitates multiple imaging procedures, ask your doctor about other imaging options that might be a good substitute for CT scans.
  • Carry records with you. Keep and update a wallet-sized card listing the imaging tests that you’ve had and where and when each was done. (Note: To download a form to record your imaging tests, go to or send a self-addressed, stamped business-sized envelope to “Daily Health News/Medical Imaging Record,” Box 10702, Stamford, Connecticut 06904-0702.)
  • If and when your doctor advises you to have a CT scan, ask lots of questions. This is particularly important for tests like cardiac CT scans that may not be strictly necessary, but that your doctor may order to gather more information about your overall health. Ask about the possibility of using alternative imaging methods, such as MRI or ultrasound, neither of which uses radiation. Dr. Amis suggests using language something like this: “I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about some of these tests increasing your radiation exposure. Please tell me what knowledge you hope to gain by having me go through this CT scan. Is this test really necessary?”
  • Be aware of dosages. Dr. Amis also advises asking about the radiation dosage required for the specific test your doctor has prescribed, noting that sites such as list typical doses, comparing exposures among various types of x-ray and CT examinations. “It never hurts for patients to look at such Web sites so that they are informed,” he said, advising asking the technician about the dose to be sure it is in a reasonable range.

The bottom line? Know the risks and be careful. As Dr. Amis told me, “the point is to be aware, but not overly concerned.”


E. Stephen Amis, Jr., MD, professor and university chair, department of radiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York.

How Nasal Irrigation Increases Sinus Infections Monday, Feb 22 2010 

 by Talal M. Nsouli, MD

Like brushing and flossing, nasal and sinus irrigation has become a daily ritual for many people who tend toward chronic nasal problems. Popular wisdom has it that removing mucus daily via nasal irrigation (also called nasal lavage) rids the nose of dust and other pollutants, eliminating a possible breeding ground for germs and infections while also allowing for easier breathing. It seems to make sense — but does it work? Not at all, according to a new study. In fact, long-term nasal irrigation actually contributes to nasal infections.

 What’s Going On?

 Talal M. Nsouli, MD, director of the Watergate and Burke Allergy & Asthma Centers in Washington, DC, has a lengthy résumé that includes having been personal allergist to President Clinton during his two terms, clinical professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine and former president of the Greater Washington Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Society. Dr. Nsouli says he began to question whether regular irrigation was helpful or harmful when he saw that patients who practiced regular lavage had nasal linings that looked hard and smooth, “like a piece of plastic.” He began to notice the trend toward more use of this practice about seven or eight years ago, and decided to investigate, recruiting 68 patients who had used neti pots for nasal saline irrigation at least twice a day for 10 months or more.

 For one year, these patients continued irrigation as before. At the end of the year, they were instructed to suspend nasal irrigation for the next 12 months. Another group of 24 patients who used neti pots daily were used as a control group and monitored for 12 months. The results were startling, even to Dr. Nsouli: Patients who stopped nasal irrigation for one year had a 62% reduction in sinus infections from the previous year — and got half as many infections when not using sinus irrigation as those in the control group.

 According to Dr. Nsouli, mucus contains aggressive antimicrobial agents that have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity. One called lactoferrin, an immune system stimulator, has been shown to be effective against infection, including cold-causing viruses (rhinovirus) and, I was surprised to learn, even the HIV virus. Irrigating the nose regularly washes away the mucus and with it a valuable defense mechanism. When study participants stopped their nasal irrigation routine, they were astounded at how much better they felt and how quickly — even though it takes two to six weeks to fully restore the natural condition of the nasal passages.

 Frequent irrigation does moisten nasal tissues, but this effect lasts just 20 minutes — in fact, notes Dr. Nsouli, the viscosity of mucus helps the nose stay moist. Some patients experience a yellow-green discharge after giving up lavage, but Dr. Nsouli said this is actually a symptom of a low-grade infection or chronic undiagnosed allergies. He advises them and anyone else with a chronic stuffy nose to see a doctor. Typically, the solution is a course of antibiotics and/or prescription nasal sprays that block symptoms while they improve the condition. Dr. Nsouli points out that it is the practice of rinsing that is problematic, not the solutions used, so this advice applies to over-the-counter nasal sprays as well.

 Neti or Not?

 Nasal lavage grew in popularity after the well-known physician/author Dr. Mehmet Oz sang its praises on Oprah a few years ago. Many adherents use a spouted, urnlike device (it comes from the Ayurvedic tradition) called a neti pot. It gets placed in the nostril and water is poured through it to flush out mucus. While previous studies have supported regular use of the neti pot, Dr. Nsouli says these were based on subjective, self-reported, short-term findings — unlike his study, which was carefully controlled with objective evidence provided through CT scans of the sinuses, fiber-optic endoscopy and detailed medical histories.

 Dr. Nsouli emphasizes that he’s not completely against using the neti pot or any of the many other nasal-lavage devices on the market today including pumps, Waterpic-like devices and OTC saline sprays. In his opinion, these should be used only when specifically needed and for a short time, such as when you have a bad cold that makes it difficult for you to breathe. There also is a risk for contamination of whatever device you use and resultant chronic infections, so be sure to practice good hygiene. Use whatever device you like to wash out the mucus once or twice a day, but for one week only — that’s what Dr. Nsouli does and what he now advises his patients to do.


Talal M. Nsouli, MD, director of the Watergate and Burke Allergy & Asthma Centers, Washington, DC.

Great Quote Sunday, Feb 21 2010 

Lou Holtz

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. — Lou Holtz

Graze Your Way to Weight Loss Wednesday, Feb 17 2010 

  by David Grotto, RD, LDN

Somewhere between the rigidity of eating three meals a day with nothing in between and the self-indulgence of mindless snacking is a middle ground called grazing. Now research from the University of Texas at Austin says that grazing is a good thing — in fact, the more frequently people eat, the more likely they are to be healthy.

Using data from the American Time Use Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report found that those who spread the amount they eat over more time have a body mass index (BMI) that is 0.2 lower, on average, than those who spend less time eating… and they also have better self-reported health. While the difference in BMI is not huge, for a person of average height it results in a few pounds less weight.

Good Grazing… Bad Grazing

You might think that this study’s findings go against the grain… after all, isn’t too much eating the cause, in part, of weight gain and many health problems? But science supports grazing, says David Grotto, RD, LDN, a former spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. “When there are large gaps of time between meals, the body goes into a self-preservation mode, reserving calories and storing fat,” he explains. “If you eat more frequently, your body ratchets up metabolism and burns calories. Also, when you graze, you’re less apt to overeat at the next meal.” Note the really important part of what Grotto said — eating more frequently… not eating more.

I asked Grotto to share some suggestions on how to keep grazing healthful. First and foremost, he says, it is important to stay aware of what and how often you eat. “Don’t think you can simply graze to your heart’s content,” he says. “Research clearly shows that calories consumed shouldn’t be greater than energy spent if you are to avoid gaining weight.”

The best grazing foods, he says, contain protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats and/or slow-digesting, complex carbohydrates. These will make you feel fuller than other foods, and you’ll be inclined to consume fewer calories. Nuts are a good choice as they contain monounsaturated fats, which take a long time to digest. One study showed that women who ate one to two ounces of nuts a day lost more weight and kept it off longer than women who did not eat nuts. To avoid monotony, mix a variety of nuts (almonds, walnuts and pistachios, for example) with oat cereal, dried fruit and dark chocolate. Keep some handy in a resealable bag and eat a few at a time. Also healthy are snacks like apple slices, cheese and whole-grain crackers, and peanut or almond butter.

It’s important to note that Daily Health News contributing editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND, registered a dissenting opinion on the greatness of grazing: “It isn’t necessary to eat all day to keep the body supplied with a steady stream of healthful nutrients. If you don’t skip breakfast, lunch or dinner… consistently make smart dietary choices… and take the time to chew thoroughly during meals, you’ll digest your food more completely, have a steady stream of nutrients coming into your body from the gastrointestinal tract, and not feel the need to graze.” However, he added, if you can’t seem to fit in three healthful meals a day, a certain amount of grazing may be a good short-term solution.


David Grotto, RD, LDN, a nutrition counseling consultant and former spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of 101 Optimal Life Foods (Bantam). He is based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

The Real Reason You’re Tired — Your Adrenals Could Be Worn Out Tuesday, Feb 16 2010 

by Mark A. Stengler, NMD 

You’re exhausted and you really need a good night’s rest… but what if you always feel that way and sleep doesn’t help? A common and often misunderstood cause of constant fatigue is a condition called adrenal fatigue, which regular Daily Health News contributor Mark Stengler, NMD, says he sees in approximately 40% of his patients and which affects as many as 20% of Americans, at least to some degree. However, since few medical doctors recognize and treat adrenal fatigue, millions of people live with feeling chronically exhausted and confused about why that’s so. What makes this particularly disturbing is that once adrenal fatigue is diagnosed, it can be treated and resolved and people start to feel better in just a few months’ time.

Running on Empty

Under normal circumstances, the adrenals (small walnut-sized glands that sit on top of the kidneys) produce numerous hormones — adrenaline and others — that impact bodily functions including blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism, liver function and immunity. They also produce two crucial stress hormones — DHEA and cortisol — whose job it is to balance the body’s response to stressful influences, including blood sugar fluctuations. According to Dr. Stengler, living with stress — whether mental, physical or emotional — for a protracted period results in a situation where the need for a constant supply of these two hormones outstrips the adrenals’ production of them. This deficiency dulls cognitive function, energy levels and, of course, your ability to handle stress. It also slows the immune response and with it the ability to fight off infections and even possibly cancer. DHEA and cortisol interact in complex ways that affect many functions — deficiencies can contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain, fatigue, allergies, infections, mood disorders and poor libido, says Dr. Stengler.

To Know Whether You Have Adrenal Fatigue

Fatigue is just one adrenal fatigue symptom. If you are chronically tired and have any of the following, you may want to consider asking your doctor for a blood or saliva (Dr. Stengler’s preference) test to determine whether you have adrenal fatigue…

  • Morning fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Light-headedness after standing up
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Inability to focus
  • Memory problems
  • Body aches, including pain in the lower back
  • Craving for salt and/or sugar
  • Slower recovery from illness than is usual for you.

Given the mainstream resistance to recognizing adrenal fatigue, Dr. Stengler suggests that those who think they may have it should seek out  naturopathic physicians.

Fixing Your Fatigue

Once adrenal fatigue is diagnosed, treatment is multi-pronged, including a combination of nutrients and lifestyle changes:

  • Stress reduction. Not surprisingly, your first task is to review what’s causing all the stress in your life so that you can determine what changes need to be made to reduce it.
  • Get more sleep. You need plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep — Dr. Stengler says to aim for eight to 10 hours every night, and he also advises taking daily naps. For those who have trouble falling asleep or who find themselves awakening in the night, he often prescribes 0.5 mg to 3 mg of melatonin, the “sleep” hormone, or 100 mg of the amino acid 5-HTP an hour before bedtime to help the body prepare for sleep. Ask your doctor which you should take.
  • Adjust your diet. Dr. Stengler points out that people with adrenal fatigue often have blood sugar swings and cravings for sweets, so it’s very important to have breakfast every day and to eat small, healthy snacks between meals. He advises eating plenty of whole-grain foods and protein, including almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts, and avoiding processed foods and simple sugars, including refined grains, fruit juices and, of course, sugary sodas. Also stay away from caffeinated beverages and alcohol. And if you have low blood pressure, which often results from adrenal fatigue and further contributes to fatigue, do be sure you are getting enough salt, which helps maintain blood volume and proper circulation. However, don’t go overboard — 2,400 mg per day of sodium from all sources is usually about right.
  • Exercise — in moderation. While exercise helps regulate stress hormones, too much will exhaust adrenal fatigue patients further, says Dr. Stengler. He advises his patients to start by walking 15 minutes a day, adding time as symptoms improve until reaching 45 minutes per day, but again, keeping it to a moderately intense level. Reduce the amount of exercise if afterward you find yourself feeling more tired rather than less — the goal is to increase overall energy.


To help speed recovery, Dr. Stengler often prescribes the following nutritional supplements…

  • Vitamin B5 — (pantothenic acid) is especially important for stress-hormone production… he often prescribes 500 mg of B5, three times a day. A good multivitamin (or B-complex) will supply enough of the other B vitamins needed, says Dr. Stengler.
  • Vitamin C — typically 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg twice daily is prescribed, but reduce this dose if loose stools develop.
  • Adrenal glandular extract (AGE) — made from cow, pig or sheep adrenals, AGE contains growth factors that promote cell healing and also has nutrients to support gland function and repair. Take one to two tablets daily without food, and reduce the dosage if you become jittery or have trouble sleeping.
  • Ashwagandha — this herb, popular in Ayurvedic medicine, helps normalize adrenal functioning. A brand Dr. Stengler often dispenses is Jarrow Sensoril Ashwagandha… typically one to two capsules are taken daily on an empty stomach.
  • Rhodiola rosea — most often, he directs his patients to take 500 mg twice a day away from food… he uses a standardized formula of 3% to 5% rosavins, such as Paradise Herbs’ Dual Action Rhodiola. Note: Those with bipolar disorder should not use this product, since it can increase brain levels of serotonin, a chemical that affects mood.

Dr. Stengler said he sometimes uses hormone therapy consisting of DHEA, cortisol or other hormones and supplements to treat severe adrenal fatigue, but he noted that such measures require the supervision of a physician who is well practiced in the therapy.

Effective adrenal fatigue treatment ends up being an intensive self-care regimen in which you ratchet back the unreasonable demands you’ve been making on your mind and body. Fortunately, given time to recover, the adrenals are able to regain their strength… and with it, your natural energy will return.


Mark A. Stengler, NMD, a naturopathic medical doctor and leading authority on the practice of alternative and integrated medicine. He is editor of the Bottom Line Natural Healing newsletter, author of The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies (Bottom Line Books), director of the La Jolla Whole Health Clinic in La Jolla, California, and adjunct clinical professor at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about his work, visit and

A New Song and Songsmithing Software Tuesday, Feb 16 2010 

Melody LeadsheetHere’s the first result of my new music workstation software. Purchased to help me learn parts for the Jammas (new band), I’ve find it’s a great way to quickly get music ideas out of my head.  I’ll not likely put many of these up here ( I have to do that.) but success and happiness are predicated upon a well rounded development and music helps there and keeps the brain sharp.

Listen to Typical Time. It was just the thing that came into my mind as I watched yet another snowfall.

Tell me what you think.

Are You Using All Your Resources? Thursday, Feb 11 2010 

by M.J. Ryan

Rachelle is a CEO of a startup Internet company. In 2009, her company did well.

So what’s the problem?

Like any entrepreneur, Rachelle was pleased with her company’s success – but she was not so sure how she’d gotten there.

“I just do it intuitively,” she explained. “I’m not aware of my process. I’d like to bring it more to consciousness so that I can use it intentionally.”

Rachelle wants to make sure she’s growing her company wisely, so at the beginning of the year, she looked at what she’d done in 2009 and decided that one of her goals in 2010 was to better understand how she’d achieved those successful results.

On the job-seeker front is Fred, formerly an SVP in an oil company. He’s frustrated that his job search is taking so long.

“I want to make sure that I am doing all that I can,” he said.

Like Rachelle and Fred, business professionals and job seekers alike share a common goal: gaining awareness about how they are operating so they can use all their inner resources.

The Three Energies

All human beings have three ways of using their energy. Since most of us are unaware of this, we tend to default to one or two modes, and therefore miss the opportunity to maximize our success. When we become aware of the options, though, we can deploy the energies we need at the right time.


The first way to use our energy is dynamically. This is the energy of action – make a plan, send an e-mail, have a conversation, build a model. Dynamic energy is the one most of us are familiar with, the one that Western culture accentuates. It’s exemplified best by the Nike slogan – “Just do it.” Think of it as “pushing” energy. When Fred and Rachelle looked at their style, they each agreed that they spend a lot of their energy this way.


The second way to exercise energy is magnetically. It’s the energy of wanting and believing you can get what you want, or the energy of attraction: You focus on a goal and draw it to you as if you were a magnet. You see, feel and hear what you want to happen in front of you and then pretend you’re a fishing rod, cast your energy out to what you want and reel it in. Think of it as “pull” energy.

Though the movie and book, “The Secret,” popularized “pull” energy, many business people are new to the concept. Regardless, we all know what it’s like. It’s what we experience when we say someone is “charismatic.” You meet someone and are drawn to him. Whether he knows it or not, he is using his energy magnetically to bring you close. You can also see it in people who seem to be “lucky.” They do very little, but opportunities keep dropping in their laps.

When Rachelle thought about this, she realized she used her energy magnetically all the time to attract business deals and contacts. Fred, however, couldn’t recall sensing magnetic energy.

“It sounds kooky,” he said. “But I guess I’m desperate enough to try anything.”


The third way to employ your energy is receptively. This energy leaves you open to receive whatever hunches, intuitive feelings or direction from others may come in. It neither pushes nor pulls. Instead, you stop doing and absorb the world through all your senses. In this way, you allow yourself to be influenced. Receptive energy creates insight, which is why great discoveries often happen when we “give up” and do something mindless: Newton lying under the tree and having an apple fall on his head, Archimedes in the bathtub.

When we’re receptive, we not only open up to our own inner knowing but allow ourselves to be influenced by others. Because we’ve slowed down, we’re more able to see, hear and feel the signs indicating the path of least resistance to where we want to go. Instead of dynamically pushing our agenda – “I know it has to happen this way” – we become aware of options we’d not noticed when we were busy pushing.

Using her energy receptively is not something Rachelle typically does. Nor does Fred. Now that they understand these options, they are both willing to learn. Rachelle is now having regular massages as a way of increasing her receptivity. She reports she’s having greater insights when she stops and does “nothing.” Fred is meditating daily and just realized that, rather than trying to push himself back into the Fortune 100 world, he could leverage his experience to entice a solar-energy company into hiring him.

The Energy Three-Step

What about you? Which of these three energies do you routinely use? Once you become aware, you can start to use each on purpose rather than out of unconscious habit. Here’s how they’re meant to be used:

1. Dynamic: Get into action to achieve your result.

2. Magnetic: Vividly imagine what you want and feel yourself drawing it forth.

3. Receptive: Open up to receive inner wisdom and outer signals that you’re on the right path (or not).

Because it’s nonhabitual, it may feel weird to use your energy in all three ways. You may be worried that you’re not doing it “right,” but give it a try. Push for what you want, pull opportunities toward you, and open yourself to new endeavors.

Source: The author of many best-selling books, M.J. Ryan is a consultant with Professional Thinking Partners, where she specializes in coaching high-performance executives and leads trainings in effective teamwork within corporations, nonprofits and government agencies. Her latest book is “AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For.” Visit her at for more support.

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