Seabiscuit didn’t look like a prize racehorse. And yet…He used his outside-the-mold crooked legs to run faster than those who appeared more the champion. If you’ve seen Seabiscuit, the movie, please read the book.1 The author, Laura Hillenbrand, is a masterful writer. Like the subject of her now famous book, Hillenbrand also has an overcomer’s tale – one that reminds us purpose is often born out of pain.
Hillenbrand wrote Seabiscuit, the story of an underdog horse that could run like the wind, during years of confinement for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
Most people with CFS aren’t as productive, sadly, as Hillenbrand. And the inconvenient truth about many patients’ energy issues is that periods of productivity addiction are what start their slide from health towards chronic fatigue. I’ve dedicated my career to helping people avoid or recover from this post-industrialization phenomenon.
The joy of practicing in the modern era is underpinned by access to modern lab tests that can give early alerts to those running for the good life. I use specialty tests everyday to guide and protect my patients so that “I need a nap” doesn’t become “I can’t get out of bed, let alone leave my house.”
ARISE MD Basecamp has been bustling recently with what we call our “resiliency test kits.” Through simple urine and saliva collections we are able to give our Citizen Scientists a window into :
- The status of the stress response system – cortisol and DHEA over a 24 hour period
- Tissue-level sex hormones – testosterone, estrogen
- Imbalances in neurotransmitters – serotonin, dopamine, etc… – which often set mood, focus, and sleep
When their stress response system is over-rev’ed, that is their adrenal glands are pumping out excess cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline to keep them on the race track, we hear patients complain of being wired and tired; craving salt and carb’s at night; “sweating too easily” and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Regarding the impact of stress on sex hormones, did you know 1 in 7 couples in America will experience infertility? 2,3,4 (that’s dramatically higher than it was twenty years ago and is not explained solely by a shift towards older parents.) When your stress response system is over-rev’ed, reproduction is often the last thing your body is preparing for. Sit with that. If your nervous system thinks you are running for your life is that really the best time to bring a vulnerable baby into the mix? Which is why I see the pre-burnout state driving down testosterone levels in patients and contributing both to low libido and the decline in fertility in this country.
The last component of the resiliency test kit, measuring neurotransmitters, is not an exact science. In fact it was only a few years ago that I mused about it being a waste of time. But Sanesco’s NeuroLab recently completed an analysis of over 700 patients who were tested and treated with their CSM Program and the results – 8 months on – were compelling 5 :
We’ve seen similar results at ARISE MD. After nearly one hundred tests, the dominant profile among our Citizen Scientists out of the gate (test #1), is low neurotransmitters – meaning the proverbial tank is empty (see below). And rarely are patients surprised by their results.
Perhaps the greatest power, however, for neurotransmitter testing is its ability to invite and disarm a long overdue discussion about fatigue. It’s not a weak spirit, or poor character that is keeping many of my well-intentioned patients from living with more vitality and a higher quality of life.
As a consequence of sagging serotonin we hear complaints about low mood, poor sleep quality and cravings. GABA, I tell my crew, can be thought of as standing for “Get Another Beer Already.” And low GABA levels are one reason why it’s too easy, despite best intentions, to resist that third or fourth drink at happy hour. Very often they have a real chemical imbalance, that when corrected can unleash Seabiscuit-like potential.
The gates are opening and our Covid-19 pandemic confinements are starting to fade. We’re here to teach, test and train so that you can run a smarter race into the new norm’. Don’t make the mistake of lurching back into the same burnout-prone pattern. Instead, leverage this historic (pandemic) pause by charting a healthier course.
Looking for something to do tomorrow?
Consider Prolent. I’ve found this, in recent times, to be a better overall support for serotonin than 5-htp for both myself (improving sleep quality) and my patients. Purchase Prolent from our online store.
Interested in the NeuroLab testing?
You can purchase a lab kit directly from our online store at a cash price. A more economical approach is to book a 15 minute consult and allow our team to utilize your insurance for the NeuroLab tests.
Looking for ways to augment your NeuroLab testing?
Consider monitoring HRV (Heart Rate Variability) during your morning routine. Apple Watch / iPhone users can activate Apple’s Health Kit to measure and report your HRV.
Note: this is more accurate if you pause upon awakening and do the 1-minute breathing exercise available on your Apple Watch/ iPhone.
Until next time, remember that the first rule of living a life at altitude is that you can’t help others until you learn to effectively put your own oxygen mask on first.
Long live the Citizen Scientist.
Adam C. Miller, DDS, MD
Chief Sherpa, ARISE MD
- Hillenbrand, L.: Seabiscuit: an American legend, G.K. Hall, Waterville, Me., 2001.
- Chandra, A., Copen, C.E., & Stephen, E.H. (2013). Infertility and Impaired Fecundity in the United States, 1982-2010: Data From the National Survey of Family Growth. National Health Statistics Reports, 67, 1-19. Retrieved February 7, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr067.pdf
- American Urological Association Male Infertility Best Practice Policy Panel. (2010). The optimal evaluation of the infertile male: AUA best practice statement. Retrieved January 7, 2016, from https://www.auanet.org/documents/education/clinical-guidance/Male-Infertility-d.pdf
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). Optimizing natural fertility. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/optimizing-natural-fertility/
- Sanesco Health’s Physician Education Resource Page :