Why am I so Tired? Do I have Adrenal Fatigue?


Have you been complaining of fatigue lately, or maybe your entire life? Are you tired of saying “I am tired”? Maybe your partner is noticing a change in you, especially in the bedroom. You may be suffering from a condition called adrenal fatigue. Let me explain to you what this condition is and why so many people have it today. Within the human body, we have two adrenal glands. They are located above our kidneys and are roughly the size of a thumb. Although small, these glands play a mighty role in regulating many hormones, specifically the ones that regulate SALT, SUGAR and SEX. Do I have your attention now?

Let’s break it down further. The most common and widely known hormone produced by the adrenal gland is CORTISOL. Cortisol is known as the body’s stress hormone. The main function of cortisol is to regulate the body’s response to stress. In addition, cortisol helps maintain blood pressure, heart function, slows the immune system’s inflammatory response, balances the effects of insulin in breaking down glucose for energy, metabolizes protein, fat, carbohydrates and it also enhances the function of the thyroid gland. Wow! What doesn’t it do?

Besides cortisol, the adrenal gland also produces progesterone (a function that becomes very important after menopause), testosterone (sex hormone), aldosterone (helps with sodium regulation/blood pressure) adrenaline and noradrenalin (gives us the jolt of energy we need during stressful times/stimulation).

All of these hormones are essential for good health and energy. The problem arises when we overuse and abuse the adrenal gland, leading to a condition called adrenal fatigue and eventually, adrenal gland burnout.

What causes Adrenal Fatigue?

    • Chronic STRESS (physical, emotional, mental)
    • Poor diet (mineral deficiencies- specifically B vitamins, zinc, selenium, magnesium, EFA’s)
    • Heavy Metals (poor liver function)
    • Food sensitivities/environmental allergies
    • Elevated Blood Sugar
    • Alcohol, smoking, drugs, excessive caffeine intake
    • Not enough time for relaxation and fun activities
    • Poor sleep habits

If you can relate to a few of the above causes check the column below for some signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Low sex drive
  • Nervousness/irritability
  • PMS
  • Salt/Sweet cravings
  • Moodiness/Depression
  • Infertility
  • Allergies
  • Headache
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle/Joint Pain
  • Low blood pressure/dizziness
  • Thyroid Imbalance
  • Skin Issues
  • Insomnia

If you are thinking to yourself “Wow, that describes me!”, then continue reading for ways to help yourself.

How Can I Help Adrenal Fatigue?

The good news is that we can recover from adrenal fatigue. It may take months or several years to get the glands to function optimally. It all depends on the degree of “damage” and how soon you seek help. Here are some of the things you can do to nourish your adrenal glands today:

  1. Get to bed by 10pm
  2. Enjoy whole grains and colourful fruits/vegetables
  3. Practice relaxation/deep breathing each day
  4. Ensure regular meals (especially breakfast) include good quality protein
  5. Avoid processed food, alcohol, smoking, sugar and caffeine

Supplements to consider:

  1. Herbs such as Ashwaganda, Eleutherococcus, Rhodiola and Relora are known as “adaptogens” which help minimize the stress response on the body.
  2. B vitamins: also known as “anti-stress” vitamins are great for increasing energy. When the body is under stress, it utilizes B vitamins quite readily . B5, specifically, has been shown to concentrate in the adrenal gland.
  3. Up your Vitamin C levels! Vitamin C is concentrated in the adrenal glands and adequate levels promotes its function.

*Please note that dosages and choice of supplementation are dependent on each individual case. Do not self prescribe. Always consult with a health care practitioner*

If you are interested in additional testing for adrenal health, both Salivary Cortisol and Hair Cortisol testing are simple and available in the office.

Let’s get you started! Fill out the hormonal questionnaire on my website. It starts with one small step in the right direction. You can conquer your feelings of fatigue and live a vibrant life!





Dr. Jennifer Cisternino is a Naturopathic Doctor who has a family practice in Vaughan, Ontario. She treats a variety of conditions and people of all ages with a special focus on weight loss, women’s health, hormone balancing and stress management. Dr. Cisternino has certifications in Acupuncture, Yoga and Personal Training. Her authenticity, kindness and passion makes her a very sought out Doctor in her field. Her mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people to live a healthy and prosperous life. You can connect with her in many ways.

[email protected]

Instagram: drjencisternino

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Dr. Jen’s Favourite Cookie Recipe- Dairy and Gluten Free

Energizer Cookie Recipe!

Gluten and Dairy Free

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and peel 3 medium sweet potatoes. Cut them into chip-finger width slices. Place on pan and sprinkle cinnamon and olive oil. Bake for 25 min. Remove and let cool.(you can opt to do this the night before you make the mixture)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a large bowl add:

  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 cup quick oats
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or blueberries
  • ¾ cup ground flax seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¾ cup apple sauce
  • Sweet potatoes-cut into small pieces



Feel free to add your favourite mix in or dark chocolate chips to the mixture.


On a baking sheet place 3.5 inch x 3.5 inch cookies ~1 inch thick


Let them bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Should make at least 16 cookies.


These cookies are very high in protein and complex carbohydrates. They make for a good breakfast or post workout meal. You can have half a cookie as a snack.

Please Share. Sharing is Caring.


Dr. Jen


What Motivates Dr. Jen to stay healthy and fit?

profile picDr. Jen answers the question: “What motivates YOU to stay healthy and fit?”

A common question that I am asked by my patients is: “What motivates YOU to stay fit and healthy? It is a personal question, but one that I don’t mind sharing for the greater good. I love how most people think that I workout and practice yoga daily, I eat a vegan diet, never indulge in a treat and sing kumbaya with my friends and family (ok I made the last one up, but you know what I mean). I am truly flattered, but I am human, people! I live a normal life with daily stresses. I try to exercise 3-4 times a week, and do my best to eat whole foods that nourish my body, with a few indulgences every now and again. I am not perfect, but I always strive to do better. I decided to get a little vulnerable and share the answers to this question because I think it is important for you to understand me and what drives me to stay healthy and fit. Maybe you can relate and connect with some of my biggest motivators.

Motivator #1. My Patients/Followers. Yes, that is you! I believe whole-heartedly in the motto “practice what you preach”. When I spend countless hours each week blogging and posting content on social media or advising people in my office to eat well, manage stress, exercise etc., it acts as a reminder for me to do the same. It is not always easy to do but I strive to be a good role model for all of you. I am authentic by nature and what you see is what you get. I also understand that if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot take care of others. So thanks to all my patients, near and far, you motivate me as much as I motivate you.

Motivator #2. Self-Love. This was not something that came easy for me and it is something a lot of people struggle with. A lesser known fact about me is that beginning in adolescence and into my teenage years, I suffered from a condition called anorexia nervosa and in later years, binge eating disorder. Both of these conditions result from a lack of self love. In fact, it was an act of neglect, abuse and hate for my body. It wasn’t until I started my Naturopathic Education where I learned how to love and appreciate myself. I was taught self-care practices and how to prioritize my needs and wants.  I want to clarify that self- love is not arrogance or boasting about one’s self; instead, it is the love that feeds the body nourishing foods, allows for rest, ensures healthy activity, talks positively to one’s self, is forgiving and creates safe boundaries in relationships. Once you have this love, all your choices and actions will come from this, including being positive and living more healthy. Start slowly by choosing one activity a day that demonstrates self love. It could be ensuring you have 3 meals a day or getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This may sound silly, but I give my patients a self-love journal to fill out each day. It holds them accountable and acts as a gentle reminder to think about themselves a little more. It amazes people how little they care for themselves. Try it yourself for one week. If you want a great read pertaining to love and self-love pick up Loveability by Robert Holden. I highly recommend it.

Motivator #3. My Future Goals: Although I understand that focusing too much on the future is not a good thing; however, in regards to the motivation aspect, this keeps me focused on my health and fitness priorities. My goals for the future are to have a healthy family. I want to be a healthy mom who can play an active role in my children’s life and their children’s lives. I love to travel and would love to travel with my husband with no limitations. I want to live life to the fullest in all stages of my life. I don’t want to exist or merely survive on this planet, I wish to THRIVE! This means that I must care for myself NOW. My glimpse into the future every so often keeps me motivated each present day. I create a vision board each year and although it changes, there is always a picture or vision of good health, fitness and vitality. If you have not made a vision board before, (one of Oprah’s favourite things to do and she claims it works!) give it a try!

Motivator #4. My Positive Mindset/Attitude: This takes practice and on-going effort, but when mastered, you can do anything! In the past, I had a very negative attitude towards my health and my habits reflected that.  I was very restrictive with my dieting and calorie counting. I saw food as the “enemy” and was scared to eat it. I would compensate by exercising excessively and would feel guilty if I didn’t exercise, especially if I ate “bad” food. Does this sound familiar to anyone? The best part is, through all this I was not reaching my fitness goals of losing weight and was straight up miserable. I entered a vicious cycle of regret, guilt and blame. I realized that my negative attitude was not helping me achieve the goals I wanted. So I slowly started to change my attitude. It was only when I changed my thoughts to be more positive was I able to lose weight (40lbs!) and keep it off. This did not happen over night. How did I do this? I started by forgiving myself for all my self-destructive habits. This is very hard, but essential in keeping a positive mindset. I then started working on enjoying things in moderation with NO GUILT. Yes, weight loss and weight maintenance can happen with a cheat meal every now and then, but only if there are no negative thoughts and emotions around it. I admit, I sometimes eat chocolate, ice cream and Ketchup chips (my salty indulgence). This is seldom, but when I do, I have no guilt. Imagine that! What a freeing experience. Research shows that “skinny” people have a different mentality than overweight individuals. Skinny people do not obsess over food. They eat when they are hungry and they do not have emotional attachments to the food they eat. I urge you to lose the negative thoughts, the “all or nothing” approach because it will not help you lose weight and keep it off. Instead, keep your thoughts positive and have an attitude that you can do anything.  If you slip up, forgive yourself and be positive you will do better.

There you have it! My top 4 motivators for staying healthy and fit. If you would like more of where this came from, sign up for my newsletters to be sure you don’t miss out and you get the goods in your inbox.


Please share, sharing is caring.

Dr. Jen Cisternino,ND

Need more sleep? 3 Imbalances that may be the cause.

I cannot stress enough the importance of good sound sleep. Sleep is essential for weight loss. The optimal amount of sleep may differ from person to person, but research shows it is best to get at least 7 hours uninterrupted sleep each night. When was the last time this happened for you? With stress at the forefront of today’s fast paced society, sleep is an area in one’s life that can become affected. With work on the mind and family or personal stress, we lose the precious sleep that we need to live healthy lives. When insomnia ensues, there is a snowball effect and we start to see other health conditions arise such as weight gain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, poor memory, hypertension, diabetes etc.

Helping my patients to get sound sleep is a main goal for healing and vitality, not just for weight loss.

Here are some reason why you may be getting sub-optimal sleep.

  1. Cortisol level Imbalance. Cortisol levels normally rise in the morning to get you out of bed and gradually fall throughout the day, prepping your body for sleep. Those individuals who have trouble sleeping may have an inverted curve, where cortisol levels remain low in the morning and peak at night, which makes falling asleep difficult. Some individuals who have long term stress, have low cortisol levels all day and into the evening. Healthy levels of cortisol are needed for proper heart vessel function, metabolism, energy production, immune function and proper blood sugar regulation. Some research suggests that people who have low levels of cortisol tend to have interrupted sleep. Chronically low levels of cortisol can cause blood sugar levels to drop during sleep which can trigger you to wake up in the middle of the night. Does this sound familiar? It is best to get your cortisol levels tested and be clear about your stressors and how you handle or don’t handle stress.
  2. Neurotransmitter Imbalance: Those individuals who are low in neurotransmitter serotonin can have difficulty falling and staying asleep. Serotonin, which is our “happy hormone” helps to manufacture melatonin, which is needed for proper sleep and wake cycles. When serotonin levels are low, melatonin will not be produced, making it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. GABA, a calming neurotransmitter, also helps to promote sleep. Many sleep medications work on GABA receptors to induce sleepiness. Ensuring adequate levels of both can help you to sleep.
  3. Hormone Imbalance. When women enter menopause, the lack of estrogen/progesterone and declining testosterone in men can contribute to poor sleep. Supplementing with the appropriate hormones may be a good option for some. Research also shows that low levels of DHEA (our anti-aging hormone) has an effect on REM sleep, which is our deepest and most restorative sleep cycle.

There you have it! Some reasons why you may not be getting restorative sleep. If you have been suffering for a long while, don’t give up hope, consult with a health care professional for help.


Please share! Sharing is caring.

Dr. Jen Cisternino, ND

Suffering from Anxiety? Let us offer you a Complete Care Approach











Suffering with Anxiety? Let us offer you a Complete Care Approach

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent psychological conditions experienced today. Millions of people worldwide are struggling each day to control worry, panic and fear. There are many options for treating anxiety. In this article, we will offer you two approaches: Conventional and Naturopathic.

Medical Perspective by Joseph C. Cosentino, M.D

Many people are unaware that there are many pathological conditions that cause anxiety. The first step in an allopathic approach is to first rule out some of the most common conditions known to precipitate anxiety. Some of the most common conditions include:

* Hypothyroidism/Hyperthyroidism

* Cardiovascular Disease (High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Heart attack)

* Diabetes Type 2

* Substance use/abuse (Caffeine, Nicotine, Illicit drugs, Alcohol)

* Other Psychiatric conditions (OCD, Bipolar)

Only after a thorough clinical workup to rule out possible organic causes, can a medical physician begin to narrow down the root cause of anxiety and begin treatment.

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the first line therapy for patients with anxiety. This type of therapy aims to help you to change the way you think, feel and behave. CBT has been used for decades to successfully treat anxiety.
  2. Medications such as SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are also a treatment option, either in conjunction with CBT or as a stand-alone when it fails to work. These prescription medications are very efficacious and tolerated well but like all medications must be taken properly and have the potential for unwanted side effects if not managed properly.

Always talk to your Doctor to see what your options are and what is right for you.

Naturopathic Approach by Dr. Jennifer Cisternino, ND

Adequate time and emphasis should be placed on determining the ROOT cause of the anxiety rather than focusing on quick fixes that tend to only mask the problem.

Once more severe causes of anxiety have been ruled out, there are some natural approaches to help ease anxiety.

  1. Eliminate Stimulants in your diet (caffeine, nicotine, chocolate, sugar, salt, preservatives/additives). I have seen the amazing anxiety reducing effects from this change alone.
  2. Eliminate Food Allergies: Many people are unaware of how food affects their mood. A Food Allergy Test (IGG) can help determine sensitivities that may be affecting your mental health. If you are ingesting foods that cause inflammation and damage to your GI tract, this inhibits the production and absorption of calming neurotransmitters. Henceforth, leaving you feeling anxious. Healing your gut can help heal your anxiety.
  3. Exercise: 30 minutes a day can help release stress and increase “feel good hormones”. Choosing the activity you enjoy can help alleviate anxiety and frustration. Try boxing!
  4. Deep Breathing /Meditation: 40 minutes a day has been shown to completely absolve anxiety in most people. When you allow your body and mind a chance to relax and refocus, a lot of “mental garbage” can be released. This takes commitment and discipline, but the benefits are well worth it!
  5. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: The Anxiety and Worry Workbook by David Clark, PHD and Aaron Beck, MD. This is a great self directed work book to get you started.
  6. Good Nutrition: You can’t get away from eating whole foods rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants and minerals. Certain Vitamin/Mineral deficiencies can cause symptoms of anxiety.  If you are low in Vitamin B12, B3, Magnesium and Iron, this can contribute to anxiousness.  One simple test that I run in my office is a hair mineral test. This can help to evaluate your individual mineral deficiencies.

If you suffer with anxiety, don’t be afraid to admit it. Anxiety can range from mild to severe and can worsen if nothing is done to help it. Anxiety is your body’s way of telling you to slow down, take better care of yourself and seek help and guidance. You are worth it.

Share with someone you know who may be suffering. If you have found helpful ways to cope with anxiety please post your comments below. It may help change someone for the better.