by Judith Cobb, MH, CI, NCP, NNCP, CCII
Note: More information about the products mentioned can be found at the end of the article.
Stress is more than what happens to you
My husband has a favorite saying that he got from a famous someone somewhere … ”That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I’m not so sure!
Stress is simply our reaction to stimuli. You may have noticed that some days you feel great, then something goes wrong, but you deal with it with grace and finesse. Other days, feeling a little less resilient, the same thing goes wrong and you ‘lose it’, ‘fly off the handle’, or ‘go berserk’. What is it that makes the difference?
Adrenal glands produce hormones that are responsible for helping you adapt to and deal with stress. The main hormones are epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and endorphins; these are the ‘fight or flight’ and ‘bring you back to normal after a fright’ hormones.
Another job of the adrenal glands is to produce aldosterone, which regulates sodium and potassium to control blood pressure and blood volume.
Yet another hormone from the adrenals is cortisol. This hormone regulates how the body uses carbohydrates, especially in times of stress. Beyond this, research has shown that the excess of cortisol that the body produces during chronic stress can lead to stomach ulcers, immune weakening, hypertension, vascular disorders, and weight gain. This would explain, in part, why people often become ill after a major stress. Stress ultimately compromises the immune response (just as Dr. Hans Selye reported in the the middle of the last century). Cortisol also elevates the level of fatty acids in the blood. Additionally, recent research indicates that women of peri-menopausal age who have cortisol in excess are more likely to gain weight and have a hard time losing it.
The adrenal glands also produce male and female hormones, and it has been my experience that the more fatigued a woman’s adrenal glands are, the more likely she will have a difficult and very symptomatic pre- and peri-menopausal experience.
So, now that you understand the basics of what stress does to your body, and most especially your adrenal glands, what can you do about it?
Feel more relaxed and enjoy life more
On a basic and fundamental level, much stress-coping is learned. Many people go through life encountering stress but dealing with it in a calm, serene way. Certainly activities like yoga, gentle exercise, gardening, meditation, prayer, journaling, scripture reading, listening to music, having massages, and resting can all aid in creating a calm way of life. With any luck, the wisdom gained through life helps, too. The Serenity Prayer says it well: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
An article in The Calgary Herald (April 20, 2017) by Helen Vandenburg suggests the following 10 ideas for managing stress:1
- Exercise at a moderate to high intensity a minimum of five days per week
- Practice deep breathing
- Strive for eight hours of sleep
- Do more yoga
- Eat a healthy balanced diet
- Avoid self-medicating with caffeine, sugar, alcohol and drugs
- Stay hydrated
- Relax or get a massage
- Make time for fun activities
Eating to buffer yourself against stress
Specific nutritional recommendations to help your body better handle stress include: Eliminate coffee, tea, chocolate, and caffeine; eliminate white and refined sugars; eliminate white flour from the diet; and reduce animal products such as milk, cheese, red meat, and pork. These ‘foods’ deplete vitamin B and other essential nutrients. Vitamin B complex has earned a reputation of being anti-stress (more on this below).
At no time, and in no way, is caffeine in any form ever friendly to the adrenal glands. It is a stimulant. If your adrenals are tired from working hard, caffeine may make you feel more alert and energetic for a short time, but when this insidious drug wears off, your energy will sag. You will have made the ‘tired horse’ get up and move, but the horse is still tired and needs to be rested and fed!
You can choose to support the adrenal glands with healthy foods. The diet should include plenty of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, water, and some fruit (preferably locally grown). These foods supply much-needed nutrients rather than draining nutrients from the body.
Whole eggs provide the perfect balance of proteins and base nutrients to support the adrenal glands. An egg a day is not too much for most people, and the good news is that recent research has shown that eating an egg a day will not elevate cholesterol!2
Specific nutritional supplements that may be helpful in reducing the effects of stress include vitamin B complex, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.
Vitamin B complex is just that – a group of vitamins that, while not related in structure, often work together in the body. This set of nutrients has been found beneficial in alleviating mild depression, anxiety, nervousness, poor memory, some types of schizophrenia, and delirium, and is helpful in fortifying the immune system. Vitamin B complex is demanded in higher amounts when one is undergoing surgery, sick, pregnant or lactating.
Vitamin C has earned a very strong reputation for fighting colds. To a lesser extent it is known for its ability to support the adrenal glands and their hormone production. Vitamin C in the adrenal glands is depleted by all kinds of stress, including infections, surgery, wounds, injuries, smoking, and use of the birth control pill. Using high amounts of vitamin C can speed up healing after injury or surgery. One surgical study used 3000 mg of vitamin C per day and found the recovery time reduced by 70% as compared to a control group. Vitamin C also enhances the assimilation and storage of iron. Vitamin C should be taken with bioflavonoids for optimum assimilation. If you are taking too much you will get diarrhoea.
Studies have shown that daily doses of 1000 mg of calcium and 500 mg of magnesium can help to reduce hypertension and enhance the quality of sleep.
Essential oils (aromatherapy) can also be extremely helpful in relieving stress. A real advantage to using essential oils is that the response they create in the body is almost instantaneous. My personal favorite is pink grapefruit. It relieves fatigue, induces happy relaxation, and is a real treat at the end of a long day. Just add a few drops to a handful of Epsom salts and add to your bath.
Roman chamomile is a must for hysteria, especially in children. I have seen several instances where a child was frantic with fright or screaming with pain from an injury. A whiff of Roman chamomile calmed them within thirty seconds, and a drop applied to the site of impact relieved the pain quickly!
Anxiety and stress can often be reduced with lavender and/or rose. A warm bath or a massage with these oils (properly diluted) can go a long way to deflating the stress of the day!
And, yes, there are herbs that can be helpful. Licorice root is known as a great adrenal support. Interestingly, licorice root contains anti-inflammatory properties and estrogenic properties also. (Do not use licorice root if you have high blood pressure, kidney problems, or are pregnant.)
Astragalus, Siberian ginseng, and schizandra feed the adrenals and create resilience.
As with all herbal preparations, either consult with a qualified herbal practitioner or follow the instructions on the bottle, remembering that the instructions are geared for a 150-pound person.
So, here you have it! There are natural things you can do and take to help you better handle stress!
If you have concerns about your health [or your child’s], or just don’t know where to begin making improvements, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available.
Products referred to in this article:
|Text Book||Slide Handouts||Recordings||Recordings||Extras|
|Lesson 10, Chapter 7 I-L lacunae, 7II A-D mapping||Lesson 10, Chapter 7I I-L, 7II A-D||Class - 22 March||L10 C7I I neuronal netting||L10 cheat sheet|
|L10 C7 I polypose||L10 C7I K shoe|
|L10 C7I L tulip||L10 C7II A-D mapping|
Copyright © 2017 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).