Stress: Our partner
                in modern lifestyle?

Is there anybody without any stress among us?
However the sensitivity to notice this stress in many cases goes unrecognised!

Understanding our stress is actually a strength and not just a moaning and groaning about our life.
This is often misunderstood. Basically there are 2 main categories of stress and then there are a few sub-types of stresses, So first let’s talk about the category of mental stresses.

Of course, we know, that stress is a natural response to any threat to your personal integrity, our body, or our social status. But how about stress at work or with our family, partner, car, parents, rent, neighbours or our children.

______________________________________________________________

Most of us lead busy and hectic lifestyles and believe it or not, this too is a form of stress. If you think about it, all of the above is actually a direct attack on our integrity in some way. That’s why at every instance the full stress response is triggered. This response will involve the body’s internal organs in a multitude of  ways.

Now, lets have a closer look at those mental stress.

What is Mental Stress:

In the category of mental stress there are 3 different types of stress our bodies are subjected too:

  1. - Eustress
  2. - Acute Stress
  3. - Chronic Stress

Eustress:

An example of this form of stress is down-hilling on a mountain-bike, riding rollercoasters, paragliding, hand gliding or skydiving. In fact anything which is done for recreational fun with a certain sense of “thrill element”
The release of adrenalines in this instance can trigger a positive stimulation onto your body which may induce dopamines and endorphines.

This proves to be a very exilarating and positive experience as a whole.


Acute Stress:

Acute stress lasts for short periods of time and can either be positive (eustress) or distressing. It is a response to an immediate or perceived threat which may either be physical, emotional or psychological. Generally acute stress does not cause any problems in healthy individuals and is short-lasting. Triggers of unpleasant acute stress include moving house, achieving work related deadlines, a job interview or a sudden death in the family. Longterm life treatening stress is unpleasent and will develop into silent chronic stress.

 

Chronic Stress:

If triggers of acute stress linger, they can eventually lead to chronic stress, which may also occur in response to numerous stressors occurring simultaneously. The effects of chronic stress are longer lasting and more problematic. Typical examples of chronic stress would be marital problems over a prolonged period of time, physical or emotional abuse, a continuously pressurised job and unemployment.

Now, just how does stress affect our bodies?
Again this depends on whether we are dealing with acute or chronic stress.
Acute stress triggers what we call the fight or flight response.
When this occurs the hypothalamus causes the pituitary gland to release the stress hormones: adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands and into our bloodstream. These hormones increase our heart rate, slow down digestion, speed up our breathing, increase our blood pressure and send blood to the major muscle groups causing our skin to become cool clammy and wet.


We also receive a burst of extra energy and strength which will help us to cope with the stressful situation. Once the perceived threat has ended, our homeostatic principles kick back in and our bodies will  relax again, causing our body systems to function normally.

During Chronic Stress: homeostasis fails and our body fails to relax.

This has a negative impact on most of the systems in our body and causes damage. The effect of chronic stress on the nervous and endocrine systems are interlinked as it is the nervous system which controls the release of hormones from the endocrine system.

During chronic stress the nervous system continues to stimulate the release of the stress hormones, which can undermine our health. Too many stress hormones interfere with the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters of the brain, especially serotonin. Decreased serotonin levels often lead to clinical depression, insomnia and anxiety disorders.
 
Stress is a major contributing factor for the development of tension- headaches, which may occur spontaneously or develop when exposed to the stressor for an extended period of time. It is a predisposing factor for migraines!

Chronic stress also affects our cognitive performance such as concentration and memory. Research has shown that long-term exposure to cortisol results in the shrinking of the hippocampus which is the brain's memory center.

Too many stress hormones induce the release of blood sugar from the liver, which increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The continuous release of cortisol causes obesity, impaired thyroid function, impaired cognitive performance; decreased bone density; eczema and adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal exhaustion can cause: fatigue, increased infections, headaches and PMS. Chronic stress may also have the following effects on the endocrine system: chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, and menstrual irregularities. ...and this is just the start of it. Read further to see how stress impacts your body. The effect of chronic stress will show on the digestive system and throughout the body.

Stress affects the nerves and digestive system: Too much cortisol disrupts digestion and metabolism, causing stomach disorders and weight gain, especially around the mid-section.

There is a strong connection between the brain and intestines. Nerves control our digestive system and under stress the balance of our digestion as well as our body controls can be disrupted.


Stress slows down digestion which can cause bloating, pain, cramping and constipation. It may also result in loose watery stools and frequent bowel evacuation.

Stress is a major problem which can cause Irritable bowel Syndrome (IBS). This syndrome irritates the large intestine causing muscular contractions to be spastic, rather than smooth and wave-like. This results in bloating of the abdomen, cramping and alternating periods of constipation with diarrhea.
Inflammatory Bowel syndrome (IBS) is a major risk factor for Inflammatory Bowel disease (IBD) which in turn is a major risk factor for peptic ulcers caused by the bacterium H-Pylori.

Stress and the liver:

There is a strong link between stress and the liver.
This impacts in a multitude of ways on the body as a whole and how the body responds to environmental strains.
A renowned naturopathic Doctor and phytotherapist know about this and will regularly support liver function during times of stress.

The effects of stress on the Cardiovascular System:


• An increased heart rate.
• An increase in the release of cholesterol into the blood stream, which can lead to thickening
    or hardening of the arteries or even heart attacks.
•  Blood thickening which may result in strokes due to high blood pressure and blood clots.


Stress affecting Kidneys:

A range of internal organs and body functions are affected, such as the kidneys, when Stress hormones and cortisol is released into the body.

Ecxess of cortisol causes:
• Inhibited calcium reabsorption from the renal tubules resulting in calcium loss.
• Promoted phosphate excretion by the kidneys.
• Sodium and fluid retention

The release of Epinephrine and norepinephrine causes:
• Constriction of blood vessels within the kidney resulting in a diminished glomerular filtration rate
    and hence a reduced urinary water output.
• Reduction of the excretion of sodium by the kidneys which in turn further contributes to water retention.


This combination can be deadly - Stroke and heart infarction:
Vasoconstriction together with an increase in blood volume (caused by the water retention) and an increase in blood pressure may eventually lead to chronic hypertension. When water retention is persistent it leads to oedema which can be a major contributing factor for heart attacks.

Your Immune System:
The elevated  levels of stress hormones suppress the body’s production of T-lymphocytes, thus weakening the entire immune system. This makes you more susceptible to infections.
In addition existing infections may be worsened.

Your Libido:
The effect of stress on the reproductive system diminishes sexual desire and the ability to achieve an orgasm.
Androgen levels may drop, causing temporary erectile dysfunction in men.
Chronic stress decreases fertility as stress hormones interfere with the hypothalamus ability to produce reproductive hormones.
In addition it may lead to changes in a woman's menstrual cycle.

Muscular-skeletal System:
The effect of stress on the muscular-skeletal system manifests as: joint and muscle pain, back pain, body aches. Due to the continuous release of cortisol the bone density may decrease (osteoporosis).
In addition it may intensify chronic pain caused by conditions such as arthritis.

Skin:

The effects of stress on the integumentary (skin system) system is a major cause of eczema and urticaria. (allergic skin rashes and welts, skin hives)
It mayIt may also exacerbate skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, rosacea.

Due to lack of oxygen and the factors montioned above, stress will greatly affect the aging process! Wrinkled skin in the face and the rest of the body will after some time clearly reveal the hidden onlslaught onto your physical strains.

Hair:
FiguraFiguratively “losing your hair over something” has this deeply embedded into our language and knowledge.
Also, scientifically it is suspected that unexplained hair loss is attributed to stressful events. So as you can see excessive amounts of stress can affect our bodies visibly more than we initially realise in one way or another...

However! it has to be said, these are only a few of the symptoms of stress:
Highlighted above are only a small variety of symptoms.

An Experienced Naturopath will give you advise within a thorough personal consultation.


How a Naturopath/Phytotherapist will help:
Nowadays, with the modern science of natural healing, a surprisingly lot can be done about stress efficiently and effectively. Using a medical approach, physical relaxation and qualified emotional counselling will address your body mind and soul to enable you to manage your complex life situation with renewed approach and strength.
!---!

When visiting your Phytotherapist/Naturopath it is important that you discuss openly all aspects of your life so that the functioning of your body and mind can be assessed, diagnosed and supported properly.
You may assume some symptoms to be irrelevant, but to a Naturopath/Phytotherapist they may be of high importance! Feel free to be open about absolutely everything. Nothing is to minor to be mentioned.
!---!

A Naturopath/Phytotherapist is trained and experienced to interprete your life and body signs:
Some of them may be very relevant to diagnose your entire health! Remember that Naturopathy/Phytotherapy strives to treat the route causes of your condition and not just the symptoms alone, thereby resulting in a sustained improvement of your health and a regained feel-good experience of yourself.
!---!