Why be concerned?
Did you know that 99% of all disease is related to stress in some form.
A checklist for stress that may need attention includes:
____Do you have difficulties falling asleep? OR wake frequently thru the night? OR wake very early in the morning and then have difficulty getting back to sleep?
____Do you feel refreshed after your sleep in the morning?
____Do you feel refreshed after sleeping in or taking a nap?
____Do you feel overwhelmed, have flutters in the stomach or chest?
____Do you have difficulties sitting and relaxing?
____Do you have heartburn, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation?
____Do you crave carbohydrates or sweets?
If your answer is yes to any of the above questions you may be experiencing stress related adrenal weakness
Why is this happening?
Stress is a result of the dynamic of a perception of two variables… 1.Too much to do with 2.In too little time and a perceived danger or outcome.
What are the diagnostic criteria for Stress?
Your annual physical exam may or may not show any reason for concern. Wellness Medicine is about looking at the trends that occur slowly and steadily before disease. Many of these conditions are subclinical. When visiting your Naturopathic Doctor consideration will be made to investigate the latest technology for detection of subclinical states such as adrenal weakness that impacts stress and traditional Naturopathic Physical Assessment Techniques. Common symptoms of stress include: Digestive Concerns, Too much or too little Energy, Sleep Disturbances, Frequent Injuries, Headaches and Feelings of Being Overwhelmed.
What are the Health Connections related to this trend?
Natural approaches are understanding the root cause and the Health Connections in the path that resulted in their outcome. The pathway from beginning to end result in the Health Wellness Spectrum (HWS) © is as follows: (For more details of the HWS © see the April 2008 Newsletter Allergies, Asthma and Eczema)
- Nervous System- Balance of states of energy and relaxation
- Adrenal Gland I- Release of hormones including Cortisol, Hyper energy, Reduced Sleep
III. Adrenal Gland II– Reduced energy, Need for More Sleep
- Thyroid Stress-Changes in Metabolism
- Digestion Stress– Heartburn (Inefficient release of enzymes to break down foods properly due to eating at your desk or on the run) Food Intolerances (FIT)
VII. Insulin Resistance– Hypoglycemia
VIII. Liver Congestion IX. Hormonal Changes
- Anxiety, Depression, Headaches
When the body is in the Sympathetic mode of the Nervous System it communicates to the adrenal gland.
The adrenal gland is a gland that sits on top of the kidneys and produces epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, progesterone, DHEA which breaks down into testosterone and estrogen. When the body is under stress for a short time the body produces these flight of fight hormones to assist you in dealing with the acute situation and then goes back into a pattern of rest when the stress is over. This is the same pathway that is stimulated when you consume caffeine.
The body eventually becomes tired and the adrenal gland pumps out a lot of adrenaline to stay awake, causing hyper activity. Our body manages this drain in energy by decreasing our energy so that we increase our sleep or by creating a minor ailment such as a cold or flu to force us to rest. In this situation, if using caffeine for energy the body requires more caffeine to produce the same amount of hormone levels. For example 1 cup of coffee in the morning leads to another after lunch then a third after dinner, to give you enough energy for the day. This is the stage when you may sleep more but are not energized and still feel tired all the time.
Because these individuals burn so much fuel in the day with their high energy they tend to have hypoglycaemic traits where their blood sugar quickly can go low and thus they crave sugars, carbohydrates for quick fuel.
In a situation where the body remains in this state for an extended time period other organ systems become strained. These organs include: the thyroid which controls your rate of metabolism and the liver which detoxifies the body and conjugates and re circulates cholesterol and hormones.
In this sympathetic state the body reduces the digestive enzymes it produces and thus the body has more of a difficult time digesting, increasing food sensitivities and increasing the load of by products to the liver. At this point an individual develops inflammatory patterns ,generalized aches and pains, sluggish metabolism, craving of carbohydrates or sugar for quick energy, tendency to gain weight( or in others lose weight if in an anxious state), food ( i.e. sugar, colours and dyes used in foods, dairy etc.) and environmental sensitivities. This in turn leads to reduced immunity and increased PMS for females.
Sound familiar? The concern is that again Stress is related to 99% of disease. Left untreated or managed symptomatically more serious chronic disease may develop.
A part of our role in preventive health is to understand the pathways that can lead to chronic disease and assist those in making changes early on to optimize their health. As many other conditions can cause fatigue it is important to maintain regular visits with your medical doctor and your Naturopathic Doctor. A Naturopath will address the above pathways through proper organ support. If you have never seen a Naturopath consider the benefits for Optimal Health. You do not need a referral from your MD; you can book an appointment directly.
What are the Traditional Treatment Options?
Most often lab work does not register disease yet, thus medications are prescribed for the symptoms that exist. For example H2 antagonists like Zantac to stop over acidity. The concern with this method is the overproduction of acid is present because an individual is not digesting. The reduction of acid cures the pain but in the long run may impact the lower digestive system, leading potentially to bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea or constipation.
What are our Natural Treatment Options?
Thus one can see that in treating any one of these conditions layers of support are needed.
A customized Revivelife Wellness Centre Approach would be to:
- Fill in your Health Wellness Spectrum (HWS) © Questionnaire- Adult or Kids Wellness2. Have your Metabolic Urine Tested3. Assess your score on the HWS4. Have a New Patient Visit5. Test for Food and Environmental Intolerances6. Individual Plan of Management
- What are a few home treatment options?
- Get enough sleep- a minimum of 8 hours per night is required. For those who get less think about playing catch up with a nap on weekends
- Catnaps– closing your eyes for 20 minutes daily can reduce stress immediately and improve longevity by up to 27%
- Keeping Blood Sugar Levels even– i.e. protein snacks and food every 3 hrs. When refined sugar is eaten the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin then stimulates the release of adrenaline which is phase 2 of the stress reaction
- Increase fiber – improves digestive function
- Exercise– Provides long term benefits6. Checklist to Reduce Stress- See Addendum 1
- What are some of the Natural Remedy Options? Check with your Naturopath for exact dosing that is customized.
- Detoxification– Can reduce the toxicity that develops when one is not digesting optimally during periods of stress.
- Managing Food Intolerances– By moderating stresses such as food intolerances that you do have management over allows the body more energy to work on the support of the organs put under stress. Reduction of these foods also reduces toxicity levels overall. Digestive dysfunction can be improved by up to 100% by following your food intolerances.
- Acupuncture-including auricular acupuncture can be used to reduce the stress reaction on the body i.e. shenman point
- Bowen Therapy www.bowtech.com-An effective technique that assists in reduction of stress and relaxation of smooth muscles.
- Herbal Remedies-which are known as adaptogens for stress, which improve the body’s balance. Others are to relax the smooth muscle of the digestive system and heal the digestive lining.
- Avena Sativa- Relaxes an overstimulated adrenal gland. Skullcap-Relaxes muscles. Pass flora-Acts to relax the nervous system to reduce anxiety, pain and inflammation. Rhodiola-adaptogen balancing cortisol and serotonin levels. Ashwaganda-adaptogen balancing cortisol and serotonin levels. Slippery Elm and Marshmallow-heal an inflamed digestive lining
- Custom Herbal Combinations- such as-Licorice, Astragalus and Rhodiola – Aids the stress reaction and improves blood sugar and digestive function.
- Massage- can relieve muscular tension that contributes to stress.
- Biofeedback and relaxation therapy- Encourages one to become conscious of body reactions. By learning to respond to measurements of muscle tension one can learn to create change of relaxation.
- Chromium-The excess consumption of refined sugars can lead to chromium deficiency and contribute further to hypoglycaemia. The use of chromium in supplement form can improve anxiety or stress related to low blood sugar and reduce the cravings for sweets.
- Vitamin C– Is needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin which can relax smooth muscles
- Calcium & Magnesium– Equal amounts of magnesium and calcium both work to create smooth muscle relaxation
- B5-is utilized in the stress reaction
- B6- Is needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin
- Trytophan– Is converted to serotonin in the body when needed
- EFAs– W-3 FAs- Food sources include flax seeds, wheat germ, fish. The EFAs are used by the body to make prostaglandins which in turn support the conversion to hormones.
- Digestive Enzymes– assist in the breakdown of foods
- Friendly Bacteria– Acidophilus and Digestive Enzymes– to promote digestion and reduce reactions to food sensitivities
- Custom products to support organ systems i.e. thyroid, adrenals, liver19. Homeopathy– Enhances the body’s natural healing and encourages your body’s own ability to heal itself. Treatment works to increase the production of endorphins which are the body’s natural pain killers. Treatment is customized to the source of your stress and digestive discomfort
- Colubrina– over eating or excess, commonly type A personality. Carbo Veg- burping and acidity. Lycopodium-bloating and fear of failure. Gelsenium-stress related to up and coming events or performance. Coffea– stress related to a similar feeling of overindulgence in coffee
Natural Relief from Headaches, Insomnia & Stress: Safe, Effective Herbal Remedies (Paperback)
by David Hoffmann (Author)
Wellness Comment: Introduces one to the common herbals that can be considered for headache support. It is always recommended to consult your Wellness Professional before beginning any treatment plan.
Addendum 1-Checklist to Reduce Stress
This exercise will take about ½ hour of your time and will save you hours of time in the long run. In this exercise you will need your calendar and a small memo pad.
Phase 1 Priorities 1._____Prioritize Your Pillars
- Option A-Write down 5 things that are important to your health and include these in your life first. This includes time for yourself.
- Option B-Take a bristle board, cut out pictures of things that inspire you from magazines and paste on your board. Write down the 5 most important.
From Option A or B Put these in your calendar on a regular cycle.
93% of Adults polled don’t have enough time for fun-yet the average woman has gained 9-11 hours more leisure time per week over the past 40 years, says a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Research shows that 65% of people who said they were very happy and had minimal stress made time for themselves.
2.____Mission Statement– Write down your mission statement of life from these 5 priorities and place it in a nice picture frame where you can readily see it throughout the day. For example … My life mission is to stimulate balance, vitality, empowerment through nature for my friends and family. When someone asks you to stay and work late, you can be reminded that you exercise class is just as important and is your priority to live your life in wellness.
3.____Time Off- Put in your calendar a minimum 1 week vacation every 6 months and mini vacations every 3 months i.e. trip to Nordic Spa, Weekend away
4.____Live your Life Selflessly– For example if I knit a scarf for you and are disappointed that you did not say thank you , who did I knit the scarf for? Exactly for me! Instead perhaps I might bake a cake because I love to bake, then it is not important if I receive thanks as the process itself was what made me happy! In this process learn to accept where people are in their lives and what they can give, not your expectation of what they should do or give.
Phase 2 Simplify
5.____Write Down all the things where you Really Spend Your Time. The key question by Randy Pausch a University Professor whose mission in his last days from pancreatic cancer was to urge everyone to live every moment. Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.
6.____Reduce your list of things to do by outsourcing and allow others to do the things that you are not passionate about and by delegating others you do not enjoy. Once you finish your list challenge yourself by crossing out one more additional item.
7.____Choose Where to Strive for Excellence- Write down 3 things that it is important to give your all. In other areas learn how to ask yourself will this make a life changing difference? For example will it change someone’s life to buy just the right present or is it more important to take the time to be present at the birthday party and give the gift of the memory.
Phase 3 Plan
8.____ Be Proactive versus Reactive- Put in your calendar the items that are in your reduced list of things to do on a regular basis. For example annual raking of leaves to be done the first week of Sept (perhaps make it fun and turn it into a Fall Leaf Raking Party where neighbours can bring a pot luck dish).
9.____Breaks- The optimal amount of time to spend on a task is 40-90 minutes, thus taking a break hourly is most ideal for productivity.
10.____Goal Set- Where do you want to go? How do you get there? Many people say I want to travel the world, but do not lay out a plan on how to get there. For example if you want to travel the world in 5 years you need to plan:
- How much time would be needed? i.e. 8 weeks
- How much money would be needed? i.e. 10,000
Break you needs into daily steps to understand what your daily one needs to be
For example: 5 years is 1825 days. In order to save 10,000. Your daily one is to save 5.48 dollars a day. This is great motivation to pack your lunch or skip your stop at the coffee shop.
11.____Your Daily One-Use a small memo pad and put only 3 items per day, highlighting your most important as your daily one. If you see that in your daily list you put out fires regularly, plan more with regularity the things that need to get done. For example at tax time do you open your shoe box of receipts? If so set up files for each category, so they can be sorted as they come and each Sunday night spend 15 minutes summarizing.
12.____Re-evaluate every Friday– spend ½ hr every Friday evaluating what you did and what you wish to accomplish next week.
Phase 4 Focus
13.____Focus- Schedule your time to do your daily tasks and close your door or put a sign on your chair indicating that you are available after 3pm for example. A 2004 study found that when office workers were interrupted, on average every 3 minutes. The study also found that once interrupted it would take on average 23 minutes for people to get back into the task they were taken away from.
14.____Warm Up- Do a quick brainless task first allowing you to feel a sense of accomplishment first
15.____Tackle the elephants next– Focus on your biggest priority of the day and as you need a break fill in with those tasks that don’t require focus or take less than 5 minutes of your time. For example check email only at noon and at 4pm. For TV watch the show you love then turn off the TV. North American’s spend 2.4 hours a day in front of the tube. By watching one show you are left with an additional 1.5 hours to play a game with your kids.
Phase 5- Humour and Community
16.____Add Humour and a Sense of Community to mundane things that you may not enjoy thoroughly. There is comfort in numbers. For example cleaning out the garage and house may not be the best way you would choose your time. You can however turn this into an annual street garage sale and then street party where everyone brings a potluck meal.
17____.Ask for Help-many people who are stressed have a very difficult time saying no and asking for help. People are much more creative and productive in a team.