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Stress Management

Stress is any physical or emotional strain on the body or mind. Physical stress occurs when an external natural change or force acts upon the body. Extreme heat, cold, or activity, injuries, malnutrition, and exposure to drugs and poisons are examples of physical stress. Emotional stress may be result of fear, hate, love, anger, tension., grief, joy, frustration, and/or anxiety.

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An Overlap Between Physical and Emotional Stress

Physical and emotional stress can overlap, as in special body conditions like pregnancy, adolescence, and aging. During these times, body metabolism is increased or lowered, changing the body’s physical functions, which in turn affect the person’s mental and emotional outlook on life.

A certain amount of stress is useful as a motivating factor, but when it occurs in excess or is of the wrong kind, the effect can be detrimental.

Society today is high energy and high tech and stress is ever present. Love, life, finances, working, raising a family, violence, commuting, and computers are all areas of known daily stress that have negative effects on the body.

Symptoms of Stress

Symptoms of stress may include high blood pressure, neck and backaches, dizziness, diarrhoea, tearfulness, fatigue, insomnia, lack of concentration, sexual problems, irritability, and loss of appetite or overeating. Frequent illness due to an immune system that is overworked is common.

Stress and Adrenal Hormones

The metabolic response of the body to either physical or emotional stress is to produce more adrenal hormones. These adrenal hormones are secreted by glands that lie above the kidneys.

When released into the blood, these hormones prepare the body for action by increasing blood pressure and heartbeat and by making extra energy available. These body responses are useful when physical action is needed, as in the fight-or-flight dilemma, but in our modern civilisation there is usually little physical outlet for the overload.

The body must react to stress by channelling the body’s responses inward to one of the organ systems, such as the digestive, circulatory, or nervous system. When this happens, the system reacts adversely, and conditions such as ulcers, hypertension, backache, atherosclerosis, allergic reactions, asthma, fatigue, and insomnia often develop.

Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety; a fearful or distressful feeling, is responsible for the stress of many individuals. Anything that threatens a person’s body, job, loved ones, or values may cause anxiety. If the person cannot cope with the situation, stress on the body is increased, resulting in many of the disorders associated with stress. Change in attitude or lifestyle may be necessary to eliminate the needless strain and allow the body to resume normal functioning.  Some people manage to create stress even if there isn’t any. Long-term stress cause the body to break down.

Nutraceuticals can help with stress

The increase in the production of adrenal hormones increases the metabolism of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, producing instant energy for the body to use. As a result of this increased metabolism, there is also an increased metabolism, there is also an increased excretion of protein, potassium, and phosphorus and a decreased storage of calcium.

Increasing DHEA levels can help relieve stress. DHEA is a prescription only medicine in New Zealand, however you can purchase 7 Keto DHEA.

B-complex vitamins (especially B5) are needed for the nervous system. Vitamin B5 is considered essential for proper adrenal function. There is a close correlation between pantothenic acid tissue levels and the functioning of the adrenal cortex. It stimulates the adrenal glands hormones important for healthy skin and nerves. 

L-Tyrosine taken before a stressful circumstance can act as a stress reliever. Tyrosine is important for the production of adrenal hormones. 

Superior Magnesium - Magnesium is vital for those under extra stress.  This buffering mineral is used in very high amounts in stressful situations.  Superior Magnesium provides a reverse ratio magnesium to calcium formulation, with 2 parts magnesium to 1 part calcium. 

Many of the disorders related to stress are a direct result not of the stress itself, but of nutrient deficiencies caused by increased metabolic rate during periods of stress. For example, vitamin C is utilised by the adrenal gland during stressful conditions, and any stress that is sufficiently severe or prolonged will cause a depletion of vitamin C in the tissues.

Stress and your diet ie The foods you eat

People experiencing stress need to maintain a nutritious, well-balanced diet with special emphasis on replacing the nutrients that may be depleted during stress, as well as containing a good amount of protein.

Eliminating rapidly absorbed carbohydrates & sugars is vital. This includes sweets, cakes, junk food and biscuits and foods made from white flour. Eating these causes a sudden rise in blood sugar, with a subsequent sudden drop.

Small meals that are correctly combined, as well as small snacks of nuts (almonds) between meals, is advisable. This will help to prevent the drop in the blood sugar levels, which occur two to three hours after eating.

A protein deficient diet, with emphasis on simple carbohydrates, especially refined sugars, depletes adrenal function and fails to restore adequate nutritional support to these glands. Whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and enough protein to sustain cellular rejuvenation are recommended. Honey and all carbohydrates (pasta, potatoes, beans, bread, and cereal) have a calming effect on the brain, with the effect being stronger with age. Liquids work more quickly. Onions induce relaxation and drowsiness.

Refined and junk food creates stress on the system, as do refined sugar and flours. Dairy foods may be an allergen.

Caffeine may trigger panic and anxiety disorders. Alcohol should not be used to handle stress because it can cause panic attack in some people in the 12-hour withdrawal period after drinking in any amount.  Both need to be considered to be the enemy of those who have stress and adrenal problems.

Other aspects for stress management

Other aspects of stress management are exercise, relaxation techniques like meditation and self-hypnosis, listening to music, talking with friends, hot baths, biofeedback, massage, yoga, prayer, and in serious situations, consulting with a professional.

High stress levels have been associated with a greater tendency to choose less healthy and more passive ways of relieving stress like eating, drinking, and watching TV.

Nutrients and herbal support for stress includes;

B Complex – supplies much needed B vitamins, especially B5 as a precursor to cortisol production.
Calcium/Magnesium - needed for adrenal function, and for stress relief through the neurological axis. Helps to produce a more soothed and relaxed feeling to the nervous system.
Superior Magnesium - A reverse ratio magnesium supplement, to help switch an over active brain off
Adrenal Formula – herbal support for the adrenals through the adaptogenic herbs. 100% herbal
Adrenal Support - A combination of nutrients, herbs and adrenal gland, from NZ bovine
L- Theanine - An amino acid that can help to calm the jitters.
Stress and Anxiety Relief - Contains the Alpha-casozepine enriched hydrolysed milk protein LactiumPURE, which can help with stress and anxiety, agitation and feeling uptight.
St Johns Wort - St Johns wort has been clinically trialled and has been shown to help with mild to moderate anxiety.  Herbalists consider it a nerve tonic. 
Stresscare - A NZ formulated herbal product, containing withania and Melissa, to help with stress.  Also contains B Vitamins.
Ginseng 5 Exhaustion Relief - A combination of 5 of the most well known ginsengs: Korean, Siberian, Chinese, Indian, and American, that help your body to cope with stress more effectively.

If you are working with a practitioner you could get your salivary cortisol levels tested.  We offer the Stress Profile Plus test kit.  With this test kit you can have cortisol tested at 4 times during the day and evening.  You must be working with a practitioner to use this kit, who can analyse the results for you and work with you to correct any imbalance.  There are extra costs for these tests, charged by Aquarian Industries, once the test has been received by the 

Some more important points about stress

A balanced diet high in raw vegetables and fruits, grains, seeds, nuts and complex carbohydrates (potatoes/pasta).  Choose good quality protein at each main meal, to help to stabilise blood sugar levels.
Avoid alcohol, coffee, red meat, white flour, sugar and tobacco, these anti-nutrients deplete valuable stress nutrients.
Get a hobby or interest, keep yourself busy and focused on important issues.

A food intolerance can also cause symptoms of stress.  With this Food Sensitivity test you can have 96 common foods tested, to see if you react to them.  You can also have a 24 spice and 24 herbal profile taken with this test kit, as well as 16 common inhalant panel. There are extra costs for these tests.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

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