Monday, March 28, 2016

Stress...a Journey step

The Nervous System is made up of the brain, spinal column, and nerve tissues. It is the control room and communication channel for our bodies. It can be thought of in 2
complementary and overlapping spheres: the Central nervous system (CNS), and the Peripheral nervous system (PNS).

The PNS has been called the “feed and breed” system—generally pertaining to metabolic and hormonal processes such as digestion and reproduction among others.

The CNS is often known as the “fight or flight” system—mainly concerned with the hormones and processes needed for physical survival.

Stress is severely detrimental to the nervous system because of this close link with hormones and how widespread hormonal imbalances can quickly cause havoc.

Maslow’s hierarchy is a social/psychological theory which states that human needs build on each other starting with the most basic survival needs and progressing toward self-actualization and fulfillment. In a very real way, I believe our bodies operate on a similar hierarchy of needs. If a person is ‘locked in Fight or Flight’, their body will be constantly attempting to optimize hormonal and metabolic processes toward survival. Higher order processes, like reproduction and healing, are simply distracting when the body thinks it’s constantly under the gun.

Why is this? Cortisol is finding more and more support as the culprit. Cortisol has the following normal roles:
  • Glucose and Insulin metabolism
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Immune function
  • Inflammatory response
In a normal person, Cortisol and Adrenaline are released by the Adrenal glands into the
blood stream to amp the body up for ‘Fight or Flight’. Once the threat is over, the Pituitary gland releases hormones that ‘shut off’ the ‘go time’ hormones. For many people however, there is no off switch. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in military and civilian first responder communities has raised public awareness sharply about the real physical dangers associated with stress. But it’s important to know that PTSD can occur in anyone. We are all different, and we all cope with stress in different ways. If a group is involved in a traumatic event, it is likely some will have a higher stress reaction than others, while some may not have any long term effects.

Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with PTSD) have been shown to have negative effects, such as:
  • Destroying muscle and bone
  • Slow down healing and normal cell regeneration
  • Co-opt biochemicals needed to make other vital hormones
  • Impair 
            • digestion
            • metabolism
            • mental function
          • interfere with healthy endocrine function
          • weaken your immune system. (2)

The recent uptrend in anxiety and depression/ psychiatric prescriptions shows that Americans, in general, are not able to deal with their stress. Over the period of 2001 to 2010, as many as 1 in 4 Americans took drugs for these conditions.(1)

What are some healthy alternatives?

According to the US National Library of Medicine, essential oils can be a safe and effective way to improve stress and anxiety because of their direct impact on the Limbic system of the brain. (3)

Other factors we talk about frequently:

  • Hydration—1/2 your body weight in ounces per day of the best quality water you can get.
  • Balance Ph—optimal chemical message transmission happens in the optimal Ph range.
  • Cleanse—support the elimination of wastes, not the retention of them. You’ll get the added bonus of better absorption of the food and supplements you take in.
  • Support—the immune and nervous systems with herbal, mineral, glandular, and sleep supporting supplements.
  • Exercise—use the body you were given in whatever way is fun and sustainable for you.
  • Find your ‘therapy’—what gives you creative and productive outlet: music, cooking, woodworking, hunting, fishing, arts and crafts, pets, farming/gardening, rock climbing, hiking, etc. Whatever it is, try to ensure it is a ‘lifetime’ activity, meaning you can enjoy doing it for decades to come.




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