While the negative health effects of stress on adults continue to rise, the disease related health conditions to stress continue to rise correspondingly. Stress was meant to be a beneficial experience that helps to keep us vigilant and hard-wearing, persistent stress can trigger inflammation and many degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even cancer. Reducing the burden of stress in our lives is necessary for sustained health. In this article, we will explore the relationship between stress, energy and inflammation.
Stress is an ancient condition of the human, it has existed for millennia, as Jeremiah wrote; “My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly”
(Jer 4:19). King David too pens the problem of stress as he writes; My heart beats wildly, my strength fails, and I am going blind. (Ps 38:10), further in the Psalm we read that the struggles in life are real and stressful such as dealing with sickness, disease and healing.
What happens when you are under stress?
No matter the source of the stress — whether nutritional, emotional, physical or microbial stress activates the production of stress hormones throughout the body. These chemical messengers act on different systems to tell the body to organize and take action through:
Increasing blood pressure
Increasing blood flow rate
Improving mental clarity
Allocating protective energy for fight or flight
How do we produce the stress activating hormones?
Two very powerful and important glands that are attached to the top of the kidneys’ called the adrenal glands are accountable for the body’s hormonal response to stress. The adrenal medulla (internal portion) producing epinephrine also known as adrenaline, a powerful hormone that activates an instantaneous response (fight or flight reaction).
The outer portion of the adrenal gland is known as the adrenal cortex which produces multiple hormones from cholesterol in the vesicles in order to make; Cortisol, cortisone, aldosterone, progesterone, testosterone, estradiol and DHEA. Cortisol and DHEA respond in fight or flight in order to create the short- and long-term stress hormone responses. Chronic stress elevates cortisol levels that will suppresses the immune system, breaks down tissues providing a tearing down effect to allow for smaller molecules to provide energy for survival. Cortisol is balanced by adequate DHEA production to provide a restorative effect and activate immune function. The healthy nourishing of the adrenal glands is key for these fight or flight hormone balance.
How does Stress affect my body?
Our body’s healthy response to elevated stress hormones can become life threatening if not properly addressed. 92% of all doctor visits are stress related either the condition caused further stress or the stress caused the condition we have a serious stress management issue today. Because of this relentless stress that goes unchecked we can experience adrenal gland fatigue and a severe depletion of these protective and balancing hormones, making us more intolerant to further stress and succeptable to disease.
Measuring the effects of Stress
Urine, saliva and blood testing is available for testing hormones and within your own home to offer a measurable cortisol and DHEA level indication to help determine your necessary answers to stress
Cortisol functions as a balance to :
* Increasing blood sugar – especially important in maintaining normal blood sugar levels in
between meals and during times of excess stress.
* Anti-inflammatory in response to trauma and stress.
* Catabolism, (break down process) especially protein catabolism (breakdown).
* Cortisol influences sleep and wake cycles and melatonin balance.
Excess cortisol is released during prolonged stress:
• Suppression of the immune system
• Damage to brain cells, which can lead to dementia (brain fog)
• Disrupted wake/sleep cycles
• Trunkal obesity, with excess fat deposition in the head, chest, and thoracic regions.
• Causes shrinking of lymphatic tissue, diminishes lymphocyte numbers and function, and reduces the immune systems ability to produce antibodies. This immune suppression may lead to increased susceptibility to allergies, arthritis, infections, and even cancer.
Deficient cortisol production is usually the consequence of prolonged stress:
• Chronic inflammation
• Low blood sugar, especially if meals are late or skipped
• Chronic fatigue
• Difficulty getting out of bed, unable to function well in the morning
• Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep
DHEA and its impact in body chemistry:
• Plays important role in energy, stress handling, mood, and immunity
• Works inversely with cortisol and so protects from the harmful effects of excess cortisol in times of excessive stress
• Helps reverse Insulin Resistance
• Improves immunity and may help reverse auto immune disorders
• Increases strength and stamina
• Improves vitality, sense of well-being, and vigor
• Helps decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass
• Lowers triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDLs, and LP(a)
• Inhibits platelet aggregation and blood clots
• Increases bone density
• Normal levels correlate with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
• Lower levels are predictive of heart disease and breast and ovarian cancer in women
• Increases serotonin levels
• Improves REM sleep
• Can be produced in the brain
SYMPTOMS OF DHEA DEFICIENCY
• Debilitating fatigue, chronic fatigue, exhaustion
• Decreased ability to handle stress
• Impaired immunity, possibly autoimmune disorders
• Memory difficulties
• Difficulty recovering from stress or trauma
• Lack of stamina<
• Lowered mood, depression
• Decreased libido
How can I tell if my system is functioning optimally?
Using an at home test kit the cortisol and DHEA hormone levels can be measured with saliva to identify when and how severe the hormonal imbalance may be and what natural approach you can practice to reverse the damaging effects. What can be done if my hormone levels are out of optimal function? Stress reduction practices of chronic stressors will help greatly and most importantly optimizing restful sleep to 7-8 hours waking refreshed and energized.
Any level of adrenal insufficiency to exhaustion will benefit from these many practical lifestyle and dietary practices. Dr. James Wilson encourages in his book “Adrenal Fatigue “the 21st Century Stress Syndrome” Widespread issues of adrenal insufficiency and fatigue call for improved lifestyle factors such as; Diet and Food Hydration Exercise moderation Rest, sleep and refreshing Nutrition and Herbal support Stress reduction tools including moderate exercise and learned relaxation techniques are good ways to naturally replenish adrenal function. Reducing or removing refined sugars and stimulants, and generating a solid focus onto a daily personalized nutrition plan with high-quality dietary supplements will reassure superior restorative vitality to adrenal gland health.
Detailed below are the highly biologically active herbal supplements that have been shown helpful in balancing hormone levels that respond to stress such as cortisol and DHEA. Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) and Phellodendron (Phellodendron amurense) are medicinal plants that have been used for millennia as a supportive therapeutics for anxiety, nervousness and stress.
These herbs have a stabilizing effect, without the sedating and negative side-effects seen with pharmaceutical agents. Synergistically, they have been shown to be more effectual in governing stress/anxiety, than either herb alone, this natural affect is called synergism. This formula has been shown in studies and in our clinical setting since 1994 to help the body to balance cortisol and DHEA levels, perceived stress, fatigue; and reported better temperament and “vitality.”
Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia and works on harmonizing the central nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, stabilizing moods, as well as working as a healthy mood regulator. Rhodiola rosea has action in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, affecting both monoamines (adrenalines, serotonin, dopamine, etc.) and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins in the body.
In addition, rhodiola rosea modulates cortisol production in times of physical or emotional stress. A term for this balancing effect is “adaptogenic” – meaning the compound helps restore the body to homeostasis. ProsperNutrition™ has a unique combination of Rhodiola (Rosavins), Magnolia and Phellodendron extracts, in their most active, safe and effective forms. In this advanced synergistic formulation, the plant extracts are micellized into perilla oil, and Medium Chain Triglycerides to achieve maximum absorption and efficacy in supporting a healthier balance of adrenal hormones.
In a six-week community assessment of people with signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue, participants taking Stress and Energy Essential, a novel formulation combining Rhodiola (Rosavins), Magnolia and Phellodendron, saw substantial improvement in cortisol levels. In the assessment, 24 people with clinical signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue were given pre- and post-evaluations of free cortisol and DHEA levels using non-invasive, saliva samples known to correlate with free blood (plasma) hormone levels.
It was found that after just six weeks of supplementation with Stress and Energy Essential first morning cortisol levels significantly increased from a depressed value of 6.7 ng/mL to a much healthier 8.1ng/mL, and normal cortisol rhythm was restored. In a small number of cases with abnormally high morning cortisol, six weeks of supplementation resulted in a lowering to more normal levels.
Stress Bundle Components
Magnesium Power+ delivers magnesium in fully soluble, fully ionized alkaline salts, ready to buffer the body against the damaging is a buffering mineral used by the body to neutralize acids and activate cell transport of glucose for proper energy Production and a key component of the stress and energy bundle.
The stress hormone producing adrenal glands store more Vitamin C than any other gland and the quality of this nutrient is key for cell energy, Vitamin C Max provides an important role in stress and energy.
Sleep & Calm Essential uses L-tryptophan − and synergistic ingredients − in their most beneficial, safe and natural forms. By contrast, many sleep supplements use 5-HTP, a downstream metabolite of tryptophan. While both 5 HTP and tryptophan cross the blood brain barrier and convert to serotonin and melatonin, tryptophan is safer, healthier and has a sustained effect.
The body can also transform tryptophan into other helpful compounds within the body, like niacin which is helpful in maintaining healthy sleep cycles.* B12 Energy provides the final product of our stress bundle to substantial nutritional support for biological stress responses and used in the body.