Effects of stress and stress relief

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by Clark Hansen, N.M.D.

azfamily.com

Posted on July 17, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 21 at 12:46 PM

Natural Stress Relief Stress seems synonymous with life in the 21st century. Who doesn't feel rushed, pressured, hurried, anxious, or worried about deadlines, commitments, work, finances, or relationships. Whether from a charging lion, or a pending deadline, the stress response is the same. It stimulates the release of Cortisol, Adrenaline, Norepinephrine, Dopamine, DHEA, Growth Hormone, and several other powerful hormones that nature designed to help you adapt to the stress.

Natural stress relief

Effects of stress and stress relief - Stress seems synonymous with life in the 21st century. Who doesn't feel rushed, pressured, hurried, anxious, or worried about deadlines, commitments, work, finances, or relationships. As Dr. Clark Hansen explains, whether from a charging lion, or a pending deadline, the stress response is the same. It stimulates the release of Cortisol, Adrenaline, Norepinephrine, Dopamine, DHEA, Growth Hormone, and several other powerful hormones that nature designed to help you adapt to the stress.

Adrenaline gives you the strength and speed to fight or flee from impending danger. It raises your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure, tenses your muscles, boosts your mental processing and speeds up your nervous system reaction time so that you can quickly get out of harm's way. This rush of hormones has probably saved your life while driving, but when released too frequently due to the constant barrage of modern life stresses it can cause serious health problems.

Lasting Effects of Stress Even relatively short periods of stress may cause changes that leave brain cells hypersensitive for weeks, according to new research to uncover the molecular root of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Stress hormones can make you more alert and your muscles and nerves primed for action, but, chronic, cumulative or traumatic stress may cause long-lasting harmful effects. (Science 2002 Jan 18; 295(5554):508-12)

When Adrenaline is high, the calming neurohormones Serotonin and GABA are lowered. Your nervous system can't be on high alert and calm at the same time. As the immediate threat of danger passes your Serotonin and GABA levels are once again raised to inhibit the stress hormones, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles and calm your nerves. If, however, your stress is unresolved and unrelenting the constant flow of stress hormones over a prolonged period of time will increase your risk of ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, insomnia, anxiety, depression, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

On-the-Job Stress Causes Heart Attacks Regardless of the occupation, researchers have found that workers who reported high job stress - defined as too much work as well as a lack of satisfaction and feeling undervalued and unappreciated - were 2.2 times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than workers with low job stress. (British Medical Journal 2002;325:857-860)

Marriage Stress Among couples who seem the most hostile during discussions of marital troubles, three stress hormones - Adrenalin, Norepinephrine and Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH) - rise considerably in their blood. These three stress hormones have been shown to be consistently and significantly elevated in couples who later divorced. These hormones cause high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess stomach acid and decreased nutrient absorption. The elevated hormone levels didn't just appear in the blood drawn during the discussion of marital problems. It was also found in samples taken days later, even in samples drawn while the participants were asleep. (Psychol Bull 2001 Jul; 127(4):472-503)

Stress Raises Risk of Catching a Cold and Cancer According to recent research, psychological stress, particularly the chronic type, is a risk factor for more frequent or longer lasting infections. Psychological stress can take a toll on the immune system by raising stress hormones that suppress the immune system, including immune cells that help to ward off infections and cancer. (Epidemiology 2001;11:345-349)

Testing your Stress Hormones is done by taking a non-invasive urine sample to evaluate your key neurohormones including the calming neurohormones Serotonin and GABA as well as the excitatory neurohormones Epinephrine, Norepinephrine and Dopamine. These five key neurohormones maintain the body's balance of mood and focus. Chronic stress can deplete Serotonin and GABA, the calming neurohormones and raise your excitatory neurohormones leading to anxiety, high blood pressure, ulcers, depression and more.

Treating Stress

Don't Do Drugs like benzodiazepines work by reducing brain activity. This leads to side effects beyond anxiety relief. The higher the dose, the more pronounced these side effects typically are. But some people feel sleepy, foggy, and uncoordinated even on low doses of benzodiazepines.

Common Side-Effects of Anti-Anxiety Drugs: Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin

Drowsiness, lack of energy Clumsiness, slow reflexes Slurred speech Confusion and disorientation Depression Dizziness, lightheadedness Impaired thinking and judgement Memory loss, forgetfulness Nausea, stomach upset Blurred or double vision

These drugs are also associated with depression. Long-term users of these benzodiazepine drugs are often depressed, and higher doses are believed to increase the risk of both depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, benzodiazepines can cause emotional blunting or numbness. The medication relieves the anxiety, but it also blocks feelings of pleasure or pain.

Antidepressant Suicide Risk The antidepressants most widely prescribed for anxiety are the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). The SSRIs include drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa. The SSRIs have been used to treat panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

All antidepressants are required by the FDA to carry a warning about the risk of suicidal thoughts, hostility, and agitation. There is also the risk that antidepressants will cause an increase, rather than a decrease, in depression and anxiety.

Common side effects of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa:

Nausea Nervousness Headaches Sleepiness Sexual dysfunction Dizziness Stomach upset Weight gain

Natural Alternatives to Anti-Anxiety and Anti-Depressant Drugs

Vitamins, Minerals and Amino Acids Counter Stress To fight stress you need to make sure your brain has all of the essential vitamin, mineral, and amino acid building blocks that it needs to make the calming neurohormones Serotonin and GABA. You need L-Tryptophan, 5HTP, Magnesium and B Vitamins, especially B6 to make Serotonin. You get L-Tryptophan from eating plenty of whole grains, so avoid low-carb and no-carb diets.

The fastest way to get more Serotonin is to take 5HTP as a readily available supplement from the Griffonia Seed. 5HTP is the immediate precursor of Serotonin that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier where it can be easily converted into storable Serotonin for later use as needed. Eating more cold water fish that are high in omega-3 oils has also been shown to increase the brain's production of Serotonin.

The best way to build up your reserves of the calming neurohormone GABA is to take the amino acids known as Taurine and Phenyl GABA (4-phenyl 3-amino butyric acid). Phenyl GABA is the only form of GABA that is effectively gets across the blood brain barrier to get into the neurons to counter high levels of stress hormones.

Herbs for Stress To help stop stress fast Dr. Hansen formulated for his stressed out patients. It is a unique, herbal formula designed to help provide nutritional support for the mental and physical effects of stress. The ingredients in Tranquil Clarity have been shown to help calm the senses, increase mental acuity, stabilize mood, enhance physical stamina, and reduce physical and mental fatigue.

Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) Kava Kava has been shown to help relieve stress and anxiety while increasing alertness and memory. In a double-blind clinical trial, individuals taking a Kava extract for anxiety showed a significant reduction in symptoms, including nervousness, heart palpitations, chest pains, headache, dizziness, and feelings of upset stomach, without any reported side-effects. In women with menopause related symptoms, Kava was shown to reduce anxiety, aid sleep, improve subjective sense of well being & mood and even reduce hot flashes. Kava kava has been shown to possess muscle relaxing and pain relieving properties. It is free of side effects, non-addictive, and it does not create a "tolerance," or lose its effectiveness over time.

Panax Ginseng Panax Ginseng has been used in China for more than 4,000 years. It is believed by the Chinese that the root builds physical endurance, mental alertness, harmonious balance and overall well-being. Panax Ginseng has been found to improve performance and endurance in physical tasks, reduce fatigue, increase mental alertness, enhance the ability to cope with both physical and mental stress, promote the secretion of endorphins and enkephalins, stimulate interferon production and natural killer cell activity, and assist in the removal of toxins from the liver.

Chinese Thoroughwax ( Bupleurum Chinese) Chinese Thoroughwax possesses a mild sedative and pain relieving effect, as well as the ability to enhance adrenal function. Bupleurum has been shown to raise the level of beta-endorphin (the "feel good" hormone associated with runner's high) and reduce the levels of the excitatory neurohormones dopamine and epinephrine, which can cause anxiety when too high. Bupleurum also increases the functional ability of the adrenal glands to respond to stress, possesses significant anti-inflammatory action, lowers cholesterol and improves liver function.

Herbs for Stress with Depression To help balance the brain neurochemicals that enhance mood and energy Dr. Hansen formulated for his patients. The ingredients in this herbal combination have been shown to increase mental alertness, enhance mood, reduce fatigue, and enhance the ability to cope with physical and mental stress.

Hypericum perforatum ( St. John's Wort) has been shown in over 25 double-blind studies to provide effective anti-depressant activity. St. John's Wort has been shown to inhibit the re-uptake of Serotonin similar in fashion to the drugs Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, but without the side effects.

St. John's Wort standardized extract has also shown the ability to reduce interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels, that are thought to activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, leading to depression. While antidepressant drugs often interfere with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and reduce sleep quality, St. John's Wort actually improves sleep quality and sense of well being.

Ginkgo biloba is known for its ability to improve blood flow to the brain and extremities. It has been shown to lower Norepinephrine and Dopamine levels and to raise Serotonin and Cortisol levels to normal levels. Ginkgo has also been shown to increase the number of Serotonin receptor binding sites in the brain, normalize the brain's acetylcholine receptors and increase cholinergic transmission in the brain. It is known to produce significant improvements in mental alertness and enhance mood.

Panax Ginseng has been shown to improve performance and endurance in physical tasks, reduce fatigue, increase mental alertness, enhance the ability to cope with both physical and mental stress, promote the secretion of endorphins and enkephalins, stimulate interferon production and natural killer cell activity, and assist in the removal of toxins from the liver.

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