Stress Reduction

Do you feel continually stressed out, tense, anxious?

Stress Reduction Seminars and/or private sessions with Laurie Lynch, ND, CHt. allow you to experience the pleasant, calm
of being guided through relaxation/stress reduction techniques, and you learn to do these techniques for your self. 
You learn
about stress, symptoms of stress, our body's coping mechanisms, what causes these coping mechanisms to malfunction, and how to nourish these coping mechanisms
 so they can heal themselves and appropriately handle stressful situations. The following article can offer a better understanding about stress.

 

Controlling Stresses in Your Life
by Laurie Lynch, ND, CHt.

 What is stress?
Stress, according to Webster's Dictionary, is mental, emotional or physical tension, strain or distress.  Stress is the "wear and tear" our bodies experience as we adjust
 to changes. Stress is also referred to as aanxiety, depression, tension, feeling uptight, jitters, or apprehension. Stress can be either beneficial and strengthening or
harmful and health damaging.

Good Stress:
Occasional challenges, both physical and psychological, are not unhealthy for most people. Occasional challenging projects, arguments, difficulties with children,
difficulties at work/school, etc. are a normal part of life. These types of stresses are normal and can actually be strengthening.  "Short-term stressors boost the immune
 system." It seems that the "fight or flight" response prompts the immune system to ready itself for infections resulting from bites, punctures, scrapes or other challenges
 to the integrity of the body"
(Segerstrom & Miller, 2004).

Bad Stress:
 "Research now shows that such long-term activation of the stress system can have a hazardous, even lethal effect on the body, increasing risk of obesity, heart disease
depression, and a variety of other illnesses"
(Dr. Chrousos). "Chronic, long-term stress suppresses the immune system", and can damage glands and organs.  "The
longer the stress, the more the immune system shifted from potentially adaptive changes (such as those in the acute "fight or flight" response) to potentially detrimental
changes.... This analysis suggests that stressors that turn a person's world upside down and appear to offer no hope for the future probably have the greatest
psychological and physiological impact"
(Segerstrom).

What are the symptoms of stress?

  • Psychological/behavioral symptoms of stress include:
    *    Feeling and behaving in a rushed way.
    *    Regularly focusing and worrying about the past or future.
    *    Feeling overburdened with responsibility.
    *    Feeling depressed, agitated, irritable, "on edge."
    *   Chronic insomnia, fatigue, or nightmares
    *   
    Decreased ability to concentrate
    *    Needing outside stimulation to feel good, such as caffeine, sweeteners, junk food, sex, TV, alcohol, money, accomplishments, etc.                                                              

  • Physiological symptoms of stress could include:
    *  Dizziness,
    *  Rapid or irregular heart beat,
    *  Rapid breathing,
    *  Twitching, trembling,
    *  D
    iarrhea,
    *  Frequent urination,
    *  Sexual problems,
    *  S
    weating,
    *  Frequent physical tension especially in the neck, face, shoulders, back, chest, and/or  
    abdomen. 

What is the body's response to stress?
The Immune System is affected by acute stressors, a bear, for example.  "The effect ...is similar to marshaling a defensive line of soldiers to potentially critical areas.
The steroid hormones dampen parts of the immune system, so that specific infection fighters (including important white blood cells) or other immune molecules can be
redistributed. These immune-boosting troops are sent to the body's front lines where injury or infection is most likely, such as the skin, the bone marrow, and the
lymph nodes"
(American Accreditation HealthCare Commission).

  •  The Brain responds to acute stress when "signaling molecules from the immune system ...activate the part of the brain that controls the stress response, the
    hypothalamus. Through a cascade of hormones released from the pituitary and adrenal glands, the hypothalamus causes blood levels of the hormone cortisol to
     rise. Cortisol is the major steroid hormone produced by our bodies to help us get through stressful situations" (Sternberg)"Cortisol stimulates the heart, lungs,
    circulation, metabolism, immune systems, and skin to deal quickly with the stressor (bear).  The brain also releases certain neurotransmitters (chemical
    messengers) ... (that) activate an area inside the brain ... which apparently triggers an emotional response to a stressful event, such as fear, and inhibits short-
    term memory, concentration, inhibition, and rational thought. This allows a person to react quickly to the bear, either to fight or to flee from it" (American Accreditation HealthCare Commission).
     
  •  The Heart, Lungs, and Circulation are also affected by the stress:
    *   "As the bear comes closer, the heart rate and blood pressure increase instantaneously.
    *    Breathing becomes rapid and the lungs take in more oxygen.
    *    The spleen discharges red and white blood cells, allowing the blood to transport more oxygen throughout the body. Blood flow may actually increase
     300% to 400%, priming the muscles, lungs, and brain for added demands"
    (American Accreditation HealthCare Commission).
     
  •  The Mouth and Throat respond to stressors by diverting fluids from nonessential areas, causing dry mouth, muscle spasms in the throat, difficulty speaking,
    and swallowing.
     
  •  The Skin is affected when the stress response "diverts blood flow away from the skin to support the heart and muscle tissues. (This also reduces blood loss
    in the event that the bear catches up.) The physical effect is a cool, clammy, sweaty skin. The scalp also tightens so that the hair seems to stand up"
    (American
    Accreditation HealthCare Commission).
     
  •  The Digestive System shuts down during acute stress to free energy used for digestion to be used in dealing with the stressor until the crisis is over.

Once the threat has passed the relaxation response is activated and the stress hormones return to normal and the body's systems normalize without causing permanent
damage. 

What are the causes of stress?

  •  Circumstantial stressors such as tests, job interviews, loss of a loved one, arguments, etc.  These causes of stress are usually dealt with by the body's
    coping mechanisms, if the body is healthy and functioning properly. 

  • Physical causes of stress:
    *    Illness, injury, a traumatic event, or over work can weaken the body so that it cannot effectively handle stressful situations.
    *   "
    Health conditions like an overactive thyroid, low blood sugar, or heart attack can also cause stress"
    (Dr. Ballas) When the major components of the
    body's coping mechanism, such as the adrenal gland and/or the various glands in the brain, are weak or not functioning properly, then one can feel "stressed
    out" over even minor stressors or nothing at all, and the glands and organs that deal with stress can be further weakened, causing even more stress reactions.
    *   
    Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine all damage the adrenal, pancreas, liver, nervous system, and the brain, consequently increasing stress.
    *   
    Junk food, fried foods, and foods containing sugar, white flour, and other denatured substances also damage the liver, adrenal, pancreas and brain.  
    These "comfort foods" appear to relieve the stress at first, but then magnify the stress.
    *   
    Malnutrition, especially Vitamin B complex, and B12 deficiency, greatly contributes to the weakening of these coping mechanisms and the immune system.
    *   
    Fungal infection, whether caused by molds or by drugs such as antibiotics, anesthesia, hormone-type drugs, or by antibacterial cleaning agents, can infect
     any part of the body, nervous system, and/or brain. This is one of the most common causes of chronic stress, and a major underlying cause of most illnesses.               
    *  
    Man-made chemicals can damage these coping mechanism components and cause or magnify a stress reaction.

These chemicals include:

  • MSG, a flavor enhancer found in many processed and restaurant foods, damages the brain.  "MSG, like L-cysteine and aspartame, are excitotoxins,
    chemical transmitters that allow brain cells to communicate, as described in Dr. Russell's Blaylock's book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Excitotoxins are
    exactly what they sound like: Toxins like MSG that excite your brain cells to DEATH!"
    (Dr. Mercola).

  • Artificial sweeteners containing Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, etc) actually damage the brain, especially when combined with caffeine in diet sodas

  • Other food additives, such as preservatives and food coloring agents, create a chemical imbalance and can damage the various coping mechanism
    components.

  • "Certain drugs, both recreational and medicinal, can lead to symptoms of anxiety due to either side effects or withdrawal from the drug. Such drugs include ...
    cold remedies, decongestants, bronchodilators for asthma, tricyclic antidepressants, cocaine, amphetamines, diet pills, ADHD medications, and thyroid
    medications"
    (Dr.Ballas), vaccinations, and morphine and other opiates.    These drugs damage the liver, adrenal, and often brain cells. Drugs often prescribed
    for stress, anxiety, and depression can actually increase the stress reaction to the point of suicide and violence.
     
  • "Vaccination is known to cause encephalitis" (inflammation in the brain) which can cause brain damage, stress overload, violence and criminal behavior
    (Coulter, PhD, 1990).
     
  • Paint fumes, especially wood stains and poly-urethane, and marking pens, can damage the liver, adrenal, brain, and immune system.
     
  •  Agricultural chemicals, especially pesticides and herbicides, can also damage coping mechanism components causing chronic stress, sometimes to the point
     of violence.  

 What is the medical approach to stress treatment and its harmful side effects?                                                                  
 The most common anti- stress, anti-anxiety medication are benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and buspirone.

  • The harmful side effects of benzodiazepines  could include drowsiness, lethargy, fatigue, speech problems, constipation, and changes in appetite with
    resultant changes in weight,
    increase in the risk of falls and hip fracture, impaired blood pressure regulation, dizziness, loss of balance, disorientation, cognitive
    impairment, muscle spasm, rage, confusion, memory loss and pseudo dementia, incontinence, emotional changes, depression, respiratory problems, increased
    risk of accidents, short lived therapeutic effect, and insomnia. Benzodiazepines include:  Alprazolam (brand name - Xanax or Kalma), Bromazepam (Lexotan),
    Clobazam (Frisium), Clonazepam (Rivotril), Diazepam (Valium, Ducene or Antenex), Flunitrazepam (Hypnodorm or Rohypnol), Lorazepam (Ativan),
    Nitrazepam (Mogadon or Alodorm), Oxazepam (Serepax, Murelax or Alepam), Temazepam (Euhypnos, Nocturne, Normison, Temaze or Temtabs), and
    Triazolam (Halcion).  Benzodiazepines can cause physical dependence.  "Suddenly stopping therapy (when) taken...longer than a few months, ...may produce
    seizures, tremors, muscle cramping, vomiting, and/or sweating." (
    http://www.medicinenet.com/lorazepam/article.htm)  These drugs are often abused or misused. 
  •  The harmful side effects of buspirone could include allergic reactions such as hives, closing of the throat, difficulty breathing, swelling of face, eyes, tongue,
    lips; headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, slurred speech, confusion; numbness or tingling, or uncontrollable movement of extremities; chest pain,
    irregular heart beat, drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth, night mares, depression, all of which can increase stress
    (http://www.medicinenet.com/lorazepam/article.htm) .
  •  Antidepressants are also often prescribed for stress, however, studies have shown a link with suicidal behavior and violence, and warning labels were placed on all
    antidepressants.
    Other side effects of antidepressants include; agitation, anxiety, blurred vision, constipation, dizziness,  drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, increased
    appetite, insomnia, nausea,
    restlessness,  sexual side effects, and weight gain.
    (Mayo Clinic). These drugs include; Bupropion (Wellbutrin),  Citalopram (Celexa),
    Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), Mirtazapine (Remeron), Nefazodone (Serzone),  Paroxetine (Paxil),  Sertraline (Zoloft), and
    Venlafaxine (Effexor).
    (Health Central,, 2005).

What is the safe, natural alternative approach to eliminating negative stress reactions?
"The type of strategy which tends to work is the combination of gradually and gently trying to change one's habits plus regular practices or situations which help put
the body in a relaxed state. Both types of strategies are important in promoting stress reduction"
(http://www.holisticmed.com/stressfree.html).  "Relaxation techniques
 are commonly used to reduce stress. Most are easy to learn. To get good at them, you have to practice"
(Aetna, 2005).

  • Stress-Reduction Techniques
    * Progressive Muscle Relaxation "Progressive relaxation of your muscles reduces pulse rate and blood pressure as well as decreasing perspiration and
    respiration rates. Deep muscle relaxation can be used as an anti-anxiety pill. The body responds to anxiety-producing thoughts and events with muscle tension
    which in turn increases the anxiety. Muscle relaxation reduces tension and is incompatible with anxiety" (Counceling Center).   
    * Slow, Relaxed Deep Breathing Exercises    
    * Visualization    
    * Deflate The Danger Of Your Fears
    * Remove Stressors
    * Manage Your Time
    * Exercise A long leisurely walk is extremely helpful, as is Yoga, Tai-Chi, dancing, or anything that is not too strenuous. 
    Studies show "that exercise... seems
     to be at least as effective as standard antidepressant medications in reducing symptoms in patients with major depression.  Just ten months of regular,
    moderate exercise outperformed a leading antidepressant (Zoloft) in easing symptoms ... (of) depression" (Blumenthal, 2005) .

    * Socialize
    Meditate -   Harvard's Herbert  Benson, M.D developed a  type of meditation that creates relaxation and reduces stress, and can reduce heart rate, blood
    pressure and oxygen consumption.  "Sit somewhere comfortable, close your eyes and relax your muscles. Focus on breathing regularly. Continuously repeat
    one word. Repeat it aloud or in your mind. It should be a simple word, such as "relax" or "easy," a religious word or phrase... Continue regular breathing with
    your muscles relaxed."  The more you practice the better at it you become.
    The Right Nutritional Supplements -  "Adrenaline is a defense hormone against all forms of stress. Thus often the nutritional treatment ...must include nutrients
     to restore the exhausted adrenal glands" (Plesman).
    Maintain A Healthy Diet.  Learn what foods help eliminate harmful stress. Learn how to kill infections with safe herbs.
     
  • In a Wellness Consultation with Laurie Lynch, N.D., you can be guided through the above stress reduction techniques and learn how to do them yourself; 
    You can learn the underlying causes of your unique stress condition, how to eat to help relieve stress, and learn what glands and organs are weak, and how to
    nourish them back to health with safe natural foods and herbs.

Laurie Lynch is a Naturopathic Doctor, Wellness Consultant, Nutrition Expert, Master Herbalist, Master Iridologist, Certified
Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner, and Time Line Therapists. Dr. Lynch can be reached at the Living Well Health Center,
(910) 426-5159

References:

(1)"  George Chrousos, M.D., 2002, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and Philip Gold, MD, National Institute of Mental Health
(NIMH), http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/sep2002/nichd-09.htm
(2) Segerstrom & Miller, 2004. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry Psychological Bulletin, 130, 4. http://mentalhealth.about.com/od/stress/
(3)  Christos Ballas, M.D., Psychiatrist,  VeriMed Healthcare Network, 2005, Stress and Anxiety, A.D.A.M., Inc., 
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003211.htm
(4) 
American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program
(5)  Kate E. Blatchford, BPsychol, Keri Diamond, BPsychol, Frederick Westbrook, DPhil, and Gavan P. McNally, PhD; 'Increased Vulnerability to Stress Following
Opiate Exposures: Behavioral and Autonomic Correlates;' University of New South Wales; Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol. 119, No. 4.
http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/bne11941034.pdf)
(6) Dr. Sternburg, quoted by Harrison Wein, Ph.D., 2000, Stress and Disease: New Perspectives, NIH Word on Health,
http://www.nih.gov/news/WordonHealth/oct2000/story01.htm
(8)  The Counseling Center for Human Development, 2002, University of South Florida, 
(9)  Aetna Intelihealth, and Harvard Medical School, http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/24602/24639/289016.html?d=dmtContent
(10)  Dr. Mercola, 2006, MSG is Why You Want to Avoid McDonald's Like the plague, http://www.mercola.com/2006/may/11/msg_is_why_you_want_to_avoid_mcdonalds_like_the_plague                                                                                                                                  (11)  Childhood Vaccines Exceed Federal Guidelines for Mercury, Journal American Physicians & Surgeons Spring 2003 (PDF), http://www.mercola.com/2003/apr/5/vaccines_mercury.htm
(12)  Vaccines and Neurological Damage, http://www.mercola.com/article/vaccines/neurological_damage.htm
(13)  Olney JW. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Science 1969;165:719-721.
(14)  Olney JW. Glutamate: a neurotoxic transmitter. J Child Neurol 1989;4:218-226.
(15)  Olney JW. Excitotoxic food additives: functional teratological aspects. Prog Brain Res 1988;18:283-294.
(16)  Blaylock RL. Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Health Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1997, pp. 248-254.                                                                                                                       (17) Health Central July 1, 2005, Stronger Warnings for Antidepressant Drugs, http://www.mercola.com/2005/jul/23/antidepressant_drugs.htm
(18)  Harris L Coulter, PhD, 1990, Vaccination, Social Violence, and Criminality, The Medical Assault on the Human Brain
(19)  'About Benzodiazepines' ,TRANX manual
Beyond Benzodiazepines with some additional material by Gwenda Cannard, TRANX Director, http://www.tranx.org.au/benzodiaz.html  (20)  Buspirone, (BuSpar), 1996-2003 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.07. (http://health.yahoo.com/drug/d00182a1                                                                                                       (21)  Workouts Can Lighten Heavy Hearts, E.J. Mundell for HealthDayNews E.J. Mundell for HealthDayNews
(22)  James Blumenthal, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, N.C., 2005 ScoutNews, LLC. http://www.forbes.com/lifestyle/2005/11/08/cx_1109health_ls.htm
(23)  http://www.holisticmed.com/stressfree.html

(24)  Jurriaan Plesman, What is hypoglycemia?, www.help-for-hypoglycemia.com/what-is-hypoglycemia-article

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