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Stress

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Stress
Summary
  • Stress is any stimulus which brings about a change in the body or a change in mental state.
  • If excessive, stress can have many negative effects on the body.
  • When the Stress is of a short duration the body can usually manage it well.
Description

Stress is any stimulus which brings about a change in the body or a change in mental state. Internal conditions (e.g., illness, pain or emotional conflict) and external conditions (e.g., financial problems, work-related problems, death in the family or changes in circumstances) can all cause Stress. In the correct amount, Stress can be a positive motivator in life. However if excessive, it can have many negative effects on the body.

The body undergoes physiological changes in order to cope with a stressful stimulus. Stress, while beneficial and necessary to a certain degree, may also exert a negative effect on many systems of the body if it becomes excessive. The causes of Stress are many and varied. When the Stress is of a short duration the body can usually manage it well.

Adrenal hormones are produced by the body when it is under Stress. The effect of these hormones include a temporary rise in blood pressure, increased blood flow to the specific muscles associated with running or fighting, pupil dilation and more acute hearing. This is often called the 'fight or flight' response or 'general adaption syndrome'. This syndrome is a natural and normal response. However prolonged activation of the 'fight or flight' response may cause many problems. A continual state of Stress has been shown to affect digestive, immune, and psychological functioning. 1

Prolonged Stress can lead to physical and mental exhaustion and minor illnesses, along with more serious health problems. Chronic Stress affects the immune system and can compromise health if not properly dealt with.2 Stress can be better managed with appropriate exercise, relaxation, adequate sleep and good nutrition.

  • Management

    As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted to diagnose and treat this condition. Ask your Doctor about the latest advice on this ailment.


    Lifestyle

    Diet Hints
    • The importance of adequate protein intake in the daily diet is a vital component of effective stress management.3 Protein sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and nuts.

    • People under stress often consume excess refined carbohydrates and sugar, which reduces energy and depresses the immune system. Balancing blood sugar levels is vital for a good stress response. Studies have linked Hypoglycaemia (abnormal fluctuations of blood sugar levels) with depression, anxiety, and feelings of stress. Simply eliminating refined carbohydrates and sugar in the diet can have beneficial results in stress management.4

    • Chronic or long term use of caffeine has been strongly linked to anxiety, insomnia, stress, depression, nervousness and altered brain chemistry. Caffeine containing beverages should be avoided by people prone to stress and anxiety.5


    Vitamins/Minerals/Herbs

    If the diet is inadequate consider some nutritional supplements:

    • Vitamin B Complex is responsible for energy production, nerve and brain function, production of stress hormones, protein metabolism and general health of the nervous system.6

    • Vitamin C is essential for regulation of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) and stress hormones. Vitamin C is often depleted in times of stress which may also compromise the immune system. Vitamin C also supports the adrenal glands in times of stress.7

    • Passionflower herb is believed to be a central nervous system sedative and may relieve restlessness, nervousness, anxiety and insomnia8 If taking anti-depressants, consult your Health Professional before taking Passionflower.

    • Chamomile herb has traditionally been used as a nervine herb, calming the nervous system and relieving tension. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea at night is particularly effective for insomnia, anxiety and stress9.
  • Pharmacist's Advice

    Ask your Pharmacist for advice.

    1. Follow the Diet Hints.
    2. Regular exercise may help the body cope with Stress more effectively.10 Only exercise after advice from your Doctor.
    3. Talk over your worries with someone you can trust. Seek expert advice if necessary. It is vital that you release the tension in the body as much as possible.11
    4. If the diet is inadequate consider some supplements.
  • Notes

    References

    1. Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Ernie Toovey: Alexander McDonald:. Chronic stress alters the immune response to influenza virus vaccine in older adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 1996;93:3043-3047.
    2. Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Ernie Toovey: Alexander McDonald:. Chronic stress alters the immune response to influenza virus vaccine in older adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 1996;93:3043-3047.
    3. Borer KT. The effects of exercise on growth. Sports-Med. 1995 Dec; 20(6): 375-97.
    4. Thorne S. On-campus physicians witnessing changes in medical problems faced by university students. Can-Med-Assoc-J. 1996 Jan 1; 154(1): 77-9.
    5. Washington; John Bastyr College Pub.1988. Pizzorno & Murray, "A Textbook of Natural Medicine".
    6. Erba-Cozzi R. Living with Stress, Blackmores seminar, September 1999.
    7. Erba-Cozzi R. Living with Stress, Blackmores seminar, September 1999.
    8. Erba-Cozzi R. Living with Stress, Blackmores seminar, September 1999.
    9. Erba-Cozzi R. Living with Stress, Blackmores seminar, September 1999.
    10. Barnes, Anderson, Phillipson. Herbal Medicines. Passionflower. A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press. UK. 2002.
    11. Ody P. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. A Dorling Kindersley Book, 1993.pp43.


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