Is STRESS Slowly Killing You?

They say it’s the little things in life…and it is, but more importantly it’s the little things and how your body responds to them.

Stress is a normal part of living. But it’s also a root cause of many health issues.

Have you listened to our Tree Story? We look at root causes…things that may be at the root of your health problems. One of those is STRESS!! How do you handle the stressors of life?

Our body produces cortisol; a hormone (glucocorticoid) made in our adrenal glands, small glands that sit on top of our kidneys. Cortisol is actually created from cholesterol. It helps us deal with stress, and in small amounts, it’s a valuable tool. Cortisol “starts your engine.” It wakes you up in the morning, keeps your energy up throughout the day, and declines in the evening so you can sleep. Normally, cortisol will follow a circadian rhythm. But cortisol can also “rev your engine” if you need the capability to combat what your body perceives as danger or threats. So your body produces cortisol in response to stress, either physical or emotional, and as long as the response is short and sweet, all is well 🙂

But what happens when you rev that engine?? The response, known as “fight or flight” makes you feel like you’re being chased by a tiger! A sharp rise in cortisol raises your blood pressure, increases heart rate, prohibits insulin release, and slows digestion. If your body anticipates running from or fighting a tiger, it will also shut down unnecessary functions such as reproductive processes (including libido) and weaken your immune system. Ever notice how people that seem “stressed out” all the time also seem to get sick more often and then struggle to get over it? Your body says “I’m in a desperate situation, all unnecessary functions must stop so I can respond quickly.” Cortisol really does prepare your body for the fight of your life OR running for your life! This is a normal and important response…if it happens occasionally. You tackle the stressor, cortisol levels go down, and homeostasis is once again achieved! However, problems start when that engine is revved up all day long!! And unfortunately chronically high levels of cortisol lead to an increase in inflammation, the basis for many diseases. As a result, we now know—consistently having elevated levels of cortisol can ultimately lead to hypertension, chronic digestive problems, and diabetes. Other long-term problems include reproductive issues, autoimmune disease, and even cancer!

But, hey, stress is part of life right? Our modern society is on alert 24/7 thanks to electricity and electronics! So our advice? Slow down, breathe, and take time away from the stimuli that may be constantly in our face 😉 Consider how your body responds to the little things…and then try these things:

  • get enough sleep
  • make good food choices
  • get in touch with your inner self
  • hug your dog (or your cat)
  • meditate
  • pray
  • just be still

And if you need help along the way, there are supplements that can also provide stress relief. We like ashwaganda, an herbal supplement, or L-theanine, a natural amino acid derived from green tea. Both help to lower cortisol levels and help your feel calmer. We also have a popular product in our pharmacy called Cortisol Manager (Integrative Therapeutics) which is a proprietary blend of herbal supplements designed for stress reduction and improved sleep. In addition, if you have revved that engine for a while, you may need extra Vitamin C and a B complex to help nurture your exhausted adrenal glands back to health!

They say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and it really is true…The stress could slowly be killing you! Welcome 2016 with a goal to address your stress…because we give Two Hoots about your Health!!

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