Stress….It’s like the “itch” that never goes away. Traffic, workload, busy schedules, its tough not to let things get under your skin. When we think about stress, we tend to solely focus on the mental side. “Oh my gosh! I can’t stop thinking or dwelling on this or that.” Yet, the reality is, stress is evident not only on a mental level but a physical level.
Physical manifestations of stress can include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Sweaty palms
- Dilated pupils
- Increased heart beat
- Shallow breathing
- Foggy thinking
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Skin problems (Acne, hives, Eczema flares, etc)
And the list could go on. There are a myriad of ways that a person can react to stress. You remember the last time you had to run to the bathroom before that big presentation?
Speaking of skin, environmental stress is another huge burden on our bodies. The air we breathe is polluted, the water we drink is tainted, the products we use on our bodies shouldn’t be ingested yet we rub it all over our largest organ, our skin. The foods we eat are sprayed, dyed, and morphed. There is no wonder our bodies are in a state of shock and our minds wander to cloud 12.
Essentially, the sympathetic nervous system is triggered to respond as if we are being chased by a wild boar or huge grizzly black bear. Yet with this modern day stress, we do not “run”; we sit at our desk, in our car, or somewhere stationary when this happens. We do not get to work off the spike in hormones released to help our bodies run away from that bear. Instead our bodies have these elevated levels of stress day in and day out. cope with stress.
Big responsibility sometimes comes in tiny packages. Our allies are our adrenal glands. One in particular, which is layered on top of each kidney, has the pleasure of regulating major hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These hormones are key in the stress response. It is in our best interest to support our adrenals. The cool thing is, while we are supporting those tiny critters, we are also giving our body the ability to adapt to stress, achieve homeostasis, and detox on a cellular level.
Here are 5 herbs that work with the body’s stress response:
Ashwaganda– An Ayurvedic herb known to decrease Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), returning those steroid hormones to normal.
American Ginseng– Helps to calm an over stimulated nervous system.
Rhodiola– Enhances the transport of 5 HTP (serotonin precursor) and tryptophan to enhance your mood.
Astragulus Root- Supports the immune system.
Gotu Kola-Strengthens the adrenals, cleanses the blood, and decreases both depression and low libido
The good old fashioned way of relieving stress, is to move your body! Exercise has been shown to decrease stress by increasing endorphins and making you feel and look great!
Herbs, vitamins, deep breathing and physical activity are effective and affordable tools we have to help balance stress hormones. Next time you feel the urge, take a 5 minute walk outside or take five deep breaths, your adrenals will thank you!