How Does Stress Affect Health? Vitamins and Stress by Dr. Leia
Question for Dr. Leia:
How does stress affect health? I am finding that by the time I leave my job at the end of the day I am frazzled,
and have no energy for my family by the time I get home. I really need to find a remedy for stress relief
at work, and I am wondering if you could give me some ideas on how to cope during the day. I have heard that
I can drink chamomile tea, but other than that I don’t know of any other herbal stress relief products. Are
there vitamins for stress that I could take? What would you recommend to help me get through the day. I am
in contact with a lot of people each day and find they sometimes drain my energy. Thanks so much for answering
my question. Stella
Dr. Leia’s Answer:
Stress is one of the current leading causes of sickness and disease today. Our fast paced modern world and
lifestyle make it difficult for the body to adjust naturally to the diverse and constant stimuli which come
our way throughout the day. The physical body has not been able to evolve as quickly to catch up with the
technological and electronic advances which have profoundly changed the lives of modern day man and woman.
The adrenal gland in the body is responsible for the automatic “fight or flight” response when
the body discerns that there is an imminent danger or stress which could affect its safety. When ancient
man and woman lived in caves and hunted for a living, their lifestyles were more relaxed and not as complicated
as today’s lifestyles. The man would go out to hunt the saber tooth tiger, usually with his extended
family or friends on their monthly hunting trip. Suddenly when the prey was spotted, ancient man’s
adrenal gland would kick into high gear, secreting the adrenaline and other hormones which are necessary
for the heightened awareness, strength, agility, speed, and acuity that would eventually assist him in capturing
his tiger or other animal of prey. Then he would return to the cave, where he and his family members would
skin the animal for clothing, and prepare the meat for food. This one hunt, if successful, could provide
enough food and clothing until the following month. Then the hunting party would repeat their hunting escapade
the following month. The cave man had a whole month to relax.
The adrenal gland functions best under these circumstances such as described above. However, in today’s
modern world, a person is constantly being assaulted with small stresses. Driving to work in the morning,
one may suddenly be cut off by a careless driver or one may experience a near miss on the freeway. Then when
she gets to her job, the boss may be in a bad mood and ask why she hasn’t completed her assignment
for the day, and one may have to please all of the other people with whom one comes in contact that day.
Upon returning home at the end of the day, the body feels tired and fatigued from the small, albeit constant “stressors” which
came its way during the day. Then one might also encounter a grumpy spouse or a rambunctious child upon returning
home. All of these stressors do not give the adrenal gland enough time to recover. This describes quite a
different life than the ancient cave dweller.
Low grade constant stress is not healthy for the body, and the body needs periods of rest and relaxation where
it can replenish and heal itself. Therefore, it would be a good idea to find some time during the day, either
morning or night, to take 10-20 minutes to just relax and put on some soothing music or a relaxation tape,
or meditation, to help you forget what happened that day. Biofeedback is
also another technique which will help to train the body to relax completely. The key here is to be able
to totally relax and let go of all of the tension and negative happenings of the day.
A good quality complete B complex vitamin could be taken in the morning with breakfast, and if the stress
is severe, could be taken again in the mid afternoon or with lunchtime. B vitamins assist the body to deal
with stress. Please do not take the B vitamins at nighttime because B complex is an energy enhancer, and
it might keep you up at night. Vitamin C is also a wonderful vitamin which functions as an anti-oxidant and
helps to repair the cells and tissue from the oxidative damage caused by stress. Calcium and magnesium are
important minerals which act as physiological tranquilizers for the body and the muscles, so it would be
wise to take these supplements after dinner or at bedtime to help assist the body to relax into a restful
and reparative sleep.
There are many other potent and important energy nutraceuticals or herbs such as coenzyme Q10 and eleuthrococcus
ginseng. You might want to try some acupuncture treatments, once per week, from a licensed acupuncturist.
Acupuncture has helped many people learn to relax. It balances and soothes the shen or emotions, so that
they do not easily get upset at small things in life.
The important thing to realize when dealing with stress in one’s life, is that it is important to work
on the emotional and mental levels along with the physical level. This is where the body-mind continuum comes
in. When one aspect, such as the mind is out of balance, soon the other aspect or physical body becomes imbalanced
or diseased. So if you are the type of person who easily gets upset at the slightest problem, then you might
want to learn some body-mind techniques such as biofeedback, the thought field therapies such as EFT(Emotional
Freedom Technique), TAT(Tapas Acupressure Technique), or meditation to cope with these problems. Then, together,
with the vitamins, minerals, herbs, and nutraceuticals, you will be much more able to take the heightened
stressors in stride.
By Dr. Leia
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More information on this can be found in our free online health magazine.