EN ROUTE TO SOUND MENTAL HEALTH . . . MANAGING THE EFFECTS OF STRESS ON THE BODY

May 25, 2021

Chronic stress affects the body in a variety of unpleasant ways.  Once its effect is expressed by the body, it becomes necessary to address those illnesses and conditions as soon as possible in order to retain strength against our stressors and preserve balance on all levels.

Digestion

During a moment of intense stress, the body’s energy is aimed more importantly at power, speed, clear thinking, and visual acuity.  Levels of the hormone cortisol increase, and along with the hormone adrenaline, cortisol raises, narrows, and intensifies our focus onto our stressor.  Digestion takes a back seat; it will not be a recipient of this hormone-induced energy surge.  Eating during times of stress literally pains the digestive system.  Harm is brought to the mucosal lining of the digestive tract causing irritation, inflammation, ulceration and ultimately increased production of cortisol.

To help reduce the more common digestive issues, consider our assortment of herbs for tea-making which includes Chamomile Flower, Fennel Seed, Peppermint Leaf, Rosemary Leaf, and our combination herbal teas Digestive and After Dinner.  Even our Weight Loss Tea can be incorporated into a protocol to aid digestion.  The wide range of beneficial qualities offered by these herbs includes support for stimulating appetite and metabolism; settling an upset stomach; reducing gas and bloating; relieving heartburn, indigestion, and digestive headaches; and alleviating diarrhea and constipation.

Uncontrolled stress can result in more serious digestive problems as stress plays a prominent role in disturbing the balance of our intestinal microflora.  It can also create or exacerbate IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), GERD (gastroesophageal reflux), or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).

Adaptogens that support the digestive system include:

American Ginseng Root - helps with digestion, absorption, and the stimulation of gastric acid.

Ashwagandha Root - promotes digestion and metabolism.

Holy Basil Leaf - helps relieve digestive upset; aids in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Licorice Root - helps with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. Addresses irritation, inflammation, and ulceration of the digestive tract as well as gastritis, ulcers, and leaky gut syndrome. 

Diabetes

Our Bilberry Cinnamon Liquid Extract Combination is designed to assist in normalizing blood glucose levels.  We know other factors come into play as we strive to keep our glucose levels normal such as adequate diet and exercise, better control of stress reactions, and good immune support, yet as one part of such an holistic approach, this product plays an important role.  The herbs in it are rich in compounds beneficial to overall health and more specifically, they offer the potential to help regulate blood sugar.

Long-term elevated cortisol consistently elevates blood glucose levels.  Cortisol blocks the effect of insulin, rendering the body’s cells insulin resistant.  Trying to keep up with the cells’ demand for insulin eventually weakens the pancreas.  We become at risk for metabolic syndrome which can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, heart disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or cancer.

Adaptogens that help balance cortisol and blood glucose include: 

American Ginseng Root - combined with hypoglycemic medicine has been shown to improve Hemoglobin A1c levels and lower fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, and levels of unhealthy lipids.

Eleuthero Root - has been shown to help prevent diabetes.  Many clinical studies reveal Eleuthero Root’s ability to produce a normalizing effect on the systems of the body, strengthening them against stress, thereby helping to inhibit the formation of diseases such as diabetes.

Holy Basil Leaf - has been shown to substantially reduce blood sugar levels.

Rhodiola Root - is considered antidiabetic and capable of promoting insulin sensitivity.

Weight Gain

No doubt there are many reasons for unhealthy weight gain, but repeated elevation of cortisol is known to contribute to stress-induced abdominal fat which in turn increases cortisol levels.  Additionally, abdominal fat secretes inflammatory molecules that can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, or heart attack.  Our Weight Loss Tea, along with the Digestive and After Dinner Teas, offers assistance with proper digestion; but the ingredients in Weight Loss Tea offer other benefits, as well:

Chickweed Herb - is a type of demulcent herb indicated for the digestive tract.  By moistening, soothing, cooling, and reducing inflammation, it helps increase the function of the mucosal lining of the tract.  Optimal performance of the mucosal lining improves absorption of nutrients into the body, which then increases the efficiency of our metabolism.  Efficient metabolism means more energy to use and more calories burned.  Improved absorption and metabolism facilitate elimination, as well.  Additionally, and what makes this herb the star of this weight loss combination, is Chickweed Herb’s ability to help reduce fat cells.

Fenugreek Seed - appears to have some success in helping to normalize blood sugar levels.  When those levels are within proper range, hunger is better controlled.

Fennel Seed - helps settle the stomach and stimulate digestion.

Dandelion Root - is a bitter herb which classifies it as a digestive stimulant.  It helps promote the flow of bile which means it assists in the digestion of fat.  Fat appears to be a major fuel for our metabolism.

Gotu Kola Herb - helps relieve sluggish digestion.

Lapacho Bark - It may be Lapacho Bark’s laxative effect that aids in some degree of weight loss.

Milk Thistle Seed - offers significant support to the health of the liver.  Because one of the liver’s jobs is to produce bile, Milk Thistle Seed contributes to the proper digestion of fat.

When answering the call of stress, cortisol raises the level of glucose in the blood so that the muscles and brain may use it, all the while preventing insulin from ushering the glucose into the body’s cells. Chronic stress, chronically elevated glucose cause cells starved of sugar to send hunger signals to the brain. We eat.  But chronic stress and chronically elevated glucose continue to lead to hungry cells.  So, we eat.  

“Adaptogens support weight management by regulating blood sugar, insulin metabolism, and cortisol levels; enhancing digestion; reducing stress and stress-induced eating; promoting healthy sleep (which reduces metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance); and upregulating the body’s metabolic rate.”

Adaptogens to consider for weight management include:

Ashwagandha Root - has been shown to help prevent stress-induced eating and weight gain.

Eleuthero Root - promotes greater use of fat for energy.

High Blood Pressure, Elevated Cholesterol

Under stress, the constriction of blood vessels, and consequent amplified heart rate, increase the flow of blood, providing us strength to manage a stressful moment.  But when we continue to be stressed, the hormones cortisol and adrenaline continue to pressure the heart and arteries to perform outside their normal boundaries.  The heart is one of the busiest organs in the body.  Continued stress can compromise the life-giving service the heart renders resulting in high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, atherosclerosis, heart attack, or stroke.

To strengthen the heart in the face of our stressors consider Cheryl’s Herbs’ Heart Liquid Extract Combination as well as other individual herbs such as Cayenne Pepper, Dandelion Root, Hawthorn Leaf, Flower, & Berry, Linden Flower, Motherwort, and Rosemary.

Adaptogens offering protection to the heart include: 

American Ginseng Root, Asian Ginseng Root, Ashwagandha Root, Eleuthero Root, Reishi, Rhodiola Root, and Schisandra Berry.

An adaptogen to help normalize blood pressure:

Holy Basil Leaf

Menstrual Irregularities

Periods of extended stress and elevated cortisol are disruptive to the menstrual cycle.  Changes to the cycle, including its absence, can occur making it impossible to conceive.  

Cheryl’s Herbs offers For Her Liquid Extract Combination to help balance reproductive hormones and restore the menstrual cycle.  Harmonizing these hormones assists with hot flashes, night sweats,irritability, mood swings, and sleeplessness that typically occur with PMS and menopause. Teas made of Red Clover Blossom, Nettle Leaf, or Raspberry Leaf are strongly encouraged by herbalist Susun Weed for help in getting pregnant.

An adaptogen that may help restore lost cycles and improve fertility:

Rhodiola Root

Low Libido

Our desire for sex is life’s promise to itself to keep the human species going.  Intimacy, bonding, stress relief, and of course, procreation can result from this pleasurable act.  Prolonged stress, however, can stir the balance of those hormones necessary to our sex drive, rendering them out of synch and us disinterested in and/or incapable of coupling.

Cheryl’s Herbs’ Female Formula and Male Formula Liquid Extract Combinations have been created to assist in boosting desire and energy.  They are helpful as well in toning and restoring balance to the reproductive system. Stimulating and strength enhancing, they are intended to help remind us of our sensual side and restore a zest for intimacy.  

Although not considered an aphrodisiac, Oatstraw soothes and nourishes the nerves allowing us to be more sensitive to touch; glands are supported to help make secretions more plentiful; and the heart and vessels promote greater circulation of blood to the genitals.

Adaptogens that support the regulation of sex hormones and promote libido incude:

Ashwagandha Root - assists in boosting the desire for sex in both women and men.  It’s useful for correcting low sperm count.

Asian Ginseng Root - supports drive and performance, assisting also with inspiring drive in post-menopausal women.

Holy Basil Leaf - is an adaptogen to avoid if trying to conceive.

Maca Root - “in human clinical trials, Maca had no effect on sexual hormone levels in men but at high doses did enhance libido and improve sperm quality and motility.  In post-menopausal women, Maca reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, and sexual dysfunction.”

Rhodiola Root - may encourage resumption of lost menstrual cycles as well as the possibility of fertility.  It may also help with erectile dysfunction.

Schisandra Berry -  a tonic to the sexual organs, it helps with loss of libido, low production of semen, and premature ejaculation.  Women may experience more circulation of blood to the genitals and greater clitoral sensitivity.

Insomnia

Successful sleep is integral to the healthy management of stress.  But when we’re chronically stressed, a good night’s sleep can be beyond our ability to achieve. Problems causing insomnia contribute to elevated levels of cortisol.  As a result, improper sleep reaches far into our daily lives, impacting the function of the cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, and immune systems.  

Nervines help ease us onto the pillow and into our dreams.  Cheryl’s Herbs offers combined nervines in Sleep Tea and in Sleep Liquid Extract Combination and a wide variety of individual nervine herbs such as Blue Vervain, Damiana, Hops, Melissa, Passionflower, and Scullcap.  California Poppy is not only sedating but pain-relieving, as well.

Another option is our Dream Tea which supports a good night’s sleep, profitable dreams, and the ability to see into the future

Adaptogens that help support sleep and regulate cortisol include:

American Ginseng Root - helps with sleeplessness related to chronic fatigue syndrome.

Ashwagandha Root - may be useful in some cases of restless leg syndrome.

Asian Ginseng Root - supports weak, run-down people seeking sleep; contraindicated for use by Type A people.

Eleuthero Root - enhances the quality of sleep and helps in avoiding nighttime waking.

Schisandra Berry - helps when sleep is disrupted by dreams.

Weakened Immunity 

Chronic stress comes down hard on the immune system, undermining the intelligence and strength of our defense against disease.

“Adaptogens strengthen and modulate the immune system, improve immune response, enhance immunity, and have anti-inflammatory activity.  They’ve been shown to improve immune dysfunction.”

Adaptogens that support immune function include:

American Ginseng Root - assists with allergies and allergic asthma.

Asian Ginseng Root - promotes activity of natural killer cells and production of interferon.

Holy Basil Leaf - helps regulate inflammation and is anti-viral.

Licorice Root - helps with immune suppression, allergies, allergic asthma, and sensitivity to animal dander.  It is anti-viral and may be used to help with herpes and hepatitis.

Reishi - has anti-tumor activity.  Helps with allergies.  “Re-regulates the hypo/hyper immune dysfunction associated with autoimmune disease.”

Rhodiola Root - helps increase the body’s ability to fight infection.

Schisandra Berry - inhibits e coli; promotes growth of gut-friendly Lactobacillus Bulgaricus.

SOURCES:  David Winston’s Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, Donald Yance’s Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism, Susun Weed’s Healing Wise, www.todaysdietician.com


This information is not intended to diagnose.  It is for educational purposes only.




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