Let’s say you are walking along a street on a dark night and you are unsure of your safety. We’ve all been there. You notice you are aware of all the noises, your eyes are darting back and forth to take in your surroundings, you may begin sweating, there may be a change in your stomach sensation, the list goes on. You are stressed and your adrenal glands are pumping adrenaline and cortisol into your veins. This stress response is fantastic, it is creating all kinds of physiologic change so that you may keep yourself alive. You are officially prepared to fight, or fly.
When these stress events occur the whole body shifts energy to what is vital for your survival. When in fight or flight response your body cannot do any of the activities it does when in rest and restore. In fight or flight your body is releasing glucose into your bloodstream as an energy rush, raising your blood pressure, increasing your heart rate, and increasing your breathing. It is also putting the breaks on digestion, immune function and many other critical processes, the body’s goal is to get you thru this moment alive, then it can get back to the other important functions when you rest. As I said, this is lovely.
The problem? What if you don’t rest? And...
You don’t have to be on a dark street to experience this cascade. Your boss can simply tell you that a report is due tomorrow when you were just about to slip out early to catch your child’s last swim meet of the season. Fight or flight. It could be sitting in traffic while cars are honking and people are shouting in frustration on your way home. I remember feeling this same sensation when I had two babies and a puppy - everyone needed me - everyone was crying and I was falling apart. Tunnel vision and the hypervigilance you experience from a stress response got me thru.
The sad truth? Chronic stress is a 21st Century disease. It is more common than not.
Going into fight or flight stress response is a natural part of life. What is problematic is when you experience this type of stress too frequently, live in it all the time, or have insufficient recovery between stress triggering events.
At first your body develops resistance and adapts to the new demands. Adaptation however has a limit. When the body has reached its limits for adaptation it will reach a stage of exhaustion.
Enter adrenal fatigue.
When the adrenal hormones have been overworked and underpaid for prolonged periods of time, the capacity to adapt has been used up, and adrenal exhaustion sets in. Once the body reaches this space it is subject to injury and illness. Think about it, how could our bodies possibly stay well if digestion and immune function are impaired, the heart is working faster, the lungs are working overtime, we have excess glucose in our veins?
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue can include: exhaustion, fatigue, blood pressure dips when standing up, insomnia or night waking, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, lowered immunity, allergies, asthma, and more.
The body’s response to stress is such a broad physiological process that the impact of prolonged, chronic stress also has far reaching consequences.
The good news? There are so many herbs for the adrenals. Herbs are exceptionally well suited for stress support due to their (big word warning) pleotrophic nature. What’s that? Herbs are pleotrophic, meaning they work in a multitude of ways to modulate and normalize the body. This is far superior to taking one supplement for each individual symptom, herbs, especially adaptogenic herbs, are broad acting and normalizing to the body.
In the coming week I will define what an adaptogen is and how it supports and repairs the adrenal function of the body and helps the body increase resilience to stress. I will also give some examples of herbal adaptogens.
If you want to work with me for a consult or come to a class sign up on my services tab.
Until then, I hope you get a minute to breath. - Christina
"You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day... Unless you're busy, then you should sit for an hour." - Zen saying