Health: Stress Considerations

(stress can be relieved)

Dealing with Stress

Stress-we all have it to one degree or another. Though we may each have our own particular sources of stress, whether they be financial demands, challenging relationships, deteriorating health issues, or everyday challenges like traffic and meeting family needs, stress affects us all.

A certain amount of stress can be beneficial. After all, stress is actually a survival mechanism that supports us in identifying what may be missing for each of us to get ahead, realize our goals, and fulfill our dreams. The problem is that today's fast-paced world seems to provide us with a constant, unending source of stresses. It often seems that our bodies have little chance to adapt to each new stress-inducing situation. Before long, we can feel overwhelmed and incapable to functioning effectively in the face of a constant barrage of stressful situations.

The Dangers of Stress

Not only can these continuously stressful situations be frustrating, lessening the perceived quality of our lives, but they can be seriously detrimental to our health and well being. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 75% of all diseases can be traced back to stress. Heart disease, cancer, asthma, allergies, sleep disorders and digestive problems are all conditions often brought on by stress.

Dealing with Stress from a Psychological Perspective

Back in 1936, Hans Selye, an Austrian physician, endocrinologist and pioneer in stress research, identified three stages in response to stress. He termed these as the General Adaptation Syndrome and outlined three stages as follows:

  • Stage 1: The Alarm Reaction. This stage is marked by surprise and anxiety. The body responds to the stressful situation by producing "fight or flight" hormones. The adrenal gland also produces excessive levels of the hormone, Cortisol, during this phase. The body can not sustain this condition for long and so transitions to stage two.
  • Stage 2: Resistance. During this stage, the body attempts to deal with the stressful situation. Hormone levels return to normal but the body has little defenses left.
  • Stage 3: Exhaustion. The adaptation is over and the stress reappears. Immune defenses are low and the body has lost its ability to adapt to the stressful situation. Fatigue and disease are likely to follow. Such conditions as high blood pressure, ulcers, insomnia, upset stomach, headaches and other conditions result from prolonged stress.

The Findings of Modern Research

Extensive research was conducted beginning in the 1950's with studies subsidized by the Russian Academy of Sciences. Studies were conducted in an effort to develop insights that would support Russian Olympic athletes, Soviet Cosmonauts, government sponsored chess players, Bolshoi Ballet, and other elite performers in dealing with stress.

For more than 40 years, 1200 Russian scientists worked diligently on this secret project to give their country a special advantage in competitions. Thousands of plants were studied and their effects on the stress-cycle of humans detailed. Their research uncovered a new group of herbal based components derived from plants found in the Primorye area of Russia known for its harsh climate. They termed these compounds "adaptogens." These adaptogens were largely responsible for the extraordinary performances of the Soviet Olympians over the three decades of the '60's, '70's and '80's..

The Power of Adaptogens in Fighting the Effects of Stress

Adaptogens work at the cellular level to:

  • Help strengthen the body's natural defenses by supporting the adrenal glands to release greater concentrations of stress hormones.
  • Help maintain balance in the body by limiting the amount of stress hormones such as Cortisol released by the adrenals.
  • Maximize physical endurance by delaying stage 3, exhaustion, in the General Adaptation Syndrome.

Stress Relief through Herbal Adaptogenic Supplementation

The Russian research on the compounds known as adaptogens has been continued by modern research to this day. These compounds are now readily available in herbal liquid formulations that accomplish the following benefits:

  1. Provide daily stress relief
  2. Bolster the immune system by stimulating T-cell production
  3. Inhibit the aging effects of free radicals
  4. Enhance mental clarity
  5. Regulate emotions
  6. Improve physical performance and endurance
  7. Facilitate the recovery process

Today, Adaptogens Not Just for Stress

Modern research has shown that adaptogens are beneficial not just to relieve stress but to promote mental and physical health as well. Many athletes rely on these herbal formulas to maintain their highest performance levels while enhancing mental endurance.

Dr. Ben Tabachnik, leading Russian scientist on adaptogens and author of the book, "Stress, Adaptation and Adaptogens" concludes "Adaptogens provide benefits people can not get from anything else. Adding adaptogens to the diet is important because their benefits are missing from any other food or food supplements."

Pets Have Stress Too!

People aren't the only ones who suffer from stress. Visits to the veterinarian, groomer, or kennel are often anxiety-producing events for pets. Travel on plains, trains, and sometimes in cars can be stressful, as can meeting new people and dealing with new situations. Spending extended periods alone can bring about separation anxiety and can also be quite stressful for pets too.

Herbal formulations containing adaptogens and other antioxidants have proven to protect pets at the cellular level from the detrimental effects of stress. These supplements strengthen the pet's body's natural defenses, normalize cell function, and enhance physical endurance. They support pets to experience better dispositions and calmer, more acceptable behavior. Agility trainers working to enhance pets' performance have found that adaptogenic supplementation improves muscle development and enhances performance and endurance, while speeding recovery from illness or injury.

—By Joseph S. Rubino D.M.D.

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