With the festive season just around the corner, I thought it pertinent to write this week about prevention and treatment of stress and anxiety. As we roll into December, you can almost feel the stress levels rise and unfortunately by the time Christmas arrives, many are so exhausted and stressed they don’t enjoy what should be an enjoyable time.
We all know a little bit of short term stress isn’t going to be too harmful to our health however it is important to realise that long term chronic stress can be extremely damaging. Ongoing stress is simply not sustainable – our body will at some time just crash and burn! Hence the term ‘burn out’ used for someone suffering from adrenal exhaustion. The effects of long terms stress can be extremely debilitating – anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, exhaustion, low moods, inability to concentrate, low libido - just to name just a few.
The ‘fight or flight’ response is our body’s primitive inborn response to protect us from harm. This means our body has gone into a state of acute stress, releasing stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline from our adrenal glands into our bloodstream. Once this threat has subsided our body reverses to its usual calm state. If we are suffering from chronic ongoing stress we now know our body doesn’t revert to its normal state. It remains in that state and in the meantime our poor body is trying it’s best to keep up, desperately attempting to adapt to the stress. To do this it keeps increasing cortisol levels. This is fine until cortisol is no longer effective, our body actually becomes immune to the effects of the cortisol and yes, we are suffering from adrenal exhaustion and ‘burn out’.
If you find you are in a state of chronic stress or you know you might be heading into a stressful time in your life, yes I mean Christmas!! there are several herbs which work extremely well for preventing and assisting with the treatment of stress and anxiety.
I love the herbs Withania and Rhodiola. Withania sometimes known as Indian Ginseng has been used for around 4000 years in traditional Indian medicine. As with other well known Chinese Ginsengs it is wonderful for not only relieving stress but also increasing energy and endurance whilst under stress. It is important to also note Withania is an adaptogen herb which means it is able to adjust to psychological as well as physiological stress which is far more beneficial when preventing or treating stress. Withania is also fantastic for calming the nervous system, treating anxiety and as well helping to lessen nervous exhaustion. Rhodiola is once again an adaptogen herb which allows our body to manage our stress in a more effective way. Whilst it is thought to be beneficial in strengthening the nervous system it is also thought to be helpful in treating mild depression, improving energy levels and sexual function plus improving memory and concentration. It has been found to help with anxiety and panic attacks. Because studies have shown Rhodiola increases brain serotonin by up to 30% this herb is beneficial for improvement of mood and lowering of stress levels. Interestingly there have been some indications Rhodiola may be helpful in overcoming some addictions, particularly cannabis addiction.
Other herbs which may also help with treatment of stress and adrenal support are Rehmannia and Licorice.
If you wish to know more about treating or preventing stress and anxiety call in to see Bev and the team at Go Vita, Your Health Shop at 5 North St in Batemans Bay or phone on 44729737. Don’t forget to tune in to Bev and Marianne on 2EC every Wednesday at 12.15pm on Go Get Healthy.