In today’s time we are unfortunately surrounded by stress – work, family, city living, health, money, pandemics – the list goes on. Stress negatively impacts almost every biochemical pathway in our bodies and contributes to anxiety, poor sleep, low immunity, digestive disturbances, problematic skin, infertility, menstrual irregularities, fatigue, hormone imbalances i.e. thyroid disorders, burnout and so much more.
Fortunately there are many herbal, nutritional, dietary and lifestyle practices which can support a healthy stress response. A key factor is making sure we get enough protein in our diet and ensuring our nutritional status in maintained. When we are stressed we utilise a variety of nutrients at a much faster rate – we burn through magnesium, protein, vitamin C and B vitamins at a much higher rate than normal. This is because these nutrients are required for the production of stress hormones such as adrenaline. These nutrients are also required for our immune system, reproductive systems and nervous system to function – so you can see how if we are using up all of our stores on making stress chemicals, then other systems and organs which require these nutrients to function properly will go without.
Herbal medicine is also excellent at supporting the stress response. In Western herbal medicine, we have a class of herbs known as ‘adaptogens’. These herbs help to modulate the bodies stress response, increasing the bodies capacity to deal with stress and preventing burnout or adrenal fatigue. Some well known adaptogens include Rhodiola and Ashwaghanda/Withania. Herbal medicines can interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for everybody, therefore they are best prescribed by a health practitioner such as a qualified herbalist or naturopath.
Psychotherapy is another great tool which can help us work through out day to day problems, emotions, unresolved trauma or just to have a chat with someone with an objective point of view who is outside of your circle of regular family and friends.