Excessive negative stress has become, over the last 25 years, as much a part of our daily lives as eating and sleeping. Excessive negative stress can be physical (chronic illness, lack of exercise, over-exercising, etc.), emotional (losing a job, winning the lottery, etc.), or chemical (bad diet, drugs, medicines, alcohol, pesticides, etc.).

Excessive negative stress is most likely to be the initial predisposing factor in the cause and prolongation of a disease or illness. Again, the greater the exposure and duration to these negative stressors the greater the susceptibility to acute or chronic illness or body dysfunction.

It is also important to note that not all stress is bad or has negative effects on our bodies. Some types of stress are actually beneficial for us and can increase our immune function, overall strength, emotional well being and longevity. The most beneficial form of stress is exercise, especially swimming and weight training. This type of stress can, in moderation, even negate some of the excessive negative stress’ we face.

stress_and_our_body_1When our bodies are exposed to any form of negative stress our organ systems innately responds with what is known as the “fight-flight response”. During this stress induced response, many different and potentially damaging physiological reactions occur. During the initial phase, which can last for seconds to years, digestion and absorption of nutrients are greatly reduced; body tissues begin to break down; the immune system is suppressed; our heart begins to overload and the aging process is significantly accelerated. These are but a sampling of what does occur.

Individuals who are exposed to excessive negative stress may also develop a condition known as adrenal exhaustion. This condition occurs when the adrenal glands work beyond their normal capacity thus eventually shutting down (no more Cortisol, a hormone, being produced). Adrenal exhaustion presents with symptoms similar to those found in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia and hypoglycemia (see table 1).

Table 1

Tiredness Weakness
Depression, Anxiety 1
Muscle or Joint Pain Heart Palpitations
Hives, Rash, Eczema 1 2 3
Bowel Disorders
Weak Nails Fatigue
Chronic Illness
Irritability, Moodiness
Water Retention Weight Gain
Dizziness, Vertigo Arthritis
Salt Craving Allergies

An integrative medicine approach for the treatment of adrenal exhaustion or the effects excessive negative stress are identical. First, it’s crucial to reduce or eliminate as many negative stressors (individual stress factors) as possible.

Second, get plenty of rest, at least 8 hours, starting before midnight; engage in regular, but not excessive, exercise; greatly reduce your carbohydrates intake (bread, sweets, pasta, corn and potatoes); increase protein intake; increase fibrous vegetable intake; drink eight glasses of filtered water daily, and perform deep breathing exercises every morning and evening.

Third, nutritional and/or pharmacological support. To determine pharmacological support we must first determine thyroid and adrenal function via blood tests (thyroid panel including both thyroid antibodies and rT3), and (DHEA, cortisol and progesterone) levels. Nutritional support can be in the form of DHEA and/or Pregnenolone (10 – 50 mg daily) and/or glycerrhizin (25 – 100 mg daily – preferably in the morning). These two supplements safely support proper adrenal hormone levels. DMG (vitamin B15) and Siberian Ginseng have both been shown in Russian clinical studies to help regulate the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal axis. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is the initial precursor, along with our LDL cholesterol to our adrenal hormones, whole C complex (Ester-C w/bioflavonoids) is an antioxidant for the adrenal and the highest concentration of vitamin C out side of the spinal chord and brain is found in the adrenal; and potassium are essential for proper adrenal gland function. Adrenal glandular preparations (Whole Desiccated Adrenal (short-term), Drenamin and Drenatrophin PMG) from Standard Process Inc. will also help to support the adrenal glands. These are but a few options that I have used to support the stress response of the body.

Additionally, antioxidants and supportive products like: CoQ10, glutathione, NAC, vitamin E, bioflavonoids, alpha lipoic acid, SAMe, Gabatone (Apex Energetics), L-tryptophan, magnesium and MSM, will also help reduce the overall oxidative burden placed on the body by the excessive negative stress.

With the above knowledge the road to well being and health is now a much shorter one.