Naturopathic Case Study: Stress
J., a general manager, presented with physical symptoms of stress including sleep disturbances, fatigue, muscle tension, gastrointestinal disturbance, and headaches.
Stress is defined as a specific bodily response to a stimulus that disturbs normal function or equilibrium. Many of the long-term consequences have been attributed to increased stress hormones production and the cascade of health issues that arises as a consequence
Avoid refined foods such as sugar and baked goods, as well as pro-inflammatory foods such as caffeine, alcohol, dairy, and animal products, which deplete vitamins and minerals that are mobilized during stress (particularly B-complex and magnesium).
- Increase foods that nourish the nervous system, such as whole grains, fresh vegetables, and foods rich in essential fatty acids such as nuts, seeds, and cold-water fish.
- Digestive enzymes to support proper digestive function which is compromised under stress.
- Magnesium supplementation has been shown to affect all elements of the body’s reactions to stress, exerting a neuroprotective effect and calming the entire stress response system.
- B vitamins are commonly sought for the relief of nervous tension. They are involved in many hormonal and neurotransmitter pathways, so when a deficiency exists it will manifest as various mental and emotional symptoms. People under stress often don’t eat well, which can cause nutrient deficiencies, as well as stress itself being capable of depleting nutrients.
An herbal formula for the nerves may be indicated for long-term use to nourish and restore normal sympathetic/parasympathetic tone.
- With anxiety: kava , passionflower.
- With insomnia: valerian , skullcap. A combination of valerian and lemon balm will help achieve a restful, restorative sleep and a greater sense of wellbeing.
- With exhaustion: Siberian ginseng is an important adaptogenic herb that inhibits the alarm phase of stress and support the adrenals function, helping coping better with stress. It is best used long-term, four to six months in order to achieve maximum benefits.
- Exercise: Everyone knows that exercise is good for you and that it is one of the best stress combatants available.
- Not only does it keep the heart healthy and get oxygen into the system, but it helps deplete stress hormones and releases mood-enhancing chemicals which help us cope with stress better.
- These hormones are the endorphins, often classified to be the happy hormones. Any form of physical activity leads to the release of these feel good neurotransmitters.
- Mindful meditation: it means maintaining a moment-by –moment awareness of thoughts, feeling, bodily sensations and surrounding environment.
After 8 weeks of the above protocol, J., recovered his “joie de vivre” and is enjoying his work even more.