We are constantly under some form of stress in our lives and generally we cope very well. However, many situations increase stress to a level, which can cause troublesome physical and emotional effects. The complaints that arise from too much stress vary widely.
More common problems include:
- Muscle pain
- Sleep disturbance
- Poor concentration
When stress levels build, stress related illnesses start to appear. These include:
- Drug abuse (including drinking problems)
- Irritable digestive system
- Peptic ulcers
- Heart disease
Many types of stress can lead to ill health. Examples are the death of a spouse or a close family member, divorce or marital separation, personal injury, conflict in the workplace, pregnancy, sex difficulties, and retirement. This list reflects only a portion of stressful everyday situations. We all know how hard it is to deal with these problems and that some people may need help to control stress levels.
Talking with someone may help you find a solution to your problem and can often help you cope better. Most health practitioners have had counselling training and can help you to ‘get it off your chest’.
Relaxation in any form is vital for the stressed or uptight person. Meditation, reading, listening to relaxation tapes, getting regular massages or starting a new hobby may be relaxing. Regular exercise, a sensible diet, avoiding smoking and other drugs will all help to control stress levels.
Nutritional and Herbal Support
Your body works differently when you’re under stress. That’s why we’re more prone to suffer from muscular tension and spasm, poor digestion and increased blood pressure as a result of stress. Stress reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium, vitamin C and chromium from the diet, and causes the body to excrete more magnesium and potassium. Because magnesium and potassium are important for the proper regulation of muscular tension, their depletion helps explain why stress can cause cramps and spasms. These are just some examples of the physical impact of stress; there are many more. Nutrients known to help manage stress include a combination of vitamins B5, B6 and C, together with magnesium and bioflavonoids, will help to improve natural stress coping mechanisms.
Muscle relaxant nutrients and herbs which may help, include Passion flower which is indigenous to South America and is now widely cultivated in Europe for its sedative and antispasmodic properties. It is employed against sleeplessness and seems to have a profound effect against nerve pain. Valerian root has also been used widely in folk medicine as a sedative. A 1982 study of 128 patients indicated that Valerian root significantly improves sleep quality.
The combination of these relaxing herbs with the nutrients magnesium and calcium provides a very effective muscle relaxing formula, which is also useful for stress and insomnia. You can bolster your body against stress not just by replacing those depleted nutrients, but also by boosting your supply of others. Your Naturopath, being trained in the field of Nutrition will best know what nutrients you may require.