Adrenal Health

Within our every day lives we create a routine, or schedule rotating around work or education, social obligations, and basic needs such as food, and shelter. Although we create this monotonous routine we can forget that life is unpredictable and uncontrollable at times. Therefore when an unexpected occurrence pursues we don't know how to approach the stress in a healthy manner.

The stress progression is determined by how we adapt and respond to the daily stress we experience. Adrenal health is vital to the management of stress, and studies show that the leading reasons for 95% of doctor visits are issues such as fatigue, pain, and decreased energy which may be affected by stress. Dr. Ed Wilson, a biologist of Harvard University, stated that we have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and God like technology, yet we don't know how to manage our stress.


There are three phases to adrenal stress; alarm phase, resistance phase, and exhaustion. The alarm phase is managed within the sympathetic nervous system of the body. Within this stage the bodies response to stress is to fight or flight: the body increases adrenaline and cortisol which in turn increases heart rate, blood pressure, and decreases the every day functions of the body like digestion and hormone regulation. The second phase to stress is the resistance phase which is managed within the parasympathetic nervous system. In this phase the adrenaline decreases while the cortisol levels remain elevated, and with cortisol levels still increased the body is not properly managing every day functions. The last stage of stress is exhaustion where the hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis work synergistically or interacting with one another to compensate for increased stress. Cortisol issues and poor stress management can therefore lead to poorly functioning body systems including: gastrointestinal, neurological, musculoskeletal, endocrine, respiratory, and immune. Stress overwhelms the bodies homeostasis, or regulation, and unmanaged stress can lead to permanent deregulation.

Managing and reducing stress is a varying process for every person, but with prolonged increased stress levels we increase cellular aging, and shorten telomere lengths. Telomeres are vital for mitosis, or cellular reproduction, within our body. Telomeres shorten during cell reproduction and eventually become so short that the cell dies. Lifestyle changes like adopting a plant-based diet, moderate exercise and stress reduction techniques can help to increase and retain telomere length.

To help manage stress and slow down cellular aging, there are preventative measures we can take. Along with changing our diets, exercising, and finding ways to reduce our stress we can consume adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogenic herbs have a balancing modulatory effect which helps organisms ability to respond appropriately to stress. Herbs which help regulate the three phases of stress, and prevent deregulation of our hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal system. Telomere's also need vitamin C for repair: vitamin C protects the cells mitochondria, and contain oxidative resistant forms.

With proper adrenal health our stress can be managed which helps prevent deregulation of the bodies major systems and the destruction of telomeres. By helping our telomere's lengthen we in turn help ourselves to aging gracefully into the future. Although our lives may be chaotic and unpredictable no matter how much we try to manage, we can properly deal with the cards we're dealt by using tools we're given, and understanding our bodies.



Aromatherapy for Stress Relief

Stress is a big problem in the United States and it can have a significant impact on health and wellness. Chronic stress contributes to a variety of conditions such as high blood pressure, GI complaints, insomnia, weight gain, diabetes and even the proliferation of certain types of cancer. There are many effective ways to combat stress, including counseling, journaling, exercising, breathing exercises, massage therapy, acupuncture, and many other therapeutic activities. Aromatherapy is a great option when you don't have time to hop on your bicycle or leave work to take a walk.

Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years and is based on the use of volatile plant oils to enhance mental, physical and spiritual wellness. Aromatic plants have been used throughout history for incense, medicine and perfumery while the distillation of the oils is believed to have happened in the last millennia. Although the word "aroma" implies inhalation, essential oils can also be used topically and in limited quantities and instances, even internally. Researchers have found that inhalation of particular essential oils can actually stimulate the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that have a soothing and positive effect on mood and disposition.

Lavender is probably the most diverse of essential oils and is a great option for anyone trying to find additional ways to better manage stress. You can enjoy the benefits of lavender orally, topically or via olfactory stimulation. In recent clinical trials, oral soft gels of lea vender oil have been shown to reduce occasional anxiety and to have beneficial effects on disturbed sleep, somatic complaints and quality of life. Spraying lavender in your car before commuting, placing a sachet in your pillowcase or dabbing some on your wrists are just a few ways to take advantage of the calming effects of this pleasant aroma.

While lavender may be the most popular essential oil for stress relief, there are many alternatives that are also effective. Bergamot has a light, fruity scent and is a great choice if you are looking for a more masculine scent. Bergamot also has antimicrobial properties and can be used topically to soothe skin problems and irritation. Clary sage offers a sweet, nutty and herbaceous scent that helps to reduce stress while also revitalizing and stimulating those in need. Sandalwood is used in many soaps, lotions and perfumes as it has a wonderfully pleasant and relaxing scent. Geranium essential oil, referred to as "harmonizing" since it is both relaxing and uplifting, offers a fresh, sweet floral scent that is a reminiscent of rose and citrus. 

Whether you use them individually or combined, in the bathtub or in the office, aromatherapy and essential oils are an effective, easy to use and pleasant therapy to add to your stress management tool box.