Grandma’s Herbs - NaturAll-Calm
|Diversion of the blood from less vital to more vital organs|
|Increase in the heart rate|
|Increase in the blood pressure|
|Increase in the respiratory rate|
|Breakdown of glycogen stores in liver and muscle|
|Formation of more glucose from non carbohydrate substances|
|Release of adrenaline|
|Hyper-focused thought patterns|
During the ‘fight or flight’ response a person becomes more athletic and also acutely aware of the environment surroundings that he or she is in. During extreme conditions (i.e. ac car accident) some people have reported feeling like everything is in slow motion. These functional adjustments are made to support a survivalistic reaction to a dangerous situation. Our body is designed to handle the ‘fight or flight’ response in short bursts not over extended periods of time or in a consistently repetitive patterns. Long term exposure to extreme stress is responsible for the effects on the body that manifest themselves with an array of signs and symptoms.
Long Term Effects of Stress
When the stress and anxiety are persistent or repetitive, the body keeps secreting the stress hormones (often referred to as the fight or flight reaction to an intense situation) and their blood levels remain continuously at a higher level hence, the associated functional adjustments. The body now experiences physical stress with an extra burden due to the side effects of the persistently high stress hormones. In some cases irreversible damages can be done in the central nervous system and related organ damage can be caused by the hormones released and resources used.
The manifestations could be one or more of the following:
|Mood swings, anxiety disorder(s)|
|Short or long term memory loss|
|Heart attack or stroke due to increased blood pressure|
|Sugar and cholesterol|
|Severe unhealthy weight loss or weight gain|
|Allergies becoming more prevalent|
|Irritable bowel syndrome|
|Ischemic Bowel disease like Crohn's disease|
|Decreased sexual drive|
Is there such a thing as good stress?
YES! Believe it or not there are some positive effects that stress can have in your life. When we think of stress most people think of that overwhelming uncomfortable feeling that we get when we are trapped in a bad situation, the overworked feeling that we get at our jobs or the feeling of helplessness that we get when our kids need us to be involved in more of their events than we can get to. There are however positive effects that small amounts of stress can have on our lives. There are good types of stress that can actually be healthy for your mind and your body. Stress can actually help a person to feel alive, be creative and appreciate joy and happiness. One example of positive stress is the response that we receive during illnesses or traumas like insect bites and scrapes. The response actually alerts our immune system and notifies it of the problem. This response is just what we need to provide a defense against infection. Another positive type of stress is the response we get when we are challenged athletically or mentally. This normally happens in some sort of a competition or a large work project. The response can be positive and can even boost self awareness, self confidence and level of alertness. Those reactions to stress will all contribute to a better performance. To understand the difference between negative and positive stress we should first learn about the different types of stress.
Types of Stress
Our lives can be impacted by different types of stress. Depending on the surrounding circumstances each of these types of stress can be either positive or negative. The first of these is eustress which is the type of positive stress. Eustress is a word consisting of two parts. The prefix derives from the Greek eu meaning either "well" or "good". When attached to the word "stress", it literally means "good stress". It was first used in 1975 by Dr. Hans Seyle. Eustress is the type of stress that people feel when meeting or engaging in a challenge like coming in first place in a race, getting a promotion at a job, watching a suspenseful or horror movie, falling in love, getting married, or during childbirth. People also experience eustress when they ride a roller-coaster or purchase something significant, like as a new car. People who exercise can feel eustress during a particularly hard work out as well.
The opposite of eustress is distress. Distress is what most people think of when they think of stress. Distress involves anxiety and inspires a lack of confidence. Just the same as eustress can enhance performance, distress and its negative implications can inhibit performance. Distress has negative implications like lack of appetite or lack of confidence, and in extreme cases depression or insomnia. Distress is the worst enemy of a productive lifestyle.
Both eustress and distress are taxing on the body especially the immune and nervous systems. Stress can build up much like the pressure in a pressure cooker unless there is some sort of release. It’s interesting that the body itself cannot physically discern between distress or eustress. If we are constantly exposed to unhealthy amounts of stress, good or bad, over long periods of time the physical effects will be the same.
There are exercises to release the built up stress and alleviate the anxiety. The effectiveness of the exercises really depends on how we deal with the change(s) that has caused the stress and anxiety in the first place. All of the same physical reactions are present in both forms of stress. The difference with distress is what individuals feel when they are frustrated, fearful or have unresolved anger. When too much of this stress is present it results in extreme anxiety and shows up in the form of irritability and the inability to cope with normal everyday situations.
There are healthy and unhealthy levels of stress. We need some stress in our lives to motivate us. With that in mind it could be considered unhealthy to be under-stressed. It is also unhealthy to be over-stressed for very obvious reasons. The absence of stress can affect performance, health and well being just as much as the existence of too much stress. For example an athlete who is competing in a field that offers no challenge would be under-stressed. This can actually lower the athlete’s performance because the lack of competitive stress fails to motivate him or her to give their best level of performance. The ‘fight or flight’ reaction that an athlete depends on actually helps to maximize their performances. The same can be said for our jobs and home life if no stress exists there could be a lack of motivation to give our best performance. That could lead to apathy and eventually to the beginnings of depression. An athlete that is facing a field that he or she feels is too competitive might become over anxious or over-stressed. In this situation the stress can cause the athlete to become over anxious and can have a similar affect on the performance and ultimate outcome of the competition. As you can see by the example some stress, whether good or bad, will enhance performance and create motivation but too much stress or not enough stress can take the motivation or the ability to deliver the best performance away.
When people don't have enough positive or negative stress in their lives they fail to feel anything. This state can be compared to being numb. When your mouth has been numbed by a dentist you can apply pressure with your fingers to your cheek or lips and you know that the pressure is there but there is no real sense of feeling, we don’t know whether the finger is hot or cold, wet or dry. In the same way that there is no feeling of hot or cold to your lips there is no feeling of happiness or anger, accomplishment or disappointment to your life. We actually become somewhat numb to the external stimulants and internal feelings that motivate us to actually do something. With a healthy amount of stress in our lives we become motivated to start or finish a task and interact with other people a little better. Boredom and hopelessness are two effects of being under-stressed. Depression is a disease that can attach its roots here. Be careful about wishing to have no stress in your life, you just might get exactly what you asked for…
Too much stress whether it is eustress or distress is referred to as over-stressed. This is what people feel after pushing themselves too hard for an upcoming deadline. This is when people don't have the time to sit back and think creatively and most of the focus is only on dealing with immediate issues. This is the trap that most people want to wish themselves out of. Too much stress and anxiety can make people irrational and impetuous when it comes to making decisions. Too much stress places people in panic mode so that rather than truly weighing out all of the options to make good solid choices we rush through the process just to get another annoying issue out of the way. The really unfortunate thing about this is that the whole process repeats it’s self. As we make rushed decisions we chance making mistakes. Those mistakes cause more anxiety and take time to fix. As you can see the cycle will continue until we find a way to break free.
So how do we sum all of this information up simply? By focusing on the good news, that not all stress is bad, that some stress, either eustress or distress, needs to exist in our lives in order for us to function. When experiencing; anxiety, worry, fear, pain or anger we know to classify these feelings as distress and know these feelings are all normal and should be dealt with as we feel them so as to release the pressure being built up on the inside. Remember the pressure cooker? Many discoveries and creative solutions that people come up with will be the result of a healthy amount of stress. A healthy amount of stress can help a person to learn new job skills, cope with life changes, react to a threatening or dangerous situation and deal with lifestyle changes. Basically a healthy amount of stress is something that produces good and useful results.
What to do about anxiety or being stressed
A lot can be done to help deal with stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety is a very personal issue. Each individual has been taught through their life’s trials and circumstances to deal with stress and anxiety in their own way. Many people are able to cope with extreme amounts of stress while others have near meltdowns because a small amount of stress gets to be too much to handle. The question is; what do we do if we’re stressed? If we are asking ourselves this question we are probably on the right track. The first step in dealing with anxiety or stress is recognizing that it exists. Once we recognize the presence of stress we can choose how to deal with it. There are several ways to deal with stress and anxiety. One way is to avoid the event or thing that leads to your stress. Sometimes avoidance is simply not possible. If a single situation consistently causes us to become over-stressed or anxious we should make the necessary changes in our lives to eliminate all or part of that situation. Another way is to change how we react to stress. This is often the more practical way. Remember we’re at the helm. We can choose how we react and how much we allow a stressful situation to affect us.
Setting those simple solutions aside there are some proactive ways to release the pressure that accumulates when the anxiety won’t go away. If you feel the stress is building up on the inside enough that you might just explode you should explore some of the exercises below.
Natural remedies and supplements:
Natural remedies can help to support the nervous system and to keep nerves settled and soothed. Herbs and vitamins are a great tool. They can feed and strengthen the weakened resources that stress and anxiety can create. Herbal supplements can enable us to cope more easily with the everyday stresses of our modern lives. In fact, natural remedies have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to treat nervousness, muscle tension, chronic headaches, mood swings, blood pressure, heart issues and libido for both men and women. All of these issues are symptoms that one might experience with unhealthy, uncontrolled stress or anxiety. In more recent times, research has confirmed the traditional wisdom and the healing properties that natural herbal remedies possess. There are many published clinical studies demonstrating the ability of herbs and vitamins that assist in dealing with stress, anxiety and a number of the symptoms that accompany those issues. When you’re experiencing the physical symptoms of anxiety; nervous tension, upset stomach, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, and headaches, to name a few, there are herbs and vitamins that can help reduce the effects of those symptoms and lessen mild to moderate anxiety. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a supplement to help you relax or whether you have been dealing with long-term life stress there are herbs, vitamins and herbal formulas that are designed to help.
Below is a short list of herbs, vitamins and minerals that have worked wonders for those who are in distress:
Valerian Root (Valerina Officinalis), Contained in NaturAll-Calm
Valerian Root works as a mild sedative. Research has shown that Valerian Root helps to calm the nerves, reduce the effects of anxiety, and provide better control of the fight-or-flight response to stress. It is also used as a natural sleep aid, alleviating sleep difficulty due to anxiety.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum: Hyperici herba), Contained in NaturAll-Calm
St. John's Wort is a plant the leaf and flower of which have been used medicinally for centuries to treat a variety of illnesses and conditions
St John’s Wort has traditionally been used in Asia and Europe to support your body in fighting depression. Other historical uses include nervous conditions such as anxiety, sleep disorders, inflammation and bacterial infections. St Johns wort side effects are very minimal.
An analysis of 23 clinical studies involving a total of 1757 patients concluded that St. John's Wort is significantly more effective than placebo and as effective as standard antidepressant medications in the treatment of mild or moderate depression. (Linde, et al. 1996).
A new study on treatments for depression found that St. John's Wort outperformed the #1 selling antidepressant drug, Paxil. The researchers treated 251 patients with major depression with either a standard dose of the St. John's Wort extract (900 milligrams a day) or the antidepressant Paxil (20 milligrams a day).
Dosages of their treatment were increased in patients that did not show improvements. Neither the patients nor their physicians knew which treatment was being given.
At the end of six weeks, 71% of the patients taking St. John's Wort and 60% of those taking Paxil had responded to treatment, meaning that they showed measurable improvement. For St. John's Wort- treated patients, 50% were free of depression symptoms as opposed to 35% of the Paxil- treated patients.
The findings are published in the latest online edition of the British Medical Journal.
Passion Flower ( Passiflora Incarnata), Contained in NaturAll-Calm
Passion flower is a natural sedative and anxiolytic. This means that it works to calm the nerves and soothe tension caused by stress and anxiety. It takes action in the Central Nervous System (CNS), reducing the physical symptoms of anxiety and greatly improving mood.
Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita), Contained in NaturAll-Calm
Chamomile is best known for calming anxious and hyperactive children, and it is often used in teas designed to reduce sleep difficulty. This popular herb encourages relaxation and soothes nervous tension. It can also alleviate some of the physical side effects of long-term anxiety such as upset stomach, digestive problems, and restlessness.
Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)
The active ingredients in kava kava have a calming, sedative effect. They also appear to relax the muscles, relieve spasms, and prevent convulsions. Kava is very useful for relieving anxiety and the symptoms associated with it, such as nervousness, restlessness, and dizziness. Kava may be used as an alternative to prescription anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants. Kava can be used alone, or with St. John's wort, ginkgo biloba, or 5-HTP to relieve anxiety in those with mild to moderate depression.
Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)
Lemon balm can help to reduce heart palpitations, lower blood pressure, and alleviate headaches. It can also reduce feelings of nervous tension and anxiety-related intestinal problems, nausea, and muscle spasms.
The result of a mild calcium deficiency over the long term may be thinning bones (osteoporosis) or the softening of bony tissue (osteomalacia). Recent research points to calcium deficiency as being a possible cause of hypertension (high blood pressure) and of colon cancer. Severe calcium deficiency can cause sensations of numbness and tingling around the mouth and fingertips and painful aches and spasms of the muscles. Calcium is used in almost every function in our body including nerve functions. Calcium uptake is so important during stressful events. It can help to maintain clear communication in the nervous system.
In the International Medicine World Report in 1992, it is stated that; “An estimated that 80 percent of the population is deficient in magnesium. Sherry Rogers, M.D., went on to say that magnesium deficiency is prevalent in psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, agitation and panic attacks. Magnesium and stress are closely linked. When a person is stressed he or she will use the magnesium in their system to counteract stress. When magnesium levels are low, the nervous system gets out of balance. The nervous system sends information to the muscles through neural transmitters. The muscles receive the information and then grow tight. Tight muscles are a sign of stress but also add to the mental stress. Magnesium can actually counteract stress. Since magnesium and stress are so closely linked it stands to reason that supplementing with magnesium during stressful events can help us to cope with the stress. At the same time, any stress, whether mental or physical, will deplete magnesium. Magnesium gained its name as nature's anti-stress mineral due to its helpfulness in combating internal stress and in the restoration of inner balance.
Vitamin B Complex
The B-Vitamin Family is a group of vitamins that all help with energy level and mood balance. They strengthen the body against stress and support healthy nervous system function, aiding in the fight against both anxiety and depression.
Zinc is an essential mineral. That means that the body cannot produce it. The only way to receive zinc is with foods rich in zinc or a supplement. Zinc has been found to promote proper function of the nervous system and induce a state of calm. The health benefits of Zinc include proper functioning of immune system, digestion, pancreatic function, improves stress level, energy metabolism, acne and wounds healing. Zinc is also an important supplement for pregnancy, hair care, eczema, weight loss, night blindness and eye care.
Supplementing a healthy diet with these herbs and vitamins, getting plenty of rest, cutting back on stimulants such as caffeine, participating in regular physical activity, and changing our perspective or the way we react to stressful situations. Speak with our healthcare provider before beginning use of any herbal supplement if you plan on using these herbs and vitamins in conjunction with prescription medication. Remember whatever path we choose toward anxiety treatment—there is help and we are in charge.
Other remedies and therapies:
Meditation is a form of guided thought. It can be performed almost anywhere that you are comfortable. You can meditate while you exercise. Some exercises lend themselves to meditation usually they are exercises that use the same motions over and over like yoga, tai chi, stretching, walking or swimming, jogging or biking. You can meditate while practicing relaxation training or deep breathing exercises, you can also meditate in a quiet dimly lit room. For all of you that want the pure experience of meditating there is a meditation exercise that really works. It is especially good with people that are new to meditation. It is meditation using visualization. This is a simple visualization that helps you to reduce tension, stress and anxiety. It is totally suitable for meditation new comers. There is a rule or two. First, be patient with yourself. As you gain experience with meditation it will become more and more effective and beneficial to your health and well being. With experience and practice you will find that you are able to cleanse your mind of the toxic outer world and focus on your needs. Second learn to adapt to your style. Everyone reading this article are individuals. Every individual has a different set of stressors, a different level of tolerances and a different use of time so needless to say that what works for one will not necessarily work for all…
Below are the basic steps to the visualization techniques:
|Sit down, close your eyes, and direct your attention to your breathing|
|Be aware of every breath in and every breath out|
|Let your breathing become completely natural don’t force the rhythm|
|Observe how the air slowly goes in through your nose, fills up your lungs, and goes out again|
|With every breath in, feel the positive energy entering your body through your nose and lungs|
|With every breath out, feel all negative feelings, tension, stress and anxiety escape from your body|
|As you become more and more relaxed, choose an image, a situation, or an environment that feels restful, peaceful, and calm to you|
|Explore the situation or environment, in your imagination, and enjoy every moment in those surroundings|
|Try to involve all your senses. What are the smells, tastes, looks, and feelings that create the soft smile on your lips?|
|Focus on this image and hold it in your mind|
|Enjoy this moment in all its details and pay attention to all the emotions that accompany it|
|Feel the tingling in your body, feel your muscles relaxing, and notice your body reacting directly to everything that you created in your mind|
|Continue this Visualization for as long as you like|
|Any time you are ready to stop, take your attention back to the rest of your body and become aware of yourself being in the room|
|Open your eyes|
Relaxation training is a more physical way to relieve stress and anxiety. It differs from meditation because it involves flexing and releasing different muscles instead of working mostly in your mind. Relaxation training is really pretty simple but simple can be very effective. Relaxation training was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a popular relaxation training technique for anxiety that works on several basic principles: Anxiety is often accompanied by muscle tension, so by reducing muscle tension, you can reduce anxiety.
What PMR involves: This relaxation training technique for anxiety requires deep concentration in a relaxed setting. Mentally focus on distinct muscles, muscle groups or body parts and systematically attempt to flex and then relax each muscle, group of muscles or body part one by one. The process is sees so simple and yet it is one of the highest in recommended self guided distressing techniques today among therapists.
Stretching can also help relieve tension. Often times stress will show up as muscle tension. One of the most common groups of muscles to be affected it the neck and shoulders. Some simple stretching exercises that focus on those groups can aid in the release of those tensions and anxieties. Again the exercises are simple but effective. All you have to do is roll your head in a gentle circle clockwise for a minute or so the reverse the motion and roll your head in a counter clockwise motion. This is NOT a fast exercise. It should be slow and methodic. You should close your eyes and focus on lightly stretching each muscle in your neck and shoulders. Next you should reach toward the ceiling with both of your hands and bend side to side slowly. Finally you can stretch or isolate your shoulders by doing a slow front swimming stroke one arm at a time on each side then repeat that using a back stroke.
You can use any or all of these techniques to help alleviate the tension that stress and anxiety create. Some of these things can be used in combination with each other. The key is to use them on a consistent basis. All of these exercises have been proven to relieve tension and stress. They are all designed to benefit those who suffer from being over-stressed in their personal or occupational lives.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is nutritional in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.