Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Chronic Stress Affects the Body

During World War I, shell shock was described as the reaction of soldiers to the trauma of battle. This apparent reaction led to symptoms such as being unable to reason, sleep, walk or talk. "Simply put, after even the most obedient soldier had enough shells rain down on him, without any means of fighting back, he often lost all self control. At the time, the concept of shell shock was ill defined.” [1]

In World War II and thereafter, the diagnosis of "shell shock" was replaced by that of combat stress reaction, a similar but not identical response to the trauma of warfare. Not everyone understood or empathized with this phenomena, especially when soldiers seemed to exhibit no other signs of injuries or head wounds other than symptoms of fatigue. In fact, it is documented that General Patton once slapped soldier Paul G. Bennet, for claiming that his nerves would get the best of him, so he refused to go back to the field. Patton saw that as an act of cowardice and a slap to the face ensued.[2]

Throughout the years, this condition morphed into words such as battle fatigue syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorders, which is a psychological disorder that develops in some individuals who have had major traumatic experiences.

Whatever name you give this condition they all seem to have one common denominator that causes a shut down of the metabolic system and results in a domino effect of serious problems to the body: CHRONIC STRESS.

I can speak with some type of authority in the subject matter of chronic stress because I lived with it for a large portion of my life. Although, it will probably never compare to the types of traumas our soldiers have had to endure, I used this comparison to illustrate the seriousness that chronic stress can cause on one’s metabolic system.

If you read my past blog, “The Day My Body Yelled, STOP!” I detailed the many symptoms I experienced which led to a metabolic shutdown that caused me to stop practicing Krav Maga for an extended period of time. In order to get a better understanding of why that happened, I interviewed an expert in the field of chiropractic neuroscience, from Charlotte, N.C., who specializes in stress reduction therapy, Dr. James Todd Boyd.[3]

Photo credit:
“Can you explain what happens when the body is experiencing an excessive amount of stress?” I asked.

"Sure, when a person is in a state of stress, the body's response is to engage into the fight or flight mode which releases hormones from the adrenal glands such as Cortisol, DHEA, and Adrenaline.  The Cortisol levels go up to help deal with the stress, so the body’s job then is to bring those levels back to normal. Your brain then releases neurotransmitters to normalize those levels. Cortisol is supposed to naturally spike up in the morning upon waking and then gradually go down as the day goes on so that we can get to sleep at night.  When we are under chronic stress, our adrenals cannot produce the proper amounts of Cortisol and it just flat-lines all day long.  The adrenals literally wear themselves out so that you can't get that extra jump-start when you need it most.  This in turn will throw the other neurotransmitters out of balance and then nothing functions properly.  When that happens, you may experience symptoms such as:

Chronic fatigue
Joint stiffness
Aches and pains
Weight gain
Destabilized hormones
Compromised immune function which can lead to illness

Hearing him speak of Cortisol, the hormone needed to deal with stress, I compare that to gas in a car. Our body is the car that needs the gas to keep running. What happens if we run our car at an accelerated rate all the time without ever taking the time to fill it with more gas? After we're done running on fumes, our vehicle will eventually shut down. Like the car, we can't keep running our body at an accelerated rate without ever giving it time to replace it with more of the hormones, or gas, we need to bring it back down to a state of balance. The results to our vehicle, our body, can prove disastrous. 

(This is a three-part segment if you enjoyed reading this, continue to parts 2 and parts 3)

2. Keane, Michael. "Patton: Blood, Guts, and Prayer."

3. Dr. James Todd Boyd is an expert in Chiropractic Neuroscience, specializing in Neurological Stress Reduction Therapy (NSRT) through the use of laser induction therapy or laser acupuncture to help bring the neurological/ immune/ endocrine systems back into balance. NSRT combines biofeedback, laser induction therapy, and nutrition.  He has seen much success through this treatment. Allergies have been very responsive with NSRT.  They also have the first documented case of having successfully treated a patient with a severe red meat allergy after being bitten by the Lone Star Tick. Until now, there had been no known cure.  They regularly see patients with adrenal fatigue, eczema, and even autism with incredible results by simply using the NSRT.  Detecting stress and then changing the way the body responds to that stress is key to helping the body get to a state of true health and wellness. You may reach him at his website or his new practice at the following:

Integra Wellness Center
1040 Edgewater Corporate Prkway
Indian Land, SC

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