Most of us are under chronic stress. The term stress derives from the Latin stringere meaning “to draw tight”.
And that’s exactly what it feels like.
There are two types of stress, acute and chronic.
Acute stress is when our fight or flight response is activated and then returns to normal. Acute stress can be triggered by real or imaginary threats. Being scared in a movie is an imaginary threat but you still jump and your heart races. Once the movie is over so is the stress and you know it.
Chronic stress is when we are in a long term or continuous state of nervousness. We feel that the demands on us are greater than our ability to meet those demands. We stay in a constant state of suppressed fight or flight. The stress never ends.
Stress Induced Illnesses
Significant health problems can be related to stress. Studies show that about 90% of primary care doctor visits are for stress related issues.
Stress can affect how you feel physically and mentally. It can contribute to weight gain, damage your heart and make you look older.
Some of our most common dis-eases are known to be stress related:
- Cardiovascular disease. Increased heart rate and high blood pressure are two of the most serious health effects of stress. Studies have shown a link between higher reported stress levels and increased risk of heart attack and strokes.
- Inflammation. Raised levels of stress hormones can cause inflammation and weaken our immune system.
- Insomnia and sleep problems. A common side effect of stress is the inability to be able to get to sleep or fall back to sleep.
- Headaches. Stress is considered one of the most common triggers for tension headaches and migraines.
- Depression and anxiety. Feeling unable to cope and worrying a lot is another stress symptom. Chronic stress is connected with higher rates of depression and anxiety.
- Digestive problems. Nausea and stomachache with no medical cause can often be stress related. A cluster of symptoms including bloating, cramps, diarrhea and constipation are worsened in times of anxiety and stress.
- Asthma. Many studies of shown that stress can worsen asthma.
- Diabetes. Stress has been shown to raise the glucose levels of people with type II diabetes.
In herbal medicine, tonic herbs are used to help restore, tone and invigorate body systems. They promote general health and well-being and can be safely taken over a long period of time.
Herbs can’t eliminate the causes of stress in our lives, but they can support, soothe and balance our physical and emotional bodies.
Tonic herbs are most effective when used regularly on a daily basis. Adaptogens are tonic herbs that specifically balance and mitigate the effects of stress.
Here are 3 tonic herbs that can help you deal with stress:
- Ashwagandha: My favorite adaptogen herb and a stress-fighting superstar. Shown to aid in anxiety relief, fight fatigue and reduce cortisol levels.
- Stinging Nettles: Don’t panic, cooking or drying the leaves for tea deactivates the sting. High in vitamins and nutrients, nettles help us when we’re feeling depleted from times of high stress or recovering from overwork and overwhelm. It helps the body to release toxins.
- Milky Oats: This herb is the same plant as oatmeal, but we harvest the seeds before they ripen. Oats actually restores nourishment to the nervous system, making it crucial for adrenal exhaustion and chronic fatigue.
These three herbs make a great tea individually or together. All of them are a part of the herbal tea blend that I personally drink every day. They are also key ingredients in the Everyday Vital-i-Tea that I make and sell.
Dealing with stress is an everyday issue. Good health requires vigilance. Using tonic herbs as part of your daily routine can be both tasty and healthy!