The Physical Impacts of Stress on the body’s Hormones and Organs
Hans Selye is considered the father of Stress Research. His experiments in the 1930’s where he exposed rats to physical stressors led to the rats developing large adrenals, a shrunken lymphatic system and thymus gland (the thymus produces immune cells) and gastric ulcers. Hence stress is not just something you feel emotionally; it has physical impacts on your body!
The Stress Response
The first effect of a stressor on you triggers your sympathetic nervous system (fight and flight) to stimulate your adrenals to produce adrenaline and noradrenaline. Your blood pressure, breathing and heartrate increases. The parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for digestion/sleep) is suppressed. This is why insomnia can happen when you feel stressed as well as digestive disturbances.
As part of the initial stress response, cortisol increases, which affects glucose tolerance, your immune system and your thyroid gland
Aldosterone also increases, and this hormone regulates sodium and fluid in the body. Anti-diuretic hormone is also produced which leads to water retention and high blood pressure.
After long periods of stress, you enter a phase called ‘Distress’. Your hormones don’t return to normal levels, your organs get over stimulated and there can be tissue damage. Prolonged stress is the start of many diseases including autoimmune, thyroid, depression and hormonal disturbances (which may cause fertility issues).
The final phase of chronic stress is ‘Fatigue’. Cortisol decreases, which makes you feel tired. So you may crave sugar, carbohydrates and caffeine to perk you up! Your Serotonin levels may be low, making you feel depressed. The suppression of your parasympathetic nervous system may lead to digestive issues, insomnia and anxiety.
Have you been experiencing prolonged stress? Would you like a Naturopathic approach to improve your physical/emotional response to stress? Anita Chakraburtty is a Registered Naturopath with an MSc in Chemistry and previous Pharmaceutical Research experience. Ring Feelgood Balham on 0208 673 2163 to book in with Anita for a 1 hr Naturopathic Consultation which includes Iridology. Anita is available daytimes only during the week and also on weekends.