The Physical Affects Of Stress

August 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Health Blog, Stress

Stress is one of those commonly used terms that can mean many different things. From a physiological point of view, the body’s mechanism for responding to stress involves three components that are all part of the endocrine (hormone) system. In the brain, the hypothalamus gland releases chemicals that affect the pituitary gland.

The pituitary in turn releases chemicals into the bloodstream that target the adrenal glands. These are located on top of each kidney and are responsible for secreting adrenaline, eliciting the familiar “fight or flight” mechanism. This so-called HPA axis is the body’s way of responding to threats – whether they are physical or emotional. This constitutes the physiological or physical definition of stress.

When you are feeling stressed your adrenal glands secrete large amounts of stress hormones such as adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol. This ‘extra’ supply of hormones allows the body to cope with the extra pressure caused by your stress.

However, when these hormones are secreted in excessive amounts and/or for prolonged periods, toxicity can occur due to the large amounts produced and the body’s inability to remove the excess effectively. This toxic load causes organs such as the liver and kidneys to work overtime in order to try to eliminate the excessive amounts of these substances. This process can be very damaging to your health if allowed to continue. This uncontrolled process can result in blood sugar imbalances, reduced immune function, heart disease, cancer and a number of other serious health conditions.

During chronic stress, HPA axis over-activity may result in adrenal fatigue. Critical nutrients such as magnesium, B vitamins, carnitine and calcium are required for mitochondrial function but may be “used up” during times of chronic stress due to the increased demands placed on the body. This can leave the mitochondria nutritionally deprived causing fatigue.

The modern equivalent of the physical stress experienced by our ancestors surviving in the wilderness is the emotional stress in modern society – which is often more prolonged than physical stress. This kind of stress has been demonstrated to cause an immune system response in the form of an acute phase reaction – the faster, all-or-nothing type of inflammation as contrasted with the slower, more specific acquired immunity. It can thus be said that an inflammatory response is actually part of the (HPA) stress mechanism. In this manner, prolonged stress brought about by mental/emotional conditions can affect the Th1 / Th2 immune balance, thus leading to associated diseases involving allergies and autoimmunity.

Therefore it is essential that you identify and treat the source of your stress if you want to live a long and happy life.

If your problems seem overwhelming and you require counselling, mindset techniques to help you cope or hypnotherapy for relaxation, or you would like to support your adrenal glands, nervous system and hormonal system with beneficial herbs and nutrients during times of stress, contact our clinic to make an appointment.

In the meantime:

Try not to take life too seriously…

Learn to have fun and let go…

And Try to be more tolerant and accepting of others…

Because we really are all different and we can’t always agree with each other…

“You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created”
Albert Einstein

Yours In Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MNHAA, MHATO

Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher 

Earth Medicine TM


Email: [email protected]


Helping you achieve optimal wellness, hormonal balance and disease prevention with personalised, professional naturopathic health care, clinical pathology testing and high-quality herbal medicines and supplements 

Sar Rooney is a Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner specialising in Anxiety and Depression |Women’s Health| Hormonal Imbalances | Thyroid Disorders | Digestive Health | Genetic Polymorphisms (MTHFR/Pyroluria) | Nutritional Medicine | Optimal Wellness & Disease Prevention 

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Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. Please note: I am not a medical practitioner.

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