Relief for Chronic Stress, Fatigue Syndromes and Exhaustion
Relief for Chronic Stress, Fatigue Syndromes and Exhaustion: Nutritional Supplements & Dietary Factors
Maile Pouls, Ph.D.
Are you feeling stressed these days? Who isn’t? Whether your stress is caused by finances, relationships, or hectic work schedules -we all deal with stress. Some stress can be healthy, however, chronic stress is the underlying cause for many common symptoms of poor health. Many people are turning to prescription or recreational drugs or alcohol to help cope with their stress. This may help alleviate the problem temporarily; however, drugs and alcohol often cause side effects, dependency, and actually add more stress to the body.
This article will offer you methods for approaching stress and fatigue from a healthy, natural perspective. By learning how your diet and lifestyle affect your body and how to support the organs and glands your body uses to deal with stress using “targeted” nutrition, you can arm your body with a natural “stress defense system” that will protect you through difficult times without side effects or dependency.
This weeks featured nutritional formula:
Healthy Alternative's Plus "Stress Relief & Energy Support" dietary supplement.
What Is Stress?
Stress is the reaction of the body to any stimulus or interference that disturbs mental or physical health or normal functioning. Stress is caused by illness, pain, emotional upset, or by external circumstances such as losing a job, or the death of a spouse or family member.
In today’s society, stress affects everyone.
The body cannot differentiate between positive and negative stress. Even happy events, such as a wedding or awards presentation, can be very stressful to the body. The body does not seem to differentiate between whether a stress is emotional, financial, nutritional, biochemical or environmental. All stresses take their toll.
One of the greatest general stresses you can place on the body is nutritional deficiencies. This forces the body into a balancing act where it must constantly redirect energy. This leaves the “human machine” running in a limited capacity—waiting for a breakdown.
Factors That Increase Nutritional Needs and
Contribute to Stress and Dis-ease:
- Lack of exercise, clean air, and pure water
- Lack of sleep or relaxation
- Depletion of minerals (caused by consuming sugar and commercial foods)
- Exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and other human-made chemicals
- Use of antibiotics, corticosteroids, and immune suppressing prescription drugs
- Use of other prescription or recreational drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
- Consumption of junk foods, excessive in sugar, oils, fats, and heavy proteins
- Lack of enzymes (caused by consuming mainly cooked, refined, processed food)
- Poor digestion and/or assimilation of nutrients
- Increased emotional and environmental stresses
- Individual and unique biochemical needs
Which Physical Symptoms and Conditions are Caused By Stress?
A certain amount of stress in our lives is considered normal; however, prolonged bouts of stress can lead to fatigue, exhaustion, minor illness, immune suppression, and finally chronic degenerative conditions in the body. Chronic stress negatively affects the immune system. I have found that a very high percentage of my clients who have allergies also have adrenal gland stress and/or exhaustion. Many people attribute their stress-related symptoms to “nerves.” In fact, stress affects the parts of the body that are related to stress: the nervous system (especially through the digestive and intestinal systems) and the adrenal and thyroid glands (hormone-producing glands). 1.
Initial symptoms of stress-related disorders may be back pain, headaches, and neck aches. Other health conditions precipitated by stress include cardiovascular conditions, colitis, depression, diarrhea, digestive disorders, dizziness, gastric and intestinal ulcers, hair loss, high blood pressure, impotence or lack of sexual interest, insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite, anxiety and nervous disorders, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, premenstrual syndrome and menstrual disorders, skin conditions, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndromes (jaw pain and clicking), and weight loss or gain (anxiety eating). 2.
Stress Solutions: Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
People who have healthy lifestyles and diets generally have more energy to cope with stressful situations. A healthy diet involves making time to plan, prepare, and eat healthy meals in an environment that is not stressful, and by eating a diet rich in a variety of foods, including fruits, grains, and vegetables. For optimal health, (for people who do not have a medically restricted diet) fresh fruits and fresh and cooked vegetables should make up 50% to 75% of your diet. 3.
Eating “fast food” on the run is very stressful to the body in many ways. In addition to providing nutritionally deficient meals, eating high-calorie, high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar, and highly processed or overcooked foods often leads to weight gain, which places additional stress on the body. I recommend that you try to avoid or reduce all foods that place stress on the body or require excessive energy from the body to digest and assimilate, such as artificial colors and sweeteners, preservatives, carbonated colas and sodas, fried foods, red meats, white flour foods, and most packaged, processed snack foods. A rule of thumb I offer my clients is to, “Eat more foods that look like they came off a tree, from a plant, or out of the ground, buy organic whenever possible, and try fruits and vegetables that are colorful (green, yellow, red, orange, or purple) as these are the foods naturally high in enzymes, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. The more a food is cooked, packaged, processed and refined, the more it will be lacking in enzymes and nutrients and containing higher levels of chemicals and industrial toxins.”
Healthy lifestyles involve taking the time to engage in certain healthy hobbies and activities, such as aerobic exercise, weight training, yoga, dancing, running, swimming, walking, rebounding on a mini-trampoline, and bicycling, while avoiding detrimental habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol or caffeine-containing beverages. Whenever possible, get outdoors, be around plants and flowers, play with animals, take some deep breaths, and stretch. Getting enough rest and relaxation is crucial to the body for ongoing repair and regeneration of tissues and for the building of an energy reserve needed to cope with future stressors. Being physically fit actually makes you less vulnerable to stress.
It is also important to consume enough purified or filtered water. The best way to determine how much water you should consume every day is to divide your body weight by two. This number will give you the approximate number of ounces of water you should drink per day. For example, a 100-pound woman should drink 50 ounces of water per day, or 6 eight-ounce glasses.
How Do the Adrenal Glands “Handle” Stress?
The adrenal glands function in the body to help handle stress. They act as our body’s “shock-absorbers.” When the body encounters stress or has low blood sugar, the adrenal glands release the hormone adrenaline into the blood. This hormone immediately increases blood pressure, stimulates the heart, and relaxes the muscles in the lungs. Adrenaline is ideally supposed to be released in situations where “fight or flight” decisions are being made. In modern society, however, high stress levels cause adrenaline to constantly circulate in the body. This can contribute to nervousness, anxiousness, and insomnia. Exercise, dance, walking, and high-energy work help diminish the levels of adrenaline in the blood. Increased levels of these hormones and their metabolites, and other stress-related chemicals left circulating in the blood awaiting removal, can leave a person feeling anxious, irritable, tense, and nervous. 4.
How Do the Adrenal Glands Become Fatigued?
The multiple stresses of modern day life combined with the standard American diet, along with the consumption or use of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and prescription or recreational drugs can over-stimulate and place stress on the adrenal glands. When the intensity and frequency of stress overcomes the level at which a person can cope with such stressors, something is bound to break down. At this point, people become more vulnerable and susceptible to colds, flu, and infections. People exhibit adrenal gland stress or exhaustion in a variety of ways, some of which can even seem conflicting. Some people exhibit anxiety, nervousness, hyperactivity, or insomnia, while others experience only fatigue or low energy. Some unfortunate individuals experience both. Other signs include overreacting to noises or sudden stimuli, or a craving for salt. 5. One of the most obvious signs of adrenal fatigue is when a person wakes up tired even after a good night’s sleep. Because adrenal fatigue and exhaustion have a negative effect on the immune system, these are often the individuals who catch every cold and flu that goes around or are sick during every flu season.
What are Adaptogenic Herbs?
Adaptogens help the body remain vital and healthy by affecting the brain, muscles, liver, kidneys, and nerves, energizing them and allowing them to function properly even in stressful environments or conditions. Adaptogens work by bringing the body into balance regardless of whether a person is nervous and anxious or fatigued and has low levels of energy. Adaptogens have the special ability to bring either or both conditions to a balanced middle ground. 6. They act as a relaxant without causing drowsiness. 7. They impart grounded energy to someone who is fatigued—not nervous “caffeine-type” energy, and help ground people who are nervous and high-strung. 8.
How do they do this? What exactly is happening in the body chemically?
Adaptogens appear to work by stimulating both physical and mental activity; by protecting and improving the function of the endocrine glands and the liver; by sparing the use of glycogen (the glucose stored in the liver and muscles) and increasing the use of fatty acids for energy.
Can you have too much of them for your own good, like with Vitamin C? Is there a limit? As with all nutrients, there are suggested time and dose ranges for adaptogenic herbs. Regarding ginseng; it is recommended that people take it for two to three weeks, then take one to two weeks off, and do not take ginseng continuously. If:
You are presently taking blood-thinning prescription drugs,
You have been recently diagnosed with high blood pressure,
You have been recently diagnosed with cardiovascular disease,
You have been recently diagnosed with an abnormal or rapid heartbeat, or if
You are preparing to undergo surgery, you should consult with a qualified health care professional before taking ginseng products.
In my clinical nutritional practice, many people complain of stress, fatigue, and exhaustion. To these people I recommend adaptogenic herbs, including Siberian Ginseng root, American Ginseng root, Schizandra berries, and Ashwagandha root. Siberian and Panax ginseng. These adaptogenic herbs, which moderate the stress response, reduce the activation of the adrenal cortex in response to stress.9. These adaptogens also help to prevent stress-induced damage to the thymus gland and lymph glands located throughout the body, which are all components of the immune system. Siberian ginseng supplements provide an increased feeling of well-being, heightened ability to handle stress, increased mental alertness and work output, and increased physical endurance. 10.
American Ginseng root is beneficial especially when the adrenal glands are exhausted and endocrine functioning is insufficient.
Schizandra helps to bring balance and equilibrium to the body even in the presence of stress or pathology. It also improves overall response and strengthens the central and peripheral nervous systems. 11.
Ashwagandha root is considered rejuvenative and a vitalizer in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine. It has adaptogenic effects as do members of the ginseng family, thus it is considered to be “Indian Ginseng.” 12.
Vitamins that I recommend for conditions of stress and fatigue include B vitamins, folic acid, and biotin. The family of B Vitamins (B1, or Thiamine; B2, or Riboflavin; B3, or Niacin; B5 or Pantothenic Acid; B6, or Pyridoxine; and B12, or Cyanocobalamin) are crucial for helping the body cope with stress and essential for numerous functions including food metabolism and energy production, the formation of red blood cells, protecting cells against free-radicals, blood sugar regulation, supporting the adrenal glands in production of hormones (B5 is known as the anti-stress vitamin) helping to regulate electrolyte mineral balance, and maintaining the health of the nervous system. Folic Acid is essential for red and white blood cell formation. Biotin participates in metabolism of food and release of energy. It also assists in the making of amino acids, nucleic acids, fatty acids, and use of the other B vitamins. 18, 19
Antioxidants and Other Vitamins
I believe that everyone should take antioxidant nutrients. One of the greatest general stresses placed on the body is oxidative stress.13. Free-radicals caused by oxidative stress are now considered contributing factors to many degenerative health conditions.
Oxidative, free-radical reactions cause cell membrane damage, DNA damage, and interfere with numerous cellular chemistries. Health conditions associated with free radical damage include liver damage, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, diabetic conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, immune system dysfunction, inflammation, neurological degeneration, and red blood cell damage. 14.
Sources of free-radicals (oxidizing agents) include cigarette smoke, cooked or rancid fats and oils, heavy exercise, heavy metal poisoning (including aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel), human-made chemical poisons (herbicides, pesticides), natural toxins (Candida albicans), radiation (of any form), stress (of any form), and sunlight. 15.
Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, the minerals selenium and zinc, the nutrients alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, and herbs such as gingko biloba, green tea, bilberry, pine bark and grape seed extracts all can assist the body in the defense against free-radical oxidative damage to the body’s cells and tissues.
I often recommend Coenzyme Q10 and L-Carnitine in combination for people who are fatigued and exhausted, as these two nutrients are essential for proper cellular energy production. 16 & 17
I recommend that you make your health a top priority. Take the time and make the effort to gradually change your diet, lifestyle, relaxation, and exercise programs. Let these changes become an increasing part of your “new, healthier life.” Develop these habits and know that the benefits are cumulative and will continually improve the quality of your life. Health is wealth.
See the bottom of this page for Dr.’s Pouls Clinical Background, Services, and contact numbers.
- J Balch, M.D., P Balch, C.N.C., Prescription for Nutritional Healing (New York, NY: Avery) 2000. Pages 646-647.
- G Pouls, D.C., M Pouls, Ph.D., The Supplement Shopper (Tiburon, CA: Future Medicine Publishing, 1999). Pages 369-370.
- Maile Pouls, Ph.D., from clinical experience.
- G Pouls, D.C., M Pouls, Ph.D., The Supplement Shopper (Tiburon, CA: Future Medicine Publishing, 1999). Page 370.
- Maile Pouls, Ph.D., from clinical experience.
- M Werbach, M.D., M Murray, N.D., Botanical Influences on Illness (Tarzana, CA: Third Line Press), 1994. Pages 10-11.
- Maile Pouls, Ph.D., from clinical experience.
- Maile Pouls, Ph.D., from clinical experience.
- M Murray, N.D., J. Pizzorno, N.D., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing), 1991. Pages 97-98.
- D Mowrey, Ph.D., The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine (New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing), 1986. Pages102-103, 192-193.
- Therapeutic Research Faculty, Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty Publishing) 1999. Page 832.
- J Balch, M.D., P Balch, C.N.C., Prescription for Nutritional Healing (New York, NY: Avery) 2000. Page 89.
- M Pouls, Ph.D., Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, “Oral Chelation and Nutritional Replacement Therapy for Chemical and Heavy Metal Toxicity and Cardiovascular Disease” July 1999. Pages 82-91.
- RA Passwater, Ph.D., The Nutrition Superbook: Volume I: The Antioxidants, The Nutrients That Guard the Body Against Cancer, Heart Disease, Arthritis and Allergies- and Even Slow the Aging Process (New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing) 1995. Pages 4-8, 184-186, 363.
- Life Extension Media, Disease Prevention and Treatment, Third Edition (Hollywood, FL: Life Extension Foundation) 2000. Page 21.
- M Ebadi, J Marwah, R Chopra, Mitochondrial Ubiquinone (CoenzymeQ10): Biochemical, Functional, Medical and Therapeutic Aspects in Human Health and Diseases, Volume 1 (Scottsdale, AZ: Prominent Press) 2001. Page186.
- S Felice, M.D., The Carnitine Defense (Rodale) 1999. Page 89.
- J Balch, M.D., P Balch, C.N.C., Prescription for Nutritional Healing (New York, NY: Avery) 2000. Pages 15-19.
- M Murray, N.D., Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements (Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing), 1996. Pages 81-136.
The Health Enhancement Center – Clinical Background & Services:
Since 1990, Maile Pouls, Ph.D., has provided long-distance individualized nutritional programs to thousands of Americans of all ages, to support their body's natural healing abilities. Maile’s specialty is determining the relationship between underlying nutritional deficiencies and body chemistry imbalances and resulting health conditions.
Using in-depth diet and health history questionnaires and various laboratory studies, Maile is able to determine if nutritional deficiencies (or excesses) and other stress factors related to body chemistry imbalances are contributing to the person's health conditions and special needs. Each person is then placed on a customized protocol of therapeutic nutritional supplements and diet to correct these deficiencies, imbalances and toxicities. Complete, written instructions and product information is provided.
I tell every client, "I don't address just symptoms or treat disease states, I look for underlying chemistry imbalances or nutritional deficiencies. Reversing these imbalances and deficiencies is possible in most cases. It can take years for chronic chemistry imbalances to manifest as symptoms of dis-ease, and yet it can take as little as three to six months on a customized nutritional program to bring the chemistry back into normal ranges. My programs address underlying nutritional, bio-chemical, and toxic element stress factors. When these stress factors are reduced or removed, the body, in most cases, knows how to heal. To what degree can a person heal? You never know until you try."
Services include (but are not limited to) analysis and recommendations for chemistry balancing, digestive enzyme therapy, diet and nutritional planning; cellular, liver and colon detoxification, digestive disorders, degenerative joint conditions, stress and anxiety-related conditions, sleep disorders, mood disorders, depression, allergies, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, candida therapies, athletic nutrition, weight and obesity management, and hormone balancing.
Pediatric services include (but are not limited to) analysis and recommendations for chemistry balancing, digestive enzyme therapy, diet and nutritional planning, detoxification, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), learning disorders, behavioral disorders, and lifestyle modifications.
Maile Pouls, Ph.D., and her husband, Gregory Pouls, D.C., F.I.C.N., have co-authored numerous books and articles on nutrition and Maile's nutritional consulting practice has been featured in numerous books (including "The Natural Medicine Guide to Autism", "Women's Health", "Weight Loss", and "Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia & Envirnomental Illness"), publications, and condition-related support group websites.
Professionals who refer patients to the Health Enhancement Center include medical doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, pediatricians, dentists, naturopathic physicians, neurologists, urologists, and oncologists, physical and massage therapists, and numerous other professionals of the healing arts.
To inquire about my fees, services, or to make an appointment:
Please visit www.yournutrition.com and click on the “Your Nutrition Makeover” link, or call the "Health Enhancement Center" toll-free at 866-333-7399 and leave your name, phone number, time zone, and a good time for a return call. Please have available a list of your most significant health concerns and any brief questions you would like to ask. There is no charge for this brief, introductory consultation.
Note: The information and products contained herein are not to be misconstrued as diagnosing, or prescribing remedies for the treatment of disease. All health products should be used under the supervision of your individual doctor or health care provider.
©2016 Health Enhancement, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinting allowed only by permission of the author.