Reduce Stress & Boost Your Immune System
Stress has an incredible impact upon the immune system and it isn’t always a positive one!
The longer stress lasts, the more susceptible you become to infectious disease and illness. But what do you do when it’s an infectious disease that is causing stress? You might say that the current state of affairs is not causing you any stress. It is. All of us are experiencing some sort of stress related to this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic called COVID-19. The world has changed and it’s changed very quickly. Change, whether good or bad, can cause stress.
What do I mean when I say stress?
There are many different types of stress. Over exercise causes stress. Starvation causes stress. Getting sick causes stress. This last one actually has some positive effects on your immune system – but the stress I’m talking about that most of us suffer from is stress caused by anxiety and worrying.
Are you feeling more worried right now? Feeling stressed out? Not able to think clearly? More tired than usual? Not sleeping well? All of this is a normal response to stress. But when the stress goes on and on, it can cause a lot of damage to your health and well-being and that’s what I want to help you prevent.
I was really worried about this pandemic.
I couldn’t sleep for a couple of weeks. I was worried about my own health and that of my family and friends. I was worried about the future of my business. I’ve learned to choose joy over stress though. I’ve accepted that I might get sick and that somebody I love might get sick. I’ve accepted that my source of income might change. I am not free and clear from coronavirus-induced stress though. The world we’re living in is one I don’t recognize anymore. I wonder what the world will look like tomorrow, in a week, in a month, and after the pandemic.
This chronic stress leads to burnout, also known as adrenal exhaustion or fatigue. The adrenal glands are little power houses producing the king of all hormones: CORTISOL. Cortisol mobilizes blood sugar and reduces inflammation for emergencies. It reduces the inflammatory effects of the immune system. It’s meant to be released in large amounts for a short period of time when you are in danger. It’s not meant to be on overdrive for months or years, like worrying for months on end.
My adrenal glands and yours need support now, more than ever! 10 suggestions:
- Go outside every single day for sun and fresh air. One day I’ll bike for an hour or two. Another day I will turn up the garden. Every day I take my dog out for a long jog.
- Hugs. If you don’t have anyone to hug, hug your pet or even a tree! A tree or pet can’t hug back but it’s a living being.
- Meditate or relax. Escape into a book or a movie.
- Give yourself license to do nothing.
- Connect and talk with loved ones and friends.
- Exercise. Walking or yoga.
- Go to bed before 11 p.m. and get 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Cook nutritious food.
- Take a relaxing bath.
- Take herbs to support your adrenal glands.
Adrenal supportive herbs: so important yet so underappreciated.
For years, I’ve been prescribing them and nobody says to me, “This is the best thing that ever happened to me!” I can give a woman estrogen and hear, “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!”. If this is the case, why take adrenal supplements?
It’s going to take a leap of faith but believe me when I say that I’ve seen people recover from chronic fatigue and from chronically feeling unwell, when their adrenal glands are healed. I’ve seen so many cases of chronic, ongoing stress wear people down. I’ve been there myself! In extreme cases, I prescribe hydrocortisone for a short period. For people with chronic fatigue syndrome, I prescribe a low dose hydrocortisone ongoing. For most of us, herbal support is enough.
Some of my favorite herbs to support the adrenal glands:
Probably the most used of all the adrenal herbs. Ashwagandha has the ability to both lower and increase cortisol. It is the perfect balancing adaptogenic herb we have. It also has the added benefit of fighting off infections by increasing natural killer cells.
One of the least known or popular of the adrenal herbs. Siberian ginseng not only supports adrenals but also may support sex hormones and boost mental alertness.
My personal favorite. Maca is safe in large amounts. One of my favorite ways of using it is to add it to a shake because it tastes really good. It has a little bit of a nutty flavor. Maca powder is also easily found online or at a natural food grocery. Maca lowers cortisol but it also stimulates production of sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone. It’s used to regulate periods and relieve PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
Caution with Rhodiola! It can cause jitteriness and worsen mania. I only suggest rhodiola for people who are extremely tired and to always take it in the morning. Rhodiola has no caffeine, yet the effects (for some) have been described like Red Bull. Rhodiola actually reduces cortisol but it activates energy. That boost in energy is sometimes just too much for some people. People who are more susceptible to depression may benefit from Rhodiola.
Also known as Tulsi. Tulsi is widely available in teas. It’s the weakest of adrenal supports, balancing in nature, but so easy to drink. You’ll find it in different tea blends.
Dr. Brown Kimberly Brown, ND sees patients remotely and in office. She has many years of experience working with hormone imbalances. She can evaluate your adrenal health using saliva or a urine analysis. Knowing whether your cortisol levels are high or low is important in developing a treatment. Schedule your free 10 minute consultation here.
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