The American Psychological Associates defines stress as any “uncomfortable emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes”. Often it is accompanied with the belief, or even the reality, that you have no control over the situation causing the stress. When your central nervous system perceives or experiences stress it instantly sends a message through the hypothalamus in the brain to tell your adrenals glands to release two hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol tells the body to stop storing energy. Your cells immediately become unresponsive to insulin so that any sugar available in the blood can go to the muscles for energy. The body also begins to break down stored fat for energy, the liver starts to produce more glucose, and muscle cells begin to break down its protein into amino acids that the liver can use to make more glucose. The adrenalin increases your heart and breathing rates. This is exactly how the body should act under true moments of stress or danger. However, our brain is unable to tell the difference between real danger or stress- being attacked by a lion, and perceived danger or stress-psychological stress. Studies have shown that perceived stress is more damaging to your body than true physical danger. Chronic stress and feelings of anxiety mean that your body is constantly and unnecessarily releasing cortisol that is referred to as highly catabolic cortisol. At the same time your body has reduced the amounts of anabolic hormones it is secreting like DHEA, testosterone, and human growth hormone. This combination causes you to store fat, lose lean muscle mass, your metabolism will slow way down while your appetite increases. Adrenalin contributes to high blood pressure (because of stress hormones that constrict blood vessels), digestive issues, and a suppressed immune system. Other side effects of stress include issues with mood, anger, and depression and can cause or increase anxiety and panic attacks; insomnia, troubles falling or staying asleep; increased risk for heart attack and stroke; decreased nutrient absorption, lowered metabolism, and insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes; low levels of testosterone and estradiol which both cause fertility issues and loss of sex drive; aches and pains in the muscles and joints and tightness in the shoulders and back; high, chronic inflammation; skin problems like acnes, psoriasis and rashes.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for the fight or flight response to stress. The adrenal glands work directly with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. It is critical to understand this connection. The pituitary gland is the essential link between the nervous system and the endocrine system. The pituitary gland releases hormones that affect growth, sexual development, metabolism, and the hormones necessary for reproduction. These pituitary hormones are received by the adrenal glands, which in turn create hormones to meet growth and development requirements and to stimulate your fight or flight response. It is important to note that most thyroid dysfunction is a result of poorly functioning adrenal glands. When the adrenal glands become fatigued it puts your body in a state of catabolism, meaning your body is starting to break down. Your thyroid controls metabolism. When you are in a state of catabolism, your metabolism slows down in an attempt to slow down the catabolism process. Adrenal fatigue occurs when you are continually exposed to acute or chronic stress and your adrenal glands can no longer meet the demands of stress. Other factors that contribute to adrenal fatigue are environmental toxins, too much caffeine, a diet high in carbohydrates and refined sugars, processed foods and artificial sugars, not getting enough sleep, and low amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol in your body. Your adrenal glands only have so many stores of hormones, and the more you rely on them, the more overwhelmed and low functioning they become.
Modern society and a change in perceived stress has prevented the adrenal glands from a much needed recovery period. Most people do not practice meditation or yoga, which promotes relaxation and peaceful thoughts that enable the adrenals to heal and rest and bring stress levels down. Adaptogens are herbs that help your body cope and heal from the damaging side effects of stress and recharge the adrenal glands. They can improve memory and cognition and promote feelings of perseverance. They encourage strength and energy. Adaptogens can increase the resistance to infection and disease and improve healing and recovery. To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be non-toxic and safe while having comprehensive health benefits beyond reducing physical and mental stress. There are essential oils that act as powerful adaptogens.
Anise: It acts a sedative to promote balance and calm, restful sleep. Anise stimulates the secretion of enzymes and hormones giving metabolism a boost. It also stimulates the nervous system and the brain to increase alertness.
Lavender: It is very effective at reducing anxiety and helping your body cope with deep emotional stress. It is therapeutically superior at improving the quality and duration of sleep. It can also help alleviate headaches.
Peppermint: It can relax the smooth muscles in your digestive tract, helping to reduce pain or discomfort during times of stress. It helps to provide relief from stress and anxiety, depression and mental fatigue. It clears the mind and improves the ability to focus on cognitive tasks. It helps relieve headache symptoms and reduces the pain from migraine headaches. Peppermint boosts the immune system and improves blood circulation, which also increases the amount of oxygen in the brain.
Holy Basil: Also known as Tulsi, this powerful oil has been used for centuries and stands alone in its ability to protect the body from stress and supports uplifting feelings of radiance and joy to the mind, body, and spirit. With the ability to purify and detox the body it boosts vitality and immune health.
Lemon: This oil helps restore and improve dopamine levels to improve mood and fight depression. It contains a powerful antioxidant that greatly improves the function of the immune system and helps to detox the lymphatic system. Lemon helps boost metabolism for weight loss and also supports digestion.
Every time you inhale any airborne odor molecules they interact immediately with your olfactory organs (all organs or cells related to smell) and then the brain. Odor molecules affect the brain through a variety of different receptor sites, but most importantly they stimulate the limbic system. The limbic system is the emotional center of your brain and is directly connected to other areas of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory and concentration, stress levels, and even the release of hormones. This is why smells have a powerful control over memory and the emotions we associate with different moments in our life. It also explains why smells are able to have a powerful physiological effect on our body. In one drop of essential oil there are 40,000 odor molecules, enough to cover every cell in the body! Essential oils can help regulate hormones, decrease aches and pains, and reduce stress and anxiety, and much more. Even though each essential oil has its own complex aroma, they can be blended and integrated together to create potent synergistic blends. “Syn” means together and “ergon” means work, so the meaning of synergistic is literally to work together.
Synergistic Stress Busting Essential Oil Blends
Great to use as roll-ons! Add denoted amounts of each essential oil to 1/3 oz roll-on bottle with your favorite carrier oil.
Adrenal Fatigue Fighter
Female Hormone Balance
Peace & Calm:
Reduce Frustration & Negativity
Control Appetite & Emotional Wating
Increase Memory & Focus
Increase Feelings of Self-Worth