| One-Minute Clinician
Stress, Fatigue and Chronic Pain
We're stressed in so many ways and our body tries to compensate for that stress and keep us on an even keel. It compensates in an analogous way as if you were running; your heart beats faster, you prepare yourself for fight or flight, you try to keep your body together and you have many mechanisms through your body to help you with that. Not all stressors affect any one person in the same way. Some people are more affected by this stressor or by that stressor, and our biologic response to that stress may even be different. There are very few people with chronic pain who don't have any stress, and having pain causes even more stress. When you're under stress your muscles tighten and you have more pain. So here you are in the circle that you need to get out of. So, we work to get out of it by starting with food, by using herbal and specific protein medicines, and then by working directly on the body and with the mind.
Herbal medicines can be very helpful in restoring adrenal gland function and helping mute a stress response. There is an amino acid called theanine that I tell patients is a form of Valium off the grid. It's not going to be as strong as Valium or Xanax, but it's certainly going to help. There are also toxic foods that we need to avoid--bread, sugar, potatoes--not eating things that drive or hurt our ability to handle stress. Our microbiome is a key factor in helping us maintain homeostasis for stress, and with these nutritional interventions, we can mute these responses to stress and help the body restore its homeostasis without resorting to dangerous combinations of drugs.