Western Medicine and Stress
Stress is the body's reaction
to any change that requires an adjustment or
response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental,
and emotional responses. The human body is designed to experience
stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert
and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person
faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between
challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked, and
stress-related tension builds.
In response to stress, human
body reacts with certain biochemical reactions. Stress activates
the sympathetic branch of the autonomous nervous system and
the release of stress hormones including adrenaline/epinephrine,
Sympathetic nervous output tends
to divert bloodflow to the large muscles—the body 'thinks'
it has to run away from something or fight something: the so-called
“fight or flight” response and blood flows correspondingly
less to the digestive system and other organs that are not immediately
needed for a response to the stimulus. We all recognise the
effects: dry mouth, motor agitation, sweating, pallor, enlarged
pupils, and insomnia. Our modern lifestyle tends to cause continual
sympathetic nervous system activation with very little opportunity
for the parasympathetic (also called 'vegetative') nervous system
When the parasympathetic system
is active, the bowel and other non-muscle organs receive good
blood-flow, the pupils constrict, and the glands all function
well and secrete their various compounds. Absence of the autonomic
parasympathetic activation leads to poor digestion and probably
also to poor healing and organ function.
Stress that continues without
relief can lead to a condition called distress -- a negative
stress reaction. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including
attacks, dermatological and digestive disorders, chest pain,
and problems sleeping, depression, poor concentration and memory
loss. There is even evidence that chronic stress can lead to
such long-term health problems as hair loss, strokes, asthma,
high blood pressure, heart disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Studies indicate, that seventy-five
to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related
ailments and complaints.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Stress
to Oriental tradition of medicine, overthinking, worrying too
much, getting angry, frightened or frustrated over significant
periods of time might lead to disruption in a smooth flow of
vital energy, or Qi. When Qi stagnates, blood and other body
fluids lack the energy to move, hence organs and systems stop
functioning properly, causing wide range of health problems.
TCM techniques can remove blockages
and promote a
smooth flow of Qi, allow it to circulate freely in the body.
It can induce a relaxation response, which decreases the heart
rate, lowers blood pressure, increases energy and tissue regeneration,
and reduces stress. One feels more relaxed, and digestion improves.
As tension is relieved, so are headaches. Instead of being tense
and angry, one remains calm, tempers stay even, and blood pressure
can even decrease.
TCM will not, of course, change
the circumstances of a person's life. But it can relieve feelings
of anxiety or depression. As the heavy feelings of stress are
relieved, a person feels more energized, has more confidence
in his ability to cope with the negative aspects of life and
make necessary changes. This in turn can eliminate dependence
on sleeping pills, tranquilizers and antidepressants.