Stress  and related disorders: symptoms and how to cure them naturally

When we speak about stress, the first thing to understand is what it is and how it acts on our body. The first person to speak about the syndrome of stress was Hans Selye in 1936 who defined it as “a general syndrome of adaptation, the aim of which is to bring inner balance, in response to factors of stress.”

To explain the syndrome better, it is none other than a psycho-physical response (therefore both of our mind and of our body) to a personally excessive amount of problems, tasks and emotional and social, but also cognitive, changes.

Stress can be acute, referred to an isolated episode in our life, or chronic, relative to a condition that continues at length. It can bring beneficial effects (eustress) which put our bodies into action, giving a boost of energy and enthusiasm, or harmful effects (distress), which can have harmful consequences on the psycho-physical balance. Let’s try and look at distress in depth.

Causes

The causes can lie in traumatic or negative events of life, such as a bereavement, a move, a divorce, retirement, or physical, triggered off by disease or motor limitations following illness or an accident. It can also be caused by the social environment, such as smog, the frenetic pace of life, problems at work or the lack of work or a house, economic and social difficulties.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of stress can be both emotive and physical and behavioural. The last-named include: abuse of alcohol, eating disorders, self-harming, irritability and violence, over-biting and bruxism.

The emotive and cognitive symptoms include: difficulty in concentration and memory, unmotivated worries, anxiety, nervousness, crying, sense of oppression, blockage in making decisions, anger, states of agitation and attacks of anxiety and tension, depression, sense of unhappiness.

The commonest physical symptoms: Problems in the sexual sphere, lack of sleep or perennial tiredness, dizziness, backache and cervical pain, digestive problems, problems with the stomach and nervous colitis, headache, tachycardia, tinnitus.

The natural remedies

Leaving aside the more serious symptoms, up to depression, which required valid medical and psychological help, a mild state of stress can be solved with different and valid natural remedies.

Phytotherapy

Medicinal plants, thanks to their natural properties, have always been of help in cases of stress. Calming and sedative plants help us against the states of anxiety, insomnia, cramps and bruxism (for this reason they must be taken in the evening before going to bed), and act by relaxing the nervous and muscular systems. A valid example are Camomile, Hawthorn and Lime Blossom. During the day Valerian and passion flower  help us keep away agitation and sadness, calming us down.

Purifying plants such as Nettle and Birch, Dandelion and Burdock help us to detoxify, drain and others, for example Dog Rose,  have an anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating action. Energizing plants such as Ginseng and Ginkgo are excellent in the case of physical and mental fatigue, they stimulate the immune system and reinforce the memory and cognitive capacities (for this reason they should be avoided in the evening). Ginger sets the metabolism into motion and improves digestion, it calms hunger attacks, as do Fennel and Bay leaves. For the stomach and colon, Aniseed, Flax, Aloe, Elder, Mauve and Cumin are also ideal.

The herbs can be taken with tisanes, infusions, supplements, capsules with dry extract and also combining them according to our preferences.

Bach Flowers

According to the British doctor  Edward Bach, in treating a person, the emotions and the personality, two variables from which the manifestly negative symptom is triggered off, have to be taken into consideration: this symptom can become positive thanks to the action of flowers. Bach identified 38 different flowers, corresponding to as many emotions, the energy of which is alleged to be capable of transforming the negative emotion into a positive one. Transforming therefore the negative stress into positive stress but without eliminating it.

  1. Bach selected 12 main flowers called the “healers” (Agrimony, Centaury, Cerato, Chicory, Clematis, Gentian, Impatiens, Mimulus, Scleranthus, Vervain, Water Violet,), 7 “helpers” (Gorse, Heather, Olive, Oak, Rock Water, Wild Oat, Vine) and 19 “assistants” (Aspen, Beech, Cherry Plum, Chestnut Bud, Crab Apple, Elm, Holly, Honeysuckle, Hornbeam, Larch, Mustard, Pine, Red Chestnut, Star of Bethlehem, Sweet Chestnut, Walnut, White Chestnut, Wild Rose, Willow).

By combining together two or more flowers, ad hoc mixtures can be obtained for each individual, according to the variable of character and emotions and the combinations can be varied over tome, depending on the variations in the person. The only combination already prepared by Bach is the  Rescue Remedy, made up of 5 flowers (Clematis, Cherry Plum, Impatiens, Rock Rose and Star of Bethlehem), to be used in acute cases, including in the form of an ointment.

The flowers are taken by mouth by instilling the drops under the tongue or on the tongue, keeping them there a little and then swallowed. A number of preparations already combined are on sale.

Essential oil and aromatherapy

Psychophysical stress can also be fought with the combined action of essential oils (extracted from plants) and their aroma. You can opt for an aromatic and relaxing bath, for a massage, to take them by mouth, with a good footbath or simply by diffusing them in the air and breathing in the scent.

There are different oils to choose from:

  • Bergamot relaxes and calms the mind, dispelling states of agitation and anxiety
  • Mint is regenerating and refreshing in case of tiredness
  • Vetyver is an excellent tranquillizer, Lavender helps dispel headaches
  • Lemon is excellent for the nervous system
  • Grapefruit against anxiety and stress
  • Patchouli is revitalizing

There are many aromatic plants that can come to our aid, divided between fresh, fruity and citrus essences, with a calming effect on the nervous system, or pungent, with positive effects on the respiratory system. The more delicate floral essences can help in a state of agitation and sadness, while the woody and spicy oils have toning effects, giving fore and energy.

Diet

A correct diet can also help in the case of great stress. The food we decide to eat can help us or not to fight some issues linked to stress.

With a healthy, variegated and well-balanced  diet, we will guarantee for our physique the right supply of vitamins and minerals. Fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables will also be preferred over fat and processed foods. Vegetables with broad green beans (spinach, chicory, chard) contain folic acid and Vitamin B, essential for well-being, especially in women, potassium can be guaranteed only by bananas, tomatoes and dates, while  potassium can be guaranteed thanks to bananas, tomatoes and dates, while the magnesium we are deficient in with stress, can easily be found in dried fruit and whole-wheat cereals. 

In the case of states of anaemia and asthenia, lentils and  muesli will be full of iron. We should try to reduce the consumption of salt and sugar and all packaged and canned foods and avoid coffee, tea, sugary and fizzy drinks and, of course, alcohol.