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Regain your adrenal balance, naturally — relieve fatigue, sleep issues, weight gain and other symptoms of stress

Every day, a wide range of physical and psychological stressors — a demanding job, raising a family, relationship dynamics, lack of sleep, financial pressures, suboptimal nutrition, dieting, unresolved emotional distress — signal the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

The stress response is well characterised as the “flight or fight” response, and is highly variable between individuals. Stress is the way the body responds to an external or internal influence (a stressor).  A stressor can be either positive or negative. For example: a feeling of fear if you are chased by a ferocious dog or excitement when winning the lottery. Regardless of why you are stressed your body responds in the same way.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to stress management strategies, and why we need to develop individual treatment strategies based on the patients presentation, their lifestyle and their own health goals.

Normal healthy stress responses are beneficial to mental and physical health; it challenges us, encourages change, creates adaptation and makes us stronger, both emotionally and biochemically.

It is important for ‘survival’ that our bodies produce the stress response known as the fight or flight reaction. When we are stressed our bodies produce a hormone called adrenaline which makes us experience most of the emotional and physical feelings when we are distressed.  In the days of the caveman these responses made sure that we knew what to do to survive if we came face to face with a sabre toothed tiger or a woolly mammoth.  These days, the stress response allows us to cope in the modern environment. Certain levels of stress can be motivating, allowing us to achieve and succeed.  The goal is to limit the harmful effects of stress while maintaining vitality.

However, when faced with extraordinary stress or under constant stress, without adequate recovery, the stress response can become over-stretched and predispose to physiological and neurological changes, leading to the major chronic pathologies of modern life, including neurological imbalances, insulin resistance, endocrine disturbances and immune suppression.

The first stage of the stress response and is called the Fight or Flight Response. The adrenal gland releases adrenaline which allows us to respond immediately when under threat or pressure. In ancient times the exercise undertaken while fighting or fleeing the mammoth would neutralise the adrenaline that causes the flight or flight response.  However, nowadays the need to fight or flee rarely occurs so the effects of stress build up, leading to the second stage of the stress response – the Resistance phase occurs when the stress is ongoing.  Adrenaline is replaced by cortisol which maintain the body’s state of readiness. When our adrenal glands are required to chronically sustain high cortisol levels, they eventually become impaired in their ability to respond appropriately. The resulting adrenal dysfunction not only affects short-term response to stress, but the adrenals’ ability to produce and balance other hormones crucial to long-term health and well-being: DHEA, oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The Exhaustion phase is reached when the body can no longer sustain the stress response.  Constant exposure to the stress hormones drains the body of energy and the onset of serious diseases may begin.


  1. Neurological dysfunction: Anxiety, poor concentration, excessive worry, insomnia, depression and/or extreme fatigue
  2. Cardiovascular symptoms: Palpitations, clammy palms.
  3. Neurological dysfunction: Anxiety, poor concentration, excessive worry, insomnia, depression and/or extreme fatigue
  4. Digestive dysfunction: Digestive cramping, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances, hypochlorhydria.
  5. Immunological dysfunction: Inflammation, increased risk of infection, predisposition to allergies
  6. Metabolic dysfunctions: insulin resistance, obesity.
  7. Musculoskeletal disorders: Muscular tension (eg: shoulders), tension headaches.
  8. Other common presenting signs and symptoms: declining vision and/or hearing, fatigue, loss of skin elasticity.

Factors that may activate the stress response
·         Immune activation – chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, allergies & infection
·         Toxicity – gut dysbiosis, heavy metals, environmental toxicity chemicals, noise, electromagnetic)
·         Food intolerances and allergies
·         Nutritional deficiencies, especially B vitamins, zinc and magnesium
·         Overweight and obesity
·         Sedentary lifestyle OR over exercise
·         Hormonal imbalances – including cortisol and insulin resistance, gonadal and thyroid hormones
·         Insufficient sleep
·         Substance abuse – alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs and excessive caffeine
·         Psychological stress – including habitual worry, grief, trauma and constant life stress

Major  life stressors: (top 20 life stressors from Holmes and Rahe Stress Score)

1.  Death of a spouse
2.  Divorce
3.  Marital separation
4.  Imprisonment
5.  Death of a close family member
6.  Personal injury or illness
7.  Marriage
8.  Dismissal from work
9.  Marital reconciliation
10.  Change in health of a family member
11.  Pregnancy
12.  Sexual difficulties
13.  Gain a new family memeber
14.  Business readjustment
15.  Change in financial state
16.  Death of a close friend
17.  Change to different line of work
18.  Change in frequency of arguments
19.  Major mortgage
20.  Foreclosure on mortgage or loan


Lifestyle  guidelines that may assist in the management of stress:

  • Take  regular exercise
  • Practice  Meditation, yoga, guided visualisation and/or breathing techniques.
  • Set  boundaries in relationships, families and work.
  • Get  support from friends, family, colleagues.
  • Assign  “time-to-fret” then get on with day to day activities with enthusiasm.
  • Take  regular work breaks throughout the day.
  • Take  weekend or holidays away from obligations and worries to gain a fresh  perspective.
  • Express  your creativity. Write, garden, paint, sing – or take up a new hobby or  classes
  • Make  a smoking cessation plan for currently smoking patients.

      Dietary  guidelines may assist in the management of stress:

  • Reduce  pro-inflammatory foods in the diet including saturated fats (meats, especially  poultry, and dairy), refined foods, and sugar. Patients sensitive to  antibiotics should eat only organic meats to avoid antibiotic residues.
  • Emphasise  foods high in essential fatty acids such as oily fish and nuts / seeds.
  • Eat  a minimally processed diet rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and  bioflavonoids.
  • Protein  is essential for connective tissue support, and should be consumed regularly.
  • Nutrients  to support digestive health including fibre and yoghurt should be consumed.
  • Minimise  intake of caffeine, alcohol and salt.
  • Nutritional and Herbal Support: Optimal stress management is dependent on optimal adrenal function.

There are several key nutrients required by the adrenal glands: Vitamin C, Vitamin B 5, Vitamin B 6, Zinc and Magnesium.

Herbal remedies involve herbs that have the following actions:

  1. Adaptogens – these are herbs that have a normalising action on the body.   They help the body cope with stress, may improve immune function, support the adrenal glands (the organs that pump the stress hormones into the body) and may increase mental alertness.  Adaptogens such as Siberian ginseng, Panax ginseng or Withania may be used.
  2. Liver Herbs – when under stress you’re more likely to smoke, drink and eat poorly.  As well, excess hormones stress the liver so in chronic stress it’s a good idea to include liver herbs in a supplementation regime.  These herbs may include Milk Thistle, Schisandra (also an adaptogen) or Globe Artichoke.
  3. Sedatives and Carminatives – these herbs help calm the nervous system, settle anxiety and induce sleep.  Such herbs include Chamomile, Kava-kava, Passion Flower and Hops.

When to consult a professional about stress

If you feel chronically tense, anxious and nervous and have persistent versions of any of the symptoms listed below, you should seek professional help.

Physical Symptoms:

·      Nail biting

·      Hair twirling, tugging or pulling

·      High blood pressure

·      Upset stomach, ulcer pain, diarrhoea or constipation

·      Insomnia or restless sleep

·      Teeth clenching or grinding, or waking in the morning with a sore jaw

·      Fatigue

Psychological Symptoms:

·      Irritability

·      Depression with feelings of hopelessness

·      An urge to withdraw

·      Feeling that no one appreciates or understands you

·      Emotional outbursts of anger or frustration

·      Inappropriate or uncontrolled fits of laughter or crying

Check out the
stress questionnaires to  find out the level of stress you are suffering

Consult your practitioner before embarking on a ‘stress buster’ regime for the most appropriate choice of herbs and supplementation and to ensure the safety of application.

 The Sheena Hendon Health Stress Less Programme

Our Stress Less Programme will assist  you in reducing or eliminating your stress symptoms – physically and mentally. We aim to address the underlying causes and risk  factors of stress and or adrenal fatigue.

The first appointment is 45 minutes to 1 hour in duration and is for Fact Finding  – finding out the underlying physical, environmental and mental causes  of your stress. This includes you completing a generic health  questionnaire before you come in. Once we have discussed your individual  requirements we will do relevant tests in the practise such as zinc  tally test, urinary indicans testing, PH test, ABO blood type testing,  blood sugar levels and blood pressure, weight and body composition. We  may also arrange external tests such as blood tests, DNA Gene Testing, allergy and intolerance hair tests.

Note:  depending on the severity of your symptoms and the tests we need to  do, we may need to arrange a separate half hour testing consultation. 

The second appointment typically 30 minutes long is for your Report of Findings where I will explain in detail what is going on for you and outline the Stress Less treatment plan and protocol.

Contact Sheena Hendon to book in for your Stress Less Programme today


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