In TICM, emotional stress disrupts the Liver which is responsible for regulating the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy), Blood and emotions. When this smooth flow of Qi is obstructed, Blood flow is affected too. This sluggish flow of Qi can block organ meridians, block Blood flow, and impede damp clearance which result in weight gain. Cortisol regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response, but it is most known as our body's stress hormone, produced by our adrenal glands and is released in the Blood as part of the sympathetic nervous system fight or flight reflex. When this occurs, it decreases less critical functions like digestion, reproduction, and immune function to focus on that fight. Cortisol is imperative to the body as it has many positive functions like helping us wake up, wind down and helping our body fight stress. When too much is released, however, is when we run into too much being a bad thing. High cortisol levels can result in reduced protein synthesis and conversion of protein to glucose, increased abdominal fat, insulin resistance, diabetes, PCOS, cysts, fibroids, masses, tumours, cancers, increased cholesterol and blood pressure, altered brain chemistry causing depression and anxiety, and osteoporosis. Long term stress and cortisol disrupts the body which can lead to symptoms like anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, memory impairment, muscle pain, Heart problems, sleep problems and weight gain. Though TICM and Western medicine offer different viewpoints, they are actually pointing to the same thing. The smooth flow of Blood and Qi (energy) equate to proper emotional response and function. It is imperative to learn how to naturally deal with stress.
In TICM, we treat adrenal fatigue and cortisol issues through nourishing the Kidney system the organ system most responsible for the length and quality of your life as well as the Spleen system. The adrenals are part of the water element and the Kidney system which controls our Qi (energy), Yin Yang (cold/warm) balance, stores our Jing which is our essence that fuels our life force, aliveness, and creativity. When the Kidneys/adrenals are functioning properly, you are strong, alert and you have a sense of purpose. How do we help our adrenals, cortisol and stress:
Spleen formula: this herbal formula is a careful balance of herbs that helps modulate stress hormones by relieving anxiety and supplementing energy through strengthening the digestive system (Spleen, Stomach, Pancreas) which directly supports the Kidney system.
Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra): helps to reduce the excessive cortisol release and subsequent hormonal and nervous system imbalances that occur in response to the stress triggers.
Kidneys formula: nourishes Kidney system and supports adrenal fatigue. Lifestyle: Warm the Kidneys: reduce your intake of cold (smoothies, ice cream, iced drinks), raw foods, sugars and antibiotics. These foods inhibit your body’s warming function, depleting Yang. Sugar can overstimulate the sympathetic reflex and deplete Kidney Yang.
Food: eat whole, unprocessed foods! Great foods for lowering cortisol and stabilising Blood sugar include vegetables, coconut or olive oil, nuts, seeds, lean proteins like eggs, wild fish and grass fed red meat and probiotic foods. Make sure to consume enough fibre and protein and avoid packaged foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
Acupuncture: is a proven method to help cortisol levels, stress management and sleep.
Stress: naturally find ways to manage stress with exercise, meditation, Qigong, Salaah, breath work, walking, affirmations, journaling, dancing, singing...
Do not give up. Examine your life. Know that taking care of yourself, connecting to yourself will heal you mentally and physically.