Stress and Body Healing
Our body’s ability to heal itself would amaze any architect who understands how expensive and time consuming it is to repair a building. In fact, it’s 20 times more difficult to repair a building than it is to just build a new one. The body doesn’t have this difficulty, regardless of the source of damage–pathogens, trauma, burn, toxins,excess hormone production, lack of sleep, any cellular damage, etc. All these sources of illness can be healed by the body in a process that involves destroying sources of damage,destroying and removing sick cells and repairing damaged parts. This process takes place with biochemical activities taking place in the immune system, liver, brain, kidneys and other parts of the body.Balance hormone production and stress response are part of the healing process as well as several natural chemicals produced by the body like neurotransmitters, enzymes, cholesterol and collagen. Energy and nutrients are vital to the healing process.
Let’s review this process at the cellular and systemic level and see how chronic stress interferes and/or delays this process.
Our body is equipped on the cellular level, with genetic information. Any internal change at the cellular level that interrupts balance produced by any type of injury, big or small, will activate genes to initiate inflammation. This is a natural step in healing. The purpose of inflammation is to initiate a series of chemical events in the nucleus of the cell, cytoplasm and every organelle inside the cells and cell membrane that will put coordinated efforts in place to produce the necessary chemicals to send signals to the brain, immune cells and all neighboring cells. Basically, they send something like a GPS location of where the damage is, as well as what kind of damage it is, to the brain so the rest of the body can prepare to help and protect other parts from being damaged as well.
It’s interesting to see how the body reacts to an external cut. Inflammation occurs, a manifestation of the healing process along with symptoms like redness, temperature change and physical pain around the damaged area. These are the coordinated efforts of millions of immune cells mobilizing to the damaged area and other cells around the damaged area and even far away to make their contribution in the healing process that includes biological, anatomical and mechanical phases.Some of these cells provide cleaning and others will build up ladders for scaffolding at the area to be fixed in preparation of the repair process. Some other cells will be clearing the wasted materials so repairing and regeneration can take place. After all the cleaning, dead cells will be replaced through mitosis by other new cells..
Let’s look at the nucleus in the healing process. A series of genes have to be activated for healing to start. There are tens of thousands of these genes in every cell of our body, each one with specific codes of information, very tightly packed. Other molecules made at this distance or locally will help to assure that the right information is exposed to the right cells.
Now let’s examine what happens when chronic stress is present in an individual. At the cellular level, high amounts of glucocorticoid and epinephrine are produced and flooded through the bloodstream, reaching many areas of the body. Some cells get damaged due to these elevated amounts of stress hormones and some die. Besides the brain, the problem becomes the most important thing to focus on, things like healing, digestive system and hormonal balance become less of a concern. This slows the healing process and the first line of defense gets compromised as well as the second line of defense due to cortisol and epinephrine circulating.
Remember that under stress the only messages the body and brain will pay attention to are the ones presented as potential danger,even if they are created by thoughts, some things get activated in the brain.(it’s all about our perception,and thoughts like, “my son don’t love me” or “poor me I am a victim”). Nothing else becomes important since the body is focusing on saving your life. This means the immune response and healing process are suppressed, along with digestion and detoxification. Any internal or external damage is ignored during stress in favor of the pressing issues being faced even if their not real danger as long as is been activated this mechanism by our thoughts where worries and matters that are not being reconciled in our lives become part of the process in which we deal with new episodes in our life . The same happens during chronic stress, except in that case there is no real danger, but rather perceptions placed in the mind by our thoughts. So, preventing infection and reconstruction of tissues are constantly put on hold,even our own brain gets affected and the ability to heals get even more impaired because the brain is acting on every single body activity, so it is imperative that function is at its best.
On the other hand for effective body healing, the mechanism of stress has to be regulated and the immune system has to be running at optimum. Tissue reconstruction is a complicated process that includes platelet distribution and angiogenesis (the construction of new blood vessels to supply oxygen and nutrients to newly regenerated cells). Granulation tissue formation also takes place during healing, and fibroblast production requires collagen and fibro to connect pieces together so new cells can proliferate and replace dead ones. Myofibroblast occurs to help connect everything. At the end of this process,the areas of the body where the damage had been, have to be cleaned out to complete the healing process.
Chronic stress, depression and anxiety hinder recovery and make healing take longer, also contributing to other diseases. So, there is a direct, physiological connection between disease and chronic stress. Chronic stress interrupts repair and becomes a real problem over time. This emotional challenge also causes chemical changes in the brain and body. Stress contributes to behaviors and lifestyles that set the body up for more damage via bad habits in eating, sleeping, consumption of alcohol, smoking and a sedentary life.
If a chronic illness is already at large, chronic stress interrupts the healing ability of the body and begins a cycle. New health issues appear, increasing inflammation in the body, interrupting healthy digestion, affecting hormonal balance, causing a lack of stamina. Even pain can become chronic because of neural damage due to stress, and once pain is present due to illness stress and pain intertwine,so even when pain is a signal of a problem the presences of stress makes this pain mechanism increase and as a result the pain increases stress. This affects correct regulation of the pain mechanism due to accumulation of stress hormones around pain sensors.
Another thing is that is happening is that high levels of glucocorticoid increase in the bloodstream while we are under stress, affecting the way we handle new life episodes and other stressors. Energy in the body is reduced after each stressor. Even when we eat, most nutrients get converted to fat while we are under high stress, and little distribution of constituents is given to our cells. Under these physical circumstances, body regulation and correct homeostasis are impossible. We add new stressors to our lives, recycling them and making life in general more difficult emotionally and physically because new illness will appear with time. Our solutions are made to deal with these issues. Phytotherapi has come to understand, through clinical and scientific evidences, that chronic stress is a pandemic affecting a great number of people and is the root of 98% of illness not caused at birth or trauma. Our model includes protocols made to alleviate the effects of overactivity in the amygdala and basal ganglia caused by chronic stress, using phytochemicals from plants. The protocol also includes techniques to help with this emotional problem, nutrition, new sleep habits, quality of relationships with family and friends, as well as spiritual connection with God. Change in lifestyle is a must to cure chronic stress issues. We understand the emotional issues associated with these disturbing psychological problems that disconnect us from others and, at the end of the day, make us physically ill.