In today’s episode I want to focus on understanding the physiological effects of trauma and chronic stress on our bodies, and what we can do to reverse those effects.
Most of the time when we think about trauma or stress, we mainly think about how it affects us in our minds and our mood, and that is important, but there’s also an impact in our bodies.
You might be experiencing anxiety, depression, addiction, substance abuses, and cravings as a way to cope with stress and trauma exposure. At the same time you might be noticing digestive issues, or physical pain somewhere in your body, or issues with your immune system (getting sick more frequently or all of a sudden you have allergies or HPV even), or skin issues, or migraines.
In my case I was suffering from migraines for so many years and finally I was able to trace it back to a lot of the psycho-emotional stress and trauma, as well as toxins, that I was exposed to. When I helped my body and mind to recover from the stress and trauma, the migraines went away.
It became my mission to help others to know that they too can heal from trauma. We don’t have to be stuck dealing with the consequences of what happened to us. By understanding exactly how stress and trauma affect us as humans, in our physiology and biochemistry, we can then give our bodies (and minds) what they need to recover.
In this episode I cover:
Trauma can cause imbalanced neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. These levels can be measured in a urine test and can be addressed using amino acids and nutrients. I offer that panel through my office.
Trauma can result in imbalanced hormones, such as thyroid, insulin and blood sugar, ovarian hormones, like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in men.
The hormone most affected by trauma is cortisol, which is our main stress hormone. When we are exposed to stress and trauma, our cortisol is going to respond because our bodies are built to protect us and help us survive.
Same with adrenaline – it is responsible for the classic fight, flee or freeze response of our nervous system in the presence of stress. When the stress is gone, adrenaline levels may remain in a stressed state.
Cortisol and adrenaline are produced in our adrenal glands, which are located just above our kidneys. These adrenal hormones help regulate several bodily functions including metabolism, blood pressure and your body's response to stress.
Your body is telling you something
The problem is that when we’ve been exposed to chronic stress and major trauma, it’s likely that the adrenal glands will get stuck in a stress response and stay in that pattern and keep producing cortisol and adrenaline in non-optimal levels (the tiger is chasing us perpetually). It’s not that we want cortisol and adrenaline on or off. We want optimal levels of these hormones every day.
Studies show that people with optimal levels of cortisol and adrenaline will show fewer signs of aging than people with an imbalance of these hormones. So having optimal cortisol and adrenaline levels means we can be healthier for longer. Read more about the science behind stress and trauma here.
When we have experienced long exposure to stress and trauma our cortisol and adrenaline will likely show as too high or too low on a daily basis. So, what can we do to correct this?
First of all, we need to measure our cortisol level throughout the day (not only one time of day) as optimal cortisol is higher in the morning (but not too much) and it gradually decreases as the day passes and it’s time for bed (and this is in alignment with our circadian rhythm).
Unfortunately, this is not what medical doctors or endocrinologists look for in tests. They are trained to look for extreme imbalances or to find out whether your adrenal glands have stopped working completely.
It’s important to know that even with slight deviations from optimal cortisol levels, there can still be an impact on your overall health, your quality of life and your longevity. I believe everyone should have access to this information.
Getting to the root cause
If you have anxiety or depression or physical pain or are not feeling good in general and you don’t want to take a pill that just deals with the symptoms and does not get to the real underlying cause of the problem, then you need to do a more precise cortisol panel. You also need to check your adrenaline and neurotransmitter levels in order to have the information you need to help your body to recover from stress and trauma exposure.
The panel I recommend is available here. It is a urine and saliva collection you can do at home. After you get our results, we can meet to analyze them together so I can help you understand what your results mean and guide you to address them. We need to look at your specific results and develop a plan that applies specifically to you.
There are no two patients with the exact same result. We need to look at your response to stress and trauma and see what the outfall is specifically for you. What is your serotonin doing? What is your adrenaline and cortisol doing? This is unique and based on your genetics, your family history of stress exposure, how your body metabolizes stress hormones, your toxin exposure, and on your nutrient levels, which are related to your diet and any supplements you might be taking.
I will then guide you on how to use nutrients and herbs to help guide your cortisol back to optimal levels. If it’s too high, we will be using different herbs and nutrients vs if it’s too low.
There’s a specific formula for you and that’s what I can help you with, to find out the specific formula that will help you feel better and leave that stress and trauma behind for good.
It’s important to know that your treatment with herbs and nutrients will work better when combined with good nutrition and balanced blood sugar levels. I also encourage you to be working on your mindset and emotional processing, absolutely. What I find is when my patients are following my protocol to reoptimize cortisol, adrenaline, and neurotransmitters, along with the support of a psychologist, they get faster and better results.
When we have adequate neurotransmitter levels, and healthy processing of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, which requires healthy digestion, nutritious foods, optimal gut bacteria, adequate nutrients and signals of safety and consistency, we are able to recover from stress and trauma, and to maintain our health over time.
Of course, the goal is not to be stress free! Stress is part of life and even necessary and healthy in moderate amounts. The goal is to help you get your cortisol and adrenaline and neurotransmitters to the optimal levels so you can keep enjoying life and doing what you love.
I’ve been measuring patient’s cortisol, adrenaline, and neurotransmitter levels, and helping them to rebalance them, for over 20 years. I analyzed thousands of levels and looked for patterns. That is how I identified the 5 most common stress response patterns, which are the variations of cortisol and adrenaline levels after stress exposure.
I then developed a quiz, which you can find in my book and on my website here. It’s a great starting point to find out how stress has affected your cortisol and adrenaline levels.
Remember, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We must individualize it based on how your body has been affected by stress, that’s how we are going to get the best results.
If you would like to find out more on this subject, I encourage you to read one of my books, I have written 5 books on what we can do to optimize our cortisol and adrenaline levels. You can find my latest book, “Master Your Stress Reset Your Health” here.
You can also access my Stress Warrior Program here, where I teach you how to optimize your cortisol, adrenaline, and neurotransmitters.
You can also reach out to me to set up a one-on-one appointment if you prefer.
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