Fusion Health Co-founder and Technical Director Paul Keogh was recently interviewed for the Healthy Living podcast series. The sixth and final podcast episode talks about natural ways to treat stress and anxiety.
Listen to the interview now, or read the interview in full below
Full interview transcript
INTERVIEWER: In this podcast we’re talking Stress and Anxiety. Paul, we go through moments of stress and anxiety – how can we learn to manage demands to get through those tough times?
Paul Keogh: At the core of traditional Chinese medicine philosophy is the notion of balance, exemplified in the concepts of yin and yang. Modern lifestyles are very busy and active (yang) with little or no time for deep relaxation and meditation (yin). Without proper balance between yin and yang the body is unable to maintain health leading to disease. Being mindful in our live and seeking balance is the key to managing modern day demands.
IV: Let’s start off with recognising some examples of intense stress and their symptoms.
PK: Well recognised examples include starting a new job, studying for exams, becoming a parent, losing a loved-one or quitting smoking but there’s also psychological stress due to expectations (of others and ourselves) and even the stress caused by self-doubt. People who have trouble turning off at the end of the day may not sleep well so wake tired, creating a vicious circle.
IV: Does stress lead to digestive discomfort?
PK: Everyone reacts differently to stress. Symptoms manifest in the area of greatest vulnerability or sensitivity. Because the digestive system contains the largest collection of nerve cells outside of the brain it is particularly reactive to hormones and neurochemicals released during stress. Again the notion of balance comes into play here. The digestive processes are regulated by the opposite branch of the nervous system that regulates our stress responses. If we’re unable to relax and enjoy our meals we’re fighting against the digestion, which may cause indigestion or reflux.
IV: Along with digestive discomfort does stress also play a part in sleep disturbance?
PK: Yes. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, consciousness (Shen) arises from the Heart organ-meridian system and settles back in the Heart when we sleep. However, stress keeps consciousness in the mind resulting in difficulty falling sleep, poor quality sleep, wakefulness and unrefreshed sleep.
IV: And what about energy and mental function?
PK: Symptoms of constant worry and stress include mild anxiety, tension, nervousness, irritability, restlessness, /forgetfulness, low energy, fatigue and as already mentioned nervous dyspepsia (indigestion and reflux).
IV: What’s the difference between stress, anxiety, worry and tension – are they all the same?
PK: ‘Stress’ is defined as a stimulus that evokes a response within the body. It’s correctly called a stressor. These day’s ‘stress’ also refers to our response to a stressor – what we feel and how we cope. How well we respond and adapt to stress determines whether we experience ongoing symptoms including anxiety (sense of pending threat), worry (mind overwhelmed by troubling thoughts) and tension (feeling on edge and irritable).
IV: How can Chinese Medicine help to relieve stress and anxiety?
PK: Over thousands of years the practice of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine has revealed a range of herbs known scientifically as Adaptogens.
Adaptogens have broad effects to help economise the body’s stress response and overcome or adapt to stress more quickly. These herbs also ‘calm the mind and spirit’ to help settle consciousness (Shen) before sleep.
The best Adaptogens to relieve symptoms of stress and worry including mild anxiety and nervous tension are Tulsi (Sacred Basil), Withania root and Magnolia stem bark.
Purchase Stress and Anxiety here.