Stress is a pretty nebulous term. Means one thing to one person and something else to someone else. When you’re a clinician and you use the word stress, you mean something specific, something you can measure and objectify. That clarity can be gained through proper testing. There are 3 options in testing: blood, urine or saliva. In blood or urine we are looking for the metabolites of adrenalin and nor-adrenalin. In saliva, we are looking at cortisol levels. When levels are elevated, then the stress response has become pathological. Other markers will also elevate ( glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein, ect ). Pathological stress is defined as stress response stacked upon stress response without proper recovery in between. Nothing good can come out of this. This kind of stress is a major component of all modern diseases. In the long term, the disease’s themselves create a positive feedback loop for pathological stress to occur.

A little history lesson

Hans Selle was a Austrian born Scientist who put forth his working theory on stress in 1938. It was brilliant. The Russians picked up on his work early, and this led the way for deep and intense research on plants that could help with stress. Luckily, Adaptogens were discovered (the best known of which is Ginseng). The U.S. was at least 10-15 years behind them. We did not even begin to look at Selle’s work until sometime in the early 50’s. Our work on stress is still suffering and that is obvious in treatment protocols designed by western docs. The long term effect of pathological stress response is a slow insidious change ultimately leading to disease. That downward spiral is only enhanced by improperly applied pharmaceuticals.

The 2 main frame controlling systems in the body are the Central Nervous System and the Central Hormonal Axis. Long term stress alters neural and hormonal response to the point of severe harm. ( Cancer, Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes) Things begin to break under its influence.

Selle dissected the stress response and broke it up into 3 distinct phases. Alarm,Resistance and Exhaustion. The part that is missing is the recovery section, which if it occurs properly, brings us back to center so that we do not hit the wall of the Exhaustion phase. On the way to reaching that state of exhaustion (takes years of consistent pressure) many changes occur in our chemistry which, in their less advanced form are hard to see. Yearly blood testing is a very good idea especially post 45 yrs old.

Treating the nervous system with plants like Avena and B vitamins is a good beginning along with the use of adaptogenic herbs to rebuild the Hormonal system. Stessed out patients commonly have problems with insomnia. This has to be addressed and normalized as well with Natural Medicine. You cannot get rid of the stressors in a person’s life generally. But you can rebuild their systems to be able to work with stress properly. Any time a clinician using Natural Medicine is helping someone with a chronic disease, they are working the stress wing of the disorder from the go. It is one of the major legs of good steady recovery or it is a way to catch it early enough so nothing breaks in the first place. When your doing  good work as a clinician, you are helping to prevent a train wreck, before anybody even knows there is a problem. This is the excellence that you strive for as a healer. When you hit that mark, you understand very quickly, why you do this thing called Healing.


Harry Chrissakis