Not too long ago, after hearing it suggested by their doctor, many used the term stress to explain unsightly behaviour or to be excused from unfavourable situations. Nowadays, just as many people try to avoid the stigma associated with stress, often linking it to loss of emotional control or being unable to handle small problems. Contrary to popular belief, stress is not an emotion but a collection of multiple chemical reactions taking place in the body. Which means that, although it cannot be prevented, the effect that it has on a person may be controlled to some degree. In this post, we will go over stress and how it influences the body.
When faced with a challenging situation or a threat to its survival, the body activates a number of defensive processes called the acute stress response, more commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. Positive stress or eustress is usually a short term state, during which the fight-or-flight response equips the body to deal with the situation it is in, keeping an individual alert and ready to avoid danger. Negative stress or distress is identified by a person feeling stressed frequently or for lengthy amounts of time without relief, resulting in their body becoming over worked in its attempt to manage the acute stress response.
The fight-or-flight response can have both a physical and psychological impact on the body. Chronic or long term stress can be harmful simply because the body was not made to maintain high levels of stress often or continuously. The duration of an individual’s acute stress response can be influenced by the situation that caused it.
Stress can be triggered by severe circumstances, such as physically assaulted, as well as by less obvious challenges, such as meeting work deadlines or sitting an exam. But what happens to the body once its fight-or-flight response has been triggered? Simply put, the body produces a number of hormones to mobilise several systems of the body, enabling it to either fight off whatever is threatening it or to escape it by running away.
Once a threat has been detected by the brain, both the central nervous system and the endocrine system are activated. The central nervous system sends out neurotransmitters or brain chemicals of its own and alerts the endocrine system, telling it to release the following three main hormones:
Adrenaline – also known as epinephrine – causes the heart to pump faster and the liver to release glucose, which directs oxygen, nutrients and energy to the muscles and other organs as needed to escape danger
Norepinephrine – released from both the brain and adrenal glands, in case either of them do not function properly at the time – is classed as a neurotransmitter and a hormone. It directs blood away from organs that are less important for its immediate survival, such as the skin and stomach, and shifts it to the heart, lungs and other organs instead
Cortisol – often referred to as the main stress hormone – is responsible for regulating the effects of adrenaline and norepinephrine within the body as well as the function of other systems during and after an episode of stress
In addition to adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol, the body produces hormones, known as estrogen and testosterone, and neurotransmitters called
dopamine and serotonin, when experiencing a stressful situation. Failure to resolve these situations or return the level of adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol in the blood to normal can have a negative impact on the body, affecting and sometimes compromising other bodily systems such as the digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, muscular, reproductive and immune system. Unspent adrenaline and norepinephrine can cause various symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, headaches and changes in vision, irritability, anxiety and depression, dizziness and light-headedness, an inability to think clearly, constipation, diarrhea, heart burn, tight, painful muscles and other bodily pain.
Lingering cortisol in the body can lead to more complicated symptoms, including but not limited to heart damage, thyroid problems, excess abdominal fat, imbalance of blood sugar levels, slow or impaired healing, high blood pressure, decreased muscle mass and bone density, reduced immune function and an increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack, developing type 2 diabetes and susceptibility to infection. Stress hormones can also aggravate pre-existing health conditions, such as asthma, arthritis and eczema, affect the menstrual cycle by making periods irregular, heavier or painful, and influence an individual’s mood, causing them to be socially withdrawn and less keen to be active.
For a concise, visual explanation of stress, check out this video by TED-Ed.
Though the above information may seem like enough to trigger more stress, it may be heartening to know that Hijama can combat most, if not all, of the aforementioned symptoms. By treating the systemic points, a practitioner could manually remove excess adrenaline, norepinephrine or cortisol in the blood stream, regulate the immune system and relieve the discomfort of high blood pressure. Hijama cups placed over the kidneys could further filter the blood of extra glucose, aid the function of the adrenal glands which are located on top of
either kidney, and positively affect a patient’s ability to digest food. To improve an individual’s menstrual cycle and relax their muscles, a Hijama practitioner could treat their ovary points and use dry cupping to massage sore muscles or remove other pains in the body, such as those found in the neck, shoulders and lower back. klik..wet-cupping/