Stress is inevitable in our day to day lives. The sooner we accept this simple fact, the sooner we can begin to take the right steps in mitigating the effects of stress on our body and mind. The problem with treatments and activities that claim to “reduce stress” is that stress, like pain, is perceived. So it is not possible to reduce the actual stressor – only the perceived effect that it has on you.
Your body on stress.
Ever wondered what goes on at a physiological level in your body when you’re feeling stressed? We know the general symptoms: rapid heart rate, nervousness, sweating, anxiety, inability to focus or concentrate, etc. But what’s happening within your cells to cause these symptoms? The short answer is this: when you’re feeling stressed, your body uses up a much higher amount of vitamins and nutrients, at a much faster rate, than when you’re not stressed. Stress increases the demand for vitamins and nutrients through an increase in cellular activity. The first nutrients to be depleted are B vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium. In order to decrease the negative impacts of stress on the body, supplementation of these nutrients is necessary. By supplementing, you’re building a stronger foundation for when stress hits, and the physiological effects of it start to take a toll on your overall wellness. The better your nutrient stauts, the less likely you are to feel the effects of stress on the body and mind.
We know that supplementation is necessary as most of us aren’t getting the required amount of vitamins, nutrients and minerals from our daily food intake. The goal here is optimal function – we may be surviving, but we are not thriving. So the first step is to increase the amount of nutrients we receive on a daily basis. This can be done through supplementation of oral nutrients, however the positive effects will only start to kick in after at least 2 months of regular supplementation. With IV micronutrients, the positive effects are usually felt within hours-days after receiving a treatment. Another advantage to IV therapy is complete absorption. With oral vitamins, you generally only absorb about 30%. If you have any type of digestive issues including bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, or IBS type symptoms, this number will be even smaller. IV therapy allows us to bypass the digestive system and provide 100% absorption directly into the bloodstream. In a society where over 70% of people are living with some type of GI symptoms or discomfort, it seems worthwhile to deliver nutrients directly to the bloodstream while we simultaneously work on healing the gut to ensure long-term absorption of nutrients from foods. With all the emerging evidence to support the idea that inflammation begins in the gut, this is something that I tend to focus on with my patients.
The take home message.
If you’re feeling stressed, there are many stress-relieving techniques that can help relax the mind such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, etc. However, it’s important not to overlook the physiological needs of your nervous system. During times of stress, it’s not a bad idea to load up on magnesium, B-vitamins, vitamin C and other nutrients involved in the stress response. For more immediate effects, IV therapy is a safe and effective approach. Always consult a naturopathic doctor about specific dosing for your individual needs.