Stress destroys not only our progesterone levels, but Vitamin D3, Magnesium, the B Vitamins, Tyrosine and so much more.  More of these need to be used and taken during these stressful times.  See How to use Progesterone Cream.

Stress affects us all every single day and it is affecting our health. Award-winning neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky issued these words of warning. "Stress is not a state of mind... it's measurable and dangerous, and humans can't seem to find their off-switch."

Dr Hans Selye identified 3 progressive stress stages:

Stage 1 - Alarm reaction: Nervousness, jitters, restlessness and other signs of agitation, all causes by too much adrenaline in the system.

Stage 2 - Resistance: Minor resources are used by the body to deal with stress. If these resources are sufficient, it recovers.

Stage 3 - Exhaustion: Exhaustion occurs when stress is greater that the adaptive resources. Additional stress can cause death. The adrenal glands and atrophied immune system glands (the lymph and thymus) change when the body is stressed. Diseases and symptoms which occur resemble those of essential fatty acid deficiency and also modern degenerative disease, namely:

  • high blood pressure
  • arthritis
  • water retention
  • heart enlargement
  • strokes
  • ulcers
  • kidney disease
  • eclampsia and toxemia of pregnancy
  • allergies
  • diabetes
  • neurological problems
  • cancer

Stress is a word that we all use often, whether it is mental, emotional or physical, it causes the body to react in the same way. When stressed, a cascade of inflammatory cytokines are released, including the 3 stress hormones, cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. These 3 are made in the adrenal glands. Adrenaline and noradrenaline are made in the adrenal medulla, and cortisol in the adrenal cortex. Unless Addison's and Cushing's disease are present, the adrenals are ignored.

These 3 hormones cause the body to slow down except for the heart and major muscles, until all danger has been addressed. The FIGHT/FLIGHT response proved invaluable in the past when being attached or chased by wild animals. Today danger comes in different forms:

  • environmental toxins
  • toxic skin care products
  • processed food and drink
  • air pollution
  • water
  • drugs, malnutrition
  • crowded living conditions
  • redundances
  • divorce
  • moving house

FIGHT leads to:

  • aggression
  • irritability
  • rage
  • violence

FLIGHT leads to:

  • avoidance
  • mental confusion
  • withdrawal
  • fatigue

Now there is another, FRIGHT which leads to:

  • anxiety
  • apprehension
  • depression
  • panic

Stress hormones also cause:

  • the heart to race which causes blood pressure (BP) to rise
  • the rennin-angiotensin-aldosterone system is activated to raid blood volume causing BP to rise
  • aldosterone production causes sodium to be drawn into the tissues which causes water retention and BP rises
  • angiostensis causes blood vessels to constrict causing BP to rise
  • glycogen which is stored glucose, is released by the liver to supply extra energy to cope the emergency, but excess glycogen increases blood fats
  • blood is directed away from peripheral blood vessels and directed to the heart and major muscles causing the temperature of the skin to drop leading to a cold feeling

And we ask ourselves why so many people take the following drugs:

  • angiotensin inhibitors to relax the blood vessels
  • statins to lower cholesterol
  • beta blockers to calm a racing heart
  • diuretics to reduce water retention
  • antidepressant to deal with panic and anxiety

When the heart races and BP rises, more blood is pumped through the capillaries which supplies vital oxygen and glucose to run or FIGHT. With chronic stress there is no danger to respond, if the glucose is not used up either by running or fighting, the body will respond by making a surge of insulin from the pancreas to prevent hyperglycaemia. The pancreas releases more insulin than is needed to help cope with excess sugar and caffeine. Blood glucose then drops sharply causing shakiness, hunger, foggy thinking, a drop in temperature and then sweating, anxiety and panic. At the same time, the brain thinks it is not getting any fuel and sends a signal to the adrenals to make adrenaline. This hormone stimulates the liver to convert glycogen into glucose to prevent the drop in blood glucose. However, adrenaline causes anxiety, panic attacks and blood vessels to constrict to BP goes up, it is a vicious cycle which leads to stressed adrenals.

The liver is stimulated by a rise in insulin which then converts glucose into glycogen, when it's storage capacity becomes full glycogen is released into the blood stream. In times of famine, glycogen gets absorbed into fat cells. Cholesterol and triglycerides increase and lead to weight gain.

Insulin Resistance takes place when excess insulin causes cells to become insensitive to it. When glucose gets absorbed by the liver and fat cells, the cells become unresponsive to insulin because of insulin resistance, little fuel is provided and results in:

  • TIREDNESS
  • FATIGUE
  • EXHAUSTION 

Insulin Resistance may lead to:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • poly cystic ovaries (PCOS)
  • obesity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • anovulation
  • erratic periods
  • high androgens
  • reproductive problems in women
  • acne
  • increased inflammatory cytokine levels
  • increased clotting
  • high LDL
  • low HDL cholesterol
  • high triglycerides
  • weight gain
  • muscle weakness
  • brain fog
  • in ability to concentrate
  • high blood pressure

It also causes the brain, adrenals, liver, thyroid, gut etc to malfunction.

All sugars should be avoided, it causes even more stress to the already stressed system. Fructose, sucrose and glucose reduce levels of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) by 80, 50 and 40% respectively. Free testosterone levels rise with a drop in SHBG causing an oil skin, acne, loss of scalp hair, facial hair, hirsutism, visceral fat, PCOS, heart disease, cancer and insulin resistance.

Natural treatments

Because progesterone and it's metabolites and strong anxiolytics, reduce the response to stress and overworked adrenals. The stress hormone cortisol is also made in the adrenals which first produce progesterone before converting it to cortisol.  The progesterone metabolite allopregnanolone increases dopamine release which is the neurotransmitter responsible for good mood, motivation, reward, and a normal sexual response. Libido drops when stressed due to dropping dopamine levels. Dopamine drops because much of it is being converted to adrenaline and noradrenaline. The third stress hormone cortisol which is also made in the adrenals. These first produce progesterone before converting it to cortisol. Progesterone has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also counters the action of aldosterone, preventing retention of water and a subsequent rise in blood pressure. It increases SHBG, substantially lowering free testosterone. It helps with inflammation and counters the action of aldosterone which prevents water retention. Progesterone increases SHBG therefore lowers free testosterone.

Women should use 100-200mg per day or more, depending on symptoms
Men should use 10-100mg per day or more, depending on symptoms

Vitamin D3 - is also a hormone and a potent antioxidant which is needed by every single cell to function normally. Stress reduces levels and counters the action of angiotension preventing the constriction of blood vessels and a rise in blood pressure. Vitamin D3 is low in all the above diseases.

Cysteine (NAC) - is a sulphur amino acid and a potent antioxidant for our cells. It is believed that is helps to restore age. It is the major precursor to glutathione and is low in the above diseases, including cancer.

Taurine -is another sulphur amino acid with amazing antioxidant properties. It reduces stress of any kind.

Glutamine - a non essential amino acid but is essential when stressed.

Glycine- is a calming amino acid and is one of the precursors to glutathione. Whilst it is found in food, particularly animal protein, stress slows digestion which affects the availability of glycine which then affects glutathione.

GABA - is the most calming amino acid found in the brain.

Tyrosine - helps with any stressful situation, it is the precursor to the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. Stress destroys tyrosine levels. It is also the precursor to dopamine, which is necessary for increasing mood and for normal sexual function. Dopamine levels drop when stressed therefore, mood and libido drops. When dopamine drops, prolactin levels rise. It is also an inflammatory hormone and inflammation causes stress to the body.

Chromium - is crucial in maintaining a stable blood sugar level. A diet high in sugar causes a loss from the body. It plays a vital role in the dopamine pathway.

Selenium - is a potent antioxidant and prevents the formation of free radicals. A deficiency has been found in the diseases mentioned above. It is a co-factor for glutathione synthesis.

Zinc - is an antioxidant and is an essential part of insulin making it extremely important for the control of blood sugar.

All the B vitamins - these drop when stressed, particularly B5 (pantothenic acid), the anti-stress vitamin.

Inositol - increases the action of insulin and decreases insulin resistance (IR). It has a calming affect and helps in combating:

  • depression
  • panic attacks
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • mood swings
  • bipolar disorder
  • anxiety

Stress causes scalp hair loss, inositol is known at the anti alopecia vitamin.

 

References

Vitamin D supplementation reduces insulin resistance in South Asian women living in New Zealand who are insulin resistant and vitamin D deficient – a randomised, placebo-controlled trial

Androgens associated with advanced glycation end-products in postmenopausal women

Dopamine: helping males copulate for at least 200 million years: theoretical comment on Kleitz-Nelson et al. (2010)

Testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin and the metabolic syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Progesterone increases dopamine neuron number in differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells

Water: swelling, tension, pain, fatigue, aging - Ray Peat

Taurine prevents fructose-diet induced collagen abnormalities in rat skin

Endogenous Sex Hormones and Glucose Tolerance Status in Postmenopausal Women

Hypovitaminosis D is associated with insulin resistance and β cell dysfunction1,2,3

Progesterone Prevents Estradiol-Induced Dendritic Spine Formation in Cultured Hippocampal Neurons

Dopamine and sexual behavior

Progesterone alters GABA and glutamate responsiveness: a possible mechanism for its anxiolytic action