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Stress and the immune system

Interesting Articles, Nutrition, Self-Care

The effect of stress on your immune system

The spread of the coronavirus has led to an increase in stress and anxiety for many people. We are worried about our health, the health of our loved ones, the economy and what the future holds. If you have found yourself wide awake at bedtime with a racing mind, please know that you are not alone. We are all in this together and it’s important to remember the collective in this situation. In times of stress, we need to look out for each other. If you can pay your domestic worker to stay home, please do so. Remember that those living on a daily wage will be affected the most and travelling on public transport exposes people to more risk of infection. Try to support small business as much as possible as these are the people who will suffer the most from an economic blow rather than large corporations. Self-isolate if you can in order to prevent the spread of infection. And most importantly, look after your own health so that you are of better service to others. We know we need to take our supplements and vitamins and eat a healthy diet to boost our immune system, but we also need to look closely at how we are managing our stress levels. Stress has a devastating effect on your immune system and health. We want to look at ways of lowering our stress levels so that we remain healthy and strong and able to face whatever the future may bring.

Stress makes you more vulnerable to infection

Let’s begin by looking at exactly how stress affects the immune system. When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infection. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system. Anxiety caused from stress can also negatively
affect your immune health. Anxiety can trigger your flight-or-fight stress response and release a flood of chemicals or hormones, like adrenaline, into your system. This can weaken your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to viral infections and frequent illnesses. So, we know stress is bad for the body, but you cannot simply avoid stress, stress is an inevitable part of life (especially now). What we can do, is find ways to manage and reduce this stress and anxiety.

A natural alternative

Many may turn to medication to manage stress. This may be an effective short-term solution, but anxiety medications have been shown to have serious side effects such as drowsiness, poor coordination and even an
increased mortality rate. Luckily there are natural alternatives that are just as effective in treating stress and anxiety. CBD is gaining increased popularity in treating anxiety and stress. CBD works by affecting the body’s endocannabinoid system which naturally produces cannabinoids, such as anandamide. This cannabinoid acts upon the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors and plays a key role in regulating fear and anxiety.  Your body naturally produces cannabinoids, which are used throughout your body and brain in the endocannabinoid system. This system can become dysregulated under chronic stress. However, CBD could help to restore balance to the endocannabinoid system by preventing overstimulation of your CB1 receptors and by boosting your body’s production of endocannabinoids. CBD has also been found to increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter which controls mood and behaviour. Serotonin has at least 14 different receptors, but CBD specifically binds to 5HT1-0 which is thought to have the strongest role in anxiety disorders. Using CBD to treat stress is a safe and effective way of managing anxiety around stressful situations.

Bushmans ecstasy

Sceletium is another completely natural product that is used as a natural mood enhancer that is known to reduce
anxiety, stress and tension. Sceletium has been used by theKhoi San people of Southern Africa for centuries for its calming properties. The mood-elevating action of sceletium is caused by a number of alkaloids including mesembrine, mesembrenol and tortuosamine which interact with the brain’s dopamine and serotonin receptors. In basic terms… this natural product has been nicknamed, ‘Bushman’s ecstasy’!

Yoga and meditation

Supplements are a great way to help your body manage the symptoms of stress but working on calming the mind first can also help reduce the negative effects of stress on the body. Meditation is a simple technique that can help you control stress and reduce anxiety. Start by setting a timer for 10 minutes and simple sit and observe your breathe. Inhale… exhale. Your only job in meditation is to focus on your breathe. If thoughts or worries arise, (which
is bound to happen) do not attach to them, simply notice these thoughts, let them go and return to the breath. If you are really struggling to still the mind, try taking a mushroom supplement such as Lion’s Mane for improved focus and concentration. Yoga is also an excellent way to deal with stress. When you are stressed tension stores in the body which can lead to pain and tension in the body. The intense stretching of yoga helps to release tension from problem areas. Controlled breathing while practicing yoga will help to quiet the mind and focus is put on the poses. Not only that, but the physical aspect of yoga will help to increase endorphins and lift your mood. At present, many people have gone into self-isolation and are choosing to work from home. This means that we all have a little extra time on our hands. Instead of spending half an hour on your morning commute, why not meditate or participate in an online yoga class. Your local yoga studio may be closed at present but there are teachers offering online classes. Check out camibeyoga, The Toolbox, Yoga Rocks and Manifest yoga studio on Facebook for more information on how you can participate in these classes.

I am, because you are

Right now, we are all in this together. The effects of the Coronavirus can be felt by everyone. In this time, we urge you to practice kindness towards one another. Perhaps you have a service you can offer online such as tutoring, yoga or as Nature’s Relief are doing, free telephonic health consultations. If you have a full pantry of food, consider
donating to someone less fortunate. Immune boosting supplements may not be in everyone’s budget so if you can, think about getting a powerful supplement such as Moringa which has 92 nutrients to those who you feel will benefit from it. Let’s work together as a community to support one another. In the spirit of Ubuntu, ‘I am, because you are.’

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