Stress and hormone balance

Henrietta Norton BSc, Dip NT, MBANT, AFMCP Co-founder of Wild Nutrition and Nutritional Therapist.

"Sometimes you have to wait for your soul to catch up with your body" – Chinese Proverb.


Are you stressed?


One of the greatest problems with modern life is the emotional and mental toxicity it can bring. We can spend so much time outside ourselves and so little time being present, listening to our own bodies and our intuition. Our spirit and our physical body can become two separate entities. This is not a healthy state to be in. Taking time to relax and come ‘back together’ is extremely important for total health.


Modern society exposes us to many stressful experiences. As individuals we may not be aware of these ‘minor’ stresses but cumulatively, over time, they can exhaust our health. Examples include; high noise levels, lack of free time, excessive exercise, no opportunity to process emotions, self-imposed high demands on performance, being on the receiving end of or regularly witnessing unpleasant behaviour. Some of these stress factors can be especially common in cities and urban areas. They wear down the health of the spirit and eventually wear down the physical elements of our being.


When we are stressed the adrenal glands prompt the release of sugar into the bloodstream, triggering what we know as the ‘fight or flight’ response. In the days of the caveman this was a useful response to a sabre-toothed tiger or a woolly mammoth, as we would respond by running or fighting, either of which used up the sudden release of glucose and hormones. Once the threatening event had passed, our system would be more or less neutralised by the exact science of supply and demand. However, today our stress is generally not a ferocious wild animal but our children/work/late bus/partner, none of which require physical fighting or running away – even if at times we may want to. This means that the glucose and hormones released are not used and instead continue to circulate in our blood stream, making our symptoms worse. An additional effect can be that our bodies crave sugar-laden food or stimulants.


If this happens on a continual basis, which it does so for so many of us, the adrenal glands become increasingly overworked and undernourished, causing chaos in the production and regulation of our hormones. Once the adrenals are exhausted we can become more prone to anger, illness, irritability, excessive sweating and depression. The hormone released to cope with this is cortisol. Cortisol competes with and lowers progesterone production and therefore contributes to a dominance of oestrogen. Stress management is therefore essential to any woman experiencing hormonal fluctuations.


Meditation, yoga, moderate exercise and massage are all tried and tested valid approaches to reducing stress. My tip would be to chose the right way to unwind that suits you, regardless of what others are doing. Stick to it and be disciplined in making sure you find time for it in your schedule; it is so important to find time to breathe.


You can complete a simple saliva test to investigate your adrenal health. For more information please contact the clinic at

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