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Stress and Infectious Diseases: STOP THE STRESS!!!

stressimmuneWe have one great defensive team to protect ourselves in this world full of germs, viruses and bacteria our immune system. We are born with it and while not perfect, it keeps us alive in most cases if we ‘catch’ something and it has a great memory for prior foreign invaders.

Our immune system is what keeps us from having to live a sterile environment and it’s in our best interest to keep our immune system strong so that when some invaders comes a knockin’ we have a fighting chance to live. I would hazard to guess that most people don’t even THINK about their immune system and what would happen if it went bye-bye or was seriously compromised. Day in and day out we go about our lives full of stress and surrounded by germs. So, in this day and age when we typically don’t eat right, sit around a lot and stress out about everything and ding our immune systems with literally hundreds of different chemicals everyday what can we do to support our immune system? Fight STRESS!!!

Stress…stress can kill you and that isn’t a joke…according to Paige Bierma, M.A
“Some kinds of stress — very short-term, that last only a matter of minutes — actually redistribute cells in the bloodstream in a way that could be helpful,” says Suzanne Segerstrom, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky who has conducted studies on stress and the immune system. “But once stress starts to last a matter of days, there are changes in the immune system that aren’t so helpful. And the longer that stress lasts, the more potentially harmful those changes are.”
The fight-or-flight response (short-term stress) goes something like this: When a villager in Africa sees a lion charging at him, for example, the brain sends a signal to the adrenal gland to create hormones called cortisol and adrenaline, which have many different effects on the body, from increasing heart rate and breathing to dilating blood vessels so that blood can flow quickly to the muscles in the legs. Besides helping him run away, this type of acute stress also boosts the immune response for three to five days (presumably to help him heal after the lion takes a swipe at him).
When humans experience stress, our bodies react the same way that animals’ bodies do. Once the lion is gone, a zebra or gazelle’s stress level will return to normal, but humans have more trouble getting back to our routines after a stressful event, whether it’s a car accident or a divorce. We’ll think about it, dream about it, and worry about it for a long time, and that sets us up for long-term problems, says Robert M. Sapolsky, a Stanford University stress expert and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.
Over time, continually activating the stress response may interfere with the immune system. How this affects your disease risk, Sapolsky suggests, depends partly on your risk factors and your lifestyle, including your degree of social support.

Infectious disease and stress:
A number of vaccine studies have also found that the immune system of highly stressed individuals have sluggish responses to challenges. In one study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, a pneumonia vaccine was administered to 52 older adults, including 11 people caring for spouses with dementia. After just six months, the levels of antibodies produced against pneumonia in the caregivers had dropped off, while the non-caregivers’ levels remained stable. A similar study in which 32 caregivers were given the flu shot also found that caregivers received less protection from the vaccine than did a control group of non-caregivers.
If you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to get sick — at least it seems that way. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine actually found that higher psychological stress levels resulted in a higher likelihood of catching the common cold. The researchers accounted for many variables — including the season; alcohol use; quality of diet, exercise, and sleep; and levels of antibodies before exposure to the virus — and concluded that higher stress was to blame for lowered immunity and higher infection rates.
In the meantime, there is enough evidence to convince us that we should find healthy ways to keep our stress levels down, which is advice we got from our grandmothers: Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.
“Stress is inevitable,” Spiegel says. “The trick is to learn to manage it, to find some aspect of our stress and do something about it. Don’t think in terms of ‘all or nothing’ but in terms of ‘more or less.’ “

An immune system that is continually ‘working, working, working’ never gets a chance to recover so when challenged by an invader it cannot mount an adequate defense.
Learn to manage your stress!

Stressful events are a fact of life and they can be even little ones like too much noise or activity going on around you. You can learn to identify what stresses you and how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally in the face of stressful situations. Learn to UNWIND in a healthy way.

Stress management strategies include:

Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep
Practicing relaxation techniques or learning to meditate
Fostering healthy friendships
Having a sense of humor
Seeking professional counseling when needed
Learn to say no! Set yourself realistic expectations and learn how to say “no” when your workload or social and family commitments get too much.
Learn to switch off. Leaving the office for the day? Then it’s time to switch off your work brain as well as your mobile phone. Unless you need to be on call for work, there’s rarely anything that can’t be solved the next day with renewed perspective.
Breathe! When we’re stressed, we tend to shallow breathe. Try to take deeper breaths into your diaphragm.

But hey! There is good news on the stress/immune system relation using herbs called adaptogens and these can be included into your healthy diet as herbal supplements. According to Frank M. Painter, D.C.:
The body expends a great amount of energy keeping itself in a heightened state of readiness. When weakened by prolonged stress–be it caused by lack of sleep, poor diet, chemical toxins in the environment or mental assaults–the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis can be compromised, and illness can result. Adaptogenic herbs have traditionally helped prevent the imbalances that can result from stress and have therefore prevented or minimized disease. At the core of an adaptogen’s scope of actions is the ability to help the body cope more effectively with stress. Specifically, adaptogens recharge the adrenal glands, which are the body’s nominal mechanism for responding to stress and emotional changes. The adrenals, which cover the upper surface of each kidney, synthesize and store dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. These compounds are responsible for the changes that occur during the fight-or-flight reaction.

Well known adaptogenic herbs are:

Ginseng
Suma
Ashwaganda
Astragalus
Schisandra
Jiaogulan

And while mushrooms are not technically herbs Reishi, shiitake, maitake mushrooms have been shown to have adaptogen properties also.

Homeopathy can also play a role in reducing stress levels when needed and be apart of an overall stress reduction program:
According to Claire Zarb LCPH it’s advisable to start with a 30c potency and take every hour or so when the feelings of stress are at their peak.

Argentum Nitricum
Ideal for treating anxiety, caused by the anticipation of a big event, such as an exam, party or public speaking event. Dizziness and diarrhea may also be experienced, especially in the morning. People who need this remedy are often enthusiastic and suggestible, with a tendency towards being quite impulsive. They often crave sweets which usually make their symptoms worse.
Gelsemium
When a dull, heavy, but restless, weariness dominates you, think of Gelsemium. A dose before an exam or interview can keep your mind from drawing a blank. Heavy fatigue with muscular weakness means it’s great for flu, restless colds, diarrhea and dull, pressing headaches. This can be a very steadying remedy, especially to quiet, often low-spirited people who dread public speaking.
Nux Vomica
This remedy’s reputation is based on its ability to treat modern day complaints of indigestion, intoxication, and stress. Nux Vomica acts to neutralize both the effect of stress on the mind, and excess intake of food, alcohol and drugs on the digestive system. Nux Vomica offers comfort when travel, hangovers, busy schedules, overwork, or late night meals cause digestive and mental distress. Ideal if you’re a ‘workaholic’ who is easily irritable and tired.
Lycopodium
Ideal for nerves and indecision and especially good if you worry a lot and battle with self-confidence (too much and too little!). Digestively, it applies to acidity, gas, bloating, colic and constipation. There may be a fear of change, irritability, obstinacy, stage fright and exam nerves.

And don’t forget the Food!

According to Michael Ozner, MD, the top 10 stress fighting foods are:
1. Spinach contains magnesium, which helps improve your body’s response to stress and may prevent migraine headaches.
2. Asparagus is a good source of folic acid, which produces serotonin and helps stabilize mood.
3. Beef helps stabilize mood by supplying zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
4. Dairy products such as milk and cottage cheese provide protein and calcium.
5. Nuts and seeds are good stress-fighting snacks. In addition to containing vitamin B12, magnesium, and zinc, almonds also provide vitamin E, which, like vitamin C, fights stress-related free radicals that cause heart disease. Walnuts and pistachios are known to lower blood pressure. Sunflower seeds include folate, which helps produce dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical.
6. Fruits such as oranges and blueberries contain vitamin C, which fights cancer-causing free radicals. Blueberries also counteract the effect of hormones such as cortisol, and bananas provide potassium, which lowers blood pressure.
7. Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, can boost serotonin levels and limit the production of anxiety hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
8. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fat and potassium, which lower blood pressure.
9. Milk, including skim milk, is high in antioxidants and vitamins B2 and B12 and also provides protein and calcium, which can reduce muscle spasms and tension and soothe PMS.
10. Crispy rice cereal or corn flakes aren’t necessarily low in sugar; however, they offer B vitamins and folic acid, which reduce stress. Have a bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk for a stress-fighting breakfast.
Four foods to avoid:
1. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate, can cause anxiety and raise stress hormone levels.
2. Sugar causes spikes in blood glucose levels and increases insulin. This affects your adrenal glands, which regulate stress hormones and help the thyroid regulate body weight.
3. Trans fatty acids such as hydrogenated vegetable oil are found in many baked goods and can hinder the immune system and increase the risk of heart disease.
4. Alcohol puts more sugar in the body, and excessive consumption can damage the adrenal glands.
While stress is just one factor in keeping the immune system healthy you can see that there are ways of helping the body to defend itself against stress and boost our body’s resiliency against stress. So get moving, eat ‘right’ and get your SLEEP and don’t forget to add homeopathy and herbs into your life to LIVE! Your immune system will love you!

Stay safe, be prepared!
survivingshtfmom

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October 4, 2014 Posted by | Herbs, Homeopathics, Infectious Disease, Self-Help | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Infectious Disease…What is It? Pt.1

What are Infectious Diseases?

In a grid up situation or in otherwords when life is ‘normal’ many of take for granted modern sanitation and personal hygeine which is the best way to prevent infectious diseases. But even now, right in our own ‘normal’ world we see outbreaks of infectious disease due to improper handling of food, unsanitary conditions (and this will get worse as the economy deterriorates and more and more people are unable to afford food let alone wash hands and not have close contact with others) and lack of personal hygeine. So while the below information may seem to be a no brainer right now, I feel it is worth going over the basics before going into ‘alternatives’ to modern prevention techniques.

Below is taken directly from http://www.scientificpsychic.com/health/hygiene.html

Diseases can be classified as genetic, metabolic, or infectious. Genetic diseases are caused by genetic defects inherited from the parents. Sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis are two examples of genetic diseases. Metabolic diseases are those that may develop from the failure of normal bodily functions, but may also be inherited. Diabetes mellitus, for example, is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar level resulting from insufficient insulin secretion by the pancreas. Obesity is a major contributing factor to adult-onset diabetes. Infectious diseases or communicable diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites that use our body as a host for reproduction. Tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS are responsible for approximately half of all deaths caused by infectious diseases worldwide.

  • Viruses are      pieces of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA)      wrapped in a thin coat of protein that replicate only within the cells of      living hosts.
  • Bacteria are      one-cell microorganisms with a simple cellular organization whose nucleus      lacks a membrane.
  • Parasites may be      protozoa, yeasts, or multicellular organisms such as fungi or worms that      live in or on a host to obtain nourishment without providing any benefit      to the host.

Viruses
Viruses penetrate the cell walls of body tissues bringing a payload of DNA or RNA that starts replicating the virus inside the infected cells. When the cell dies, multiple copies of the virus are released and continue to infect other cells. The human body sometimes is able to build antibodies that prevent the replication of the virus to stop the infection. Vaccines consist of weakened viruses that stimulate the body’s defenses to fight infection by the natural viruses. Here is a list of diseases caused by viruses:

  • Common Cold is caused by a rhinovirus
  • Influenza (Flu) –
  • Dengue fever is transmitted by bites from mosquitoes      mainly in Southeast Asia and South America
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused      by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It is transmitted by sexual      contact with an infected person or by sharing needles or syringes for drug      injection.
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver, jaundice)
  • Herpes (cold sores, and genital herpes)
  • Rabies (transmitted by bites from infected bats,      raccoons, dogs)
  • Pertusis (whooping cough) causes fever and severe      coughing, transmitted through droplets.
  • Polio (may cause paralysis)
  • Smallpox
  • Mumps
  • Yellow Fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever      transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
  • Measles or rubella
  • Warts caused by a virus may be treated at home with      solutions and patches containing salicylic acid over several weeks, or in      the doctor’s office by freezing.

Bacteria
Bacteria are one-celled organisms that do not have membranes binding their nuclear material (prokaryotes). This feature distinguishes them from protozoa which have a more complex cellular structure and a distinct nucleus (eukaryotes). Not all bacteria cause diseases. Bacteria are present in some fermented foods. Yogurt, for example, has Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. The human mouth and intestines harbor over 400 different types of bacteria that produce some vitamins and ferment fiber to produce short-chain fatty acids. Bacteria that cause diseases are called “pathogenic” bacteria.Antibiotics, like penicillin, are substances that are toxic to the bacteria, but relatively harmless to people. They have been very useful in combating disease, but their increased use has produced antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bacteria are classified by their shape and the color that they take when stained. A bacillus is elongated like a sausage, a coccus is round, and a spirochete is helical (spiral) in shape. Hans Christian Gram (1853-1938) developed a staining technique that colors some bacteria deep blue (Gram positive), whereas others take on a red color (Gram negative). Here is a list of common bacteria and some of their attributes:

  • Staphylococcus – normally found on the skin, but can      cause boils and pimples.
    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is responsible      for many
    serious infections that are sometimes fatal.
  • Escherichia coli – normal inhabitant of the colon,      hence called “coliform” bacteria
    E. coli O157:H7 is a virulent strain that produces toxins that
    can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even kidney failure.
  • Chlamydia – a sexually transmitted disease (STD)      caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.
    Over one million cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States      in 2006.
  • Salmonella – frequent cause of food poisoning
  • Vibrio cholerae – causes cholera, an infection of      the small intestine characterized by watery diarrhea
  • Treponema pallidum – a spiral-shaped (spirochete)      bacteria that causes syphilis
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae – a Gram-negative coccus that      causes gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases
  • Borrelia – a spirochete transmitted by ticks that      causes Lyme disease (borreliosis).
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis – the cause of      tuberculosis
  • Yersinia pestis – causes bubonic plague, transferred      by flea bites
  • Bacillus anthracis – the organism that causes      anthrax, characterized by black lesions.
  • Rickettsia – a motile, Gram-negative bacterium that      replicates only within the cytoplasm of cells and causes diseases such as      typhus, rickettsialpox, and Rocky       Mountain spotted      fever. It is transmitted by the bites of insects such as ticks, fleas, and      lice.

Parasites
Parasites may be protozoa, fungi, or multi-cellular organisms. Many parasites have complex life cycles that insure their proliferation and survival.

Protozoa
As mentioned above, protozoa have a more complex organization than bacteria. Some protozoa form cysts that protect them from harsh conditions and enable them to live outside of a host for a long time. Some diseases caused by protozoans are:

  • Malaria (transmitted by mosquitos) is most prevalent      in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Leishmaniasis (transmitted by sandflies which are      about one-third the size of mosquitoes)
  • African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness      transmitted by the tsetse fly)
  • Amoebic dysentery – infection of the intestine      caused by an ameba (Entamoeba histolytica), which causes severe      diarrhea.
  • Coccidiosis – intestinal infection that causes      bloody diarrhea.
  • Cryptosporidiosis – parasitic disease of the      intestine caused by Cryptosporidium.
  • Giardial enteritis – an infection of the small      intestine caused by Giardia lamblia.
  • Toxoplasmosis – a systemic parasitic infection      transmitted by eating undercooked meat or contamination by cat feces.

Fungi
Fungi include one-celled yeasts slightly bigger than bacteria, and multi-celled mushrooms and molds. Fungi do not have chlorophyll to make their own food, so they get their nutrition as parasites or by breaking down remains of dead plants or animals. Some fungi are poisonous (e.g., Amanita mushrooms), but some have beneficial uses. For example,Penicillium notatum produces the antibiotic penicillin and Saccharomyces cerevisiaeis the yeast used to make bread rise and to brew beer. Fungal diseases are called mycoses and include:

  • Aspergillosis – infection of sinuses and lungs
  • Blastomycosis – skin and pulmonary infections
  • Candidiasis – cutaneous and vaginal infections. Candida      albicans is the most common cause of vaginal yeast infections.
  • Coccidioidomycosis – may cause cough, chest pain,      shortness of breath
  • Cryptococcosis – may be transmitted in pigeon      droppings

Multicellular parasites
Multicellular parasites include various kinds of worms and fungi that cause diseases such as:

  • Ascariasis (roundworms)
  • Hookworm
  • Lymphatic filariasis or elephantiasis (transmitted      by mosquitos)
  • Pinworm
  • Schistosomiasis (liver or blood flukes)
  • Tapeworm
  • Trichinosis – a disease caused by consumption of      poorly cooked meat that contains cysts of Trichinella spiralis.
  • Tinea corporis, tinea pedis (ringworm, athlete’s      foot)

Intestinal parasites are commonly transmitted by eating food contaminated with feces or by eating raw or undercooked meat and seafood. In many parts of the world, manure or feces are used for fertilizing crops, and this is how vegetables and drinking water can become contaminated with the eggs or larvae of parasitic organisms. It is estimated that the human pinworm affects approximately 50% of the children in the United States. Pinworms lay their eggs around the anus and cause itching. The natural instinct to scratch, in combination with habits like thumb sucking and poor hand-washing, spreads the parasites. Tapeworms and roundworms can infect the body when their eggs or larvae are swallowed by eating raw or undercooked meats (pork) or seafood (ceviche, salmon roe, sashimi, sushi, cold-smoked fish). Protozoan parasites are frequently present in raw oysters.

Hookworms (Necator and Ancylostoma) are generally contracted by walking barefoot on soil contaminated by feces from infected animals or persons, or by swimming or wading in contaminated water. Hookworm larvae are capable of penetrating the skin in a few seconds. Once inside the body, they migrate to the lungs via the capillaries, and then cross into the air sacs of the lungs. They are eventually coughed up and swallowed. In the intestines, they feed on blood and reproduce. The females lay eggs that are passed in the feces to repeat the cycle.

Fungi and molds cause a variety of skin diseases such as athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm, but they can also cause pulmonary and internal infections such as aspergillosis, and candidiasis (yeast infection). The dermatophyte Trichophyton rubrum is a fungus that frequently causes chronic infections of the skin and nails. Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp that causes severe itching, dandruff, and bald patches.Tinea corporis, commonly known as ringworm, is an infection of the skin found on the body, such as the trunk and limbs. Tinea pedis is a superficial fungal infection affecting the feet, often called athlete’s foot. This type of fungal infection typically is found in the skin between the toes, and is characterized by itching, blisters, cracking, and scaling.Tinea cruris, also known as jock itch, is a fungal infection of the skin of the groin area. Fungal infections are aggravated by sweating, restrictive garments, not washing and drying the body carefully on a daily basis, and by not changing into clean clothing frequently enough.

Ringworm and other fungus skin infections can be treated with a variety of non-prescription antifungal ointments, powders, or sprays containing tolnaftate, clotrimazole, undecylenic acid, terbinafine hydrochloride, salicylic acid, etc. White vinegar (5% acetic acid) is a common home remedy for fungal skin infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot; it is applied with a cotton ball in the morning and in the evening, but it produces a burning sensation on broken skin. To prevent re-infection, the fungi that cause skin infections should be eliminated from environmental surfaces like bathtubs and toilet seats by washing the surfaces with diluted household chlorine bleach, which is a solution containing typically 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl). Fungi on towels, sheets, socks, underwear, and other clothing can also be killed by adding bleach during the wash cycle, although this may fade some fabrics. In the case of athlete’s foot, shoes should also be treated with antifungal foot powder. For tinea capitis infections, pillows, pillow cases, combs, hats, and hair brushes must be disinfected. Chlorine bleach should not be used on the skin because it is extremely caustic and will cause chemical burns. Wear rubber gloves when handling bleach.

Basic Hygiene and safe food handling procedures will prevent or stop most if not all of these viruses, bacteria, parasites and protozoa. We are fortunate to currently live in a time when sanitation and personal hygiene are easy and affordable for many people. More will be discussed at a later time on hygiene and sanitation in undesirable or ‘unmodern’ situations.

Part 2 will discuss the typical ways to prevent or combat infectious diseases in the modern world.

July 27, 2012 Posted by | Guidelines, Infectious Disease | , , , | 1 Comment