Stress is the most natural thing in the world — the problem today is that modern stress is chronic.
And its effect on your physical and mental health can be devastating.
You see, your brain isn’t wired for the kind stress we have to cope with these days. That’s why your ancestors never suffered from anything like it.
In a minute, I’m going to show you how to relieve stress naturally with an herb I discovered on the paradise island of Bali. It calms the part of your brain that’s directly affected by stress.
But first, let’s take a look what stress really is, where it comes from and what it does to you…
Modern stress is your body’s reaction to the world of financial worries, deadlines, traffic jams, and all the other constant concerns we have to live with now.
It’s a reaction that has its roots in the natural “fight or flight” response that automatically triggers your autonomic nervous system and puts your body on survival alert.
The stress of your ancestors was different. Nature intended it as a temporary biological mechanism to deal with an immediate crisis – to simply engage or withdraw.
The problem today is that you’re in constant “fight” mode — and that’s an unnatural condition. And it doesn’t end with the passing of a crisis – because today, our crises simply stack up on top of one another and seemingly never end.
That’s why if you go to your doctor with stress, you’re likely to be prescribed some addictive Big Pharma opiate or a benzodiazepine, like Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin — before they move on to the next patient who needs to be “numbed.”
But here’s real problem: These drugs don’t remove stress, they simply mask it.
And while most hormones decrease as you get older, the stress hormone cortisol increases with age. If left unchecked, cortisol will sabotage your immune system and accelerate aging.1
A little cortisol can help you. But a steady stream of it is toxic.
You see, excess cortisol has been linked to the inflammation that causes heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.2
The latest research now reveals stress also causes major damage to a part of your limbic system called the hippocampus, a region of the brain’s wiring that helps form long-term memories and processes them for storage.3,4
This dollop of gray matter — about the size and shape of a seahorse — also gives you the sense of who you are. The hippocampus is one of the first areas of the brain impacted by Alzheimer’s.
The limbic system is also the center of smell, hunger, sexuality, creativity and emotion — which explains why your sense of smell and taste are so closely linked to memories and emotions.
I never use Big Pharma meds to treat stress. Instead, I recommend a three-pronged attack: Deep breathing exercises from Ayurvedic medicine, the oldest health system in the world, physical exercise and the flowers of the ylang-ylang tree.
I discovered the power of ylang-ylang during a recent trip to Bali, while researching my upcoming book, Healing Herbs of Paradise.
You might even recognize the scent of ylang-ylang as a key ingredient in Chanel No. 5 perfume — but it has also been used for centuries by traditional Balinese healers to control food cravings and cure insomnia.
Recent research reveals that excess cortisol actually attacks the hippocampus, shrinking it and stripping it of neurons.5,6
But ylang-ylang works through the power of its scent. When its oils are breathed in, molecules rise to the top of your nose, where they meet thousands sensory cells. These receptors send the calming message directly to your limbic system, which then acts to decrease cortisol levels.
Ylang-ylang is widely available at most nutrition stores, drug stores, and online vendors.
I recommend mixing two or three drops of ylang-ylang oil with an ounce of carrier oil and massage into your skin twice a day. If you prefer to use it in a bath, mix 10 drops in with your water.
You’ll love the smell of it. And you’ll be surprised at how quickly it relieves your stress.
I also recommend this breathing exercise from Ayurvedic medicine, which you can do right now:
Step 1: Clear your mind. The goal is to get rid of all the excitatory energy your environment is pummeling you with all the time.
Step 2: Focus on your breathing. Think about the cadence of your breath, and exclude other thoughts. Constantly re-focus your attention on the breath. Distractions are going to happen. But you don’t waste any energy on them. When it happens, gently redirect your focus back to your breath.
Step 3: Observe your breathing. Think about how long it takes you to inhale and exhale. Observe the cadence. Where does inhaling stop? Where does exhaling begin? Focus on the change and how it feels to go from inhaling to exhaling.
Step 4: Elongate your exhalation. This is where you start to exert control over your breathing to help you relax. Make sure you’ve inhaled fully, using your abdomen and lungs. Then, push out all of your breath slowly and fully. This is the part we usually forget, but it’s the most crucial. As you exhale, you will feel yourself relax.
Take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to do this. You can even meditate as you lie in bed at night. It’s will be time well spent.
I also recommend PACE workouts for stress relief. PACE is the opposite of aerobics. And it reprograms your metabolism to re-energize you and release stress from the inside.
My PACE Express program gives you specific workouts that are easy to follow along so you can get back to living stress-free.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1SC Segerstrom, GE Miller. “Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry.” Psychol Bull. 2004 Jul;130(4):601-30.
3Gail, G. “Effects of Stress on the Hippocampus.” Dr Gail Gross PhD EdD. 2013.
4“Social stress messes up the hippocampus.” PLOS Neuroscience Community. 2015.
5Gail, G. “Effects of Stress on the Hippocampus.” Dr Gail Gross PhD EdD. 2013.
6Kim, I-H, Kim, C, Seong, K, Hur, M-H, Lim, HM, Lee, MS. “Essential Oil Inhalation on Blood Pressure and Salivary Cortisol Levels in Prehypertensive and Hypertensive Subjects.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. College of Nursing, Eulji University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea. 2012:1–9. doi:10.1155/2012/984203.