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What your great grandma knew about stress physiology

Modern medicine marvels itself at having discovered the physiology of stress responses and its relationship to wellness, vitality, disability and illnesses. It seems however, that our previous generations knew quite a lot about it too, without the benefit of modern research. Their depth of "knowledge by observation" is evident in many old folklore.


Even before the term "stress" was coined by Dr. Hans Selye, our ancestors knew how certain adverse situations could affect a person's health. Here are a few examples, with their modern medical explanations in parenthesis. 



  • Don't loose sleep over it! (Insomnia is a common symptom of over-stress.)


  • Don't get beat up over it! (Stress causes chronic fatigue and chronic aches and pains.)


  • This is going to give me a heart attack [or stroke]. (Stress is a major contributor to cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and strokes.)


  • It's is going to break my [my, his, her] heart! (Broken heart syndrome has recently been scientifically proven! The condition is caused by a sudden surge in serum adrenaline level causing severe coronary artery spasm and heart muscle dysfunction.)


  • My heart aches! (Angina pectoris due to coronary spasm from stress is a known phenomenon now and may progress to heart attacks or broken heart syndrome.)


  • My heart is heavy! (Same as above)


  • This will give me an ulcer! (Prior to the advent of  modern effective ulcer medications such as H2-blockers and proton pump inhibitors, bleeding from stomach ulcers following stressful events were quite common. Stress causes stomach hyper-acidity.)


  • Don't get your blood pressure up over this! (Essential hypertension has close links to chronic stress. Blood pressure machine or sphygmomanometer was invented in 1881.)


  • This is nothing but headaches! [This gives me headaches]. (Migraine and tension headaches are early signs of unmanaged stress.) 


  • I have butterflies in the stomach! (Excess adrenaline production during stress causes multiple Gastro-intestinal effects.)


  • This is going to kill me! (Death from stress-related cardiovascular events, cancers and chronic illnesses is now a proven fact.)


  • If you keep worrying, your (breast) milk will dry out! (Lactation problems are caused by reduction of hormone Prolactine during stress.)


  • This gives me the jitters! (Caused by high levels of adrenaline and thyroxine secondary to stress.)


  • I'm going to get sick over this! (Over 80% of  illnesses are either caused by stress or have stress as a major contributing factor.)


  • It caused her a miscarriage! (Vasopressin or Pitocin, secreted by posterior pituitary gland during stress, is a strong uterine muscle stimulator and can induce miscarriage.)





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