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Stress and Autoimmune Disease

Are you stressed? Most of us are and it’s making us sick. This is especially true if we have stress and autoimmune disease. Up until the 19th century, it was widely believed that stress and physical health were linked. The advancement of modern medicine quieted this belief but we’re seeing more studies indicating there is a link between stress and autoimmune disease and overall physical health.

A report by NCBI discusses stress as a trigger of autoimmune disease. Stress triggers the release of  hormones that impact the immune system causing flares of autoimmune diseases like what I have, rheumatoid arthritis (RA). With any autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system attacks itself. With RA, the synovial membrane is attacked as if it were disease. This causes severe joint pain that we call a flare.

What happens when the body is stressed?

When the body is stressed, it produces hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, the fight or flight hormones of our ancestors, back when we were running from predators. While we don’t run from predators today, we experience stress caused by any number of factors — jobs, traffic, family, money (or lack of), bills, news, social media, and anxiety, to name a few.

The release of these hormones causes increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, changes to the metabolic system (digestion, reproduction, growth, and immunity), weight gain, depression, hypertension, and increased blood pressure.

Patients diagnosed with autoimmune disease already have a compromised immune system. The added stress of everyday life can make them quite ill. Whether you’re diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or not, managing stress should be an important part of your daily routine.

Ways to Manage Stress

Managing stress means identifying stressors and finding ways to eliminate or deal with them. It’s all for the good of your health – mental, physical, and spiritual.

  • Limit the time you spend with people who stress you out.
  • Find a different job.
  • Try different commute times.
  • Eat locally grown, seasonal produce.
  • Try yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Guided meditations like the disease-specific meditations offered on are especially helpful for those with autoimmune disease.

For many of us, we need to get enough sleep. 6-9 hours for adults should be enough to recharge your mind and body. Try these Natural Remedies for Sleep Disorders including a Nutrient IV drip that includes magnesium (you can get one here at Aurora Natural Medicine), establish a bedtime routine, and stop the caffeine by mid-afternoon.

Stress shouldn’t be making you sick. There are ways to treat it naturally.

If you’re struggling to deal with stress and autoimmune disease or to get enough sleep, call 480-719-5119 to schedule an appointment.