Stress is a non-specific response or adaptation by the body to what it perceives as not safe. Non-specific means that the response is always the same, sympathetic nervous  dominance causing: increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood levels of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline to increase energy and strength in the muscles, increased blood sugar;  decreased function in: digestion, the immune system, higher brain function affecting memory and decision making ability and the reproductive system.

The stressors which cause a stress response can be physical, emotional, and or toxins from diet and the environment. All negative thoughts such as fear ,anger, resentment, bitterness un-forgiveness, jealousy, envy, worry and anxiety can cause a stress response. Ideally, the body’s stress adaptation is short lived, followed by a quick recovery to a state of peace and calm, parasympathetic tone. When there is little or no recovery, stress becomes chronic. This can lead to inflammatory damage to the: digestive tract contributing to ulcers and bowel problems, the nervous system causing memory loss and learning difficulties, cardiovascular system, endocrine system (hormones) causing thyroid problems and weight gain, and the immune system contributing to allergies, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, which means the immune system is attacking the body. There is research to show all chronic disease is autoimmune in nature and stress is a factor in all chronic disease. It might be wise to consider how many times we do not get enough sleep, we expose ourselves to unhealthy diets and environmental toxins, and have negative thoughts   In dental examinations I see signs of chronic stress such as: wear patterns on the teeth, scalloping marks on the tongue, and white lines on the inside of the cheek.

There ways to help recover and return to the peaceful, calm parasympathetic state so the body can rebuild and repair in preparation for the next stressful event.

1. Relaxing Breath: breathe out through the mouth for a count of 5 and breathe in through the nose for a count a count of 4. Rest your tongue on the roof of the mouth and let your jaw muscles relax while thinking the word “relax”. You can increase the exhale/inhale count as long as you exhale longer than you inhale. Repeat the exercise 2-3 times. Try to do this upon waking, at bed time and hourly during waking hours. Use a cue such as: opening a door or drawer, ending a phone call or text, or any regular activity to remind yourself.

2. “Notice and Ease Exercise” from Heartmath. Visit website, heartmath.org

3. Research Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR)

When we see wear patterns on the teeth, white lines on the cheeks or scalloped indentions on the tongue we suspect chronic, unhealthy stress may be occurring. Be aware of any teeth clenching activity. The only time your teeth should touch is when you swallow. 

When Did It All Begin? Early Childhood Stress and Chronic Illness

A good time to start would be your experiences from age 0-7 years. The first seven years of life are critical to brain development and can have lifelong consequences on your health that  include chronic illnesses, chronic pain, psychological disorders and relations with others. The brain has three components which influence the evolution of the spirit-mind-body complex: the brain stem or reptilian brain, the limbic system or old mammalian brain, and the prefrontal cortex. They have different functions and mature at different times. When these function normally you will have balance in viewing your experience of the world from a state of connection and protection. 

Your brainstem, or reptilian brain comes fully developed at birth. It controls your desire to feel safe, survive and reproduce. It is responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response to a perceived threat or danger. The responses by the reptilian portion of the brain initiate actions that are reflex actions and done unconsciously, or without thought.

The old mammalian brain is at a higher level and can override the reptilian brain. It contains the amygdala, the hippocampus, and hypothalamus.  These take 3-4 years to develop. The amygdala is your emotional center and is the first to respond to what  is sensed from the environment to regulate the reactions for nurturing, protection and survival. Memory is recorded in the hippocampus which acts like a stenographer. When the hippocampus is functioning well it can record new memories and let go of past memories that impair the ability to be resilient, returning you to a calm state rather than one that is excited and hyper-aroused. It is important to have balance between the need for connection with the environment and protection against it. Both of these responses will not occur together. Cues such as certain sights, sounds, odors and tastes, as well as the language, tone of voice and facial expressions of others can reinforce old unhelpful memories keeping you in hyper-vigilance. This acts as a stressor that initiates a chronic stress response that includes elevated cortisol. When cortisol levels are high for an extended time, it will damage the hippocampus and impair its ability to override the amygdala. This can lead to inappropriate emotional responses. 

There are other stressors that can cause a chronic stress response to elevate cortisol via the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis. These include trauma (physical or emotional), toxins from the environment, inflammation and even negative thoughts concerning self or others. These contributors need to be addressed in order to return normal brain function.

The prefrontal cortex is the source of higher executive brain function and is the last to mature. This can take at least 25 years. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for intellectual and verbal abilities. It plans for future direct actions, thinks about the consequences, overrides the amygdala and creates beliefs that influence memory and responses to the world that is sensed. When functioning normally, it will provide balance between the need for connection and protection. This is accomplished through neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine that are important in mood regulation.

Only about 5% of the brain activity is normally used by the prefrontal cortex which is the source of our reactions to the world on a conscious (aware) level. The remaining 95% of brain activity is unconscious. This is why you can become stressed to the point of too much anger, fear, anxiety, fatigue or suffer other chronic illnesses. The good news is that your prefrontal cortex can be exercised to improve its ability to function normally. Activities that are helpful include mindfulness practices, meditation, Heart Math, and energy psychology techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT also known as tapping), Neuro-Emotional  Technique (NET) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). All these techniques involve physical actions to occupy your conscious brain so new information can be programmed into your unconscious brain.

In conclusion, the first seven years of life can be a make or break time for your mental and physical health. They can provide the foundation for resilience (your ability to adapt to changes in your environment) reducing the chances to develop anxiety, depression and PTSD. The experiences, practices and habits you observe during the important years of 0-7 will influence your habits as well as what you perceive and experience for the rest of your life.

James Brent DDS

Sources

  1. Epigenetics
  2. Childhood Trauma and Adult Onset Pain
  3. What Is Conscious Parenting | Bruce H. Lipton, PhD
  4. Effect of Early Childhood Adversity on Child Health
  5. The biochemistry of belief
  6. Tammi Sweet; Anxiety and PTSD Lecture, Allies for Plants and People Symposium 2020

When Did It All Begin? Early Childhood Stress and Chronic Illness

A good time to start would be your experiences from age 0-7 years. The first seven years of life are critical to brain development and can have lifelong consequences on your health that  include chronic illnesses, chronic pain, psychological disorders and relations with others. The brain has three components which influence the evolution of the spirit-mind-body complex: the brain stem or reptilian brain, the limbic system or old mammalian brain, and the prefrontal cortex. They have different functions and mature at different times. When these function normally you will have balance in viewing your experience of the world from a state of connection and protection. 

Your brainstem, or reptilian brain comes fully developed at birth. It controls your desire to feel safe, survive and reproduce. It is responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response to a perceived threat or danger. The responses by the reptilian portion of the brain initiate actions that are reflex actions and done unconsciously, or without thought.

The old mammalian brain is at a higher level and can override the reptilian brain. It contains the amygdala, the hippocampus, and hypothalamus.  These take 3-4 years to develop. The amygdala is your emotional center and is the first to respond to what  is sensed from the environment to regulate the reactions for nurturing, protection and survival. Memory is recorded in the hippocampus which acts like a stenographer. When the hippocampus is functioning well it can record new memories and let go of past memories that impair the ability to be resilient, returning you to a calm state rather than one that is excited and hyper-aroused. It is important to have balance between the need for connection with the environment and protection against it. Both of these responses will not occur together. Cues such as certain sights, sounds, odors and tastes, as well as the language, tone of voice and facial expressions of others can reinforce old unhelpful memories keeping you in hyper-vigilance. This acts as a stressor that initiates a chronic stress response that includes elevated cortisol. When cortisol levels are high for an extended time, it will damage the hippocampus and impair its ability to override the amygdala. This can lead to inappropriate emotional responses. 

There are other stressors that can cause a chronic stress response to elevate cortisol via the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis. These include trauma (physical or emotional), toxins from the environment, inflammation and even negative thoughts concerning self or others. These contributors need to be addressed in order to return normal brain function.

The prefrontal cortex is the source of higher executive brain function and is the last to mature. This can take at least 25 years. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for intellectual and verbal abilities. It plans for future direct actions, thinks about the consequences, overrides the amygdala and creates beliefs that influence memory and responses to the world that is sensed. When functioning normally, it will provide balance between the need for connection and protection. This is accomplished through neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine that are important in mood regulation.

Only about 5% of the brain activity is normally used by the prefrontal cortex which is the source of our reactions to the world on a conscious (aware) level. The remaining 95% of brain activity is unconscious. This is why you can become stressed to the point of too much anger, fear, anxiety, fatigue or suffer other chronic illnesses. The good news is that your prefrontal cortex can be exercised to improve its ability to function normally. Activities that are helpful include mindfulness practices, meditation, Heart Math, and energy psychology techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT also known as tapping), Neuro-Emotional  Technique (NET) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). All these techniques involve physical actions to occupy your conscious brain so new information can be programmed into your unconscious brain.

In conclusion, the first seven years of life can be a make or break time for your mental and physical health. They can provide the foundation for resilience (your ability to adapt to changes in your environment) reducing the chances to develop anxiety, depression and PTSD. The experiences, practices and habits you observe during the important years of 0-7 will influence your habits as well as what you perceive and experience for the rest of your life.

James Brent DDS

Sources

  1. Epigenetics
  2. Childhood Trauma and Adult Onset Pain
  3. What Is Conscious Parenting | Bruce H. Lipton, PhD
  4. Effect of Early Childhood Adversity on Child Health
  5. The biochemistry of belief
  6. Tammi Sweet; Anxiety and PTSD Lecture, Allies for Plants and People Symposium 2020
  1. Diet: eating whole, nutrient dense organic foods; and drinking clean water. (treated by distilling or reverse osmosis is best). See my blog on Diet
  2. Mental relaxation: finding peace and joy in the present moment while being unaware of past or future events. Focusing on breathing is a good way to start mental relaxation.
  3. 4.  Allow time for 7-8 hours sleep. See my blog on sleep.

When Did It All Begin? Early Childhood Stress and Chronic Illness

A good time to start would be your experiences from age 0-7 years. The first seven years of life are critical to brain development and can have lifelong consequences on your health that  include chronic illnesses, chronic pain, psychological disorders and relations with others. The brain has three components which influence the evolution of the spirit-mind-body complex: the brain stem or reptilian brain, the limbic system or old mammalian brain, and the prefrontal cortex. They have different functions and mature at different times. When these function normally you will have balance in viewing your experience of the world from a state of connection and protection. 

Your brainstem, or reptilian brain comes fully developed at birth. It controls your desire to feel safe, survive and reproduce. It is responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response to a perceived threat or danger. The responses by the reptilian portion of the brain initiate actions that are reflex actions and done unconsciously, or without thought.

The old mammalian brain is at a higher level and can override the reptilian brain. It contains the amygdala, the hippocampus, and hypothalamus.  These take 3-4 years to develop. The amygdala is your emotional center and is the first to respond to what  is sensed from the environment to regulate the reactions for nurturing, protection and survival. Memory is recorded in the hippocampus which acts like a stenographer. When the hippocampus is functioning well it can record new memories and let go of past memories that impair the ability to be resilient, returning you to a calm state rather than one that is excited and hyper-aroused. It is important to have balance between the need for connection with the environment and protection against it. Both of these responses will not occur together. Cues such as certain sights, sounds, odors and tastes, as well as the language, tone of voice and facial expressions of others can reinforce old unhelpful memories keeping you in hyper-vigilance. This acts as a stressor that initiates a chronic stress response that includes elevated cortisol. When cortisol levels are high for an extended time, it will damage the hippocampus and impair its ability to override the amygdala. This can lead to inappropriate emotional responses. 

There are other stressors that can cause a chronic stress response to elevate cortisol via the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis. These include trauma (physical or emotional), toxins from the environment, inflammation and even negative thoughts concerning self or others. These contributors need to be addressed in order to return normal brain function.

The prefrontal cortex is the source of higher executive brain function and is the last to mature. This can take at least 25 years. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for intellectual and verbal abilities. It plans for future direct actions, thinks about the consequences, overrides the amygdala and creates beliefs that influence memory and responses to the world that is sensed. When functioning normally, it will provide balance between the need for connection and protection. This is accomplished through neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine that are important in mood regulation.

Only about 5% of the brain activity is normally used by the prefrontal cortex which is the source of our reactions to the world on a conscious (aware) level. The remaining 95% of brain activity is unconscious. This is why you can become stressed to the point of too much anger, fear, anxiety, fatigue or suffer other chronic illnesses. The good news is that your prefrontal cortex can be exercised to improve its ability to function normally. Activities that are helpful include mindfulness practices, meditation, Heart Math, and energy psychology techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT also known as tapping), Neuro-Emotional  Technique (NET) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). All these techniques involve physical actions to occupy your conscious brain so new information can be programmed into your unconscious brain.

In conclusion, the first seven years of life can be a make or break time for your mental and physical health. They can provide the foundation for resilience (your ability to adapt to changes in your environment) reducing the chances to develop anxiety, depression and PTSD. The experiences, practices and habits you observe during the important years of 0-7 will influence your habits as well as what you perceive and experience for the rest of your life.

James Brent DDS

Sources

  1. Epigenetics
  2. Childhood Trauma and Adult Onset Pain
  3. What Is Conscious Parenting | Bruce H. Lipton, PhD
  4. Effect of Early Childhood Adversity on Child Health
  5. The biochemistry of belief
  6. Tammi Sweet; Anxiety and PTSD Lecture, Allies for Plants and People Symposium 2020

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