The Stress Cascade


What I’m sharing today is just a glimpse of what happens during a stress response.  And some reasons why proper, specific, scientific Chiropractic Care can help alleviate this problem.  Its impossible for me to talk about the stress response without talking about the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus is my favorite structure in the brain because it has direct influence on so many other things.  So many things based on its neuroendocrine release make it have direct influence on the pituitary gland, the adrenals, and the sympathetic nervous system.  This is a key player in our body because this structure is responsible for all hormonal release in your body.  Any hormones being released in the body it’s the hypothalamus controlling it.  

The hypothalamus is involved with the system in the body which controls the constantly changing internal environment of our bodies.  The body is constantly trying to maintain balance in an ever changing external environment.  

So when you think of the hypothalamus, its like a person juggling 10 tennis balls at the same time.  When you think of somebody balancing 10 tennis balls at the same time, there is balance in that.  That person is in control of what’s going on.  But it’s a constantly changing balance correct??  Every time he moves his hands juggling he has to move them slightly different each time, make sense?  

So I’m going to introduce a new term now and it’s called Allostasis.  This is a complex subject but I’m going to do my best to break it down very simply.  It’s a word they made up meaning the body is always trying to maintain balance in an ever-changing environment.  

Now I need you to learn another word and its called Allostatic load.  Allostatic load is the point at which the body can no longer maintain balance, we still cool?

So going back to my analogy of the guy juggling 10 tennis balls.  If I’m juggling 10 tennis balls and there’s a bunch of people watching with more balls, at some point if the next person throws me another ball I might be able to juggle that one too, and the next person, I might be able to handle that one.  Its gonna get to a point where 1 more tennis ball I can’t juggle.  Would you agree with that?  That’s our Allostatic load.  It gets to a point where I can no longer maintain balance because the dynamic change is out of my reach.  

Let me ask you a question, same analogy.  If I’m juggling 10 tennis balls and it gets to 11, 12, 13 and its that 14th ball that I can’t manage.  What happens?  Do I just drop that 14th ball and continue on with my 13?  Or do I drop everything!?  

That’s what you have to understand with Allostasis (the body always trying to maintain balance) and the hypothalamus.  When one hormone gets out of balance it’s not just that one hormone it is EVERYTHING.  It’s not just oh your cortisol is out of whack or oh your blood sugar’s too high or your epinephrine’s outta whack.  No it’s everything!

One of my friends is an open steroid user that works out at my gym and he tells people about it and everything.  So one day I’m like dude is it really worth it?  Ya know you’re trashing your liver and you’re aging yourself like crazy.  He goes oh I know, ya know it’s a real science.  So I go, “well tell me about it.”  He goes a lot of people think if you’re taking steroids all you have to do is take testosterone and you get big as long as you’re working out hard and he goes that’s not true.  

Because if you take testosterone that your own testes stop producing testosterone – when that happens you alter your human growth factor – now you have to take human growth hormone in order to balance that out – as soon as that happens however that alters my thyroid hormone and then I have to inject T4 – as soon as I inject T4 then my Oxytocin gets all messed up – when that happens I have to get something else…etc  So we went through this series about 7 different steps that he has to go threw.  Oh and then he says to me since I’m injecting all this stuff, my own body can’t grow without insulin to tell my body it needs more supplies so now I have to inject insulin as well.  

And I’m standing there mouth on the floor like holy cow man look at all these hormones your injecting yourself with, you know this is bad for you right.  He goes oh I know, here’s the thing, he goes what people don’t realize is that when you alter one hormone you’re automatically altering everything else.  So you have to chase every hormone in order to balance everything out.  And I thought that was incredible, here’s a body builder that’s figured this out.  But we as normal population just don’t realize that.  He figured it out because when he injects one thing he gets all messed up so he’s gotta inject something else inject something else.  

But this is what I want you to know.  When your hormones inside your body are messed up it’s not just one it’s ALL of them.  It’s just like women that are on birth control for a long time.  Well what have you done to yourself you’ve basically increased estrogen and progesterone to a point at which you know control your own cycle.  Well that’s a big issue because as soon as you take yourself off of that, your body is used to being at high levels of progesterone and estrogen so that ends up altering your luteinizing hormone which makes oxytocin outta whack.  You can’t affect one thing without another, it’s just not possible.  

And this is important because when we are in a stressed state your brain tells your body to release hormones and when you start to release hormones in the body.  The body says there’s too much adrenaline now there’s too much dopamine now there’s too much serotonin now, now I have to release other stuff to try to balance it all.  You with me? 


Next thing I want to talk about is STRESS.  When most people think of stress they think of it like this Zebra losing his stripes.

Because usually when I ask someone are you stressed they say “no I feel good.”

I need you to switch that terminology in your brain to a STRESSOR or a stress-causing agent.  Anything that makes your brain think it’s under attack, think it has to PROTECT itself.  That’s a stressor.

Chiropractic is founded on the principle that a stressor whether it be Physical, Chemical or Emotional alters the body’s ability to heal itself.  If you alter the body’s ability to heal itself or alter the body’s ability to function properly that’s going to lead to disease and illness.

DD Palmer the founder of chiropractic said this when he said “the cause of all disease is the 3T’s traumas, toxins, and Thoughts” that was over 112 years ago.

Hans Selye 1930s actually was the person that discovered this during his clinical education as an MD.  He looked around and said wow, this person’s got Heart disease, this person has cancer, this person has a liver problem, this person has some other disorder.  

But here’s what he found… everybody regardless of the disease, started off with a similar set of symptoms.  They all had general aches and pains, fatigue, lost weight…so he asked he’s professor “why is it that regardless the problem, the peoples body’s reacted the same way” and they said “I don’t know”.  So he started to research it.  And he found that these collection of symptoms where actually part of a pattern.  This was the arousal of the body’s resistance to a stressor or stress-causing agent.  And it didn’t matter if it was a physical chemical or emotional source, the body always reacted the same way.  

He explained it like this, when there’s a stressor to the body the first thing that happens is an ALARM response is given.  The body says ah ha there’s a problem.  Then the body adapts to take care of the problem.  So all of us in here are fighting something off right now you might be fighting off a virus maybe fighting off a cold maybe fighting off cancer or something else I don’t know.  The thing is you have no clue its even happening because the body adapts to take care of it without your knowing.   It’s only when the body can no longer ADAPT,… when the body reaches its allostatic load….  That symptoms appear.  

It’s only when the person can no longer ADAPT that symptoms appear.  So when you’re telling me that your back hurts or you have a headache or any other symptom, you are also telling me that your body has been fighting it for months!  Because symptoms are only showing up when the body can no longer adapt.  You with me???

FYI for this research that Hans Selye was doing with stress and adaptation and the impact on the body…he won the Nobel Prize in 1964.  He quoted “Apparently, apparently there’s an inborn system in the body that fights off disease.  We should look more into this”  An inborn system that fights disease!  That was his conclusion in 1964, 60 years after DD Palmer was talking about innate intelligence and the body’s ability to heal itself.  He won the Nobel Prize in medicine for that statement.  

So I said it doesn’t matter the stressor the body always reacts the same way, so ok what is the stress response already!?  

The brain turns on a series of systems that release stress hormones.  So any time the body is under stress doesn’t matter if it’s

Physical – the person has terrible posture everyday

Chemical – they are eating garbage every day

Emotional – the person looks in the mirror and thinks they hate themselves or they are stressed about a failing marriages or money.   

It doesn’t matter the stress, the same response is given.  Release hormones into the blood.  

So it sounds like a bad thing right?  Actually it’s a very good thing, SHORT TERM because that was supposed to save your life FAST.   Handle that stressor FAST and GET OVER IT.  It’s the repeated stimulation of these hormones that leads to disease and illness.  So short term the stress response is healthy, long term the stress response is deadly!  

So if we go back to caveman days and your being run down by a tiger in the woods, you have 2 choices, fight this thing or run away or your dead.  This whole thing is going to take about a minutes time, you’re either going to out-run this tiger and climb a tree in about a minute or your gonna be food.  The same thing happens now, someone puts a gun to your head and say’s “gimmi all your money”.  What happens?  Your blood floods your muscles and heart you’re all stressed out, cause you’re either going to fight this guy or run away.  So pretend you give him your wallet he runs away and your like oh man thank god, now the stress is gone all the hormonal release goes back to normal.  That’s a normal stress response.  What if I told you to run for as fast as you can, as hard as you can, for as long as you can.  How long do you think that’s going to be?  Less than a minute.  Because that’s the stress response in it’s entirety.  It gives you the most amount of energy in a short time.  

What if you gave the guy your wallet and he didn’t run away he just stayed there with the gun in your face.  Now the stressor isn’t gone.  And these hormones are just pumping away like crazy?  Its that continuous stress response that’s killing you.

And this fight or flight mechanism we are talking about, that actually more pertains to men.  When you have an argument with a man they want to do one of 2 things.  They are either going to argue with you tooth and nail, or they are going to walk away.  

Women have a very different response when they are under stress.  They have named it “tend or befriend” Tend to their children or be-friend by talking to their friends.  That’s why when you see woman under stress they do one of 2 things.  They either want to spend more time with the children, bring their family as close to them as possible OR they need to talk it out with their girlfriend, right?

That’s why when you have a man and a woman arguing what happens?  First the argument starts out the man’s yelling and screaming and say’s “ah I can’t talk to you anymore” and walks away.  What’s the woman do??? Follows him!  The man is like I can’t beat you up so I need to run away.  The woman’s like “I need to talk about it” and follows him around.  Same responses in the brain just handled differently.  

So it’s important to understand the differences.  A woman when stressed wants to talk it out with her girlfriends or pull her family and children close to her and a man when we are stressed it’s like hey “I’m ticked off leave me alone or I’m going to run away right.  

The Stress cascade

When we are under stress we fire our sympathetic nervous system with is our “flight or fight” response mechanism.  The neurotransmitter of our sympathetic nervous system is adrenalin, it gets you ready for battle because your body thinks it’s under attack right?  The adrenalin does a couple things, it is going to cause glycogen to be broken down into glucose (that’ll be your energy to Fight or run away), it constricts the blood vessels of the peripheral vascular system to shunt the blood to the lungs, heart, and muscles cause you want to fight or run away right.  So you get the vasoconstriction and the glucose, this is where you get you headaches from the vasoconstriction cutting off oxygen to the brain, they then get the vasodilation as a sequel, pain fibers wrap around those arteries and you get the headache from the stress.

So know your blood sugar goes up, to process the blood sugar you need B-vitamins, because you need them to make energy.  But now you’re not just stressing because there’s one thing, you are stressing 24 hours a day now, so now you deplete your total B-vitamins in your body.  So now what happens is all you’re metabolic processes stop working or work considerably less efficiently.   Deplete those B-vitamins over a period of time because of stress, you can’t produce energy properly so know you’re diagnosed with Chronic fatigue syndrome.   The B-vitamins are also necessary to break down the lactic acid in the muscle to be converted back into glucose for more energy.  You don’t have them you can’t get the lactic acid out of the muscles.  You’re now diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  The B-vitamins are necessary to convert the essential amino acid Tryptophan into the neurotransmitter Serotonin No B-vitamins, no Serotonin.  When Serotonin levels drop the left side of the brain is more affected, left side of your brain is your happy side, your motivational side, your driving side.  So you’re not happy, not motivated, no drive…you are depressed!  

Now, the Serotonin is converted with B-vitamins to Melatonin.  No Melatonin, you can’t sleep, now your diagnosed with Insomnia.  Now you have Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Depression, and Insomnia.  

Can you start to visualize your friends/family members looking like this?

Ok now what happens is all those involuntary sphincters you have that are under parasympathetic control to keep them closed.   When you’re stressed the sphincters open up, so now the stomach churns, the acid comes up burns the esophagus now you have your Esophageal reflux which can lead to Esophageal cancer.  Next set of sphincters are in the colon and one of the functions of the colon is to reabsorb the water that the small intestines didn’t take out or use.  Well you lose those sphincters, water starts pouring out your anus, and you have Diarrhea.  Now you have no moisture in the intestines, now it takes days to push a dry stool along 23 feet of intestines.  So now you’re constipated.  Now with repeated bouts of diarrhea and constipation you have Irritable bowel syndrome, brought on by what?  

Now besides firing the sympathetics you’re going to start firing the adrenal glands which produces excess CORTISOL with excess cortisol you get your osteoporosis, mid-section obesity, thin wrinkled skin, muscle weakness, skin ulcers.  Fat makes Estrogen, high levels of estrogen will increase your chance for breast and other cancers.   And the cortisol is going to cause your body to pump out more glucose from the liver.  Now you already don’t have enough B-vitamins to process the sugar you have, you’re now going to put more in, there’s your Diabetes.  

So why do you think all the symptoms you suffer from get worse during times of Stress???  

So when you’re in a state of chronic stress, you’re body thinks it’s under attack!  No lets just think realistically for a second.  Going back to the running from the tiger in the woods example; does it even make sense to say that when you under attack that you need to worry about fighting off an infection?!  NO the body says drop everything, get me outta here, we’ll fight that later!

See cortisol short term saves your life, it gets the energy to your heart, lungs and muscles but long term this stress and excess cortisol will literally kill you slowly.  Why? Because Cortisol takes from something.  It takes from reproduction and Immunity.  Your immune system goes down the toilet when cortisol is released and especially when cortisol is released with adrenaline.  Why do you think when your stressed, working hard and tired all your symptoms get worse?

So are you saying that Chiropractic helps the Immune system?  YES and I’ll show you how that happens neurologically. That’s why so many chiropractic patients that are trying to get pregnant and starting getting adjusted are able to conceive because the adjustment stops this neuroendocrine release of adrenaline by reducing stressors in the body.  

Have you ever heard the Term Adrenal Fatigue?  Where do you think that starts?  See that’s why adrenal supplements aren’t effective, because the Adrenal gland is just a soldier amongst an army.  Unless you fix the cause (the brain) the adrenal glands are still going to be over stimulated.

That’s why when people are adjusted their Immune System gets better!  It’s not because there’s a nerve that hooks up from the spine and goes to the immune system!  So when you’re telling me you have back pain, I already know yes there’s pressure on that nerve obviously because that’s why your having pain but that is only a small piece of the puzzle!  So I need you to realize that this can no longer communicate with the brain properly.  As soon as the brain senses this is does 3 things:  

  1.  Alters posture
  2.  Releases all kinds of inflammation, which is why you’re on all kinds of anti-inflammatories
  3.  And it releases hormones.  And it’s that hormone release that is screwing up everything else.

That’s why you’re liver’s not functioning properly, that’s why you’re tired and not sleeping well at night, that’s why your irritated all the time.

That’s how we can help you.