Volume 9, Issue 7

Mental Stress and Inflammation

Now that we are settled into our busy routines after summer holidays, it's a good time to look at the effects of mental stress on our health, and in particular on inflammation, which, in turn, can cause any number of other forms of ill health. Rest assured, we will also look at how you can alleviate this stress! Read on below...

These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better as it is a step toward longevity.

Ramila Padiachy

Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM)®


Mental stress as a cause of inflammation

Most people have come to understand that chronic inflammation is a major underlying cause of most chronic disease. But what causes the inflammation? Of course, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep contribute to inflammation, too, but I want to focus on mental stress because it is an extremely important cause of inflammation we may tend to underestimate or even overlook.

First, it's important to make the distinction between acute and chronic mental stress. Acute stress results from specific events or situations and is short term, for example, an argument with your spouse, or an unkind criticism from your boss. However, chronic stress results if stressful events occur repeatedly, for example, your boss is always criticizing you or you are in a bad relationship.

Acute stress is not necessarily bad for us. The fight-flight-freeze response is designed to handle acute stress. Cortisol (among other substances) is released which immediately increases energy and, in the case of a 'real' emergency, this can be lifesaving, e.g. running away from a dangerous situation. It's when stressors become chronic that we have a problem, often because we feel we have little or no control over the situation. Also, many of these chronic stressors may be more of an annoyance than a real threat to us, e.g. spending time every day in traffic jams, but the body responds as if the threat is real.

Common chronic mental stressors include:

  • ongoing work pressure
  • long-term relationship problems
  • loneliness
  • persistent financial worries
  • any combination of these and/or other chronic mental stressors, e.g. a high pressure job plus ongoing relationship problems

Research has shown that dwelling on negative experiences increases inflammation in the body due to elevated levels of C-reactive protein. Inflammation is the immune system's response to outside dangers and shows that the body is working to repair any damage. However, chronic inflammation has been linked to many health problems, including depression, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases (such as multiple sclerosis) and diabetes.


How can I reduce chronic mental stress?

You will likely find a combination of strategies more effective than a single approach. What works for one person does not necessarily work for someone else. So you need to be prepared to try different methods to see what combination works best for you.

First, a healthy lifestyle is essential. You can make yourself more stress-resistant by getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet (eat lots of vegetables, fruits, adequate water; skip the processed foods, refined carbohydrates including added sugars, excessive caffeine and alcohol), and get enough good quality sleep.

Counselling may help you reduce your reaction to mental stressors. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective way to reduce stress. It typically includes identifying sources of stress, restructuring priorities, changing one's response to stress, and finding methods for managing and reducing stress.

Relaxation and other alternative techniques include:

Deep breathing exercises: During stress, breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Taking deep breaths is an effective way to calm yourself or maintain a relaxed state.

Muscle relaxation: Muscle relaxation techniques, often combined with deep breathing, are easy to learn and very useful for getting to sleep. You can start either from the top of the body or the bottom, tensing each muscle as much as you can for 5-10 seconds, then releasing it completely. 

Meditation: The goal of meditation is simply to quiet the mind. This may take some practice, but you can start by simply observing your thoughts. It is not necessary to meditate for hours at a time; 15-20 minutes is enough. There are many apps and guided meditations available. You can look at a number of them to see what works best for you. In our November 2017 newsletter, we will take a closer look at meditation - stay tuned!

Listen to music: It is an effective stress reducer, and research shows that listening to soothing music can decrease blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels.

Herbal and natural remedies: I recommend a few Nature's Sunshine products - please see below. While there are many products available, you want to be sure they are of excellent quality; otherwise, consuming these products could have unintended and undesirable effects. Of course, it is important to follow the instructions; taking more of a product will not necessarily produce a better result. In fact, the opposite is more likely.

You can find more information on relaxation techniques in my book, The Belly of the Beast, soon to be released.



  1. Stress. An in-depth report on the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of stress. University of Maryland Medical Center. Accessed September 15, 2017.
  2. Chronic stress changes immune cell genes, leading to inflammation: study. Healthy Living 11/07/2013 Accessed September 14, 2017.
  3. Krans B. Dwelling on stressful events increases inflammation in the body. Healthline News, March 18, 2013, Accessed September 14, 2017.

Disclaimer: The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.


There are some Nature's Sunshine supplements that are relevant to this newsletter. You can find information about these products and purchase them in our online store:

  • Stress Formula
  • RE-X
  • Passion Flower
  • Lavender, Organic Essential Oil
  • Melatonin Extra
  • STR-J
  • Stress Pak
  • Zerenity

“Have you ever been to a funhouse and looked at yourself in the mirror only to see someone you did not recognize? That is how I saw myself for many years until I went to Ramila for emotional release therapy. I had been battling an eating/ body image disorder for many, many years and after having my daughter I didn’t want her to go through what I was going through. Just one session with Ramila and over the next couple of days I started seeing a new person in the mirror. The REAL me, not the one I had seen for so many years. It was quite the eye-opener."

-Patricia R., Ottawa

For additional information, please email or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue letting friends and family know about this newsletter. Also, on our website, please see back issues of this newsletter, information about services, products and our clinic, and order products.

The Belly of the Beast


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Ottawa ON (map)

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