How stress can upset your digestive system

The year seems to have been a tumultuous one for many, so we have asked our herbalist Nicola Parker to write about stress, anxiety and how they affect the body.
Jenny Logan.Jenny Logan.
Jenny Logan.

The most commonly affected area is our digestion. Stressful events or surges of anxiety can send us running to the loo or experiencing sudden cramps, wind or other abdominal symptoms. The digestive system is controlled by part of the nervous system known as the body’s ‘second brain’ because of its complexity in orchestrating the digestive functions.

Treating nervous digestive disorders can be confusing. Many people experience more than one symptom so it is difficult to strike a balance. Perhaps your symptoms involve alternating constipation with diarrhoea and you’re not sure which to treat. There could be indigestion or feelings of bloating and sickness after eating that don’t seem to have any explanation. If this sounds like you, then rather than treating the digestive symptoms, try taking something for stress or anxiety.

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There are lots of herbs that have a reputation for being relaxing, but try to find ones that have an affinity with the digestive system, to gently calm the nerves that supply it. Lemon balm is one such herb. It makes a refreshing tea for mild symptoms and can be very helpful taken throughout the day. For something stronger you could consider using capsules. We have a blend of lemon balm and passiflora called Balance for Nerves which also provides nutrients for stress support and theanine which is an ingredient that calms the mind.

Something like this will offer all round anxiety support but it can offer excellent rapid relief from stress induced digestive symptoms.

It is possible to purchase this remedy in bottles of one week’s supply and if it were to work we would expect it to do so within this time.

My most successful case was a lady that came in asking for assistance with her mum’s diarrhoea. The diarrhoea had come on after a house move to an unfamiliar location and the uprooting had set off a range of symptoms that then created a cycle of anxiety that worsened the symptoms. Having decided to try the Balance for Nerves with the lemon balm content, the lady returned in just a few days saying that the digestive symptoms had been fully resolved. Naturally her mum was delighted.

What is wonderful about digestive stress support is that no matter your digestive symptom, working through the nervous system should be able to ease it.

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