Unconventional Wellness Radio

Episode #45: Overstressed? Anxious? Let's Talk HPA Axis!

What's up everyone! I am very excited to talk about the HPA Axis and how we overwork it too much and how it causes chronic illness and disease.

On today's Podcast, we discuss:

  • The HPA (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal) Axis
  • How the HPA Axis functions
  • How does chronic stress (fight or flight) contribute to chronic illness?
  • What can you do about it to help return to homeostasis
  • You have a purpose!

Check out the show notes from today's episode:

Frank: (00:00)
Are you overstressed and not sleeping really good and are you like super anxious about everything? Let's face it, are you putting on a little bit of weight and you just kinda don't understand why? Well, pay attention to this podcast because this podcast is going to describe something called the HP a access and how it is lending itself to frantic inflammation, chronic disease, and a lot of symptoms that we really just can't put our finger on and why we are getting those symptoms. So stay tuned. New episode, coming up on unconventional wellness radio. I am Frank, I am your host. I'm excited to bring you this information, so stick around and we'll talk soon.

Frank: (00:38)
Hey everyone. Welcome to unconventional wellness radio. It's a powerful and inspiring podcast set to revolutionize and disrupt healthcare. It's time to put you in the driver's seat. That'd be the force of change necessary for the lifestyle you've always wanted.

Frank: (00:53)
Hey everyone. I know it's been a little while since we've done a Facebook live or even a podcast and I apologize for that actually. I think it's been like one week, but the reason why is because I had the grateful opportunity to be able to attend this conference. There was a stakeholder conference down for the farmer veteran coalition down in Austin, Texas. And I was there for, I think it was like three or four days. And quite honestly, whenever you do something like that, you just, I know you kind of fall off the map. But anyway, we're back and we're here to talk about unconventional wellness and uh, and yeah, I am extremely excited to talk about this topic. Why? Because I'm a bit of a nerd and I sure do love talking about science. And so, uh, I feel that if we, if we discuss that, by the way, let me show you this mug.

Frank: (01:40)
This was actually like one of my, I'm going to start doing all of my like fun. I'm going to start doing all of my like fun holiday mugs now. Yes, I know it's not quite Thanksgiving yet and darn, and I've already pulled out a Christmas bug, but here's the deal. This is my, this is my rationale for awhile. Okay. Please don't think under any circumstances. I want to like overshadow Thanksgiving just because, um, I'm looking at Christmas instead. Instead, I had the conscious discussion with my wife and the reason why we decided to slowly trickle out some of the Christmas stuff is because of the fact that Thanksgiving was late this month, this year. Right. So like, I mean it's on the 28th. So yes, I am not decorating the outside of the home, I believe until after Thanksgiving as well. No Christmas music has been played, at least not yet.

Frank: (02:33)
So, and I'm not to say I can't speak for myself, I know I'm not going to, but maybe the kids might want a Christmas song before we get in the Thanksgiving. But needless to say, um, we're here, we're excited and we're going to talk about the HPA axis. First of all, what in the heck does the HPA access cause well, what should overstimulation in the XP HPA access cause? Well, this is where a lot of people don't realize that this system, if it becomes burdened, might in fact actually lead itself to chronic health conditions. And what do I mean by that? Well, when we look at the HPA axis, bottom line is, is what it's supposed to do is it is supposed to, Hey Angie, how are you by the way? I'm seeing the chat come through by the way. Um, no we have not and we probably need to take a look if you could put a link for that pug Christmas shirt.

Frank: (03:28)
Um, on this thread. I will definitely go check it out. I'd love to, uh, anyway, so what the bottom line of what the HPA access can do for us is, is it, it is responsible for our fight or flight response. Okay. The HPA, HPA stands for hippocampus, or excuse me, I apologize. The hypothalamus pituitary adrenal access, that's where the H, the P and the a come from. And what this system, it's a neuro endocrine system, meaning that there is both neurological as well as endocrine or hormone function involved in this particular access. And so what his entire job is, is to do various things to the body in order to have it prepared, either fight or flight. Okay. And that's the two ways the human beings react to stress. You can actually watch some of the fun social experiments, uh, in terms of a stressful situation where somebody will dress up in like an outfit or whatever and uh, and you'll see the various reactions of the people, uh, responding to fear because it's something that they are unaware of.

Frank: (04:38)
I think one of the ones that I think of is, uh, the guy or the gal that was dressed up in like a Bush and like literally just sitting there and then people were like, I guess leaving a museum and then the Bush would jump up and scare somebody. What would, the thing is, is that the vast majority of [inaudible] people we know are actually flighters. Okay? They're not actually fighters. Now, there are some people who they will fight. Okay. And then as a natural reaction is you're either going to run away from the stimulus or you're going to engage in the stimulus. But here's the thing. We have a chronic over expression of stress in our co and our culture and in our society. Can I, can I absolutely get an amen on that one because that is happening to all of us. Okay. It can be as subtle as you looking at a Facebook newsfeed and it causing stress or anxiety to you or it can be something more traumatic and it can be something more catastrophic that personally happens in your life, whether it be the loss of a loved one or some other kind of stressful situation.

Frank: (05:41)
The fact of the matter is is that our bodies are supposed to react to that stress, right? And then we're supposed to be able to respond and be able to come out of that stressful situation and everything kind of goes back what we call homeostasis, but the fact is is that in our culture, there is a chronic excitation of that stress and anxiety loop of the HPA axis and it's causing us to become fatigued. A lot of people actually talk about this as adrenal fatigue. You'll see like people talk about if you do a Google search on adrenal fatigue, it causes all of these like really weird symptoms and it causes lack of energy. It causes weight gain. It causes you to be stressed, it cause you to be able to not sleep. All of these things, while that is a chronic overexpression of our age, yeah, access.

Frank: (06:33)
So let's talk about what the HPA access is. Okay. What happens is your, uh, you know, your, your sense of touch, your sense of sight, your sense of sound, whatever those all become stimulated and then no, send the impulses to your brain while the brain responds to the hypothalamus to, to create a hormone that responds down, or excuse me, that's created expressing in the pituitary response to that. I'm going to save you from the big long names of those hormones, but there's two hormones. Then there's one hormone in particular that goes from the pituitary down to the adrenal glands, which sit on top of our kidneys. Okay. The hormone that I will talk about there is called cortisol. All right? It is, it is expressed from the cortex of the adrenal glands with these little caps. They give them like little hats that sit on top of the kidneys and they release cortisol in response to the stress.

Frank: (07:29)
As cortisol begins to increase negative feedback loops will tell the hypothalamus there's plenty of cortisol in the bloodstream in order to be able to respond to this stressor and it will shut off its creation of its hormone that continues on the cascade. Right? So here's the problem is that when we actually, we have an overexpression and we continuously have lots of cortisol inside of our bloodstream, we are causing chronic issues that actually will cause a unwanted symptoms of a, of a, of a chronic state of inflammation. Okay? The thing about cortisol is this, and the reason why I talk about inflammation as this is that cortisol actually can, uh, can, can cause drama with our immune system. Okay? If we have an overexpression of cortisol that might in fact actually suppress or it actually does immunosuppress our bodies. And so it sets us up for chronic inflammation and chronic inflammation.

Frank: (08:33)
Now guys are this pro inflammation that a lot of researchers and providers talk about is setting us up for disease. Like we are chronic, glee, inflamed. And then that sound funny that that perfectly corresponds to be chronically stressed out as well. And so this chronic inflammation can lead to disease. It can lead to cardiovascular disease, it can lead to gastrointestinal, it can lead to musculoskeletal problems, name any of them, right? Like autoimmune disorders are probably more rampant in my opinion today than they probably have been in many, many years. Now. It's not to say that we haven't had auto immune disease for as long as human beings have been around. Of course we have. You can actually read various passages in the Bible that talk about people who probably had some sort of an auto immune disorder. So they've been around as long as human beings had been alive.

Frank: (09:22)
But the fact is is that between our nutrition and our lack of sleep and all these other things, we're creating this like perfect downward spiral of our overall health that subsequently makes all of these symptoms even worse over time. Because what we're doing is we're not trying to heal the body by getting to the root problems that are causing the situations in the first place. Are you feeling me on this one? So like what we're doing is we're focusing on, Hey Kathy, how are you? Um, we're focusing on the overall symptoms that are going on and we're not focusing on the underlying problems that are actually causing the symptoms. Right? And so I offer it to you is this, if you could take home, one thing from this discussion is that we have chronic expression of this HPA axis, which is a thing that is genetically in our DNA.

Frank: (10:15)
All of our bodies have. One is that since we are seriously hitting the go button on this cortisol issue all the time with all of this stress and anxiety that we feel because of our society and because of just life in general, our symptoms should actually not surprise us as much because we are absolutely seeing now what is the underlying problem. And so like a lot of us may need to actually approach a health and wellness lifestyle to actually being one that is actively taking a role in decreasing the stress and anxiety in our life. Right? That might be your start. Like I talk about, you know, people say that, uh, that, that, that I'm going to say it, that uh, you know, there's a particular thing that is out there known as the gateway drug. Well, I like to refer to uh, this lifestyle wellness wheel as sort of like the gateway in the sense of whatever way that you work yourself into this wheel.

Frank: (11:14)
It becomes a habit that you want to start helping yourself in other ways as well, right? So like most people enter this wheel through the path of nutrition. They want to probably lose weight. Their physician or their primary care providers told them that it's time to lose weight or else you're going to continue on this pathway of the possibility of say, some sort of a, some sort of a cardiovascular problem, right? Whether it be a heart attack or a stroke or something like that, or you've got high blood pressure, yada, yada, yada. Okay. The thing is is that that is how most get in, but this a chronic overage, maybe you're satisfied with your weight, maybe you're satisfied with the way that you know things are going with sleep. And stuff like that. Although, to be honest with you, if you're having problems with your HPA access, maybe you probably are not getting good sleep.

Frank: (12:00)
But needless to say is that, you know, this could be your Avenue and all right, this was my Avenue. As a matter of fact, if I look at it in retrospect effectively is that my, you know, cause coming out of the military, um, I was forced to stay physically active. I was, I, you know, I had my nutrition down because even at that point I was eating like a paleo lifestyle. So I understood the value of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and you know, getting the right sources of meat. I mean, I understand this guys 10 years ago, but the thing was is that like I was a provider in medical, uh, in the army and like my job was to like invest my time and my resources into my soldiers. Right? And so like that caused a lot of stress and anxiety. I do remember like often I would come home and it would be hard for me to decompress because I put so much time in so much effort in to helping my soldiers that, you know, just quite honestly, it just fatigue me.

Frank: (13:02)
Okay. And I definitely know that like it was my sleep was being affected because of it and all those sorts of things. And so I say all that to say that maybe this is your Avenue in to this circle. Okay. So the problem is, is like I want to get more healthy. I want to get more, uh, better attuned to my lifestyle. But how do I go about getting inside this wheel? While it could be methods to be able to reduce your stress and anxiety, and let me give you one of the ones that has helped me tremendously is mindfulness. Okay? I have started to be extraordinarily mindful of stress and anxiety. Let's face it. Stress and adversity are two entirely different things. At first city by definition is whatever we experience in our external environment that has the ability to become stress. When you internalize it, that's when it becomes stress.

Frank: (14:00)
Okay? We experienced a turtle external stress all the time. Um, if you're a parent, right? Like just simply the virtue of getting up and getting your children dressed, getting all of those tasks taken care of. If you give them a lunch, you've got to prepare the lunch, ya, you know, whatever, whatever. And getting them out the door, it can be stress in itself. Okay. Or you can look at it in a mindful approach and say, look, I'm blessed that I have children and I'm getting them to school and then I'm offering the opportunity to be able to give myself in the morning to be able to ensure that they have a great day. Right? That's my mindful approach with my kids. Okay. And I'm just using that as an example. And so what I started to do as I started I to wake up every single morning and I said to myself, this one particular thing, and I offer this to you right now.

Frank: (14:51)
I woke up and I said, um, I want to be the best version of myself that I could possibly be today. Okay, let that sink in for a second. I want to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be today. And by doing that, I realized that there was massive power in that over the course of time because there is no on off switch when it comes to health, wellness, or even your mindset, right? It is a gradual change. I mean, for you to be unhealthy, you have to make choices too, right? Like you end up making the choices that make you unhealthy. Well, it's the same thing that you got to do to make choices every single day in order to get yourself healthy as well. It's not like people like all of a sudden can be 50 pounds overweight and then tomorrow dropped 50 pounds and be on the cover of muscle and fitness magazine.

Frank: (15:41)
It just doesn't happen. Okay. It's a gradual thing and the way that it works is over the course of a period of time, change can happen. And so I woke up every single day and I told myself what can I do to be the best version of myself that I possibly could be today? Write that down, put it on a post it note, slap it on a refrigerator, put it next to a bathroom mirror, whatever you want to remind yourself. I am not perfect, but darn it, I am progressing toward trying to achieve that goal. Okay? I may not ever get there, but every single day I am going to try to make myself better than I was the day before, okay, and over time you will notice that you know you might have some peaks and valleys, right? You might have some days that are a little bit worse than other days.

Frank: (16:27)
You might have a good high, but then unfortunately a couple of days later you have a good low. But over the course of time, what I would offer to you is you're going to notice that that chart will start going up, okay? Have you plot that? Like I said versus time. You will see your mindset is beginning to shift and you are starting to be a better version of yourself because you have told yourself every single day that I'm going to be a better version of myself today than I used to be. Okay, that's exactly what I want you to do. I also want you to practice the ability to calm yourself throughout the day. Okay? Take breaks throughout the day and these can be mini micro breaks like these do not need to be gigantic one hour long meditations sessions, right? Pause for 30 seconds and tell yourself, I've got this. Everything is going this particular way.

Frank: (17:20)
I'm going to have a positive outlook upon this and I'm going to try to improve myself throughout the rest of my day. Okay. I did that with posttraumatic stress guys. I've got post-traumatic trust. It is one of my laundry list of diagnosis and so I said, I am not going to allow this diagnosis to define me. Instead of what I'm going to do is I'm going to turn it on its head and I'm going to utilize it as as mental acuity thought or and try to be able to use it to actually launch out and be more positive. Instead of allowing myself to focus on the negative symptoms and guess what? My anxiety, my, my restlessness, my hyper activity, you know, all of these sidebars of post traumatic stress actually been utilized now by me in order to be able to inject myself in the lives of others in order to be able to say, you know what, you've got this and you can do it and it's because of the fact that you've been empowered and you take your struggles and you take your downsides and you take care of what seems to be your defeats and you turn them on their head and you create the upside down opportunity to be able to use those negative things for good.

Frank: (18:34)
You take the negative, you turn it into a positive and you influence people and you're able to actually create positive change in this otherwise chaotic world. And guess what folks? That stuff works. And so it's all about a mindset and it's all about understanding what is the physiology of ourselves and then how can I mind body, spirit, this thing and overcome it in order to be able to hear I have a more positive mindset. Okay. And stress and anxiety I offer to you. Well will always remain there, but we don't start internalizing that instead of we fight it right there and don't allow it to influence the HPA access that we're actually have been discussing. And instead we turn that around and we create that more of a motivating factor in order for us to be able to say, I'm not going to allow this into my life.

Frank: (19:21)
Instead I'm going to meet it face on and I'm going to have that build up character and I'm going to be able to overcome what could stress me out or what can cause all of these anxious feelings. I'm going to just let it sit right there. Okay. I don't think I need to necessarily go any further into that. Um, we're coming up on the 20 minute Mark, which is what I usually try to do. That way you guys can get back onto your life. But realize you've got people behind you. I am here. I would love to help. Let me know on this thread, what types of things am I pointing right to it right now? Let me know on this thread right now if you're watching this, whether it be live or on replay. Matter of fact, if it's on a replay, I expect that you will do this.

Frank: (19:59)
Put it on there and let me know what are the things that stress you out? What are the things that make you anxious? That way you can get it out into the open and start telling your story. Okay? That brings power because when you're transparent and when we have this community of individuals who are taking a stand and saying, I don't want stress and I go in anxiety to rule my life anymore. Instead, I want to put it in its place and meet it where it's tries to meet me and create positive change in my life because of it. That's when you realize that the power will be uncapped from that reason. So do me a favor, tell me your story right now. Okay, and let's Edify one another and let's believe in one another and let's absolutely create the change that we want to have in our lives by this community of people that we have surrounding us.

Frank: (20:49)
Okay? I got nothing but love for you guys. Please take advantage of that. Okay. Tell me your story and so I leave it at that. I love you guys. I love doing these Facebook lives. I promise. Excuse me, that they will definitely be kicking back off again. Excuse me for the month of December, but I will be quiet right now so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving week. I hope that this was something that you would appreciate on a Monday. Going into Thanksgiving. We'd be thankful for your family, be thankful for your friends and you know what? Be thankful for you because of the fact that you are here is the reason why you are here is because there's still a purpose for himself. Anyway, I love you guys. Have a Thanksgiving. That is one to remember and I will talk to you again very, very soon and reach out to me any way you need to email me if you need to, but most of all, once again, put that story there in those comments, okay? But like to at all, right? Because you are amazing and I want to make sure that your story gets told. So anyway, y'all take care. Have a great day and we will definitely talk to you again very, very soon. Bye. Bye now.


Brought to you by Frank Ritz of Unconventional Wellness Radio