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Monday, September 04, 2006

Holistic Health and Stress Adaptation Measures

Hormones related to the measurement of stress include the levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol which can be measured from the blood and urine levels after exposure to stress. Cortisol is the end product but before that it is possible to measure the metabolism of ACTH in the blood and urine. But, because the body maintains a level balance of ACTH, the level of 17-OCHS is often a better indication of stress as the level of 17-OCHS is more indicative of recent stress. The level of thyroxin is also an indicator of stress. The greater the level of thyroxin the greater the stress. It is also possible to measure other chemicals that indicate stress such as the amount of free fatty acids and cholesterol levels in the blood. Generally speaking, after exposure to a stressor, the adrenal medulla releases catecholmines, epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, and dopamine. ACTH reaches the adrenal cortex which then releases corticoids (primarily cortisol) and aldosterone. The thyroid releases thyroxin. Taken as a whole, this results in the well known “fight or flight” response.
Another common measurement of stress is skin resistance. When skin resistance is high then a person is relaxed, when skin resistance is low then a person is usually more tense and susceptible to “injury”.
Besides laboratory tests and biologically based examinations, psychological and sociological measurements of stress are often used to determine the level of stress and associated risk of disease or emotional risk. Examples of these include chronic stress inventory’s, daily stress inventory’s, and social integration scales.
All of these measurements are able to provide a “picture” of how much stress the individual is exposed to in relation to their ability to cope or adapt. This does not mean the amount or degree of stress is any higher or lower than the general populations, but rather indicates a continuum at which the individual may or may not adapt or appropriately respond.


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