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In the year 1214, a sea of Mongols was poised outside Zheng Ding’s city gates. The citizens knew that at best it would mean seeing their parents slaughtered, friends tortured, and children enslaved. As the city walls held and the people waited in terror, they began dying. Chinese doctors began to observe that the stress was killing people. They were unable to sleep regularly, digest food and were succumbing to illnesses. At this time Li Dong Yuan needed solutions to the “modern” disorders caused by stress.
Li created new theories of Chinese medicine. His theories eventually formed into a prominent school of thought based on the balance of the digestive system and its relationship to stress. Before that time, disease was thought to come mainly from bugs outside of the system. After the brutal lessons from the Mongols, Chinese doctors better understood the relationship between emotions and digestive health. Since that time, every major formula for digestion has taken the effects of stress into account.
The Chinese learned the hard way that stress kills. Dinner topics which upset you can wreak havoc on your body and make you feel too disgusted to eat. Images and newscasts of war, death and disease cause emotional changes which have physical effects on your body. In your genetic past, war required great feats of endurance and fasting. These times of urgency rewarded those who prepared for conflict with fat storage. It’s important to consider the emotions you hold onto and how they influence digestion.
Our everyday life has hidden stresses you become accustomed to. If you really think about it, every time you drive, you are risking life and limb as masses of metal fly past. At a conscious level you ignore it, but evolution hasn’t caught up. The automobile culture can be stressful. Every time someone suddenly shifts into your lane and you get that feeling in your stomach, it is your enteric nervous system responding to stress hormones. It responds by saving your next meal as fat. If you don’t actively reverse these electrochemical changes, they create long term effects. If you commute more than a half hour, it increases catecholamines which can contribute to fat gain. This is a problem because the number of people who commute great distances to work is increasing.
Fear and anger cause imbalances in hormones such as cortisol. These can get too high or dip too low depending on the balance of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. If you are angry, worried or stressed, it can deplete your sex drive, derail reproductive cycles, and make you more likely to store fat.
Every time you are absorbing and holding onto stress, you are aging yourself and contributing to fat gain. To lighten your weight and boost your energy levels, you should first relax and let go of the emotions that cause a freeze response. This freeze response adds tension and increases joint strain. Most people are tired because of inefficient energy balance caused by stress.
If you feel tired, take time to actively release tension. It will do more for your energy levels that taking all of the energy supplements at a vitamin store. You have plenty of energy. This is especially true if you have stores of fat. Stress interferes with the distribution of energy balance, adds tension and robs your energy. To unlock hidden energy consider the following time tested techniques.
When people are stressed, they naturally sigh. This is how the body blows off steam and relaxes. The exhalation is stronger than the inhalation. When people are hot or stressed, they exhale forcefully with a “hhhaaaa” sound. It is similar to the way a dog pants on a hot day. When people are angry, they tend to raise their voice of shout. This is because they are forcing out air with every breath. At a fundamental level it isn’t that different from Lamaze breathing during childbirth to alleviate pain. It’s quite literally how people vent. It’s how we expel. It’s how we cough and sneeze. There are countless breathing exercises and meditation traditions throughout the world. They are all based on two actions. Yawning and sighing.
(Read more about Sighing and Yawning)
Love and social interaction affect your appetite. Having higher social interaction has been shown to curb cookie consumption. This is being attributed to oxytocin which is the hormone which gets produced when you feel loved and connected to other people. Your body is looking for that feeling and if you get that feeling through love and social interaction, you feel satiated earlier during meals. This can help you improve energy balance. You can eat less and enjoy greater energy.
Some teas are designed to protect the digestive system from the influences of stress. One such tea, “Xiao Yao San” was first described in the Prescriptions of the Imperial Pharmacy During the Great Age of Peace in 1107AD. Today Xiao Yao San is one of the most commonly used Chinese medicines in Asia, well regarded both for its safety and efficacy. Xiao Yao San is designed to help reduce stress and improve energy balance. Research has shown that it can lower levels of circulating nitric oxide, making it function similarly to acupuncture to reduce nitric oxide in order to smooth the overall flow and make it more efficient.
Depending on the dosage, it is frequently used for anxiety, dyspepsia, acne, menstrual disorders, fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, jet lag, depression, and obesity. Because it acts on regulatory centers, it neither excites nor depresses in the absolute sense, but it has the ability to do both.
Research has shown that it can reduce pain, stress, anxiety, and appetite. It even works as well as antidepressant medications for depression. It has direct regulatory effects on the hypothalamus, nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. These systems work together to regulate mood and improve neuroplasticity. This helps the brain to reorganize itself and form new connections. All of these attributes make Xiao Yao San a great formula for adapting to change. Its name alludes to the philosopher Zhuang Zi’s first chapter, which shares the same name. It means an unfettered meandering through life’s journey. This free and transcendent feeling is a very appropriate description for the feeling that one has while taking this formula. This can help you relax, even as you are driving so you can release stress as it comes. As your acupuncturist if it’s a good fit for you. You can get it here. Much of America’s fat gain is stress related. Relax, lighten up and the fat will follow.
When measured on the Hamilton scale for depression, it was found to be statistically similar in effectiveness to antidepressants. Talk to your doctor before altering or adding new medications.
Increase β-endorphin, which acts on opioid receptors and lowers corticotropin releasing factor-1(CRF-1).
 Measured on the Hamilton scale for depression.
Traffic picture by Kathy McEldowney.
Meal picture by by Leslie Science & Nature Center.
Three Secrets to Unlocking Hidden Energy by Andrew Miles & Xuelan Qiu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at enlightenweight.com.