Emerging evidence shows that stress can have a significant impact on physical health. Here you can find information on the relationship between the body, mind, and nervous system, as well as natural tools to help manage stress for overall balance and wellbeing.

Frequently Asked Questions

The gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system. This axis helps regulate gut function and behavior based on inputs from both gut bacteria and the enteric and central nervous systems.

Chronic stress can have a significant impact on gut health and digestion, in some cases causing abdominal cramping, altering gut motility, affecting the balance of gut microbiota, and contributing to intestinal permeability.

Numerous studies show that stress can lead to dysbiosis, meaning an inbalance of gut bacteria. This can impact the health of the whole body, especially mental health and digestive function.

Several stress relief techniques have been found in studies to improve gut health by improving the balance and variety of gut bacteria including meditation, yoga, regular exercise, a good sleep routine, and a healthy diet. There are also herbal remedies that have been found to lower cortisol levels, block stress signals and improve balance throughout the body.

Emerging evidence shows that a balanced gut microbiome can and does positively impact mental health and wellbeing.

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    Adaptogens are a class of natural substances, often derived from plants, that are believed to help the body resist stressors of all types, whether physical, chemical, or biological. From the perspective of mental health, adaptogens are thought to promote resilience to stress, help stabilize mood, and support overall mental well-being by aiding the body’s ability to adapt to and cope with emotional and mental strains.


    Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent and excessive worry, apprehension, or fear about everyday situations, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, and trembling. It can interfere with daily activities and may be chronic or episodic.

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    Behavioral Therapy

    Behavioral therapy, rooted in the principles of behaviorism, is a therapeutic approach that focuses on changing maladaptive behaviors based on the principle that all behaviour is learned and can be unlearned.


    Benzodiazepines are a class of medications primarily used for their sedative, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties. Medically, they are commonly prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms. They act on the central nervous system by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA, leading to a reduction in neuronal excitability. Long-term use or misuse can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms.


    From a medical perspective, “chronic” refers to a health condition or disease that persists over a prolonged period, often for the remainder of an individual’s life. Chronic conditions might be continuous or recurrent and are typically contrasted with acute conditions, which are severe but short-lived.


    “Clinical” pertains to the direct observation, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients. In the medical realm, it involves hands-on, direct care of individuals, as opposed to research or theoretical settings. In mental health, it similarly pertains to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of psychological and behavioral disorders through direct interaction and intervention with clients or patients.


    From a mental health perspective, “cognition” refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. This encompasses functions such as perception, attention, memory, language, problem-solving, and decision-making. In the context of mental health, disturbances or impairments in cognition can be indicative of various psychological or neurological disorders.

    Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

    While behavioral therapy focuses on behaviors and the responses from the environment, CBT integrates this with an emphasis on the role of cognition (thoughts) in influencing behaviors. It’s based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and changing negative thought patterns can lead to changes in feelings and behaviors. CBT has become one of the most popular and effective therapeutic techniques for a wide range of disorders.


    “Comorbidity” refers to the coexistence of two or more disorders or medical conditions in the same individual. For instance, a person might suffer from both depression and anxiety, or someone with diabetes might also have heart disease. The presence of comorbid conditions can complicate diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis, making it essential for healthcare professionals to consider all coexisting illnesses when devising a care plan.


    Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is often dubbed the “stress hormone” because it’s released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration. It plays a crucial role in a variety of functions beyond the stress response, including metabolism, and inflammation regulation.

    Elevated or prolonged cortisol levels, often a result of chronic stress, can lead to disruptions in the gastrointestinal system. This can manifest as slowed digestion, increased gut permeability (often referred to as “leaky gut”), and alterations in the gut microbiota composition. Over time, these changes can contribute to various gastrointestinal issues and may exacerbate conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


    Depression, medically known as major depressive disorder (MDD), is a complex mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. From a mental health perspective, it impacts cognitive function, self-worth, and energy levels, often leading to changes in sleep, appetite, and concentration, along with potential suicidal ideation.

    The gut-brain axis, a bidirectional communication channel between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system, has introduced a gut health perspective on depression: emerging research suggests that alterations in gut microbiota composition and function can influence neurotransmitter activity and inflammatory responses, potentially playing a role in the onset or exacerbation of depressive symptoms.

    This intricate interrelation emphasizes the holistic nature of health and the importance of viewing depression through multiple lenses.


    Endorphins are neurotransmitters produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. Often referred to as the body’s “natural painkillers” or “feel-good chemicals,” they help alleviate pain and stress and are associated with feelings of pleasure or euphoria, often released during activities like exercise, laughter, and moments of joy.

    Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

    Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic mental health condition characterized by persistent and excessive worry about various aspects of everyday life, such as work, health, or personal relationships, even when there’s little or no reason to worry. Symptoms often include restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating.

    The ongoing worry and anxiety of GAD are often disproportionate to the actual likelihood or impact of the feared event, and the worry is difficult to control. Diagnosis typically considers the duration of symptoms, usually requiring them to persist for at least six months.


    GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a neurotransmitter that plays a pivotal role in inhibiting neuronal activity in the central nervous system, contributing to mood regulation, relaxation, and sleep. Imbalances in GABAergic transmission are implicated in several mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and certain types of epilepsy. Recent research underscores the significance of the gut-brain axis, the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain. The gut microbiota can influence GABA levels in the brain, with certain gut bacteria species producing GABA themselves.

    Furthermore, disturbances in the gut (like dysbiosis) can potentially impact GABAergic signaling in the brain, influencing mood and mental well-being. This interplay highlights the gut’s potential role in mental health conditions and the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome for optimal neurological function.

    Gut-brain Axis

    From a mental health perspective, the gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional communication system between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. This communication system allows the gut and its microbiome (the trillions of microorganisms residing in the gut) to influence brain function, behavior, and overall mental well-being. The gut-brain axis plays a role in the body’s stress response. Chronic stress can disturb the gut microbiome, which, in turn, can further exacerbate stress responses and negatively impact mental health. The gut microbiota also produces metabolites that can act on the brain, influencing behaviors and mood. Dysbiosis or an imbalance in the gut microbiota might result in changes in these metabolites, thereby impacting brain function.

    Understanding the gut-brain axis from a mental health perspective emphasizes the profound influence that the gut and its microbiome can have on our mental well-being. It also highlights the potential for novel therapeutic approaches, such as probiotics or dietary interventions, to support and potentially treat mental health disorders.

    Gut-Brain Axis

    The gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional communication system between the gastrointestinal tract (the gut) and the central nervous system (the brain). It involves a complex network of neural, hormonal, and immunological pathways that allow constant communication and interaction between the gut and the brain.

    The gut and the brain are connected through the vagus nerve, which sends signals back and forth, and through chemical messengers such as neurotransmitters and hormones. The gut is also home to a vast community of microorganisms called the gut microbiota, which can influence the gut-brain axis through the production of metabolites and communication with the nervous system.

    The gut-brain axis plays a crucial role in various aspects of health, including digestion, metabolism, immune function, and mental well-being. It is involved in the regulation of appetite, satiety, mood, stress response, and even cognitive function. Disruptions in the gut-brain axis have been linked to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), anxiety, depression, and certain neurological disorders.

    Gut microbiota

    Gut microbiota, also known as gut microbiome, refers to the community of microorganisms that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. It consists of a vast array of bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and other microbes. The gut microbiota is highly diverse and unique to each individual, influenced by factors such as genetics, diet, lifestyle, and environment.

    The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and performing important functions in the body. It helps with digestion and the breakdown of complex carbohydrates and fibers that the human body cannot digest on its own. In this process, it produces beneficial compounds, such as short-chain fatty acids and vitamins.

    Additionally, the gut microbiota interacts with the immune system, helping to regulate its responses and promoting a balanced immune function. It also plays a role in the development and maturation of the immune system, particularly in early life.

    The gut microbiota contributes to the production of neurotransmitters and other molecules that affect brain function, highlighting its influence on the gut-brain axis and its potential impact on mental health and cognitive function.

    Disruptions in the gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, have been associated with various health conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders, metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and even mental health disorders.


    A hormone is a chemical messenger produced by endocrine glands in the body that can significantly influence brain function, mood, emotions, and overall mental well-being.

    Hormones travel through the bloodstream to target organs and tissues, exerting various physiological effects. Imbalances or fluctuations in certain hormones, such as cortisol (stress hormone), serotonin (often termed a “feel-good” neurotransmitter but also functions as a hormone), estrogen, and testosterone, can influence mood, stress responses, and susceptibility to various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

    Understanding hormonal dynamics is crucial in assessing and treating various mental health conditions, especially those related to life stages like puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause.


    Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by persistent difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early, leading to significant distress and impairment in daily functioning. While insomnia can be a primary disorder, it is often comorbid with other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders.

    The interplay between insomnia and mental health is complex: while mental health issues can contribute to sleep disturbances, chronic insomnia can also exacerbate or predispose individuals to various psychological disorders. Proper assessment and management of insomnia is essential, given its potential to impact overall mental well-being and quality of life.


    Meditation is a mind-body practice that focuses on establishing attention and awareness to achieve mental clarity, emotional stability, and enhanced well-being. Meditation is a mind-body practice that focuses on establishing attention and awareness to achieve mental clarity, emotional stability, and enhanced well-being.

    Emerging research shows that meditation can influence gut health through the gut-brain axis, improving the diversity of healthy gut bacteria. Chronic stress, known to negatively impact gut function and microbiota composition, can be alleviated through meditation. By reducing stress and inflammation, meditation may support a healthy gut environment and microbial balance.


    The microbiome refers to the collective community of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes, that inhabit various parts of the body, particularly the gut. It plays a crucial role in digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, and overall health.

    Mood Disorder

    A mood disorder is a mental health classification encompassing disorders that primarily affect a person’s emotional state, leading to persistent feelings of sadness or elevated mood. Common mood disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymia, all of which can disrupt daily life due to emotional disturbances.

    Nervous System

    From a mental health perspective, the nervous system is an intricate network of neurons and cells responsible for transmitting signals between different parts of the body and the brain. It plays a pivotal role in regulating thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Comprising the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral systems, the nervous system’s proper function is critical for mental well-being. Disruptions, imbalances, or damages within this system can contribute to various psychological disorders, mood disturbances, and cognitive impairments.


    Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain that transmit signals between neurons, influencing and regulating a wide range of processes including mood, emotions, sleep, appetite, and stress response. Imbalances or disruptions in neurotransmitter activity can be associated with various mental health disorders.

    For example, serotonin is linked to mood and emotion, and its imbalance is often implicated in depression. Similarly, dopamine dysregulation can be associated with disorders like schizophrenia or Parkinson’s disease. Proper function and balance of neurotransmitters are crucial for maintaining mental well-being and emotional stability.

    Seasonal Affective Disorder

    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at specific times of the year, typically in the fall and winter months, and is linked to changes in light exposure. Symptoms can include fatigue, moodiness, and loss of interest in usual activities.


    Serotonin is a neurotransmitter primarily found in the brain, intestines, and blood platelets. It plays a pivotal role in regulating mood, appetite, sleep, and a range of other physiological processes. Imbalances in serotonin levels are often associated with mood disorders, notably depression.


    “Somatic” refers to the body as distinct from the mind or psyche. Somatic symptoms are physical manifestations or complaints stemming from mental or emotional distress. These symptoms might include pain, fatigue, or digestive issues that cannot be fully explained by a medical condition. Somatic symptom disorders arise when individuals experience significant distress or dysfunction related to these symptoms, often with excessive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors concerning the symptoms’ nature and seriousness.


    Stress is the body’s physiological response to perceived threats, challenges, or adverse situations. It initiates the “fight or flight” response, leading to changes such as increased heart rate, elevated cortisol levels, and heightened alertness. While short-term stress can be adaptive, chronic stress can result in negative health outcomes, affecting various systems of the body and increasing the risk of conditions like heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and immune dysregulation, among others.

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