It’s common to read about how stress impacts your health from a physiological standpoint. Weak adrenals, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cancer and just about every other chronic disease can be connected to a high stress lifestyle. Still, people ignore it as something they can’t do anything about even though there are a great number of ways to deal with it.
Now there‘s some new information that just might make people sit up and notice. Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, one of the largest insurance agencies in the world, just released some surprising information on stress. According to his research, stress adds about $2500 a year to your health costs. Wow! Someone put it in real numbers.
Tell people that heart attacks are related to stress and they might think about after they have one. Tell them it might cost them $2500 extra dollars in medical expenses next year and they just might do something about it. Nothing spurs someone into action like a threat to the wallet.
Aetna is now involved in trying to figure out how to make people feel better. Turns out the CEO, Mr. Bertolini, and his son, both had a near brush with death, one from an accident and the other a rare form of cancer. He noted that it was the great care his family received that led to their recovery. The problems started when they left the hospital. He realized how lost they both were reintrigrating back into society. As with a lot of survivors this spurred him into action to change the system and help people.
This is often one of the side effects of surviving a brush with death. Getting a close of view of your own mortality often leaves you feeling “human” and before you know it, you’re on the path to becoming a real human being. If you’ve ever seen one of Mr. Bertolini’s recent interviews it’s easy to see this happening to him. He has taken a unique approach to caring for his employees and his company has become much more valuable because of it.
He discovered a great secret I’ve been trying do something about myself for over two decades. It’s the novel idea that people aren’t healthy unless the feel happy, and the health program they are on can’t just be something they think is good for them, they have to notice something. Wouldn’t it be great to notice how much better you handle life or how much easier it is to smile at life’s little annoyances?
Remember the old saying “don’t sweat the small stuff?” If you’re in the right frame of mind it’s all small stuff. In my first decade as an herbalist, I realized stress was the elephant in the room as far as most health issues are concerned. It’s also the last thing people think of when they try to figure out their health issues. I once had a client with a plethora of health issues and always felt he wasn’t really being up front with me about what was going on in his life. I never found out the truth until I read his obituary. That’s when I found out he was on trial for embezzlement and murder. Of course he never thought this stress had anything to do with his health issues.
Back then I was armed with very few herbs to confront the modern epidemic of stress. Reishi mushroom was the main adaptogen I had access to and all of the herbalists I knew made use of it whenever they could. We found that it not only relieved stress but if people took it for a good month they often started implementing positive changes in their life.
Reishi, like all good adaptogens, change the energetics of the brain. After a while your brain spends more of its time in this new state of energy and less in survival mode. You get more creative and start to get involved with things that are closer to your heart. In other words you start the process of becoming more human.
All great adatogenic formulas can do this. I’m particular to reishi, ashwagandha, rhodiola, eleuthero and schizandra which are all found in our formula for TianChi. This is a small class of herbs that are true adaptogens, meaning they affect your ability to regulate the stress response and change the energetics of your brain. The benefits of this are literally endless.
I do have a particular spot in my heart for reishi mushroom. I had an experience when I first drank it that still defines my life—some twenty- seven years later. I would say it was one magical cup of tea. I’m passionate about herbs, transformation and helping people get healthier. That said, I never separate that from the idea of helping people feel better which is why I focus on stress and adaptogenic herbs.