For over a year, I have been grinding my teeth in my sleep. It started some time at the beginning of last year. My teeth started hurting and I was not sure why. After a few trips to the dentist’s office, he told me I was grinding. At the time, I was really skeptical about it, because I never felt like I was grinding, but my dentist showed me (in my mouth) where I had been “sawing” the enamel off of 4 of my teeth, gradually wearing them down. I could not believe it. And after wearing a $345 night-guard (mouth guard worn at night to protect my teeth; and yes I am still mad that I had to pay that much money) for close to a year, my teeth still hurt. The only good thing is that they are no longer “sawing” each other down.
After reviewing a lot of information concerning grinding teeth over the past year, what I have found out is that stress plays a huge part in this issue. The body has to alleviate stress in some way. And if we don’t let our bodies do it consciously, our bodies will do it when we are not conscious of it. This is a major reason why many people suffer from certain diseases. Many have no symptoms of diseases, and all of a sudden are stricken with various illnesses that they were not ready for.
I believe stress and disease are definitely connected. Different models have been used to describe the association between stress and disease. Many are speculative, however, more and more research has made efforts to expose stronger links between stress and disease. Stress can act on the body to elevate stress hormones, and to also create a dysfunctional or suppressed immune system. When these events take place, our bodies are more open to having to deal with the following conditions:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Coronary Heart Disease
The Common Cold
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus
Ulcers and Colitis
Many believe the only way to relieve stress is through taking some type of anxiety medication. Though some may need these, there are other ways to relieve stress that may be less habit forming. Meditation, massages, and even certain exercises have been shown to be useful in relieving stress. However, I always like to give the nutritional perspective. Here are a few reasons why we deal with stress and the nutritional results in the body due to stress:
-Many over consume food (or less food) in response to stressful situations. They are not hungry. They are simply using food to deal with the situation.
-Stress has the potential to deplete vital nutrients the body needs to stay in an optimal state. When are bodies are deleted of these vital nutrients, we may have less energy, which in turn, produces more stress.
-Certain foods may elevate the stress response. These include things like caffeine, and certain processed foods.
Besides eating healthy and exercising, herbal remedies have also been shown to be useful for stress relief. I often use herbal remedies to deal with issues in my body. Thus far, they have worked pretty well. Here are a few herbal remedies you may want to try, including their benefits to the body:
-Valerian: a natural sleep aid/sedative
-St. John’s Wort: antidepressant properties
-Camomile: relaxant; may be used as a great sleep aid (very good in tea form)
-Ginkgo: may aid in brain function and circulation; neurostimulator; may increase memory
-Goldenseal: may boost immune system
These herbal remedies can usually be found at a whole foods store, though some big chain markets (i.e. walmart) carry them in pill form. All may not work for everyone, but many have used them to help relieve stress successfully. Find what works for your body. Until next time…
Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, and Supplements, 3rd Edition. New York: Avery.
Seaward, Brian Luke. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Wellbeing, 6th Edition. Sadbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.