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Flourish Wellness Blog

  • Writer's pictureDr. Katelynn Nardulli DC, FDNP

Thoughts, Traumas and Toxins! Oh My!

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

The Healthy and Natural Journal reported that 70-80% of doctor’s visits are for chronic stress related illnesses every year in the United States. 

Stress can take many forms and have a very negative impact on your overall health. When explaining stress to my chiropractic patients and functional medicine clients I often refer to the Three T’s; thoughts, traumas and toxins.

Thoughts are your mental, emotional stressors and likely the type of stress that you are most familiar with. This type of stress is often related to situations such as having deadlines at work, keeping unhealthy relationships or feeling financial pressures. Practicing yoga, meditation or Emotional Freedom Technique are all proven ways to decrease your mental, emotional stress levels. 

Traumas are physical stressors.  Sports injuries and car accidents are good examples of traumas but even over exercising can also be a physical stressors on the body. Musculoskeletal misalignments and nerve compression are also both examples biomechanical stressors and this is why wellness chiropractic adjustments can help to decrease your overall stress levels. Additionally, hidden internal health imbalances such as immune system dysfunction, detoxification deficiencies, hormonal imbalances and digestive system problems are also forms of physical stressors that sometimes require deeper investigation with a functional medicine practitioner to discover and heal. 

Toxins are the chemical and biochemical stressors that we encounter. These toxic stressors can come from eating herbicides and pesticides in non-organic foods, harmful chemicals in your beauty products, or drinking unfiltered, unclean water. Toxins are all around us in the world that we live in, even our non-stick pans in the kitchen and the flame retardants on your couch in the living room can introduce chemicals into your home. Taking small steps to decrease your toxic exposure can have a big impact on your overall health. 

Let’s do a quick physiology lesson! When a stressor of any kind is present, the brain detects it and sends out an alert to the adrenal glands. Once the adrenals are made aware of the current stressful situation, they produce the stress hormone “cortisol” and pump it out into the body. Cortisol actually helps you to cope with stress by increasing adrenaline in the body and increasing your heart rate, among regulating other vital bodily functions. Then when the stressor is gone, cortisol production is shut off. And this cyclical pattern should continue throughout the day - when a stressor is present, cortisol spikes and when the stressor is gone, cortisol drops. 

But let’s face it, we live in a stressful world and we are inundated with stressors in the forms of thoughts, traumas, and toxins all day long!  Sometimes it feels like the stressors never turn off. So if the stressors just keep coming all day long, then the cortisol continues to be pumped out into the body at sky high levels all day long. This can lead to a number of health problems. If cortisol is elevated for extended periods of time, this cortisol dominance and this high concentration of stress hormone can actually lead to the breakdown of the tissues and systems within your body. Additionally, because of the increased demand on the adrenal glands to produce stress hormone, they can start to fatigue. At this point your body is no longer able to adapt and respond to the high level of stress present in your world. This is often the point in time when health complaints develop, such as fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, gastrointestinal upset, anxiety, depression, thyroid imbalances, weakened immunity and more.

In order to manage your stress and ultimately improve your overall health, you need to tame the thoughts, traumas and toxins!

As a functional medicine practitioner, I help go-getters take back control of their lives and stress by getting to the root on ongoing health challenges with functional lab testing so that they can restore health and wellness from the inside out and most importantly conquer their goals. And as a chiropractor, I help on-the-go families to stay active and feel great while doing so, by alleviating biomechanical stressors and providing them with patient centered care and attention. 

I’m Dr. Kate and I’m always here to support and guide you to your health and wellness goals! I would like to offer you a free one-on-one consultation to discuss stress management techniques or treatment options in more detail; email me at so that we can personally connect. 

Resources: “Get a grip on stress.” Healthy and Natural Journal, Feb. 2001

Published in Be Well Magazine from Giant Eagle, Nov/Dec 2020

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