alternative medicine
Norman Allan
416 928 9272


Notes on Stress Management

If you want any part
of these notes



meditation the progressive relaxation technique
Nero Asistant: putting your live in order

the relaxation response

Autonomic Nervous System

breathe: metered breathing
coffee and caffeine

nervine relaxants
nervine sedatives


orthomolecular therapy

vitamine B3: niacin

Bach Flower Remedies






Hippocrates established the first maxim of medicine as:
"First do no harm".

Medicine's second maxim is to
find the cause of the problem
and remove the source of harm.

So the best way to manage stress is to eliminate it.
The next best way to deal with stress
is through meditation and/or prayer.
(They say Prayer is talking to God.
Meditation is listening.)

Close your eyes
breath in deeply
breath out deeply
continue breathing slowly and deeply

find the light in front
and above you

that's it and it's a lifetimes work


The technique most associated with relaxation is the
"Progressive Relaxation Technique"

breath deeply
hold the breath
(pause) release the breath with a sigh
now, tense your toes
relax your toes
let go of your toes
tense your feet...
(find the patience to work slowly up the whole body...)

The great New Age technique for coping with everything is the

The classic is:
"every day in every way I am getting better and better."

My father used to have a tape he'd play with this, a soothing tape.
"Every day, in every way..."
My sister doctored the tape so that one day
Ted put on the tape and listened while it told him,
"every day in every way I am getting fatter and fatter."



Nero Asistant's story.

Nero was a "spiritual counsellor". Nero and her boyfriend caught AIDS. She tested HIV positive three times. She was beginning to show symptoms and was diagnosed as having ARC (AIDS related conditions). She went to bed and into a deep depression but, after three weeks she had had enough of this response. She counted up - the doctor had given her a year and a half to live - she reckoned that she had 444 days left and she decided that she would live her last days as the person she had always wanted to be. Every day she gave herself three tasks to accomplish: always things that she could accomplish; never asking more of herself than she could give, so sometimes it would be things like clearing up that drawer in the kitchen. She soon had nothing left (except the AIDS) hanging over her. After six months she test HIV negative! Because she was counselling (and she is now an AIDS counsellor) she has had herself tested every six months. When I heard her speak several years ago she had tested negative 13 times.

Nero Asistant got rid of her stress and that got rid of her AIDS.

Coping with our lives is the best way to reduce stress

Make a list of the five things you most want to change. (Include both positive things you want to do more of, like exercise, as well as negative things you wish to do less of.) Change the item on the list that is easiest to change. Each week make a new list.


I want to talk for a few moments about what has been termed The Relaxation Response. This means a brief foray into Science. We're going to talk about the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).

The ANS (Autonomic Nervous System) does the automatic/involuntary regulation of the body and its organs. It speeds the heart up and slows the heart down. It opens and closes blood vessels. Opens and closes the eye's iris/pupil. Regulates all the tissues.

The ANS in fact is two systems. It modulates in two directions. The second of these systems is called the Parasympathetic Nervous System. It has to do with rest and healing. It has a lot of control over our immune response, turning it up.

The Parasympathetic Nevous System promotes rest and healing but/and it is very much concerned with reversing the effects of the first ANS division/direction, a system that is called the Sympathetic Nervous System.

The Sympathetic Nervous System is concerned with putting the body into Fight or Flight overdrive. "Mother lifts car off baby."

When we are adrenalated
- in overdrive
- we can exert a great total force.

But we are much less efficient. If we stay in overdrive we burn out the engine.

So the "relaxation principle" is about reducing the "sympathetic tone": reduce the fright fight flight (and/or freeze) overdrive. turning down the emergency response system, turning down adrenalation.

There is a simple breathing exercise that can help with this. I call it metered breathing.

breath in to a count of 6
(or less if your breath is short)
hold your breath for a count of 6
breath out over a count of 6
hold the lungs empty for a count of 6
breath in for a count of 6...

On the physical level the first thing to do to reduce stress is to eliminate coffee caffeine, stimulants

It's been said that the great addiction in our society is to adrenaline
coffee, cigarette, horror films (action films) roller coasters, illicit sex...
all of this pushes us into adrenalation.
is there a paradox here?
could all of this be a tactic for releasing the tensions trapped inside us?
so find the serene path the Buddha's middle way
does this mean sitting under the buddi tree waiting for Nirvana?
well, yes
but the middle way is also the balanced path
and this means
Exercising Exercise releases the trapped energies.
Exercise promotes restful sleep.

We're going to focus now on the physical ways of coping with stress, but first we need to repeat... !
no coffee ! coffee rings the alarm bells... !
no alarm bells ! ! coffee causes the release of noradrenaline !
! depletion of noradrenaline ! leads to... !
exhaustion of the adrenals ! !
and with this exhaustion ...
an exhaustion of our ability to respond to stress adaptively.

There are a number of (alternative) medical methods of dealing with stress.
The first that comes to mind is the use of herbs.
There are several classes of herbs that a useful in managing stress.

Nervine Relaxants include

St. Johnswort
Lemon Balm
Chamomile: German and Roman
Scull cap

Lavender brings to mind Essential oils and Aromatherapy. Lavender is the great aromatherapy panacea, good for almost all that ails you and certainly good at helping people under tension to relax. Put some in your bath, on your wrists, in your room.

Bergamot is another of the great panaceas useful here...
and aromatherpay brings up other nice relaxing things, like massage... hot tubs... nice work if you can get it. alcohol... relaxes. (They say, or at least some say, that three or four glasses of red wine a week increases longevity, but that a glass a day brings you back to were you started and that any more will shorten your life. It is suspected that it is the anti-oxidants in the red wine that are beneficial and that you would better drinking grape juice. However, alcohol, in moderation, can help people relax... Can pot? That's a moot point.) A study published in late 1998 claims that chocolate eaters live longer???? back to the Buddha's middle path.

Nervine sedative are used to help promote restful sleep and include

Passion flower
Jamaican Dogwood

Kava is listed as both a nervine stimulant and a nervine relaxant. Kava reduces anxiety and tension. But Kava is not for everyone. You need to be well grounded to use Kava safely.


There is a branch of alternative medicine called "Orthomolecular Therapy". It was made famous by Linus Pauling's advocacy of vitamin C in large "orthomolecular" doses. It was originate by a Dr. Hoffer who found (or claims) that he could successfully treat most mental illness, most schizophrenias, with vitamins and minerals, often in large doses.

Hoffer recommends niacin for obsessional thinking when your mind is racing round and round. 100, 200 or even 500 mgm; enough to give you a marked "niacin flush" is necessary. Large doses of niacin [though not niacinamide, another form of vitamin B3] cause dilation of surface blood vessels enough to turn you beet red. Probably not advisable for those with low blood pressure, but safe for most of us. In Hoffer's presciption for obsessive thinking you need to take enough to cause a flush. I have tried this, and I believe it works.)


  Dr. Bach's Flower Remedies can be very useful in dealing with shock. Particularly one thinks of the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy which is used for shock.

There are also a couple of remedies that are used for fear and anxiety.

Mimulus is for fears arising from a know source. (If you touch the leaves of the Mimosa they close up.)

Aspen is for fear from unknown sources. (Think of aspen leaves flickering silver and green in the wind.)

 Acute Remedies. There are some acute remedies - remedies that will reduce anxiety or relax you for the moment - that we can produce for you in the office.

The acupuncture point, Governor 20 or Du 20, is a sedation point. Right at the top of your head there is a little indentation. Du 20 is on the forward lip of this indentation.

A substitute for needles would be to place one hand on a persons forehead (brow) and the other at the back at the base of there skull (occiput) and just hold these lightly and relax. Thats awkward to do on oneself, so substitute "palming" for this: place your palms over your eyes and relax. Doing Reiki on yourself is a matter of simply placing your hands anywhere that feels comforting and imagining "universal" healing energy passing through you.

CranioSacral Therapy is the most relaxing therapy I know of, but that's a whole other story. To induce a relaxing "still point" on oneself, tie two tennis balls up together tightly on a sock and lie with them at the base of your skull (occiput). This should be relaxing. (There were several addenda to these notes/this talk, and I'll try to put them up soon.)
alternative medicine
Norman Allan
416 928 9272