Stress And Autoimmune

Stress And Autoimmune

One of the root causes I haven’t really covered in Autoimmune disease is stress. I have asked Hester Morrissey, an Integrative Medicine Health Coach to share an article she has written on this topic with us today.

Hester Morrissey, a certified Integrative Medicine Health Coach, Functional Nutrition Counselor Ayurvedic Self-Care Counselor, Vibrational Connector and Spiritual Intuitive. 

“If I were to boil down all root causes of autoimmune disease, they could all fall under the heading of stress. Stress on the body, mind, emotions, and spirit, each in its own way, are all triggers for autoimmune disease. When combined, there is a perfect storm for autoimmune onset and continuation. 

We are wired to respond to periodic stress, not ongoing stress. Our bodies have not evolved to sustain harmony under chronic stress. Under periodic stress, the body sends messages through our adrenal system to the brain, which signals the body to prioritize all energy toward fighting, fleeing or freezing. 

This works well in situations that require this type of response, such as when being chased by someone who is trying to physically hurt you, or (as written in Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers), when a lion is chasing you. All systems get put an alert and the body focuses primarily on what is needed to get away from, hide from or fight off the danger. This means that digestion is interrupted, sex drive is shut down and sleep function is halted. Think about it. It’s not a good time to eat, procreate or rest when your life is in danger. In this situation, your body decides that it is all about survival. 

One of the main hormones that signal the body to get in survival mode is called cortisol. Cortisol is suddenly flushed into the body to severely limit normal healthy functions. A large amount of cortisol is rushed to the stomach and the brain. This reaction works well in a true emergency, but when we experience chronic stress that the body interprets as ongoing danger, this action damages the gut lining and kills brain cells. The challenge is that our body reacts to daily stressors in the same way as it does when faced with a life threatening emergency, such as being physically attacked. Situations that we face daily such as traffic jams, arguments with loved ones, long work hours, financial pressures, difficult relationships, and any number of irritating situations we encounter on a regular basis, create a vicious cycle in the body that leads to adrenal fatigue and gut permeability (also known as leaky gut). 

The constant barrage of irritants triggers an ongoing release of stress hormones in the body without proper time to recover. This overproduction of cortisol results in a weakened adrenal system. 

What does this feel like? 

If you are living through this cycle you may experience feeling “wired but tired”, foggy in the brain, achy joints, weak muscles, headaches, weight gain/loss or gastrointestinal discomfort. Your symptoms may differ depending on your specific genetics and vulnerabilities, but in general you will feel less than your normal self. Eventually you could struggle to accomplish your normal level of work and have more difficulty enjoying life. Some will chalk this up to age or accept this way of feeling as a “new normal”. Don’t let this be your new normal! Get help and overcome this vicious cycle that leads to autoimmune disease and limits your ability to live the vibrant life you deserve. 

Tip: Get your adrenals tested through Integrative Medicine lab testing 

Work with me, Hester Morrissey, at, to perform Integrative Medicine lab testing to see how your adrenal system and related hormones are responding to stress and create an individualized plan to get your adrenals back on track. 

Integrative Medicine lab testing measures your cortisol levels throughout a normal day and identifies whether your cortisol level is a healthy or unhealthy curve. Healthy cortisol production helps you wake up in the morning, sustain energy during the day and should drop naturally in the evening so you can sleep well. This testing can also identify hormone imbalances triggered by over-production of cortisol. I use specialized lab testing to measure how your body responds to stress with cortisol throughout the day. 

Armed with this information and your unique health story, I will put together an individualized wellness plan for you that if followed results in improved energy and vitality. Your wellness plan will include recommendations for nutrition, exercise, stress mastery, mental re-boots and spiritual growth practices. 

Schedule a FREE Wellness Strategy Session at