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Case Study - Severe Stress

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in stress, originally published in issue 48 - January 2000

Brenda is 46 years old, married and has never really had any major health problems. She is employed by the accounts department of a small company and travels 100 miles each day to and from work. She is a very sociable person, likes to spend weekends away from home and enjoys staying up late indulging in alcohol and rich foods. Brenda has a very gentle nature and is easily upset by people with differing beliefs, attitudes, and values, and by any form of confrontation.

Her health problems started two months before Christmas on a weekend trip to Bournemouth, where, in her words, she ate and drank herself silly without any regard or respect for her digestive system. On returning home she had severe stomach pains and diarrhoea along with feelings of nausea. Her home life was becoming stressful as her once friendly neighbours were avoiding her company, and sometimes were just outwardly rude to her and her husband. As Christmas approached a simmering family feud blew up out of all proportion leaving her less than resilient nature shattered. By the beginning of January the stress was catching up with her and she felt physically ill and depleted. Her throat was sore and inflamed, causing difficulties swallowing any foods, and those that did enter her system caused severe stomach upsets. The doctor prescribed Prozac, an antidepressant, to help with the stress levels, but her problems continued to exacerbate. By the time I saw Brenda at the end of January her spirit was very low, she had lost two stones in weight, and her throat was so sore that she felt as though she was swallowing razor blades when eating most foods.

An intense case study revealed major problems in all the body's systems – digestive, eliminative, immune, cardiac, hormonal, and muscular. The major symptoms appeared to be adrenal exhaustion, hypothyroid, throat pain, muscular cramps, halitosis, slight anaemia and low energy. This type of profile is typical of a person suffering from extreme stress as the body is fast releasing large amounts of chemicals and hormones as a response to the stresses, but which also cause these detrimental effects if they operate continuously.

The other important area to consider was the lack of the quality nutrients needed for the biochemical reactions in the body within Brenda's high sugar, fat, processed diet.

Brenda followed my recommendations of three small meals each day with a high intake of vegetables eaten raw, steamed or made into soups, and three to four pieces of fruit, which increased the intake of quality vitamins and minerals. Between meals she drank three fresh vegetable juices made from carrots, apples and dark leafy greens, which contains chlorophyll, iron and folic acid to counteract the effects of stress and anaemia. Steamed fish and vegetarian proteins were eaten along with potatoes, brown rice and quinoa. Herb teas and filtered water were the only drinks allowed. Seaweed and watercress were taken for the thyroid gland, and garlic, ginger and onions for the immune system. A multi-vitamin and mineral supplement and B-complex were taken to support the adrenal glands, ionic magnesium to help with muscular cramps, tiredness, loss of appetite and difficulties swallowing, and Hypericum tincture for the stress.

Additional guidelines were given for exercise, relaxation and methods to cope with stress. After three weeks, mild cleansing herbs were added to rid the body of toxic build up, which were partly causing the muscular cramps, low energy and halitosis.

Brenda followed the guidelines and in eight weeks felt an overall improvement, but had the continued feeling that there was something stuck in her throat. A thorough investigation revealed that this constricting, raw feeling particularly erupted during stressful situations.

This was an important and difficult hurdle to overcome in her healing process and the answer was not going to come from nutrition alone. A comprehensive explanation to Brenda's problems came from the work of Caroline Myss, Ph.D., a medical intuitive who works with the human energy field focusing on the seven energy-centres or chakras. The chakras represent the challenges or spiritual life lessons common to all human beings, and as these lessons are overcome they provide an in-depth understanding of personal and spiritual power. All the organs in the body are related to the chakras, and Brenda's throat problem is related to the fifth chakra, which is connected to the power of the will and self-expression. In essence, the fifth chakra connects to the emotional and mental struggles involved in learning the power of choice, and interestingly, all illness has a connection to this chakra because choice is involved in every detail of our lives. Brenda's lesson was to learn to have the internal security to believe in herself, to act on her own belief system, to meet people on her level and to express and communicate herself clearly.

Brenda could relate totally to the fifth chakra and, after reading the book Anatomy of the Spirit she realised that her stress was self-induced. She worked very hard to deal with her fears, faith and belief in herself to learn her own spiritual life lessons. Brenda attended regular counselling sessions, followed breathing and relaxation exercises, practised assertiveness, became more in tune with herself and continued with the nutritional and supplement guidelines. After ten months Brenda hasn't totally achieved the lessons of the fifth chakra – but have any of us? The most important factor is that she is feeling more confident and in control of her feelings, is more assertive, happier and her throat is clear most of the time.

I would like to share with you the following guidelines from Anatomy of the Spirit as they provided Brenda with encouragement, guidance and inspiration.

  • Make no judgements
  • Have no expectations
  • Give up the need to know why things happen as they do
  • Trust that the unscheduled events of our lives are a form of spiritual direction.

Have the courage to make the choices we need to make, accept what we cannot change, and have the wisdom to know the difference.


Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of the Spirit Bantam Books. 1998. ISBN 0 553 50527 0.


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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;

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